I wish that I got this as my first guitar lesson! If you’re serious about how to play electric guitar for beginners step by step , make sure you are successful in your journey by starting here.

Getting Setup

Having your guitar properly set up will keep it in top shape, and allow you to play easier, faster and longer.

First, we are going to check out “The Action” of the strings. If this isn’t setup correctly, it can hold a beginner back from ever experiencing success on the guitar. The “action” of the guitar refers to the height of the strings off of the neck and body.  

If your guitar has “high action”, it will make it very difficult to press your fingers down and get a clean note.  While some advanced players enjoy setting-up and fine tuning their instrument, this can be a difficult task and it’s recommended you save this type of work for professional guitar builders and repair people who are titled “Luthiers”.

Here are some reasons you might want to consider consulting with a Luthier:

  1. If your strings are high off the fretboard (aka “your guitar has high action”)
  2. If your notes sound buzzy
  3. If your guitar won’t stay in tune
  4. If you find notes hard to fret
  5. You have bought a new guitar (often guitar stores offer a “free setup”)


The first thing you do when you pick up your guitar, is to tune it.  Tuning involves the tightening or loosening of a string to achieve the desired pitch or note.  No matter how good you are at the guitar, if you’re out of tune, it’s just going to sound bad.  This is not “Guitar Hero”, this is a live instrument.  Lack of use, extended use, and changes in the environment all have an affect on the tuning.  A soft touch with an element of ‘feel’ will become a skill you will master over time.

If you don’t have a tuner, buy a tuner.  If you have an iPhone or iPad, head over to the Apple App store, search “Will Ripley” and for $2.99 you can download my tuner!  It works with the built-in microphone, is extremely accurate and has over 100 tuning modes so you can use it for a bass, ukulele or even a banjo.  Now you’ll always have an easy to use tuner with you wherever you go!

Now! The fastest and most effective way to tune your guitar:

  1. Start with the fattest string, this is also referred to as your ‘lowest string’ or ‘low E string”.
  2. Doing your best to mute the other strings while you repeatedly hit the string, keeping your eyes on the tuner.  
  3. Now ask yourself, “Do I need to tighten or loosen the string?”.
  4. Simultaneously turn the tuning peg to achieve the pitch you’re looking for.

*You will get used to the feel of the strings.  Sometimes they need the smallest touch up, and sometimes they need to fall a bit flat in order to stretch to the desired pitch.

Now that you have progressively tuned all the strings, go through them again.  Remember when I said your guitar was a “live instrument”? The change in pressure on each string will both relax and have an effect the other strings. Wood is surprisingly flexible.

This may sound daunting and tedious but don’t worry, when practiced, the process will go very fast and make you sound in tune. Trust me, it’s worth every second!

Congratulations on taking the most important, very first steps to playing guitar! Your guitar is set-up, tuned and ready to be played. Now let’s learn how to play this thing!

Thanks for checking out the video and article of “Starting out right with your first guitar lesson ever.”

If you like what you see, get access to our full length, free beginner guitar course “5 Minute Guitar” at http://www.CampfireGuitarStar.com/starthere 

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