Learning to play guitar is an exploration. Your entering a new world that’s yours for the taking, but you shouldn’t lose sight of why you embarked upon this journey in the first place. Everything depends on what instrument you choose. If Chordify is your guide, the guitar will be your weapon, your shield and your best friend. But how do you know which guitar is up your alley?
It sounds simple: buy an instrument, take lessons and before you know it you’re jamming like Jimi. Right? Well, let’s start by picking a guitar that matches your preferences. Because, this step is just as important as it is simple. Your choice will determine the fun that you can get from playing and the direction it will take you. Our advice: choose wisely.
Stay close to yourself
“Start with a classic nylon string guitar. If you master that you’ll be able to play everything you want.” Is one of the most-heard advises people give when you set off on your guitar playing journey. There is essentially nothing wrong with this reasoning, if you’re a big fan of Paco de Lucia, and if you have enough time to sit in your armchair, studying classical music all day.
But what if you like Ed Sheeran and you want to play along with pretty pop songs. Is it still a good idea to buy a classic guitar and take lessons in the corresponding genre? Our answer: “no, of course not.” That’s like eating pancakes with a spoon or teaching the rules of soccer to football players. You can do it, but it will get you nowhere.
So, ask yourself the question: what do I want to learn? The easiest way of doing this is creating a list of five artists or bands plus five songs that make your heart skip a beat. This will take you a few steps closer to determining which guitar is the best match for you.
Acoustic vs electric
The next important choice is deciding whether you want an acoustic or an electric guitar. The difference? An acoustic guitar has a hollow body that naturally amplifies the vibrations of the strings. The advantage is that you can play everywhere, without dragging along a heavy amp. The disadvantage is of course that you’ll always be heard. Especially in the beginning, when you’re still prone to mistakes, this is more of a con than a pro.
Most electric guitars don’t have a hollow body. Your sound is carried to an amplifier by a cable that you plug in. Instead of a hole in the middle there are elements that pick up the vibrations of the strings and send them to the amplifier.
This allows the volume to be adjusted easily. You can even play with headphones on. But the advantage is also its downside. You always need an amplifier to get your sound across.
Now that we are starting to get a clearer image of the basic differences between acoustic and electric guitars it’s time get out your list of favorite artists and songs. What are the similarities between all the tracks and bands?
If your list is full of bands like AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses and Muse you’re clearly leaning towards rock. If, on the other hand, you have noted Ed Sheeran, Bon Iver and Nirvana, you’re probably more into indie and singer songwriters. Nice to know, right? But how on earth does this relate to choosing a guitar? Well…
Now that we have established your area of interest in the world of guitars, picking an instrument will be so much easier. You see, AC/DC on classic guitar will get you nowhere. With that goal in mind you’re better off getting an electric six string. For Bon Iver on the other hand, an acoustic western guitar will add miles of authenticity to your sound.
The adventure has only just begun
You’ve already gained a lot of wisdom as to what instrument floats your boat. The decision of playing an acoustic or electric guitar is a very good start. It will save you a lot of time and unnecessary grievances. While we have come a long way, it’s also only the beginning.
Whatever choice you made, both sides offer a wide variety of diverse instruments that are specific to the genre that you want to master. Are you going for a Spanish guitar or a western? Do like the Gibson sound or are your ears tuned to Fender?
In the next parts we will dive into this matter more deeply. Until that time, we advise you to pay a visit to your local guitar vender armed with the knowledge you’ve gained so far and try out some guitars. And when your there, download our app to play along to your favorite music. Happy jamming!
How do I choose a good beginner’s guitar? Part 2: Acoustic Guitars
How to choose an electric guitar for beginners