There are three main types of guitars to consider when buying your own…acoustic, classical and electric. The type of music you hope to learn will play a part in deciding which guitar to purchase. You will also want to consider what type of sound you prefer when making your choice.
Acoustic Guitars with steel strings are hollow-bodied instruments that are designed to be played without an amplifier. Many current models of steel-string acoustic guitars also come with electronics built in and are called “acoustic-electric”.
Classical Guitars, also called nylon-string guitars, do not require an amplifier. They deliver warm, full-bodied sound. The classical guitar neck is wider than the acoustic or electric. Like acoustic guitars, some classical guitars are designed with electronics built-in.
Electric Guitars are designed to be played with an amplifier, which, in turn, requires electricity or a battery-powered amp. Many different types of effects are possible with electric guitars.
The following are my recommendations based on 40+ years of playing, 16 years of teaching and countless hours of study.
- Start with a classical guitar. The left hand fingers of the beginner can become sore from pressing down the strings. For that reason, I recommend that your first guitar be a classical. The strings are easier to press down and they are slightly farther apart than on the acoustic or electric. You also avoid the added cost of an amplifier and the need for electricity to play. You can always purchase an acoustic or an electric guitar once you have the basics down.
- Take lessons. I won’t deny that you can to learn on your own. However, you run the risk of developing poor technique, which can lead to discomfort, frustration and loss of motivation. The importance of immediate feedback while you play is immeasurable. It’s better learn good habits than to have to ‘un-learn’ bad ones. Meet with several guitar teachers and ask questions. Find someone you feel comfortable with and who gives you confidence that he / she can help you achieve your goals.
- Learn to read music. It is certainly possible to learn to play guitar without reading music, and some would argue that it is easier. However, if you are willing to put in some time and effort, the benefits of reading music are great. The wealth of printed music that is available gives you access to music of all types and the ability to play it immediately, without having heard or played it before. Also, the ability to read music translates easily to instruments other than the guitar, if you ever want to learn to play something new.