GEAR TALK TUESDAY: 5 Things You Need To Start Playing Guitar
  • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2017

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

[Photo Credit: Mark Brown]

Are you looking to learn how to play the guitar? Have you been binge-watching YouTube videos of St. Vincent performing live and thinking to yourself, "damn, I wish I could be a total bad ass babe like her"? Well good news, because now you can! (Wow, is this a fucking infomercial?) If you are a beginner guitarist with little to no knowledge on the instrument, figuring out where to start will be naturally overwhelming, and that's why we're here to help! We are going to let you in on the five super secret items you need to succeed during this wildly fun new experience. So before you go freaking out, saying things like "ahhh, I need a $5,000 amp!" and "ahhh, I need 24 different kinds of pedals!", remember that when it comes down to it, all you really need is these 5 basic things. PRO TIP: It's not the type of gear you have, but how you use it (unless you're trying to wrap a bunch of rubber bands around a tissue box and strum them like a guitar, then you won't ever get anywhere).



1. A guitar.

Well this one was a given. How were you planning on learning how to play guitar without a guitar? There's the decision you have to make between acoustic and electric, but since we're trying to match Metallica level bad-assery, let's go with electric. Also, electric is easier to learn on since there's less space between the strings, aka your fingers don't have to stretch all the way to east bumblefuck to form that D minor chord.

As far as what kind of electric guitar goes - that's up to you. You could go for a classic Fender Strat, or even a Squier Telecaster (I personally own these two and can actually recommend). If you're not good with heavy objects or you get tired easily, you may want to opt for a semi hollow body. These are lighter because, well, it's semi hollow and... you get the point.





Or just get St. Vincent's signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitar if you really want to be her:



2. An amp.

If you were purchasing an acoustic guitar, you wouldn't really need an amp, but you are a rock 'n' rolling, Nirvana-loving, axe-slaying machine, so you need an amp.

The size depends on where and why you're playing your guitar. If you are mainly practicing in your living room with roommates, then you can do with a small practice amp. If you're looking to play shows at venues that don't provide basic backlines, then you might want to invest in a larger amp. Brands like Orange, Fender, and Marshall are allll good in the hood. Heck, you can even score this baby amp for twenty bucks if you're really in the early stages and not that serious about getting loud.

3. Pedals (Keep these BASIC!!!).

When I say "get pedals," I don't mean "start firing up that enormous pedalboard filled with unnecessary effects that you'd only ever see being used by The Edge." I mean get a cheap tuner pedal, which is totally necessary, along with maybe one or two basic effects that you think would help you inch closer to your dream sound. Again, something SIMPLE. Something you can use all the time, like reverb, delay, or fuzz. I couldn't recommend this EHX Soul Food overdrive pedal enough, or this Hall of Fame reverb, if you're going for that cool "HALLELUJAH CHURCH!" sound.

4. The internet.

This is one of the most important things and IT'S BASICALLY FREE! How dope is that? Unless you like the novelty of song books, you really don't need them. We live in a world where there's a video tutorial on YouTube for every individual guitar chord. You want to learn how to play a G? Look it up. You want to find out if you just discovered a new chord or if it already exists? Look it up. You want to find out how to change a broken string? Look it up.

Oh, and with the use of this magical tool, you can instantly cover any song you wish. You want to perform Adele's "Hello" for all of your friends? Look it up. One of my favorite guitar tab sites is Ultimate Guitar. You can find almost every song on there AND they have a phone app, so next time your friends request "Black Beatles," take them by surprise and serenade them with a sweet acoustic version. It's a nice party trick.



5. Small accessories.

I know, I know, when you hear accessories, you probably think, "um, my guitar doesn't need a purse," but think again: it does. You definitely want to make sure you're traveling with your guitar in a safe case, because if not, that sweet guitar you paid millions for will be DUNZO. Other little things you definitely want to pick up are guitar straps (so you can play while head-banging), picks (an obvious necessity), quarter inch cables (so you can connect to your amp and pedals), a capo (so you can mess around with key changes), and a jar (so you can start making bank). Okay, just kidding about that last one. Unless you are planning on going out on the street with this (and why the hell not?). Just make sure you've got a legal permit.

Happy slaying and always remember, ROCK 'N' ROLL!!!
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