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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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It is such a common question and thanks for all the great insight. It can be so overwhelming looking at the sea of guitars hanging on the walls of a music store (and it is easy to get distracted by the great colours, shapes and sized!)

The most important things to think about when buying your first guitar is "how serious am I learning?' If you just want to play around a little and bring it on a camping trip I wouldn't suggest getting an electric (can't plug in that amp next to the bonfire). You might want to go acoustic and not too expensive. If you are thinking of becoming a more serious player you should think about quality but you don't have to shell out the big bucks right away and upgrade in the future! This article might be of some help to those struggling with this question: http://pianolessonsworld.com/blog/2011/10/18/buying-a-beginner-guitar-for-adults/ I hope this helps!

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