Ideally, you’d play your electric guitar with a metronome and without an amp for a while to be nice to your house mates, as it can sound pretty bad when you’re starting out, plus without an amp, you can hear the metronome easier. The next step might be some sort of headphone arrangement. Followed by some way to record yourself. Maybe even a looper. That let’s you lay down some rhythm that you can use to practice over. Playing back a recording of yourself is very instructive. After you can stand to hear yourself play, you can get a practice amp, although you still might find yourself practicing most without an amp or through some headphones.

There are a lot of options with a lot of overlap these days. Some look like they’d be an ideal all-in-one solution, only to find out that the work flow doesn’t suite you. Something that is too hard to use won’t get used for long. Unfortunately, you may have to try a few options yourself to see what works for you. When you’re starting out, I wouldn’t worry about studio quality, because by the time you become a studio quality player, anything you buy now will likely be horribly obsolete. The exception might be a good tube amp, but the good ones are typically out of your budget as a beginner.

Here are some options to consider when planning out your gear purchases. Ideally you’d be able to try them out in the store before you buy to see if you’re really going to like them or not, but that’s not always possible.  As always, read the on-line reviews to see what other’s have found.

Beginners Intermediate Advanced
The Guitar Y Y Y
Electronic Tuner Y Y Y
Practice Amp Y Y Y
Practice Aids Y Y
Notation Software Y Y

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