I’ve played the guitar for many years. I’m self-taught, which, in my experience, a great many guitarists are these days. This means that, whilst I now consider myself very proficient, if I could go back and start learning again knowing what I now know about practise and types of guitar music, I’d probably be a better musician right now.
A friend of mine recently took up the guitar for the first time and asked for my advice on what instrument he should buy. The following is the advice I gave him, and I think it applies to a great many beginning guitarists.
Types Of Guitar
There are a huge range of guitars of on the market, all of different types. The right type for you really depends on what kind of music you’re going to play, where you’re going to play (are you a bedroom-only guitarist or a regular performer?), the sound you need, etc. It can be tough for even an experienced guitarist to choose his (or her!) next instrument.
A great deal of new guitarists want to learn the instrument so they can play some flavour of rock. They want to emulate their heroes in the big arenas and play the classic rock anthems (or in fact new rock anthems, as the genre seems to be making a welcomed come-back). And that’s great – more people really should learn an instrument… However, because of the style of music they want to play, they’ll rush out and buy the best looking electric guitar and amp they can find. That can turn out fine; however, my suggestion is this (and you may not like it):
When you’re starting out, buy an acoustic or an electro acoustic guitar instead of an electric model. If you’re a total beginner, at first it can be really hard (and frustrating) to produce a nice “clean” sound when playing a sensitive electric guitar through an amp. This can really hinder your progress because if you’re unable to produce that clean sound, your learning of good technique can suffer.
In addition, an electric guitar can be much easier to play than a lot of acoustic models. I know you’re thinking that sounds great, and surely that’s a good thing. Well it can be a good thing when you’ve already mastered the instrument somewhat. The problem is that, learning on an easy instrument means that it’s much harder to then swap instruments and play a variety of different music. If you learn on the acoustic when you’re starting out, it will be much easier later on to learn a diverse range of music on many different guitars.
Electro Acoustic Guitars
In spite of this advice, if you really want an instrument that you can plug in and play loud, you may want to consider either an electro acoustic guitar or a semi-acoustic guitar. The electro acoustic model differs to a standard acoustic guitar only slightly, in that it also contains a “pickup” to capture the sound from the strings and send them to an amp. A semi-acoustic guitar will often do everything an electric can, but also has a hollow body so it will produce a sound even when not plugged in.
Where You Should Buy The Instrument
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, this is just a little basic advice. Nothing can really beat going to a shop and trying the guitars. If you have a friend who also plays, bring them with you; it can be helpful for someone who knows how to play to give you a demonstration. If you don’t already know anyone who plays the instrument, try to choose a smaller music shop rather than a chain. In my experience, most small music shops are run by music enthusiasts who are often more than happy to give a beginner a live demonstration of the guitars they sell. It’s usually a lot harder to find this personal touch in a large store or chain of stores.