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Is a cheap guitar a handicap?


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#1 OFFLINE   hankmoody

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:26 PM

First off I am new as can be, 55 years old and this is the first time I have ever touched a guitar. I have never taken any kind of music lessons but wanted to try to learn the electric guitar. I bought a very cheap guitar and amp off ebay. I figured I would probably loose interest after failing so why waste a lot of money. I bought a book, looked online etc. The problem I am having is I just can not do the finger positions for chords. My hands are not that big but I am always touching and muting the next string. I am also having problems pushing the strings all the way down. I have lowered the action which did help some. Any advice? If it helps the guitar is a "Crescent" brand and I can not find a model number anywhere. Is it harder to play a cheap guitar? Thanks in advance, Hank

#2 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:48 PM

Hank,
Welcome to the forum and I'm gonna start with, you will get a number of opinions on the subject so for the sake of looking argumentative I think keeping it general is the best.
1. All will tell you to get what you can afford.
2. Everyone has to start somewhere in order to find out if the whole idea suits them.
3. Nothing comes easy and we all have to practice.
4. It is easier for some more than others.
5. Checkout your local guitar store and see what works best and encourage the sales folks to help you in making your selection.
You have already noticed that lowering the action has helped.
6. Think about the type of music you want to learn to play.

Now for my opinion.

Read about what is important in learning the instrument.

1. Guitar needs to fit you well. That can only be determined by you, so try some other guitars and finger some chords that you know to see how each feels.
1 9/16 nut vs 1 3/4 nut
2. Try a number of guitars at the store. But it seems like you have made your choice. Try it out for awhile then compare it to the ones at the store if you can.
3. There are sizable differences in quality of instruments. Anyone tell you otherwise is simply wrong.
Remember, a seasoned player will make even a poor guitar sound good, but that does not work for a beginner.

Nobody wants to pay for a higher priced instrument if they are not sure they are gonna stick with it. Understandable !!! My first guitar cost 89.00 and my second 200.0 and even my third did not go over 400.00
Give it a chance and play what you have, if you like it, go try some new gear out just to compare. If a cheap guitar it setup right and fits your hands then it won't make any difference except for sound.
It does take some time to lean to play and as everyone will tell you, "your fingers will get thinner in time" and you won't have to worry about the muting problem.
Stick with it and tell us how your doing from time to time.

eddie
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#3 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:56 PM

If all else fails start here.

http://www.guitarfor...com/guitar.html
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#4 OFFLINE   karcey

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:21 PM

G'day Hank,
Welcome to the forum.

Eddie, that's a great answer.
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#5 ONLINE   mset3

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 09:27 AM

Hankmoody,

Eddie pretty much summed it up nicely. Since you already purchased the guitar, I would recommend you take it to a music store and have it set up correctly. This should help out a lot. Additionally, the problem you are having with making chords is something every guitar player has gone through. Stick with it and you will find it gets easier with time and your playing will improve.

Mike

#6 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:25 PM

Here is what I found on Cresent Guitars.
What I was looking for was the width of the neck at the nut. See if you can find your model.

http://crescentdirec...uemart&Itemid=1
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#7 OFFLINE   hankmoody

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:20 PM

Thank you for the replies. I sure hope this is the hardest part of playing a guitar. LOL Eddie, it is the EG-SB model. i measured the nut and came up with 1 11/16 so I am assuming it is 13/4". I was hoping it was the smaller one, that way I had an excuse. Hank

#8 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 03:32 PM

Hank,
Lot of great players play on the 1 11/16 neck. Most electrics are setup that way. Personally for me I need more real-estate for my fingers.
One way to help you with getting some of that room is to temporarily capo up (4) I am not saying to use this as a crutch, but rather give you the feel of a wider neck to see how you fair out with the test in order to help you make the decisions as to looking into how you feel about guitar playing in general. Remember that the neck will feel wider but the down side is that the strings will feel a bit stiffer due to the shorter length and distance to the fret board will increase because the angles increase.
No matter what, you have made the decision to give it a go. Then by all means do it. Were all on your side my friend , cause we have all been there.
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#9 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 03:55 PM

Hank,

If you can, have someone set it up for you as Mset suggested. Things like height of strings and intonation check is important. You can do some of this on your own just by looking things up on the net all the info is there.
If you decide that you want to look at other guitars for reference. Here are the most important features yu need to address.

1. Width of neck that feels right for you.
2. Tuners... no good if they are sloppy and can't stay in tune.
3. Saddle adjutments must be easy and important for intonation.
4. Stay with a solid saddle no funny bars for now,
5. Decent pickups. Read up on that.
6. Adjustable truss rod.
7. Ask about shapes of neck and try each type. C-D-V-Mod V
8. Frets....Stay away from jumbo frets and scalloped fret boards.

And ask about string sizes it can handle.
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#10 OFFLINE   Stu74

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 08:53 AM

Hank welcome to the forum.
You have come to right place for help and advice.I am begginer aswell and it wasnt that long ago i was having the same problem as you.In the beggining i think we all have that problem of muting strings that were trying not to touch.
When i started trying to hold chords i thought there is no way i can hold down the strings i wanted to without touching the others.I couldnt believe how much force i needed to push down on the strings and also trying not to touch other strings at the same time.
It was easy for me to blame my big fat fingers or blame the guitar because strings are to close together.It just takes patients and time but before you know it you will be strumming nice sounding chords.
Dont put your guitar away in a case have it somewhere where you can just pick it up everytime you have a spare 5 minutes and eventually you will start feeling more comfortable with it.
I believe starting with a 2nd hand or fairly cheap guitar(as long as its not a piece of junk) is the best thing to do when you start out.I know a lot of people that have spent a fortune on a guitar and then given up after a week or two because it is to difficult.

#11 OFFLINE   OldG

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:51 AM

View Posthankmoody, on 04 March 2012 - 07:26 PM, said:

. I am also having problems pushing the strings all the way down. I have lowered the action which did help some. Any advice?

View PostStu74, on 06 March 2012 - 08:53 AM, said:


.I couldnt believe how much force i needed to push down on the strings

I was holding off - but as it got mentioned twice...
Fretting a guitar doesn't require a great deal of pressure... all that is needed, is to lightly hold the string down just behind the fret. Not to hold the string to the fingerboard!

If your chord isn't working - don't press harder! . try subtly moving your fingertips to play cleanly.

Practice playing as lightly as you can - as this is the only way to playing smoothly, at any speed, and for any length of time

Or as my guitar teacher told me years ago...' You're not gonna get much music outta that guitar whilst you insist on strangling the poor thing'

But,above all I'm trying to save any nasty repetitive strain type injuries that squeezing in the vain hope of better playing may bring...

HTH
Mick
'Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds'.
Robert Nesta Marley 1945- 1981

#12 OFFLINE   hankmoody

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:07 PM

Thanks once again for the replies. I know this seems simple for you experienced players but it is way over my head. I do have my guitar sitting in my living room so I can pick it up and practice even if for only five minutes at a time. I have not went past chording and fretting in my lessons as I think it is necessary to be able to play.
Eddie, I am sorry but I do not understand what good a capo is? If I put one on it won't help my finger position on the strings? To tell the truth, at this time I do not care what it sounds like, if it is in tune etc., I am just trying to get the mechanics right. One other thing I notice, on some frets they sound good if I am pressing near the top and on others they sound better if I am pressing near the bottom. Is this the way it is supposed to be or is this a result of a cheap guitar? I do have a tuner and think it is in tune. Thanks again, Hank

#13 OFFLINE   Stu74

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:14 PM

Mick you are right.
I should have said that after a short while i figured out that its not how much pressure you put on, it is getting the fingers positioned correctly.
I saw 6 year old kids at my sons school assembly playing guitar so it proved to me that it is technique not strength.

Hank what i did was i worked on getting Am,E and Em open chords sounding right.Try holding the chord and play each string one by one and you will hear which strings are sounding muted then while your fingers are still holding the chord try to shuffle your fingers until each string rings out nice.

Another thing to do is play individual notes. eg C major scale.
This should get you used to how much pressure you actually need(not much like Mick says) to get the note and also toughen up your finger tips.
You said you hope this is the hardest part of playing the guitar.So far i think it was the hardest part for me.
Once you get a couple of chords right you will soon have all the open chords under your belt.Learning to play the guitar is a constant challenge.You will overcome this problem if you keep going.
Good luck and dont give up.

#14 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 03:29 PM

View Posthankmoody, on 06 March 2012 - 12:07 PM, said:

I know this seems simple for you experienced players but it is way over my head. I do have my guitar sitting in my living room so I can pick it up and practice even if for only five minutes at a time. I have not went past chording and fretting in my lessons as I think it is necessary to be able to play.
Eddie, I am sorry but I do not understand what good a capo is? If I put one on it won't help my finger position on the strings? To tell the truth, at this time I do not care what it sounds like, if it is in tune etc., I am just trying to get the mechanics right. One other thing I notice, on some frets they sound good if I am pressing near the top and on others they sound better if I am pressing near the bottom. Is this the way it is supposed to be or is this a result of a cheap guitar? I do have a tuner and think it is in tune. Thanks again, Hank


Hank,

PLease believe me when I tell you that we (ALL} know what your going through. I still have a problem with my pinky finger, that means I'm already handicapped. It took me the better part of a month to get through 4 chords somewhat cleanly and I knew just what to expect. When you play other instruments you would think that it would be a cake-walk. Hell NO ! Remember, it only takes 3 chords to make a song and be happy when you can get through "Old McDonald had a farm".
As to the pressing down on the strings, them fellas up top are right.
Still after ages of playing the guitar, if that thing had lips on the end of the neck it would still be crying for mercy. Hell I got divots in my fingers deeper than a golf course.
As to position of the fingers, your target is the behind the fret and not on it. As to the sound you get from the instrument while doing so will be determined by how consistent you are in pressing down on the string.
In general, you need not press hard like everybody says. As you build callus in the fingers, they will become harder and the string wont sink in as much, but that takes a little time.
I will post a link to a capo, but in your case you just want to use it for a test on playing on a wider part of the neck. Tune your guitar normal without it then put it on. You may have to make some small adjustments in tuning when you do that.

Here is what a capo does.

Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#15 OFFLINE   hankmoody

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:05 AM

Thanks again guys. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time to practice. I am having some surgery in a few weeks and will have some down time to practice. Now I get the capo. I think I could use a 4" wide neck. I have been watching the guy in the video (Justin), he is very helpful for the beginner. I have been trying to play Pink Floyds "wish you were here". I do OK until I get to the chords. Just out of curiosity, how would you rate that song as far as how hard to play? Hank

#16 OFFLINE   RolandC

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:44 AM

IMHO, Wish You Were Here is a great beginner's song.

The intro solo of the first guitar (the part that sounds like it's playing on the radio when you listen to the original Pink Floyd version) is just fooling around in the open G major chord, so you get to play a melody line without having to skip around on the fretboard. The chords (G, D, Am, C, Em, Asus2) are all basic open chords that occur in many songs, so it's good practice for more complicated things to come.

The second guitar solo (the part that's playing in the foreground while solo 1 is playing on the "radio") is a little bit trickier as it has some slides and bends in it, but with practice you will get it.

Good luck!

P.S. The major problems with cheap guitars tend to be (a) manufacturer's defects ( b) an inability to stay in tune for a reasonable amount of time or ( c) poor tone due to the use of cheap materials and electronics. Some of these can be fixed, but might not be worth it depending on the cost of the repair relative to the cost of the guitar. OTOH, some cheap guitars are just fine and, in the hands of a rank beginner, virtually indistinguishable from more expensive guitars.
With apologies to the Bard:

"The fault lies not in our [guitars] Horatio, but in ourselves."





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