What do you Need to Play Electric Guitar?

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Who else want to find out what you need to play the electric guitar?

Sometimes, when you look at other people’s setups, it can seem daunting and intimidating to figure out what all of that stuff is.

What exactly do you need to play electric guitar?

Do you need all the wires and boxes?

What’s the most basic, simplest setup for a beginner?

These are some common questions that we’ll answer today.

We’ll go over what you need, what you don’t need, and what would be nice to have.

What do you Need to Play Electric Guitar: The Absolute Basics

So you’ve decided to play the electric guitar. Now what?

It may seem obvious, but you need an electric guitar.

You might want a guitar pick, but that’s not 100% necessary right away, and some starter packs even come with them.

Which guitar? We recommend some type of Stratocaster or Stratocaster-inspired guitar. This post goes over how to choose a guitar, and this post covers some Stratocaster recommendations for beginners, and this post covers what type of electric guitar is best for beginners.

The only other thing you absolutely have to have though is a way to tune your guitar. That’s it.

Believe it or not, you don’t need an amp, at least not at first.

Guitar and Amplifier

In an interview once, Eddie Van Halen said that he often practiced without an amp. This blew my mind at the time because it seemed crazy.

However, he was right.

After you’ve got your electric guitar, you definitely want to get an amp at some point in the near future.

There are a lot of techniques you can’t master without an amp.

For example, if you’re playing through distortion you want to form the proper picking habits that you can’t learn if you never play through an amp.

Plus, electric guitars are designed to be played through an amp. Even a hollow-body guitar won’t be very loud without an amp.

Tuning your guitar

Right, so you’ve got your electric guitar. Now, what else do you need?

The only other thing you absolutely need, besides an electric guitar, is a way to tune it.

In the past, you’d need to use a piano or buy a dedicated tuner from a guitar store.

But! These days you can use websites and apps on your phone for tuning your guitar. This is a link to Fender’s online tuning app.

As time goes on, you’ll probably want to buy a dedicated tuner.

A dedicated tuner is extremely useful when intonating and setting up a guitar.

Plus, the ease and convenience of a clip-on tuner just can’t be beat.

But for now, an app or online tuner will be fine.

See this post for how to tune your guitar and this post for some tuner recommendations.

What do you Need to Play Electric Guitar: Amps

So, you have your guitar and some way to tune it.

Maybe you’ve even learned a few chords and a few licks.

Now it’s time to get yourself an amp. But which amp?

We highly recommend the Blackstar ID:Core 10 V3

Blackstar ID:Core 10 V3 Amp

It’s a very compact amp that delivers a lot of bang for your buck.

Plus, don’t let its small size fool you. This amp is LOUD.

If you live in an apartment, you’re probably going to want to warn your neighbors.

Additionally, it has effects on-board, and some great pre-set tones so you won’t have to invest in any pedals in order to be able to add some reverb to your tone.

What do you Need to Play Electric Guitar: The Nice to Haves

So you have your guitar, you can tune it, and you have an amp.

What other things are there that would be nice to have?

These are things that won’t necessarily make you a better guitar player but will make your life easier, or open up new playing options.

  • A Guitar Strap
    • This lets you stand while you’re playing. You don’t need one right away, but they’re pretty inexpensive and you’ll soon discover it’s difficult to truly rock out without one. We highly recommend this Ernie Ball Strap. It’s inexpensive, of great quality, and extremely durable.
  • Case or Gig Bag
    • A case or gig bag means you can safely travel with your electric guitar or store it in your closet easily.
  • Guitar Pedals
    • Buying a wah pedal or a flange pedal can spark your creativity by adding new options to your sound.
  • An Assortment of Picks
    • Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll want to try out different pick sizes and shapes. You’ll find that some fit your playing style better than others. We highly recommend a variety pack, such as this one which is a great way to narrow down your preferred pick.
  • A Guitar Stand
    • This is an important accessory that makes your life a lot easier. You may also find that you play your guitar a lot more often since you won’t have to dig it out of its case.
  • Capo
    • A capo can be useful when setting up a guitar, but it also allows you to raise the pitch of your playing. It’s fun to play with and there are some songs that you can’t play without one.

What do you Need to Play Electric Guitar: Accessories to Think About

These are things that are helpful to have, but not 100% necessary.

A few of these things, (like the string cutter) will make your life a lot easier.

Others are stuff you might not even realize you’d want.

  • Guitar String Winder
    • This will make putting new strings on your guitar go a lot faster and give you less hassle.
  • Strap Locks
    • This more securely attaches your strap to your guitar. No longer will you fear dropping your guitar.
  • Different Guitar Strings
    • It’s best to stick with the same brand and gauge of strings until you’ve got some playing time under your belt. After that, it’s definitely worth it to try a few different brands, gauges, and styles of guitar strings. See this post for more info on guitar strings.
  • Guitar String Cutter
    • These often come with a string winder, and it’s one of those things that make a HUGE improvement in your life but doesn’t seem like it would. It makes cutting your strings very easy. That may seem like a tiny, small, no-brainer, but spend some time wearing down wire cutters, and then see if you don’t feel the same way.
  • Instructional DVDs
    • One of the greatest things ever invented, you can learn all the tips and tricks of the shred masters from the comfort of your laptop.
  • Headphones with Long Wire
    • Assuming you have an amp that supports this, (and most practice amps do,) having headphones means you can practice at 3 am without disturbing anyone. Why the long wire? Simple. That way you can sit comfortably while you play. (You can also use an aux cable for this.)

What do you Need to Play Electric Guitar: Conclusion and FAQ

Vox amp and guitar

There you have it. Once you get started playing, there are other things you’ll probably discover along the way that you’d like to have.

But this post tries to cover the basics.

Bottom Line: As long as you have some type of basic electric guitar and a way to tune it, you’re ready to get started.

  • What about starter packs?
    • These are a great way to get started since they provide everything or almost everything you need.
  • What about guitar strings?
    • You will, at some point, need to change your strings. If you’re on a tight budget, and just starting out you probably won’t hear the difference between new and old strings. If, or rather when, a string breaks, then go ahead and change all of them.
  • Do you really not need an amp?
    • Yes, and no. If you can only afford a very cheap guitar and an amp, it would probably better to just buy the guitar, and save up for an amp. But! If you never play through an amp, not only are you not getting the full-on electric guitar experience, you’ll never develop the feel or chops that you only get by playing through an amp.
  • Don’t I need lessons or a teacher?
    • Lessons and a teacher will help you get better faster. But, no not necessarily. The benefits of a teacher are:
      • Immediate feedback,
      • Accountability
      • A Lesson Plan
    • But, if you just want to learn to play a few songs or are more comfortable learning on your own, there are plenty of resources available online.