The hardest thing about playing chords when you get started is changing between them. To effectively change between chords, you need to be economical with your movements. Spend a bit of time thinking about where your fingers need to be for each chord, and work out the most efficient way to move from one to the other. For example, from a C major, you can flatten your index finger so it covers the first string too and move your middle and ring fingers both down a string to switch to an F. Easy changes to start with are between C major and A minor and G major and E minor.

The electric guitar initially met with skepticism from traditionalists, but country and blues players and jazz instrumentalists soon took to the variety of new tones and sounds that the electric guitar could produce, exploring innovative ways to alter, bend and sustain notes. The instrument's volume and tones proved particularly appealing to the enthusiasts of rock and roll in the 1950s.

Pickups are transducers attached to a guitar that detect (or "pick up") string vibrations and convert the mechanical energy of the string into electrical energy. The resultant electrical signal can then be electronically amplified. The most common type of pickup is electromagnetic in design. These contain magnets that are within a coil, or coils, of copper wire. Such pickups are usually placed directly underneath the guitar strings. Electromagnetic pickups work on the same principles and in a similar manner to an electric generator. The vibration of the strings creates a small electric current in the coils surrounding the magnets. This signal current is carried to a guitar amplifier that drives a loudspeaker.

Unlike many string instruments which use a bow to create a sound, guitars are played by plucking or strumming the strings on the instrument, which vibrate to create a sound. Chords are played when the guitarist holds their fingers down on more than one individual string to change its length, which in turn changes the frequency of the vibration created - in other words, it creates a different note. Performers often use guitar tabs, rather than sheet music, when learning music: this acts as a kind of 'map' to teach guitarists where to put their fingers on the strings.