Why Rock Guitar is Easier to Learn

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Why Rock Guitar is Easier to Learn

As an instructor, I have found that each student has a different taste in music. While this vast diversity is both engaging and exciting, I have found that of all genres I teach, one stands out more than any other. The most popular and sought out style of guitar playing is good old Rock and Roll.

This is no surprise, really – but what’s truly fortunate is that learning to play basic rock music on the guitar is one of the easiest styles to grasp. The main reason is that there are so few chords and chord shapes that one must learn in order to play a standard rock song.

For those who have played the guitar, you know that there are literally hundreds of different chords. Music types such as jazz and classical tend to be more elaborate and will make use of nearly all of these chord types and shapes.

However, when you play rock, you will only need to learn ONE main chord type/shape to get that sound. The power chord drives most of the rock genre, and is only sometimes rounded out by a few open chord shapes. These, too, are typically easy to learn.

In fact, you can pick them up by watching this free guitar lesson video that shows you how to play Em and Am chords:

Another advantage to learning rock music as a beginner is that the power chord itself is a moveable shape. Once you master this basic shape, you can play it up and down the neck to get a whole host of songs. Pretty easy!

Check out this free guitar lesson video to learn how to play a power chord:

Once you’ve got the power chord nailed, you can pretty easily pick up entire songs. You may then move into tablature.

Guitar tablature, or tabs for short, is the most common way to write guitar notation. While it’s not actually reading music, it is a quick and easy way for a guitar player to play just about any song they want. As you learn guitar tabs, you may develop a sense for how songs are put together. Rock music, in particular, tends to follow a very basic pattern and often uses repetitive chord progressions to flesh out a song.

Since Rock and Roll is, by and large, based on blues, a good example of this repetitive behavior would be the “12-Bar Blues” form. Built on only 3 chords, they go in a 12-bar cycle, and this pattern is used over and over until the song finishes. Jazz often employs this form, as well.

Rock music is based off of what is called “riffs.” Any given song may use several riffs, usually no more than four. Basically, you will have one riff for the verse and one for the chorus. The riff will repeat until the change to the next segment.

Some songs will have a bridge, which will employ a different riff from the verse or chorus, but then you will return to the familiar riffs. You can see how these patterns are pretty easy to understand and follow.

Besides the ease of learning, rock songs tend to be driven by emotion, and this can feel really good. The sheer feeling of joy you get with the amp turned up high and a song that makes you feel like king of the world is worth any amount of effort – but luckily, you are already playing the easiest and most popular genre of music on the planet!

Learning to play should be both fun and exciting. If you take the small amount of time and effort required to learn a power chord, you’re already well on your way. Just keep experimenting, and the rest will come easy.

Glenn Sutton
Ozzie’s Music
12222 Poway Road,
Suite #27
Poway,
California 92064

Phone 619-306-3664
858-679-6997

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