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I want to learn guitar, which one to get?

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'What kind of guitar should buy to learn how to play?' I’ll bet that question gets asked 1000’s of times a day around the world. It gets asked here a lot too so I’m going to bang out at least 3 threads that I’ll make ‘stickies’ to try and answer this upfront. Start with this thread before you move on to the other ones. I’m going to try and compose them in a natural order of progression that will allow you to be on the road to a well informed choice.

The first thing I want to tell you is that there are 3 distinct kinds of guitars that most people new to guitar are not really aware of. Most know there are electric guitars and ‘not electric’ guitars. The ‘not electric’ guitars are called acoustic guitars, however there’s two very different kind of acoustic guitars, steel string and nylon string. It’s almost not fair to only classify them by the string type they use because they differ in so many other important ways that what most people don’t understand is that as different as an electric guitar is from an acoustic guitar, a steel string guitar is as different from a nylon string guitar.

Dilemma I – Should I learn on an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar, and if acoustic steel string or nylon string? I’m not going to tell you what to do; here are a few items that you need to answer:

Why do you want to play guitar?

What do you want from playing guitar?

How much time and dedication will you have for this? In other words, will this be another activity in addition to sports, school, travel, etc., or will this be the SOLE focus of your recreational time?

What is your attitude about the fees associated with starting a new hobby? Do you look for the cheapest thing betting you can make it work? Do you go straight for the most expensive/best thing betting that will give you a short cut to good results?

So, in order to answer your question, I’ve just asked several myself! These are important. This will help you focus your selection and feel GOOD about the guitar you have purchased. A positive attitude is priceless when learning something; an ongoing session of self doubt of ‘Did I get the right guitar?’ ‘Did I pay too much?’ or ‘Is this really what a good playing guitar is supposed to feel like?’ will drag your progress down and even contribute to you quitting guitar.

Yes, people quit guitar. I am convinced that the 2 most common reasons people quit guitar are either they selected a guitar that will for whatever reasons not give them satisfactory results or they just don’t put in the effort needed to learn. If I say my goal is to run a 5k race and as I type this I’m 100+ lbs overweight, I’m fooling myself if I think I can go purchase the cheapest pair of athletic shoes I can find, walk/run for 5 minutes a day as ‘training’ and succeed in running a 5k three months from now. As easy as that is to understand, many, MANY people buy the cheapest guitar they can, practice 5 minutes or so two or three days a week, and then come to the conclusion they “can’t play” guitar. Which is more sensitive; the feet in my cheap running shoes or the fingers on a cheap guitar? Both will let us both down. So, let’s choose RIGHT and feel GOOD about it!!

So, electric, steel string acoustic, or nylon string acoustic. The easiest way to answer this question is what guitar players are motivating you to learn? What do they play? Here are some very general observations:

Electric guitar- Rock, Country, Jazz, Blues

Steel string acoustic – Rock, Country, Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Folk

Nylon string acoustic- Classical, Flamenco, Jazz

Obviously there’s some overlap here, a lot, and that’s what makes choosing a guitar so confusing. So, again, answer the question about which guitar players or what type of music is motivating you want to take this on and start there. The next two sticky threads I’m going to compose break down electric and acoustic guitars.

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Thanks. This (your post) somehow help me motivate myself to improve my guitar-playing skills. Well, some of favs bands are toto, warant, c. cross, eagles, styx, beatles, guns&roses, bon jovi, etc. So I think I was right and I fell good in buying my first electric guitar. :-)

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Thanks for the info! I am looking for a new acoustic/classial guitar and have only had 1 lesson. My teacher said to get something mid-range like a Yamaha, Nylon string guitar with a wide neck (my hands are larger). I went to Yahama's site, and was overwhelmed.

Do you have any specific Acoustic/Classical guitars I should take a look at? Price range I was looking for is $300-600.

Would very much like suggestions, I am ready to buy online ASAP

Lastly,for new lessons should I be getting instrutions from a classical guitarist or does that matter as much?

Thanks!

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Classical guitarists are expected to toe the line and be highly technical players so you will need some lessons in the proper way of holding a classical guitar and the acceptable hand positions that involves. How far you want to progress with it will determine whether you need a teacher or not.

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Yamaha makes some excellent models, however, I'm totally sold on Walden acoustics. You could get a top of the line Walden, all solid wood, for less than $600. I'd also suggest that whatever guitar you get, upgrade your strings right away to Savarez. They're almost 3 times the price per set but very much worth it in volume and tone.

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I just hit my 60th BD and decided it was time to fufill that life long dream of playing a guitar. I have a friend who loaned me her guitar (Oscar Schmidt) and have struggled along, but enjoying it.

Im looking for a good a Acoustic guitar. I wont ever be in a band, just looking to be able to play along with freinds and family. Just for fun and my enjoyment.

In doing research on guitars, I found Zager and I bought one. I liked the idea of thier easy play system. I really liked the promise of no painfull fingers, and that the strings are "slightly" wider apart. On the OS, I am struggling to get the fingers into the "A" chord. My fingers are just too big I think. And like most beginners, Im getting a fair share of Buzzing strings.

I was dissapointed in the Zager, a beautiful guitar. It doesnt play really any better, and when I measured the strings, they are exactly the same as the OS. Again, looking online and doing a bit of research, there is of course it seems what is the best nut width. Both of these guitars are 1.750 (3/4). It seems Seagull has a wider nut, but then it also seems that many like the 1.7/8 nut width too. In fact, I switched back to the OS and it seems to be better for me.

I am going to return the Zager, and search for another guitar. I would like to stay under $600. Any advice? And advice on nut width? It also seems that switching to the easier (?) or softer metal strings would be a good move as well.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Tom

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it really is just experience that makes a guitar easier to play. I have guitars with different sized nuts. A bit of adjustment to play a smaller neck but nothing traumatic.. I don't think nut width is the magic bullet. Practice is. Practice makes the fingers seem to shrink.

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Well after I bought my fender acoustic guitar , I read that classical guitar with nylon strings are easier to learn from than Acoustic steel. Well its too late my fingers aren't strong enough to get the quality sound I desire and they would hurt like a "mother" after playing for awhile. I guess it will worth it once I get the hang of the steel strings.

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Well after I bought my fender acoustic guitar , I read that classical guitar with nylon strings are easier to learn from than Acoustic steel. Well its too late my fingers aren't strong enough to get the quality sound I desire and they would hurt like a "mother" after playing for awhile. I guess it will worth it once I get the hang of the steel strings.

Nylon Strings are easier on the hands but it does depend on what you're aiming to play, if you're a Metal Fan you're going to lose interest pretty quickly with a nylon strung guitar, if you want to learn classical, fingerstyle or fingerpicking they're perfect, they are also good to learn chords on when you start, I started with a nylon strung guitar but once I got some chords down I moved to steel string, now I'm into fingerpicking so I'm back on the Classical more. so it is really down to what you want to play in my opinion.

There is a bit of pain involved when starting GuitarWizard, it gets better once your fingertips harden up a bit and your hands get use to the exercise so stick at it and you'll be fine, have fun with your playing:winkthumb:

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Well after I bought my fender acoustic guitar , I read that classical guitar with nylon strings are easier to learn from than Acoustic steel. Well its too late my fingers aren't strong enough to get the quality sound I desire and they would hurt like a "mother" after playing for awhile. I guess it will worth it once I get the hang of the steel strings.

We live in India, my 6 year old son wanted to learn to play. Obviously his time will be divided between, school, tennis, play and other activities.

We asked a friend of ours who is a good guitarist and he told us that for kids a 3/4 size nylon string guitar is easier to start with as it does not hurt their fingers as much so we got our son a Yamaha nylon. I dont know if the nylon strings hurt any less than the steel strings - from his feedback the nylon strings hurt too!

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Yes, his fingers will hurt for a while regardless of the strings. It will pass. It is a price all guitarists have to pay.

Do nylon strings hurt less?

Any solution to kill the pain? I thought about covering his finger-tips in band-aid when he was playing.

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Nylon strings do hurt less than steel.

The solution to the finger pain is called 'calluses'. They'll develop pretty quickly (he'll notice the difference in 3 weeks to a month if he practices with any consistency). Covering the fingertips will not only make playing the guitar next to impossible, they'll prolong the pain, as the calluses won't develop as they normally would.

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GreyWolf,

RE: Nut width. I think anyone, given time and practice, can play any guitar with a very narrow nut width. My gf knows a retired cop in LA who plays a Gibson SG with both a narrow nut and a short scale length. He's a big guy, 6'2" tall and well over 300 lbs, but he handles that small guitar with ease. As you develop calluses, these calluses on the tips of your fingers are much less big around than your fingers themselves; therefore so as long as your action (the distance between the strings and the frets) is low you'll be playing a narrow neck regardless of how big around your fingers themselves are. However, a neck that is too wide can pose problems for people with very short fingers. That having been said, I myself got a custom neck for my strat made that has a 1.75" wide nut. I like having the extra room for bending strings without touching adjacent ones. AFAIK, 1.75" is the widest you can get, so if you're looking for wider than that you're out of luck. Just keep practicing and have patience. As you develop calluses and improve your accuracy in hitting the strings you'll be fine.

BTW, it's important that your fingertips be perpendicular to the fretboard. If you have to have your fingertips at an angle in order to reach the bass strings, then your neck is actually too wide and/or your technique in wrist positioning is off. Fingertips at an angle will cause fret buzzing on the string your fretting because you can't get enough pressure that way to properly fret the string. Also, when your fingertips are at an angle the pads of your fingers and your fingernails will hit adjacent strings, muting them in the case of the pads and buzzing in the case of the fingernails.

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The solution to the finger pain is called 'calluses'.

Not knowing much, I fear that the pain might turn him off before the calluses develop. I guess I will have to wait and see. Becuase we are on holiday his first lesson wil start sometime early next month.

Q: How do you know if a guitar teacher is any good? The only friend I got who is any good with a guitar never had a teacher.

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...

Q: How do you know if a guitar teacher is any good? The only friend I got who is any good with a guitar never had a teacher.

Are you really sure he/she is good. A lot of self taught people play guitar, without knowing musing or having a 'good ear' so they play tabs scrounged of the internet. A lot of the tabs you find are very poor renditions of the piece as they are written by guitar players who are not musicians. The other thing that tabs and self taught guitarists often miss out on is timing and expression. TABS are woeful (even good tabs) are teaching that.

Generally teachers (that I would use) are accredited and/or profesional muscians, they know music theory, can read music scores as well as tabs.

Teaching yourself off the net and from books gets people only a certain distance (unless you are gifted in that area) and you may be happy with that. But to really get the most out of your ability you need input from a trained musician. YMMV

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Are you really sure he/she is good.

I cannot be absolutely sure he is good becuase honestly I dont play any instrument well enough to judge.

Besides while I said my friend is good, I dont know if he good enough to be a professional (his day job is as a Creative Director of an advertising firm).

BTW thanks for all the encouragement I got here. My son seems to like the guitar. We got him a teacher who seems to keep his attention (the attention of a 6 year old is pretty flighty). He has learnt Happy Birthday and Do a Deer. He has been give the chords of a few songs to learn now. I assume this is more for him to get his finger co-ordination than really to be able to play these songs - the chords just dont sound right on a nylon acoustic (Yahama CF40).

FYI these are the songs whose chords he has been given

Boulevard of Broken Dreams (google threw up a band called Green Day), Rock and Roll (dont know which band it does not sound like the one by Deep Purple), Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple) and Me and Bobby McGee (Janis Jopiln I assumed but google threw up Kris something). I could post the chords here if anyone likes.

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I have a Big Baby Taylor guitar. I can play single notes but the chords are hard. My fingers don't taper down like I see on people that are on the how too play video tapes. It seems all these people have small fingers. I keep muffling the strings next to the notes I am trying to play. It is very frustrating. The C chord is just impossible. I can play the G chord with some success but I muffle a couple of the strings. I can at least hear the chord. I see the emails on this site and it does give me a little motivation but so far I haven't had much progress with the chords.

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My fingers don't taper down like I see on people that are on the how too play video tapes. It seems all these people have small fingers. I keep muffling the strings next to the notes I am trying to play. It is very frustrating. The C chord is just impossible. I can play the G chord with some success but I muffle a couple of the strings.

How old are you?

I dont play but my son does (he is 6) he has had about 4-5 lessons and the first and only brief I gave the man who came to teach him was to ensure that he does not loose his joy of music.

the teacher did not talk about learning to read but showed his notes on the guitar and a scale. in the past 4-5 lessons he has learnt another scale and some basic chords. yes chords are hard (I can see that my son has to take a few seconds to get his finger placing right) but I guess if it was easy all of us would have become Eric Clapton.

From what I see my son arches his fingers over the strings so if you are tapering your fingers maybe you need to re-look your technique.

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I have a Big Baby Taylor guitar. I can play single notes but the chords are hard. My fingers don't taper down like I see on people that are on the how too play video tapes. It seems all these people have small fingers....

You mean small fingers like this guy? :) I always throw Redd Volkaert out there as an example because he's living proof that you don't have to have "skinny fingers" to be an excellent guitar player.

Everybody's fingers feel "fat" or "too big" when you first start playing. Over time (and with lots of practice), you learn to place your fingers more accurately and it becomes a non-issue. It just takes a lot of the three P's (patience, practice and perseverence) to get there.

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Ha, ha, the basic question I have to start is a SX or HIH acoustic guitar any good? I saw a SX EAGIK/VS secondhand going locally for about USD 128. The HIH is going for about USD 63. The SX is with tone, volume, digital tuner, preamp with a std mic jack and a xlr output build in and the latter is just with tone, volume and preamp with a std mic jack output. Surprisingly, I saw new Yamaha acoustics going for about USD 286 onwards with just tone and volume without preamp and mic jack output. Of course, the Yamaha build is better although not much better. I just love the look of the Yamaha silent guitars which can only produce sound with a guitar amp.

So your valued expert comments on the above and any other better VFM guitars will be most welcomed. Thanks,

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