What Do You Need to Play Electric Guitar?: Essential Electric Guitar Equipment

What Do You Need to Play Electric Guitar

Are you ready to start playing electric guitar? Before you can play your favorite songs, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment to get started.

In this guide, we’ll cover the essential gear you need and why it matters.

Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just starting out, having the right equipment is crucial for a successful guitar-playing experience. From the guitar itself to must-have accessories, we’ll help you understand what you need to start playing electric guitar.

So, let’s get started.

Key Takeaways:

  • Playing electric guitar requires specific gear and equipment.
  • Essential items include the guitar, amplifier, accessories, effects pedals, lessons and practice tools, maintenance and care items, and gear for expanding your collection.
  • Exploring different equipment and developing a unique sound is an important part of the guitar-playing journey.

What Do You Need to Play Electric Guitar?

Before you start your electric guitar playing journey, there is essential equipment that you’ll need to consider in your budget, many of which aren’t obvious. Here is a list of some essential equipment that you’ll need to play electric guitar. 

  • Electric Guitar: The primary instrument itself. Electric guitars come in various shapes, sizes, and configurations, but they all have electromagnetic pickups to capture string vibrations and turn them into an electronic signal.
  • Guitar Amplifier (Amp):
    • An electronic device that amplifies the electric signal from the guitar’s pickups.
    • Makes the guitar sound audible and can shape the tone using built-in controls (like bass, mid, and treble).
  • Instrument Cable:
    • Used to connect the electric guitar to the amplifier.
    • Typically has 1/4 inch jack connectors on both ends.
  • Guitar Picks (Plectrums):
    • Small plastic, nylon, or tortex pieces used to strum or pick the guitar strings.
    • They come in various thicknesses to suit different playing styles.
  • Guitar Strap:
    • Allows the guitarist to play while standing up.
    • Attaches to the guitar and goes over the shoulder.
  • Tuner:
    • Electronic or manual device to help tune each string to the correct pitch.
    • Clip-on tuners attach directly to the guitar’s headstock and sense vibrations, while pedal tuners are used in pedalboard setups.
  • Spare Strings:
    • Strings wear out, break, or lose their tone over time.
    • It’s essential to have replacements on hand.
  • String Winder and Cutter:
    • A tool to help change guitar strings faster.
    • The cutter is used to trim excess string length.
  • Guitar Stand:
    • A stand to place the guitar when not in use.
    • Prevents the guitar from falling and getting damaged.
  • Guitar Case or Gig Bag:
    • Protective carrying case for transporting the guitar.
    • Hard cases offer more protection, while gig bags are lighter and more portable.
  • Effects Pedals (optional):
    • Electronic devices that alter the guitar’s tone or add effects like distortion, delay, reverb, etc.
    • They can be individual pedals or multi-effects units.
  • Capo (optional):
    • A device that clamps onto the guitar neck, raising the pitch of the strings.
    • Allows the guitarist to play in different keys without changing chord shapes.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance Supplies:
    • Including a cloth, polish, fretboard oil, and more.
    • Helps in keeping the guitar in good condition and extends its life.

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list, and not everything on this list may be necessary at the beginning of your guitar-playing journey, depending on your goals and the style of music you wish to play.  

As you develop as a guitar player, you’ll likely find other essential guitar equipment for your rig specifically catered to your needs. 

Choosing the Right Electric Guitar

Choosing the right electric guitar is crucial to your success as a beginner. Finding the perfect fit as your first guitar can inspire you to practice and improve your playing. Here are some electric guitar essentials that you should consider when choosing your beginner electric guitar gear:

  1. Body shape: The shape of the guitar can affect your playing comfort, especially when standing up. Stratocaster, Telecaster, Les Paul, and SG are popular electric guitar body shapes.
  2. Pickups: Pickups are responsible for converting the guitar’s strings’ vibrations into electric signals that can be amplified. Single-coil pickups produce a bright, clean sound, while humbucker pickups produce a warmer, fuller sound.
  3. Playability: The guitar’s playability refers to how easily you can play it. Factors such as the neck shape, fret size, and action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard) can affect playability. Look for a guitar that feels comfortable to play and allows you to reach all the frets easily.

When selecting your electric guitar essentials, remember that your choice should reflect your musical preferences and playing style. Don’t hesitate to try out different guitars to find the one that suits you best. It helps to have an idea of some of the famous guitars you want to emulate before you buy a guitar, as it will allow you to emulate their style and genre of music. 

And while your new guitar doesn’t need to be expensive, you want to ensure it will inspire you to play it. This usually means something that looks aesthetically pleasing to you and is comfortable to play. 

Amplifiers and Their Role

You’ll need an amplifier to experience your electric guitar’s sound fully. Guitar amps are an essential piece of equipment for electric guitar players and choosing the right one is important. There are two types of amplifiers: practice amps and performance amps.

Practice amps are smaller and more compact, making them great for personal use and small venues. Performance amps are larger and designed for bigger venues and performances. When selecting an amplifier for beginners, consider the size, power, and features such as built-in effects, headphone jacks, and auxiliary inputs.

It’s also important to note that amplifiers work hand-in-hand with your guitar, so consider how the two will complement each other. For instance, if you have a guitar with single-coil pickups, you may want an amplifier that can produce bright and clear tones. If you have a guitar with humbucker pickups, you may want an amplifier that can produce thicker and more distorted tones.

Having the right amplifier can make a significant difference in your sound and playing experience. Take the time to research and choose the amplifier that fits your needs and budget.

Read Also: How To Set Up a Guitar Amp: The Complete Guide

Must-Have Electric Guitar Accessories

Aside from the electric guitar itself, several accessories are essential for any beginner guitarist. These accessories enhance your playing and contribute to the overall experience of playing electric guitar. Here are some electric guitar accessories that you shouldn’t miss:

Guitar PicksOne of the most important accessories for electric guitar playing. Picks come in various thicknesses and materials that affect the sound produced. Experiment with different types to find your preferred choice.
Guitar StrapsA good guitar strap is essential for playing comfort and convenience. Look for a strap that is adjustable, padded, and durable.
Guitar CablesConnect your guitar to the amplifier with a good-quality cable. Look for a cable that is shielded to minimize interference and noise.
TunersKeeping your guitar in tune is important. Use electronic tuners or tuning apps to ensure that your guitar is always in tune.

In addition to the above accessories, you may also want to consider guitar stands, cases, and gig bags for transportation and storage.

Having the right electric guitar accessories is crucial for better guitar playing. They are not just additional expenses but rather guitar playing essentials that contribute to creating better sounds and improving the overall experience of playing electric guitar.

Read Also: Essential Guitar Accessories Every Guitar Player Must Have

The Power of Effects Pedals

One of the most exciting aspects of playing electric guitar is the ability to experiment with different sounds and tones. Effects pedals are crucial to creating unique sounds and expanding your sonic palette. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, adding effects pedals to your gear list can greatly enhance your playing.

Many types of effects pedals are available, each with its unique sound and purpose. Distortion pedals are great for creating heavy, aggressive tones while delay pedals add depth and atmosphere to your playing. Reverb pedals are ideal for adding space and texture to your sound, while modulation pedals like chorus, phaser, and flanger, can produce a wide range of interesting sounds.

Choosing effects pedals that suit your playing style and skill level is important for beginners. Start with one or two pedals and experiment with different settings to see how they affect your sound. As you become more comfortable with effects pedals, you can explore different types and brands to expand your sonic options.

When it comes to buying effects pedals, it’s essential to invest in quality gear that will last. Look for pedals from reputable brands and read reviews to understand their performance and reliability. Don’t be afraid to try out different pedals and ask for recommendations from other players or music store professionals.

Overall, effects pedals are a must-have for any electric guitar player looking to create their unique sound. Start with a few pedals, experiment with different settings, and have fun exploring all the sonic possibilities that effects pedals have to offer.

Finding the Right Guitar Lessons

Learning to play electric guitar is an exciting journey but can also be challenging. That’s why finding the right guitar lessons is essential. Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, taking lessons can help you develop your skills and techniques.

There are several guitar lesson options, each with pros and cons. Online lessons are convenient and affordable but may lack personalized feedback and interaction. Private instructors offer one-on-one attention but can be costly and require scheduling. Self-study materials provide flexibility and control, but they require discipline and motivation.

Consider your skill level, learning style, and budget when looking for the right guitar lessons. Look for courses or teachers that align with your goals and have positive reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request a trial lesson to ensure compatibility. Learning the guitar can vary based on the genre of music you want to be able to play, so try to find a guitar teacher who is well-versed in the type of music your want to play. 

Overall, taking guitar lessons is crucial to developing your playing abilities and understanding the essential equipment for electric guitar. It’s an investment in your musical journey and worth exploring to help you learn guitar.

Read Also: How Much Do Guitar Lessons Cost?

Practice Tools and Aids

As a beginner guitarist, you must have the right practice tools and aids to assist you in your learning journey. These tools can help you refine your playing techniques and improve your overall guitar skills. Here are some electric guitar must-haves and gear for beginners to consider:

  • Metronomes: A metronome is an excellent practice aid for developing your sense of timing. It helps you keep a steady beat and play in time with the music.
  • Chord Charts: Chord charts are useful for learning new chords and songs. They provide a visual representation of the chords and their finger placements, making it easier to play along.
  • Backing Tracks: Backing tracks are instrumental recordings you can play with. They provide a simulated band environment, allowing you to practice playing with other musicians and developing your musicality.  They’re also just a fun way to learn guitar since it’ll give you a taste of what its like to create actual music, which is the whole point. 
  • Guitar Stands: A guitar stand is an essential accessory for keeping your guitar safe and secure when not in use. It helps prevent damage and enables easy access to your instrument during practice sessions.
  • Finger Exercisers: Finger exercisers are handy tools for strengthening your fingers and improving your dexterity. They help develop your finger independence and stamina, making it easier to play complex guitar pieces.
  • Guitar Straps: A guitar strap is an essential accessory for playing standing up. It helps distribute the guitar’s weight and prevent strain on your back and shoulders.

By incorporating these practice tools and aids into your guitar routine, you can improve your playing skills and make steady progress towards becoming an accomplished electric guitarist.

Essential Maintenance and Care

As a beginner, learning how to maintain and care for your electric guitar is important. Regularly performing basic maintenance tasks’ll prolong the lifespan and ensure optimal performance of your instrument. Here are some essential maintenance tips:

  1. Keep it clean: To clean your guitar, regularly wipe down your guitar with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust and dirt. Use a mild cleaner for stubborn grime, but avoid spraying directly on the guitar.
  2. Change strings: Electric guitar strings should be changed every few months or when they become worn. Use the appropriate gauge strings for your guitar and follow proper winding techniques.
  3. Adjust the truss rod: If your guitar’s neck is bowed or has too much relief, adjust the truss rod to restore proper alignment. Be careful not to over-tighten.

Following these basic maintenance tasks will keep your guitar in top condition. However, if you encounter any issues beyond your expertise, seek professional repair services.

Additionally, be sure to invest in a guitar case to protect your instrument from scratches, dents or damage.

Read Also: Professional Guitar Setup: What is it and Do You Need One?

Expanding Your Gear Collection

As you progress in your electric guitar journey, you may want to explore new gear options and expand your collection. Here are some items to consider adding to your electric guitar gear list:

Multi-effects UnitA multi-effects unit is a versatile piece of equipment that allows you to create a wide range of sounds and tones. It combines various effects pedals into one unit, making it more convenient to use and transport.
Additional GuitarsHaving more than one guitar can offer you more variety in sound and playability. Consider adding different types of guitars, such as a bass or acoustic guitar, to your collection.
Recording GearInvesting in recording gear can be beneficial if you want to record your playing or create your own music. Look for a digital audio workstation and audio interface to get started.

Remember, it’s important to explore new gear options and not get overwhelmed gradually. Choose items that align with your musical goals and interests.

Creating Your Signature Sound

Now that you have gathered all the necessary gear for electric guitar playing, it’s time to explore your creativity and develop your own sound. As a beginner, you may be overwhelmed by the variety of gear options available, but don’t worry. You’ll discover your preferences and develop your style with time and practice.

To start, experiment with different settings on your electric guitar and amplifier. Adjust the tone knobs, try different pickup combinations, and vary the level of distortion or overdrive. This will help you create different sounds and find what works best for you.

Next, consider adding effects pedals to your setup. Effects pedals can significantly enhance your sound and provide you with more flexibility and options. Start with basic pedals like distortion, delay, and reverb, and gradually explore more advanced options as you progress.

Remember that your signature sound is not just about gear and settings, but also about your playing technique and style. Challenge yourself to learn new techniques and experiment with different playing styles. Try playing with different pick materials and gauges, or practice fingerpicking techniques. This will help you develop a unique sound and style.

Finally, don’t forget to listen to and learn from other guitarists. Listen to different genres and styles and how other guitarists approach their playing and sound. This can provide you with inspiration and new ideas to incorporate into your own playing.

Creating your signature sound is a journey, so enjoy the process and have fun exploring your musical potential. Remember that progress takes time and practice, but with dedication and perseverance, you’ll develop your own unique style and sound.


Now that you have learned about the essential equipment needed to play electric guitar, it’s time to start building your gear collection. Remember to choose the right beginner electric guitar that fits your style and preferences. Remember amplifiers and accessories, which can significantly enhance your playing experience.

As you progress in your guitar-playing journey, consider expanding your gear collection and experimenting with different effects pedals and recording gear. But don’t forget the importance of proper maintenance and care for your instrument to ensure its longevity.

Remember, taking guitar lessons and using practice tools can assist you in developing your skills and exploring your musical potential. And most importantly, have fun and create your signature sound by exploring different settings, techniques, and gear.


Q: What do you need to play electric guitar?

A: To play electric guitar, you will need the following:

  • Electric Guitar
  • Guitar Amplifier (Amp)
  • Instrument Cable
  • Guitar Picks (Plectrums)
  • Guitar Strap
  • Tuner
  • Spare Strings
  • String Winder and Cutter
  • Guitar Stand
  • Guitar Case or Gig Bag
  • Effects Pedals (optional)
  • Capo (optional)
  • Cleaning and Maintenance Supplies

Q: Do I need an amp to play electric guitar?

A: Yes, you will need an amplifier (amp) to properly hear the sound of your electric guitar. Without an amp, the sound will be very low and may not be audible.

Q: What other equipment do I need to play electric guitar?

A: In addition to an amp, you will need a guitar tuner to tune your guitar, a guitar strap to hold the guitar while playing, guitar strings to replace old ones, and a guitar case to protect your instrument when not in use.

Q: Can I play electric guitar without an amp?

A: Technically, yes, you can play an electric guitar without an amplifier. However, the sound will be very faint, and the true potential of the electric guitar won’t be realized without an amp.

Q: What do I need to learn to play electric guitar?

A: To learn to play electric guitar, you will need a guitar and amp setup. This includes the electric guitar itself, a compatible amplifier, a guitar tuner, and guitar strings.

Q: Do I need guitar pedals to play electric guitar?

A: Although guitar pedals are not necessary, they can enhance your sound and provide various effects. As a beginner, you can start playing the electric guitar without using pedals.

Q: What is a good beginner guitar to buy?

A: A good beginner guitar to buy is one that is affordable, durable, and easy to play. There are many brands that offer beginner-friendly electric guitars, such as Fender, Yamaha, and Epiphone.

Q: Do I need everything to play electric guitar?

A: While there are many accessories and additional equipment available for electric guitar players, you don’t necessarily need everything to get started. The basic necessities include an electric guitar, an amp, a guitar tuner, and guitar strings.

Q: Where can I buy everything I need to play electric guitar?

A: You can buy everything you need to play electric guitar from various music stores both online and offline. It’s recommended to visit a guitar store in person to try out different options and get advice from knowledgeable staff.

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