January 27, 2022

About the Author: Stefan Joubert

Founder of S&C and master guitarist. He loves teaching guitar and believes everyone can learn to play!

Who Are Your Guitar Heroes?

Now there must be a reason why you want to start learning rock guitar, and it’s probably because you’ve been listening to a particular guitarist or rock band, and you want to be just like them! Or at least, sound something like them. Identifying who your influences are in this genre will be helpful in establishing your goals on the guitar and give you a sound in your head to work towards. For example, if you love Slash from Guns ’N’ Roses, working towards playing the intro to “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” or the strummy intro to “Paradise City” will give you the motivation to practice and a great pay off moment when you finally nail it!

man playing the electric guitar

What Songs Do You Want to Learn?

Having particular songs in mind that you want to learn is a very good thing, as these are clear goals that may be short or long term for each guitar student. I always find that the student is far more likely to practice at home when they have picked the song themselves since it is a piece of music that they like and love hearing themselves play it! It’s easy enough to jump on YouTube and type in “how to play _______” and try to figure out from the instructions on-screen how the song goes. Many students will start off this way but will usually hit a wall when they realise they don’t understand the fundamentals that are going on to creating the songs that they love. There are many basics that go into learning guitar that form the songs that you listen to, so although you may be able to cut a few corners by learning from a YouTube tutorial, you won’t actually understand what you are playing, which will make the process of learning songs harder each time you start a new piece.

man playing the guitar

Finding a qualified tutor in your local area (or online via video call) that you connect with and admire the playing of is extremely important to learning rock guitar or any instrument for that matter since they will know what prior knowledge you will need for a song and will take you through this at your own pace in a way that makes sense to you. There will be a few weeks of fundamentals to first cover if you are completely new to the guitar, such as basic fretting and strumming technique, open chords, power chords, barre chords, major and pentatonic scales, and instruction in how to set up some basic tones on an amplifier! By going to an industry professional, you have the advantage of getting feedback in real-time on how you are performing in each of these fundamental elements of guitar playing and will know if you are on the right track or if some critiquing is needed.

Do You Have an Electric Guitar?

Since rock music is predominantly played on the electric guitar, it is rather important when wanting to learn rock guitar to have one of these! Perhaps you have started off on an old nylon string that’s been sitting around for years to get you started so you would know if you were keen on continuing or not? Although this may be smart for a week or two of lessons, the sounds that you are making will never sound close to the recording of your favourite song that you aspire to play since any sort of acoustic guitar will be almost an entirely different instrument in terms of its tone and even how it feels to play. Having the right tools for the job is incredibly important, not only a quality electric guitar that is set up well (a medium to lower action for this style) but also a guitar amplifier.

man practising the guitar

Do You Have an Amplifier With Distortion?

The amp will be just as important (if not more!) as the electric guitar itself since a lot of the tone comes from the amplifier. Distortion or overdrive will be crucial to sounding authentic in this style, as this is the effect that gives the electric guitar its impact and sustains. There are many great amplifiers available that have all the effects you would need building in (such as the Boss Katana amp range), or alternatively, if your amp has only a single clean channel, you can use a distortion pedal into it to achieve your distorted tones. Do a little research beforehand, or chat to your tutor about what type of distortion you will be after to reach your desired sub-genre of rock.

Finally, after acquiring the right gear, finding a great tutor, and learning the basics, there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s to get rocking!

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