Playing guitar is an awesome pass time, often relaxing and is a prerequisite for any up and coming rock god.

In fact, getting together with other musicians for a "jam session" is often a highlight for many guitarists as it is an opportunity to showcase skills among like-minded friends and to share ideas, riffs, licks and techniques.

When you're making music with a whole bands worth of musicians and instruments there are several musical "highs" available to the guitarist. Like the awesome straight from the gut grin that rips across your face when the drummer, bassist and rhythm guitarist (you) are all "in the groove" and "tight".

Being "in the groove" is an expression for laying down a fat, kickarse groove that becomes the backbone of the entire song, the base that the vocal and guitar melodies are built on. Being "tight" means that the rhythm section of your band are playing note perfect and their timing is spot on. Timing is often the hardest part to get right, especially for musicians who have not played together often.

So where does the budding guitarist start ?

Well, first you'll need some equipment.

Many times I've heard people offering advice to learners that just plain sucks. Often they'll advise learning to play on an accoustic guitar and buying some learn to play type of book. Locking yourself in your room with this setup will get most people frustrated very quickly.

If you can afford one, buy an electric guitar and a small practice amp. Electric guitars often have a "rock neck" which is a thin, wide, easy to grasp neck that has wider string spacing and is consequently easier to play. Just the thing for beginners. Accoustic guitars on the other hand often have a more traditional type neck that is significantly thicker and will fatigue your fret hand quickly.

Electric guitars also enjoy a sonic advantage in their ability to create a variety of tones from soft and warm accoustic through to a make your eyes bleed type distortion. An electric guitar can do this by using a combination of its onboard circuitry and the settings on your amplifier. Even small practice amps come equipped with a "distortion" or "overdrive" button or a "gain" control, all of which will give you that fat, grumpy guitar sound loved by millions.

Why would the budding guitarist want distortion? The answer is simple my friend; that fat sound is what keeps you coming back for more and like any task, the more you practice the better you get.

Worried about pissing off your parents or neighbours? Get headphones. Nearly every practice amp I've ever seen had a headphone socket that allows you to blast away in total silence to the outside world.

I also suggest getting lessons from an accredited guitar teacher for at least long enough to learn the basics of fingering, picking and strumming. After that the choice is yours as to whether you keep up the formal lessons or strike out on your own and learn by jamming along with your favourite CD's or any one of several "band in a box" or teaching type software that is available for your PC. If you choose to utilise your computer then I suggest plugging the soundcard into an auxiliary input on your home stereo. PC speakers will not get loud enough to play along with an angry amplifier.

If you plan to jam along with other musicians then buy a 30 watt amplifier as a minimum. The drummer alone will easily drown out anything smaller...

If you'd like to see one bloke's great guitar site with plenty of cool downloads then rock over and check out Jerry C's site. He goes off!

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