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Beginner Guitars

Best Acoustic Guitar for Beginners

How to Find a Good Acoustic Guitar for a Beginning Guitarist 

Many “wanna-be” guitarists think it looks easy and they can learn on their own. And many do. But, with good instruction, whether in person or online, you can develop good “guitar techniques” and cut your learning time.

But, many guitarists who are self-taught often develop bad habits that have to later be unlearned. Once it’s a habit, any habit, it’s difficult to shake it off or change it.

A few years ago, you either learned on your own with the help of books and watching others play in the movies or in person. But, today is totally different. You can now choose from online lessons, apps, and personal teachers to help you learn.

It’s a matter of choice. Who has the best lessons? Who has the best prices? Where can you get the most help? What type of lessons works best for you?

But before deciding who to take lessons from, you need to know where you are going. Why do you want to play guitar? Do you want to play acoustic, electric, or bass? Do you want to play professionally or just for fun? With any journey, whether it’s cross-country, an international trip, or a trek into the wonderful world of music, you need to set your goals and have a plan.

Playing For Fun??

I’m going to assume you have some idea of where you want to go or what you want to do, but you need to have firm goals. Why?

If you just want to be able to strum a few songs to have fun on the beach around an open fire with friends, your trek will be less tedious than if you wanted to become a professional musician.

If this is your goal, pick a few easy songs that you can soon be playing. Find a guitar book, learn the chords, then practice the chords and songs until you know them well enough to play for your friends.

Setting Goals

Please visit this page to get, watermark-free, a print-ready PDF file with a template.  Thanks Sydney.

If you want to be a serious guitarist, perhaps even a professional, the first thing you need to do set your goals. Know where you are going. Write them down, preferably on a calendar or in a journal so you can know when you get there. (timelimited)

Next, in your journal, create an inventory list of your skills and resources. If you are a complete “newbie” you probably won’t have any guitar skills yet, but you might be surprised.

Have you taken any music classes in school? Have you tried playing any other instruments? Do you have a friend who showed you a few chords on the guitar? Write them down in your journal where you can add to them later.

If your desire is to be a professional guitarist playing in a band or as a studio musician or accompanying singers, even yourself, you will need to learn some basic music theory, especially if you want to be a studio musician.

 

No matter where you want to go, at this point your primary goal should be learning all the chords and rhythm patterns for your strumming hand. As you progress you will easily be able to add different techniques to your repertoire such as:

  • hammer-on pull off
  • guitar bends
  • sweep picking
  • cross-picking
  • hybrid picking
  • slide-on finger-picking
  • palm muting
  • tapping
  • two-handed tapping
  • slides and bends.

You also need to consider what style of music you want to play: Jazz, Country, Folk, Ragtime, Blues, Caribbean, Flamenco, Classical or something else?

Perhaps you are one who feels music is a form of expression and you want to form your own musical style by using a variety of guitar and musical techniques.

Gotta know where you’re going!!

Write Your Goals

  1. Decide where you want to go as a guitarist.
  2. Write it down. Carefully with as much detail as you can right now.
  3. Tell someone you trust. Telling someone you know and trust about your goals seems to increase the likelihood that you will stick to them.
  4. Break your goal down. This is especially important for big goals. Put it into small steps that are workable.
  5. Plan your first step.
  6. Keep going. Don’t quit no matter how hard it is. Don’t Quit!!
  7. Celebrate. And Repeat.

Have A Guitar?  NO?  Get One!
Things To Consider When Buying A Guitar

Price vs. Quality:

The next thing you need to do is get a guitar if you don’t have one. It’s not all about how expensive or how cheap the guitars are. Decide how much you can afford. But don’t get a really cheap guitar thinking that it doesn’t matter. It does matter. If you get a poor-quality guitar, it will sound bad no matter how hard you try. Even advanced guitarists have difficulty in making cheap guitars sound good.

Manufacturers seem to focus on making a flashy, shiny guitar to attract the beginning guitarist rather than making a less expensive quality guitar that is easy for beginners to play.

When people think of guitars they often think of “Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, Martin, Taylor”, to name a few. Fender’s reputation was built on their high-end electric guitars, not acoustics. When you get a Fender acoustic you are paying for the famous name on the headstock, not necessarily the quality of the guitar.

Some, especially salesmen, may say, “buy a guitar that speaks to you.” As a beginner that may be the flashy, more expensive guitar. If you are a beginner you don’t know the language yet. It takes a while for your ear to develop to the sound and tone of the guitar. As your skill develops and progresses your preference in tone may change.

Buying a cheap guitar that is not well made often ends a beginning guitarists’ motivation to continue. Don’t set yourself up to quit because your guitar was not made to play well and sound good. Guitarists call these cheap guitars, “music killers.”

The Old Broken Guitar Was Good For Something But Not Much

Larry Warfield’s personal story about learning to play the guitar. To read the full story go to Facebook.com/lswarfieldmusic.

At nine years of age, I would sit and watch guitar players whenever I could. Wishing I had a guitar. I thought if I asked my mom, I might have a chance of getting one.

As I watched The Green Valley Mountain Boys, a local TV show starring REM WALL and several others who worked at the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, I said, “Mom, mom, come here. Come see Billy. Isn’t he good?”

“He’s just a kid,” she said. “He can’t be much older than you.”

“See. That’s why I need a guitar. I’m behind already. Could I get one for Christmas?”

She paused, “It’s only January. It’s a long time until Christmas. But, I saw a guitar in the second-hand store. Stop in and see how much it is.”

I looked at the clock on the wall… 4:00 pm. I had 30 minutes to get there. I ran for the door, hopped on my bike, headed for the store. I pulled up in front, dropped my bike, and reached for the doorknob just as the lady approached with a key in her hand.

 

Image by Valéria Rodrigues Valéria from Pixabay

I stepped inside.

I wanted a guitar so bad I really didn’t care what kind of shape my guitar was in. I had a guitar. I spent hours learning the chord structures and how to place my hands on the fretboard.  I didn’t care what kind of shape it was in. It was my guitar.

The fretboard was so high my fingertips had welts, but I kept practicing.

The sound wasn’t great. When I played the other kids in the family shut the door or left the house.

But it was my guitar.

Perfect Fit

As musicians, we chose the instrument that fits our distinct style, so there’s really no one guitar that fits all. That’s why there are many different designs and tones that express the musician’s personal style.

Most beginning guitarists lean toward choosing a guitar that looks and sounds similar to their favorite musician’s guitar. Some recommend getting a guitar that is similar to the look and sound they are familiar with. Others recommend the students begin on a non-familiar guitar with nylon strings to expand their palette from the beginning.

The size of the player as compared to the guitar must also be considered. If you are buying for a young person or someone with small hands, their hands need to be able to go around the fretboard. Also, consider the weight of the guitar. Can the person handle it easily and can he/she even get their arm over it?

Things That Make A Guitar Easy or Hard to Play

In getting a guitar for a beginner,  the playability of the instrument must be considered. If the guitar is too hard for the student to play chances are he/she will not continue playing.

Action

The action of a guitar is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. If the strings are too high they are very hard to press causing cuts and pain especially to the beginners’ fingers. If the strings are too close to the fretboard the strings will buzz when they are played. The action must be considered when purchasing a guitar.

Nut Width

The guitar’s nut is what the strings pass through before the fretboard begins. It is on the side closest to the tuning pegs with six grooves for the strings to sit in.

Guitars with wider nuts space the strings further apart. The reverse is also true for thinner nuts. The nuts must also be considered if the beginner has smaller hands.

String Type

There are two main types of strings for guitars: steel and nylon. The steel strings, most widely used in the majority of music styles, are steel plated with a bronze alloy. Of course, the nylon strings are made from nylon and have a very different sound than the steel strings.

The strings play a big part in the beginners’ motivation to play. Nylon strings are softer, easier to push down, and cause less pain to the beginners’ fingers than the steel ones. The beginner will still experience some pain until protective callouses develop on their fingertips. The real value of any guitar is what music it allows, encourages and inspires you to play at whatever level you are and beyond.

Perfect Fit

As musicians, we chose the instrument that fits our distinct style, so there’s really no one guitar that fits all. That’s why there are many different designs and tones that express the musician’s personal style.

Most beginning guitarists lean toward choosing a guitar that looks and sounds similar to their favorite musician’s guitar. Some recommend getting a guitar that is similar to the look and sound they are familiar with. Others recommend the students begin on a non-familiar guitar with nylon strings to expand their palette from the beginning.

The size of the player as compared to the guitar must also be considered. If you are buying for a young person or someone with small hands, their hands need to be able to go around the fretboard. Also, consider the weight of the guitar. Can the person handle it easily and can he/she even get their arm over it?

Things That Make A Guitar Easy or Hard to Play

In getting a guitar for a beginner,  the playability of the instrument must be considered. If the guitar is too hard for the student to play chances are he/she will not continue playing.

Action

The action of a guitar is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. If the strings are too high they are very hard to press causing cuts and pain especially to the beginners’ fingers. If the strings are too close to the fretboard the strings will buzz when they are played. The action must be considered when purchasing a guitar.

Nut Width

The guitar’s nut is what the strings pass through before the fretboard begins. It is on the side closest to the tuning pegs with six grooves for the strings to sit in.

Guitars with wider nuts space the strings further apart. The reverse is also true for thinner nuts. The nuts must also be considered if the beginner has smaller hands.

String Type

There are two main types of strings for guitars: steel and nylon. The steel strings, most widely used in the majority of music styles, are steel plated with a bronze alloy. Of course, the nylon strings are made from nylon and have a very different sound than the steel strings.

The strings play a big part in the beginners’ motivation to play. Nylon strings are softer, easier to push down, and cause less pain to the beginners’ fingers than the steel ones. The beginner will still experience some pain until protective callouses develop on their fingertips. The real value of any guitar is what music it allows, encourages and inspires you to play at whatever level you are and beyond.

So in summary…

The 9 key points when buying a beginner guitar are:

  1. Self-taught or lessons (in person or online)
  2. Set Your Goals
  3. Purchase a guitar
  4. Getting the right size
  5. Consider your budget and the best quality guitar for the money
  6. Buying a guitar with strings that are not too high and hard to play
  7. Steel or nylon strings
  8. Nut width for the hand size
  9. Don’t be fooled into buying a brand name thinking you’re getting a better guitar

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