Wanna Learn How To Play Rock Guitar?

Imagine her as your reward when you become a great guitarist.

Imagine her as your reward when you become a great guitarist.

So you wanna learn how to play rock guitar, hard rock guitar or heavy metal guitar? And you’re asking yourself , “how do I go about this?”

If you want to learn rock guitar, classical guitar, jazz guitar, blues guitar, country guitar, bluegrass geetar or Rap music guitar (does such a thing even exist?), I’m here to tell you what you DON’T need and what you DO need to be Damn Wicked.

Here’s what you DON`T need!

1. Do I need to take guitar lessons from an accredited teacher or school?

Unless you want to learn at a snail’s pace, lose precious time and lose your money. This probably won’t be a popular opinion but I’ve seen people who’ve been taking lessons forever and they can barely play. Their teachers put too much focus on theory and teach them things that aren’t practical. It’s best to teach guitar students songs from their favourite artists. It inspires them more. If Led Zeppelin is your favourite band, learn a simplified version of one of their easier songs. The main guitar line in Dazed and Confused is simple and easy. If you’re a big Black Sabbath fan, try the main guitar pattern in Electric Funeral. You know the part where Ozzy sings “Reflex in the sky, warn you you’re gonna die”? That one. It’s very easy and fun to learn for most beginner guitarist, Sabbath fans.

2. Do I need to learn music theory first?

FUCK THAT SHIT! The more practical hands-on playing you do, the more you come to understand theory. At least that’s how it was for me. Learn theory later, after you’ve developed a fair bit of physical skill. At that point you’ll be able to incorporate the theory you learn.

3. Gotta learn what a D sharp looks like on the treble clef staff and then be able to play it on the guitar, right?

NO, FuCk DaT ShIte! That won’t make you a better guitar player. Work on the physical aspects of playing before getting into notation.

4. Do I need a guitar that’ll cost me an arm and a leg?

FUCK DAT SHIT! Get a used Squire electric guitar off of Craigslist for $90 to $110 or grab a inexpensive used acoustic guitar for $100. Yamaha F-310 , Yamaha Eterna, Epiphone acoustics, Art & Luthrie are all good and inexpensive acoustic guitars. These days you can buy a pretty good quality guitar for a very modest sum of money.

The guitar I use most often for Damn Wicked

The guitar I use most often for Damn Wicked

5. Do I need a good amp?

FUCK DAT SHIT! You don’t even need an amp! I rarely used an amplifier when I was learning guitar and I still rarely use an amp for practising guitar.

6. Do I need special talent?

NO. FUCK THAT SHEE-ITE! Unless you want to be among the best in the world.

7. Do I need bigger hands and longer fingers?

Get the fuck outta here! Does Angus Young have big hands and long fingers?

8. Do I need to quit drinking and drugging in order to learn how to play?

No, quite the reverse actually!

Ace Frehley, strung out on blow and Cold Gin.

Ace Frehley, strung out on blow and Cold Gin.

Remember how good Eddie Van Halen was in the late 1970’s & early 80’s? That was also the time that he was all coked up and drinking like a fish. Maybe that’s why he was so creative back then……but it’s more likely he was that good in spite of the booze and drugs.

9. Am I too dumb to learn how to play guitar?

If you’re intellectually handicapped it’ll take longer to learn of course, but if you’re a driven imbecile you’ll be able to muster more mustard than the average intellectually superior, lazy-ass, guitar playing wannabe. That extra drive will compensate for your inherent genetic simpleton nature. Stay Hungry and keep pushing!

10. Do I need to give up all my social activities and fun time?

Fuck social activities! From now on it’s just you and your guitar. Guitar playing is your fun time now!
The more time and effort you apply to practising guitar, the better you become.

Do You really wanna Learn How To Play Rock Guitar?

Here’s what you DO need!

1. Just do it!

That’s right, don’t sit there thinking about it. You gotta pick up that 6 string and play with it.

2. Focus on one thing at a time.

Don’t try learning 5 open chords and 2 guitar licks on your first day of practise.
Start with 2 chords and try picking and strumming them if you’re just starting out. If that’s too difficult, just pick a pattern of 3 notes and play that sequence over and over.

3. Get inspired by your favourite bands and musicians.

Jimmi Page from Led Zeppelin

Jimmi Page from Led Zeppelin

I was about 10 or 11 when I started playing guitar. I was a huge KISS fan and I bought a KISS guitar book that showed me how to play just the basic root chords of their songs. So I’d pick up my dad’s big old acoustic guitar and strum out the chords to Strutter, Dr. Love or Shout It Out Loud while singing along with my playing. KISS inspired me so much, that even though the acoustic was WAY too big for me and the strings were so heavy and high off the fretboard, I would still practise in those conditions and ignore the physical pain in my fingers. At the time I thought I sounded like a million bucks but truth is, I sounded like absolute shit! We all sound like shit when we’re first beginning. The point though is to get inspired so much that you practise enough to graduate from shit to not-too-bad, then from not-too-bad to decent, then from decent to good, then from good to very good and from very good to excellent, to awesome, to incredible and finally to Damn Wicked.

4. Don’t be a perfectionist!

Perfectionism is deleterious when you’re first learning guitar. It’ll slow your progress and it might eventually cause you to stop playing guitar entirely. Just play a simple song, riff, chords, lick from start to finish without worrying about being accurate and concise. Don’t second guess things at this stage. Later on after you’ve improved quite a bit, then you can clean things up and fix all the sloppiness in your guitar playing. Be imperfect now. Perfectionism comes later after you’ve advanced somewhat.

5. Buy an inexpensive guitar that plays well and doesn’t have any major problems.

Make sure the guitar is set up properly and the intonation is fairly good. Check the electronics (pickups, pots and switches) to make sure everything’s in good working condition.

6. Invest some time.

You need to take the time to learn how to play guitar. There aren’t any short cuts to getting better at your instrument. The more quality time you spend with your guitar, the more improvement you’ll accomplish.

7. Stay present and focused. Get in the Zone.

Check out this beginner's odd upright guitar technique :))

Check out this beginner’s odd upright guitar technique :))

Imagine two beginner guitar players with the exact same guitar skills or lack thereof. They both practise an hour every day, 7 days a week. One guy is watching TV, checking out the hot chiquitas on the tube as he noodles around on the guitar. The other guy’s eyes are fixed to his guitar and he has nothing on his mind except accomplishing the task in front of him, learning this new riff, lick or chord. Who do you think will learn more in an hour? The guy watching TV will learn a little, but the guy who’s focused intently with practising will learn much more, especially if he’s really absorbed in that zen-like zone. Don’t be a distracted learner, stay focused. Lock yourself in a room and tune out all distractions.

8. Go to Youtube.com

You can find all sorts of guitar lessons online. Youtube and other video sites like it are great because they give you visual aids so that you can follow along, and if you need to stop or rewind the lesson you can do so easily. If I was just learning guitar I would be on there all the time picking up new tricks. In fact Youtube is great for advanced players too! Learning, with all things in music and life is never-ending.

9. Break the rules.

Don’t feel obligated to play within the rules of music theory or technique. If you happen to unintentionally play something that sounds good to you but doesn’t conform to the conventionally held ideas of others, FUCK IT! Play Dat Shit your way! Some teachers will tell you that you have to do it this way or do it that way. Use your instinct. Learning how to play guitar, especially rock guitar, is similar to learning how to walk. Noone taught you how to do that. You just observed and mimicked what the bigger people did. You didn’t need perfect technique to do that. You didn’t need theory. Do the same with your fingers and hands now as you did with your legs when you were learning how to walk. Stand up,…take a step,….fall down,….get back up. Rinse and repeat…. Over and over and over again. One day you’ll be Damn Wicked.

10. There’s no right and there’s no wrong. Familiarity breeds understanding.

Similar to #9.
At the beginning stages of learning guitar don’t try to get it right. Just , play, play, play, practise and practise some more. The more time you spend with your hands on your axe, the more familiar you become with what works and what doesn’t work. The more time you hold the guitar in your hands, even if you’re not completely focused, the more you familiarize yourself with the fretboard layout and what it feels like to hold a guitar. Familiarity breeds understanding!

Even the greatest rock guitarists can learn something new everyday. Noone knows it all. The best thing to do is – JUST DO IT. Pick up your axe and go!

Anyone got more advice about learning how to play guitar?

Brent Johnston
Damn Wicked