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Acoustic or Electric Guitar to learn on?

play guitarThe guitar is a relatively simple musical instrument to learn. It is obviously easier to learn to play the guitar when one is younger, but personally I have learned the guitar at the ripe (or rotten) age of 40. If you like to listen to music you really should learn to play the guitar, it's a great feeling to hug your ax and shred (or strum, depending on your personality). As long as one has semi-functioning fingers and relatively operational ears, anyone can learn to play the guitar.

Unlike other hobbies such as collecting stamps or TV Guides, playing the guitar requires a little bit of dedication and some free time. Expect to spend at least 15 minutes everyday for practice, or at least a half hour about two or three times a week at the very minimum. Unless you practice, you're never going to train your hands and your ears to make music. If you want your child to learn to play the guitar, jump to the Child Guitar lessons information page.

To learn to play the guitar, you need at least one guitar. If you can borrow one from a friend that is well and good, but if not - the first agonizing decision is wether to learn on an Acoustic Guitar or an Electric Guitar. One thing that should be mentioned is this, once you start playing you WILL end up with more than one guitar. Having ten and fifteen guitars is not uncommon for amateur guitar players, similar to women and their umpteen pairs of shoes - if it feels good, you have GOT to have it!

classical guitarThe first consideration is the kind of music you are interested in. If your taste is in Classical music, you will want to get a Classical Acoustic Guitar (with nylon strings). If you just want to play campfire songs or folk music, an acoustic guitar would probably be a good choice - if you want to play with a pick a steel string acoustic guitar; or if you want to play with your fingers (finger picking) then a nylon string acoustic guitar. Rock, blues, jazz and similar genres of music could do well with either acoustic or electric guitars; however if your taste is in heavy metal then stick with the electric guitar (you really can't shred metal on an acoustic guitar).

learning guitarNot withstanding the above recommendations, here is one simple fact: electric guitars are easier to learn with. And not withstanding that fact - learning on an acoustic guitar, because it is harder and less forgiving, will enable you to play better much faster than learning on an electric guitar. Acoustic guitars have heavier strings (remember, they have to vibrate enough to make sounds), and are harder on your fingertips. Because there is no electronic correction to the sounds - what you strum is what you hear. Any mistakes or bad habits are cacophonously announced - which is actually a good thing as you learn to correct bad habits and errors quickly. The acoustic guitar also has a more delicate tone, as you practice you will be able to easily learn how to control your strumming and fretting fingers. Decent acoustic guitars can be more expensive than comparable electric guitars, however, an electric guitar requires an amplifier (amp) which also adds to the cost. The acoustic guitar also offers portability, since you don't need any amplification equipment. This makes practicing easier as you can lug the acoustic guitar around the house and yard (or attic, if your spouse banishes you there for making too much noise).

Personally, I learned to play on an electric guitar - but I would advise against it. The strings on an electric guitar are lighter and thus easier to handle. Electronic effects and amplification can cover up mistakes, which may sound good but it in reality it is not. I had to relearn finger positioning and strumming when I got my first acoustic guitar, because of the bad habits the electric guitar had covered up when I was learning. The electric guitar does make it easier to just start playing, so if you have a short attention span or are short on patience - an electric guitar will at least help you to begin playing. Just keep in mind that you will have to change your habits if and when you start playing an acoustic guitar.

Once you choose between an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar to learn with, go to your favorite guitar store and try them out for size! Every guitar is unique, subtle differences in the wood and other materials used, gives each and every guitar in the world its own feel and sound. See the next sections for Buying Acoustic Guitars and Buying Electric Guitars. Once quick thing to mention is that acoustic guitars come in different sizes (thickness) and scales (lengths).

damaged guitarWhile it is tempting to buy a guitar online, you have no way to knowing if it "feels right" and "sounds right", you should make a trip to your local guitar store and find one that feels and sounds just right. After all, you're the one that will be playing it for years to come - if you're not happy with it from day one, you will never be happy with it. Visit more than one guitar store, take your time and try out all the guitars. Most stores allow you to try out the guitars before you buy - it is a normal thing to want to hear a musical instrument. If the store does NOT let you play their guitars - they are trying to hide something so just leave and go somewhere else where they are more friendly. You may also want to ask the salesperson to play any instrument that you like - this way you get to hear what it sounds like when played by (presumably) a professional.

Again, if you want your child to learn to play the guitar - jump to the Child Guitar lessons information page. Kids work differently (if you have kids, I don't have to tell you that!). So now that you are ready, check out the next sections for Buying Acoustic Guitar and Buying Electric Guitar.

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