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Craka

Absolute beginner question

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Craka    0

I've always wanted to learn how to play guitar, and find myself ready to purchase one and learn, however not sure on what to purchase.

I like music from Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Eagles, Led Zepplin, Wolf Mother. For my interest in their styles should I start with an Electric or Acoustic guitar and what would be a reasonable guitar to start with?

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karcey    42

Welcome to the forum. Take Stratrat's advice (above) but read it twice, and while you're at it, have a browse through some of the other posts on the forum because there's plenty of information there.

My warning about electric guitars is that the guitar itself is but a small part of the setup. After that you need an amp. But not just a simple amp like they sell in starter packs, you need one which will create different sound effects.

For example, I have an electric and a 20w amp which I thought was what I needed. All it does is make the guitar louder. Big deal. The novelty wears off that after about five minutes (or less if there's someone else in the house!) There are plenty of posts here about different amps, so I'll let you read them or let someone else give advice. So the message is, make sure your budget will run to an electric setup that will satisfy you, or you'll lose interest real fast.

The acoustic guitar isn't anywhere near so dependent on extra investments. Generally when you find a suitable one you will have endless playing enjoyment, without buying anything else but strings, at least until GAS strikes. But the acoustic can't, by design, play the sounds that an electric can.

Back to you, what sort of noise do you want to make?

Lastly, there is no "best guitar". Each of the well known brands has its disciples who will argue till the end of time about what sounds best. Many of the no-name brands are also good. But beware, the build quality can be poor. There is no excuse for anything being less than perfect on even a cheap guitar. So be sure you can see no signs of poor workmanship at all in anything you buy. Someone to help you inspect an intended new purchase is always a good idea.

Keep in touch, ask more questions, refine your requirements before you purchase. Then you can have the best learning experience.

p.s. Which Newcastle are you at?

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Noodler    1

I think Karcey means are you an Aussie or in the UK?

As a short, direct answer, a good budget setup would be something like a Stratocaster copy (like a Squier Std or Affinity Strat, Samick, etc) and a good cheap amp. I would stongly suggest a Vox Valvetronix. It's a great amp that can produce a huge range of sounds for not much money. They've just come down in price too. That will get you set up for under A$800 with gear that's not junk.

Reason: Knoppfler and Clapton play strats, Joe Walsh did on the Eagles latest tour too. Even Jimmy Page used to use a Telecaster sometimes. If you get a "HSS" Strat, which has one humbucker in it, you can't get more versatile than that.

Beware the world of buying acoustic guitars, IMO. I've been playing for 16 years and if I ever want another acoustic guitar, I will be paying a pro a lesson fee to come with me. So many pitfalls and misleading advertising (see thread on buying an acoustic guitar). It's much harder to choose a good budget one. I got duped into spending $1000 on a Chinese-made, no-name instrument that has no resale, is too big for me, has no pickup, etc. I tried 3 of the same guitar and they were all different too, as Chinese-made guitars are. It had buzzes until I spent an extra $70 getting it set up. :reallymad: It does look really pretty....Next time I'd give my teacher the $1000, and just say buy me a good guitar and keep the change. He could get mates rates too I suppose. There is a gentle slope of acoustic guitars up to about A$5,000. It's hard to know if you're getting a lemon or not.

Good luck.

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karcey    42

"I think Karcey means are you an Aussie or in the UK?"

Actually there are more than a dozen Newcastles in the world including Canada, US, South Africa. I'm always curious because it's a name I know well.

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Craka    0

I'm in the old steel city, NSW, Australia.

Thanks for the advice guys. I sort of think I'm leaning towards electric, but at the same time feel as though that may be cheating.

By the way of electric guitar, I know that an amp is need for amplification to play to anyone, however, if I were just wanting to listen through headphones do I still need and amp or is that enough pre-amp through the pickup for headphones?

Karcey do you have a preference now for acoustic rather than electric to play on yourself?

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karcey    42

Good to have another home towner here.

There is no such thing as cheating, just opportunism. The problem with simple electric amplification is that the effects aren't there. You can hear the strings twanging with nothing at all. Any amp makes it audible but doesn't give enough control of the sound to replicate the music they play on stage. A little plug in device may be enough for you to try (http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/guitar-gear/21475-anybody-tried-one-these-yet/) but please get some real feedback from one of our electric players before you jump at anything.

For my part I decided to learn on acoustic; I now have a collection of them and I'm deleriously happy. The electric is still there but I won't need it until I have a bit more skill and wan't to diversify. I don't sing, so the guitar has to do more than just accompany. It has to play the whole tune. Fingerstyle is my bag now.

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Noodler    1

Beyond being able to play chords and some leads, acoustic and electric guitar kind of become different beasts. I was told that I had to learn on an acoustic to "learn to play properly." That's not right. At an intermediate level they require a different skill set. From the list of groups you listed, electric is for you, unless you want to do EC Unplugged, play the Eagles acoustically, etc, which can be done.

Acoustic guitar is primarily a percussion instrument. No, that's not a typo. If you're strumming, it's as much about keeping a strong beat, percussive strums, etc as the chord you're playing. Fingerstyle is it's own thing too. They even design acoustic guitars specifically to suit that style with the strings spread further apart to help individual notes ring out more easily. I don't pretend to be the best at acoustic guitar, but that's because of the drumming half of it.

Electric guitar has it's own skills. Yes, it takes strength to hold down an F chord on a dreadnought acoustic with "13's", but it also takes strength to do bends in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan too. You've got to be more careful about dynamics and not hitting other strings, since everything you play gets amplified. You'vo got to get those bends to pitch, be accurate with harmonics, etc.

Right now I find electric guitar more fun, and with the setup I suggested (Strat copy + Valvetronix amp) you can't lose. There is the Amplug from Vox as Karcey suggested, or the Pathfinder 15R, for about $220. Vox and Roland make the best cheap gear.

No, you can't just plug headphones into the guitar without something like the Amplug and hear it.

I personally don't like to play with headphones on (it's uncomfortable), but that's up to you. I bought a pocket Piod to play with headphones on to be quiet and never use it. Playing without plugging into anything I Ok too, but you'll notice your mistakes when you do plug in.

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Craka    0

Thanks guys, I think that has just confirmed my direction on what to learn on. I think maybe the acoustic may be for a later time, when I want something different than electric.

I had a look at the Vox Valvetronic amps online, and seen they come in various power output, any advice on which would be preferable between the 15Watt and 30Watt units?

One other thing begs question is that considering I cannot play a chord at this stage how do I select a guitar to purchase. I've read comments of people stating to get someone at the music store to play different style on different guitars to to find what I like, but are the likely to do this?

ps: Karcey do you live in Newie aswell?

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karcey    42

Yep, I'm at Teralba (just like Heaven but no angels).

I bought a guitar at Muso's Corner once. Knew what I wanted ... no problems. Still love it.

Bought one at Music Solutions at Warners Bay too. Beautiful instrument. Happy to deal with them anytime.

Bought stuff from Lathams at Kotara. Bent over backwards to help me. Good experience.

Went to Sydney to a place called Guitar Factory. Parramatta Road near Concord I think. Wow is that a guitar shop!

There's one at Newcastle West too, Billy Hyde I think. Seemed friendly and not pushy when I went nosing around in there too. Haven't been in for a while but they're probably still there.

Not much help am I? Because I've been fooling around with music for a long time I generally know what I want and look for it specifically. Often takes a while but the smile is longer lasting.

Different shops stock different brands, and dollars are frequently not representative of quality. But in my experience all the local shops seem to be run by real people who love playing music.

I asked a young salesman at one of the local shops what was the difference between the top shelf stuff and the cheaper models. He replied "Marketing." To a certain extent he's right, but not totally. As you get experienced you'll develop preferences for weight, tone, colour, neck thickness, even shape will become attractive. So no-one is going to tell you exactly what to buy because no-one else knows what your preferences are.

Maybe if you start with a sensible budget and buy a guitar which looks perfect, which the shop will back if it develops problems, which feels about the right weight when it's on the strap around your neck, which is an attractive colour, which has a smooth neck which feels nice in your hand, maybe then you'll get a guitar which will last a good length of time before you feel the need to upgrade.

Don't get tied up in research about alder bodies and maple necks. You won't hear the difference for many years to come. But do make sure you absolutely love the one you buy. No compromises here. It'll be your soul mate through some tedious learning and it has to be nice enough to keep calling you back.

Don't look at too many pawn shops around here either. Overpriced rubbish. The good ones don't make it to the shop.

Just had a thought. A few years ago we bought a Behringer electric for the grandson to learn on. Cheap as. But he still plays it as well as others he's bought since. Got it in New Lambton ... Music Headquarters.

Go looking without your wallet, pick up and hold a hundred or so and listen to what the sales people say. Get back to us with your impressions; the members here will be interested in your voyage of discovery.

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Noodler    1

Yeah, I agree with all Karcey has said there, but I think he's been a bit lucky too. I've come across two dodgy dealers in Brisbane.

When my Mum bought me my first electric I was in year 10 and the school music teacher sent me to a shop in Lismore which was owned by his friend. There was no internet then, I couldn't afford mags, I knew nothing, but the shop owner set me up with a nice strat copy. I still love and play that guitar. The point is that the guy looked after me.

If Karcey has been to certain shops and tried them, I'd trust that, seriously. Like I said, I spent $1000 on an acoustic kind of lemon and I'm not new to guitar. That was from a shop that's been in business for over 20 years! Another shop I have returned so much faulty gear I think they offer factory 2nds. Never going back now. If you go to the right shop (not the kind that gives you the vibe it's all about money), you can pretty much trust them.

I agree about the marketing thing too. I bought a Squier Affinity Tele the other day because it has more twang than some $1500 ones I've tried. $330 bucks and I love it.

As for Valvetronix, 30W is better. Bigger speaker (10"), but it has a power attenuator, so you can actually turn it down to 2W! So if you decide you want a bassy sound or to play with a band you can, or if you want quiet as a mouse, it can do that too.

Silly as it sounds, attractive colour is important. That's something I still love about my first guitar. Can't believe the guy sold me such a good guitar because I dropped his friend's name!

7554.attach

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Craka    0

Thanks for the advice guys. As far as playing with a band, I think that will be a long long time away, but would be pretty cool.

Cheer guys

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Noodler    1

Here's my acoustic:

YouTube - My Acoustic Guitar

It cost me a grand. It's huge (dreadnought) and I have to really stretch out to play it. Wish I'd gone for an OM, or something smaller.

Any advice gratefully received. Seems relevant since we are talking about what can go right and wrong when buying a guitar...and what can happen when a shop "sees you coming" if they're untrustworthy. I can't even tell you if the back or sides are laminate, if it's a spruce top or solid spruce, etc.

Thanks.

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knight46    2

This is a great thread and and great advice from both Noodler and Karcey.

Now I would like to throw in my $.02 worth. I have both electrics and acoustics and find a place for both. None of my guitars are expensive (a $49.00 Fulterton Strat copy, a $90.00 Squier 51 and a $230 Yamaha FG720...I don't count my Stella acoustic, had her to long) but all feel and sound different and hold a different place in my heart.

I sometimes want to just sit and play and not have to find a sound on the electrics, so I pick up my Yamaha or the Stella. I sometimes want to play something specific for the sound, then I pull down the 51 or the Fullerton and dial up my MicroCube or Gearbox. Just depends on my mood.

Now I will leave with this one observation: I believe for me, playing on an acoustic has made me a better electric player. This is a personal thing and is JMHO.

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Stratrat    0

All great advice above. As Karcey said, don't drive yourself crazy with decisions about the guitar - most every guitar forum has debates (sometimes outright arguments) about which wood is best for the neck or body, fret sizes, pickups, pots and switches, neck profiles, fretboard radii, etc., etc. If you pay too much attention to all that you'll end up with "paralysis by analysis"....can't make a decision because there are so many contrasting opinions about what's "best"! Like Karcey said, as a beginner most of those things won't even matter to you and you'd be hard-pressed to tell any difference between most of them.

There are many very good guitars in the low-budget range. There are also some very bad ones. The best thing you can do is pick out a guitar that you absolutely love....that feels good, sounds good and makes you want to pick it up and play it every time you look at it. Buying from a shop is your best bet because you can actually hold and play the guitar before plunking down your money (helps weed out the shoddy ones). Hopefully you can get the shop to throw in a "setup" on it as part of the deal so you take home a guitar that is at its best.

If the Vox AD30VT fits your budget, it's a great amp. As Noodler said, the attenuator (which isn't found on the 15-watt version) is a nice feature. You can play at whisper volumes at home, but I've also used it with a live drummer and it holds up well there too. The Roland "Cube" models are also very good amps.

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Matty Ryan    0

I've got a Squier Affinity Strat, and someone that plays guitar has said its got a nice sound to it.

I'm still learning my first three chords, and while I do have an amp, I rarely use it.

I plug my guitar into my effects pedal, which has an electronic tuner in it, and practise my chords like that, occasionally checking the tuning on my strings.

An electric guitar will be loud enough to play without amplification, but if you want to change the sound, you'll need to use the amp. :)

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Noodler    1

The Squier 51's are one of those freak great cheap guitars, but hard to find here in Oz. I want to buy a Danelectro (rrp $300US) and can't find one anywhere, new or second hand.

The best thing you can do is pick out a guitar that you absolutely love....that feels good, sounds good and makes you want to pick it up and play it every time you look at it.
So true. So so true.
I plug my guitar into my effects pedal, which has an electronic tuner in it, and practise my chords like that, occasionally checking the tuning on my strings.
Good idea, Matty. I can't believe how good my Squier sounds for the price.

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Sentry    0
Just from doing some perusal on the net, would I be right that Squier Standard strats are better than Squier Affinity strats?

AFAIK, they're about the same, really. Both are strats, both have bolt-on maple necks with 25.5" scale length, both offer your choice of maple or rosewood fingerboards, same bridges and controls. Only difference I can see is that the Affinity has an alder body and the Standard has an agathis body. I haven't the foggiest idea what agathis sounds like, but I like my strat's alder body just fine.

Definitely try before you buy, though. Go to a guitar store, pick up a strat, and try it out. Make sure it feels comfortable in your hands before you buy it. Don't be embarrassed that you can't play well. The people in the guitar store will NOT laugh at you! (because they want your money). Try our several different guitars to see what fits in your hands best. Don't be afraid that people will be able to tell that you don't know much about guitars, of course they will, but that's less embarrassing than spending $200 or more on the wrong guitar for you.

BTW, you don't necessarily need an amp at all, at first. Here is a thread I started on using your Apple computer as an amp. Others contributed helpful info for Windows and Linux users. I have an amp, but I never use it. I always use either my Mac or nothing at all.

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