The tips below can be used for both guitar and bass guitar.
People who tell you that “guitar is dead” are not paying attention to the media.
The guitar is here to stay, it has been and will be for many years.
Why? Well, maybe because it is a very awesome instrument, appeals to a lot of musicians, is not super difficult to start with, it makes you look fantastic, you can customize it to your needs and look/sound even more awesome! (should I go on?)
And you want to be part of that remarkable group, too. Splendid!
But where do you have to start? Or more importantly, what do you need to start to rock the socks of your (future) fans.
With this list, you will be playing guitar and rocking that crowd in no time, so let’s start.
Let’s start with the cool stuff (don’t worry, there is cooler stuff coming up next).
You need an awesome guitar. And depending on what you want to play, you can roughly choose between acoustic, classic or electric.
There are some small subcategories like electro-acoustic or jazz guitar, so feel free to add your personal preference.
But which one of these is best for you?
You may have a guitar player that you like, so see what they play, and get a guitar that has the same features. No, I’m not saying that you should get THAT guitar they are playing. As a beginner, I would suspect that it will not be within your budget to choose Steve Vai’s guitar (Ibanez Gem signature/ around 3000 dollars at this moment).
Just a tip though, if you want to buy, be my guest 🙂
If you want to play acoustic guitar, you are pretty much done with the main gear. An acoustic guitar is pretty much complete when you buy it. It doesn’t need anything extra to make a sound. But if you want to play on stage, or if you choose electric guitar, there is another thing that you need….
Play loud! – Amp tips and tricks
You will/could need an amp. Unless you want to play with a small multi-effects pedal and some headphones, which can perfectly work no problem, you may need an amp.
There are many practice amps out there, and if they are set up properly, they are perfect for your basic practice needs. If you know that you want to play live, or you want to use it for a longer time than just practice, you might want to go for a higher quality amp. Don’t worry about the Watts; they are pretty much enough in most cases. A guitar amp can get pretty loud, even the smaller ones.
You are better off choosing the one that is more durable, sounds better and has the features (or lacks the features that you want or are not going to use).
There are amps that have a full effect arsenal on board. Check if you need/want that, or just go for an amp that doesn’t have these features. Go for the one with higher sound quality.
If you have to carry it around as a practice amp, check it has an fx send and return, a headphone jack, a CD/mp3 input. They are not a must, but it would be a bummer if your awesome amp doesn’t have an fx send. If you choose to buy external pedals, you could find yourself limited in connections.
Which brings us to…
How to use effects to get the best tone!
Now, these are used a lot with an electric guitar, bass guitar players and even acoustic guitar players use them too. There are some acoustic effect pedals (Fishman made some awesome pedals for acoustic guitar), but it is always up to your personal choice if you need them or not.
But which ones do you need?
From the super large list of available pedals, here are some that you could start with:
A distortion, because you want that screaming dirty sound
A wah-wah pedal, because wah not?
A chorus/phaser/flanger to get that airplane or chorus sound to add to your solos
A reverb and/or delay. To get that little extra sound that goes on and on after you stop playing.
The best thing to do is to watch some YouTube videos on the topic and go to your local guitar dealer to check out the ones you need. These are all personal preferences, so there is no huge rule on which ones to get or not. The extra stuff you will need is something to store your guitar on/in. A gig bag or a guitar stand is perfect for your home, but a decent hard case is a better option if you want to start playing live shows.
Cables are a must-have and don’t save much on them. It is better to buy a decent cable that will stay in one piece for a while than those cheap crackling ones from the bottom of the bin.
A tuner. You could go with apps on your phone, but I would recommend having a decent separate tuner to put on the floor or connect to your guitar on the go.
The clip-on tuners work really well, and they are a pretty common feature on acoustic, electric and bass guitars now. Always check out if they work on bass guitar. Some tuners do not pick up the low frequencies. Books/tutorials/lessons (online or offline). Don’t forget to take lessons.
You need them if you like it or not.
You could start small, with some simple chord progressions, and you will be able to play Wonderwall in no time.
(don’t play Wonderwall in no time, it is just a joke…. Don’t play it…)
You can make this as complicated as you want, but remember, to expand your musical knowledge you need to learn some theory as well. It is not as dull as you might think, so don’t worry.
The beginning seems to be a bit theoretical (that is why it is called music theory) but the more you advance, the more interesting it becomes. See it as revealing magic tricks, and you want to become a magician.
You will find new music ideas to make your music more exciting and advance from Wonderwall to something more impressive (I’ll stop with Wonderwall now, sorry). In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference.
The more you know upfront, the more detailed you can get when you start on guitar.
But even if you are just starting out, you will find what suits you best.
And as always, keep making awesome music and share it with the world.