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Thread: Learning Guitar

  1. #1
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    Learning Guitar

    I am interested in learning to play the guitar and based on the "other hobby" thread it seems to be rather popular here, so I figured I would post and ask.

    I was looking at buying my first acoustic guitar and was trying to decide between the Taylor Academy 10 and 12. Also electronic vs non-electric model. I only plan to play at home and see no reason for the electronic model unless I am missing something.

    For a beginner would you recommend one of the above guitars, if so which one, and if not what would you recommend. Also would you recommend electric or non if I only plan to play at home mostly for myself?

    THANKS

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    Yeah, acoustic guitars are wonderful. Electrics are neat, too, and you can do stuff with them you absolutely will never be able to achieve with an acoustic. In the end, though, there's no escaping the wonderfulness of the sound produced by a totally acoustic instrument.

    In any case, go to every guitar/musical instrument store you can and have the salesmen/ladies play all the ones in your price range so you can hear them. When you hear one you especially like, put it over a knee. Is it comfortable to hold? Does it work with your physical dimensions? Try to play it. It doesn't matter if you know nothing and make a mess of it. Instead, ponder the questions of whether you'll ever build up the left hand strength and develop the finger callouses to be able to get fluency and tone.

    Meantime, let the salesperson hustle the heck out of you, but maintain enough of a cool to insist on heading to another shop before you put money down.

    Finally, don't worry about spending a little more money than you intended. It's something that will make you feel guilty enough to devote adequate time to the thing.

    As for mail-ordering the thing, just keep in mind that every single guitar is different. You might as well be getting a mail-order bride.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 16k-rpm View Post
    I am interested in learning to play the guitar and based on the "other hobby" thread it seems to be rather popular here, so I figured I would post and ask.

    I was looking at buying my first acoustic guitar and was trying to decide between the Taylor Academy 10 and 12. Also electronic vs non-electric model. I only plan to play at home and see no reason for the electronic model unless I am missing something.

    For a beginner would you recommend one of the above guitars, if so which one, and if not what would you recommend. Also would you recommend electric or non if I only plan to play at home mostly for myself?

    THANKS
    What's your budget for a guitar? I can't recommend buying a used acoustic without knowing precisely what to look for, but there are tons of great beginner guitars to be had brand new, from reputable dealers. But, first thing's first, and that's nailing down a budget....
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    Based on doing some research online it seems I need to spend between $300-600 or so for something decent. The one I was interested in is the Taylor Academy 10E at $650.00.

    Mapei: Thanks for the response. I also see a lot of advice about going to a shop and trying a bunch out. Do you think that would still be beneficial with basically zero experience playing?

    Thanks again

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    Just go to a shop and put them on your knee. Politely caress the strings. Bang away a bit, too. Sure, you'll likely feel ridiculous but you won't be the first wannabe to ever wander into the place. Steel yourself. It's the only way to discover if the reality even remotely fits the dream.

    BTW, the Fender acoustic guitars at the $200 level are surprisingly good. They play well. They have far better tone than they ought to.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

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    I have a Seagull for sale, I will post pics/links tomorrow. In excellent shape, great learner guitar. Easy action, great sound, with a piezo pickup and equalizer. Thinking around $400. (Shipping included).
    S6 model, handmade in Canada, eh
    Last edited by rideit; 1 Week Ago at 08:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    Just go to a shop and put them on your knee. Politely caress the strings. Bang away a bit, too. Sure, you'll likely feel ridiculous but you won't be the first wannabe to ever wander into the place. Steel yourself. It's the only way to discover if the reality even remotely fits the dream.

    BTW, the Fender acoustic guitars at the $200 level are surprisingly good. They play well. They have far better tone than they ought to.
    +1

    The offerings across the board for acoustic guitars between $200 and $300 are spectacular these days. Fender's acoustic line, as Mapei said, punches above its weight class...Yamaha are consistent and reliable...I love my Recording King, though that's a little less idiot-proof, as it has a solid top and requires more care than Fender or Yamaha (and I'm an idiot who didn't humidify my RK, so it's cracked all to hell now).

    And, while your comfort as a player is important, how the guitar sounds is equally as important. Get your hands on as many as they'll let you, and see which ones sit nicely on your knee...you might find one that feels magic to you. Then, have the sales guy strum some chords and play some notes for you, as you listen from about 10 feet away.

    Couple of extra tidbits:
    Buy from a reputable shop, and have the guitar set up properly from the get-go. Even the cheapest guitars can be made playable with a little TLC from a trained professional. And, don't be afraid of taking a month or so of lessons just to have someone show you the ropes. The human element is a HUGE thing in learning guitar.
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    I would suggest bringing along someone with when shopping that is a more experienced guitar player, as they will probably be a lot more helpful than a salesman or yourself in determining what is a good purchase for you. That person will be able to tell if the instrument plays well in different positions, doesn't go out of tune, and etc. Sometimes a guitar will just not sound great because it has old strings on it, and that experienced player will be able to see things like that.

    It is indeed true that some of the cheaper guitars actually play very well, and choosing one of those might be a perfect starter guitar for you. I have a nice Taylor that I originally got 25+ years ago when I was more of a beginner player. Not too long ago I was looking for a "camp fire" guitar and found one of those cheaper Fender guitars for about $150 that played well, had OK tone, but certainly had a weaker sound than a much better guitar. Now that I'm a much better player I was able to just try a bunch of different guitars and find something that had good playability, which is really all you need when starting out. You don't need a performance level quality guitar that has great tone and projects a strong sound to learn to play.
    Last edited by GearDaddy; 1 Week Ago at 09:55 AM.

  9. #9
    J24
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    A beginner who got an A12 this year as a present, it's been a great entry level guitar for me. My instructor who is not a Taylor fan at all had to admit he was impressed with its playability and sound. The slim neck shape makes it easy for me to reach chords compared to a Martin and Yamaha which I tried in same price range.
    But as others said you should try few different ones out

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    Quote Originally Posted by 16k-rpm View Post
    Based on doing some research online it seems I need to spend between $300-600 or so for something decent. The one I was interested in is the Taylor Academy 10E at $650.00.

    Mapei: Thanks for the response. I also see a lot of advice about going to a shop and trying a bunch out. Do you think that would still be beneficial with basically zero experience playing?

    Thanks again
    No reason to spend that much right off the bat

    Find a pawn shop that has a decent selection and find one that feels comfortable to hold and with a neck that you can comfortably get your fingers around without stretching. Check it over to make sure there are no cracks, and take a look at the neck to make sure it's flat and doesn't bend forward toward the body (when you're holding it like you're playing it, the neck would be bending away from you. it's called the neck angle, and older instruments, instruments that haven't been well cared for, or cheaply made instruments, will have a neck that changes angle as a result of the body distorting due to the tension of the strings. It's easy to spot because the strings will be considerably farther away from the fretboard at the body than at the nut. You might also see the neck starting to pull away from the body.). Being a little "used" is no big deal since this is your first guitar and if you keep at it you will undoubtedly buy a better one.

    I bought my first "serious" acoustic guitar about 10 years ago from a pawn shop (Chinese made Alvarez), played it for a good three years and then traded up to the Breedlove I currently have. Ended up selling it for what I paid.
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    I don't play guitar and always wanted to learn how. Anyhoo, I stumbled on this video last week on the creation of Goodall guitars. It's quite mesmerizing, almost fifty minutes long and I watched the whole thing. But I have nothing else to contribute to this thread.


  12. #12
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    Fender makes good beginner acoustic guitars. They run about $150 and they sound pretty good.

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    My lovely wife conspired with our neighbor (who is a pro musician) to surprise me for my 65th B'day with a new guitar.

    He went to the local large music store, started at one end of the rack and played all the inexpensive guitars and came away with an Ibanez for me--the model number is some crazy long string that ends in 1202--and I suspect it was not too expensive (we are still struggling). It is a lovely guitar--and not too expensive.

    He thought it had a nice sound and action and was a sharp looking guitar as well. Now I just need to find the time to re-learn the little I used to know...

    Ah, found it!

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez/...tric-Guitar.gc
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    to me Guitars are very personal. I could never buy one via mail order. You could pick up half a dozen of the same model and one will just sit with you better. You have some great advice here, just follow what has been posted
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    I wouldn't be too concerned with the specifics of your first guitar. If you fall in love with playing, you'll learn what you want from this guitar and you can buy another in the future that is more to your liking.

    I am primarily an electric player. I have an acoustic and a classical (nylon-string). I play the classical way more than the acoustic, but that's just me.

    I guess if I'd have any pointers, it would be:

    1. If you have a friend or neighbor that would be willing to go with you to the store, bring them. Hopefully they can give you some unbiased info on-site about if something is good or not. It is important that this person is not biased for or against a certain instrument company, because if they say "that brand stinks" or similar, you might be missing out on some nice guitars.

    2. Try out many guitars. When I go into a store I am very self-conscious about this - I don't want to have other people hear how badly I am playing (since I play so infrequently). Rather, I am trying to hear if there is anything really "bad" about the guitar. If you simply strum the strings, are you hearing any rattling or buzzing? Are you simply hearing the strings and no other "bad" noises? If you strum one guitar, then strum another guitar in the same manner, does one sound better than the other? You don't have to be a pro to do this and you don't need to be flashy - just simply strum the open strings to see what is sounds like. Different guitars sound different and you may like one over the other.

    3. Check out the feeling of the necks. That is a big thing for me (with electrics). I have 13 or 14 guitars (is it bad that I don't remember the actual number?) and every neck is shaped differently. There are some that are "just fine" but then there are those that are "great". Being a beginner, you won't know what is "great" for you but you probably will be able to quickly figure out what you absolutely don't like (example - a thick neck versus a thin neck).

    4. Plan to get it set up by a technician. I don't know how much this costs but I think it's worth it. I normally do my own setups on my guitars. The biggest problem I've had is high action on the guitars I've bought (meaning the strings are set up very high off the fretboard). Some of my guitars and bass were not enjoyable to play right after buying them, but I would go through and adjust the truss rod and the bridge/saddles to get the strings to a much better height/position. It took time but it was so much more fun to play after doing that work.

    5. Invest in some lessons. Back when I started (about 30 years ago) the nearest guitar/music store was over 30 minutes away so I just got a few books and started learning by myself (and that's the way I've been all my life). Yes, you can learn that way but I would have to assume that getting lessons from someone who knows what they are doing will help you learn quicker and let you have more fun on the guitar.

    6. Pick something you will "want" to play. Meaning don't just get the cheapest instrument - spend a little more on the guitar that will make you want to grab it and play, rather than a cheaper instrument that is just "okay" but really doesn't get you excited.

    Hope this helped and hope you find the guitar that you want!

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    if you like rock, buy an inexpensive electric first. its light gauge strings and low action will allow you to play more with less pain as you learn ... so you will learn faster.

    learn all your basic chords, chord theory, and scales. learning the pentatonic scale in its five positions will open up a whole world of music.

    then buy the best acoustic you can afford.
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    All good advice above, accept buying from a pawn shop unless you can take someone with you who is an experienced player. As someone who dabbled for years, but got serious about six years ago I have a few words of advice:

    1. Take advantage of the liberal return policies of stores like Guitar Center, which has a 45 day return policy. 45 days should be sufficient time to tell if you like a guitar.

    2. Don't assume that your first guitar will be be your last. I went through many until I had been playing a while and knew what I liked.

    3. As mentioned above by blackfranco, if you like rock, buy an electric. I don't believe the old adage of learning on an acoustic to develop your callouses. If you're going to play electric, you don't need acoustic callouses. If you want to rock out, you don't want an acoustic.

    4. Take lessons from a good instructor rather than trying to learn online. Online/youtube stuff is great, but it's best to develop good technique first, before trying to learn from someone who can't correct your mistakes.

    5. Be prepared to woodshed. Unless you're a natural, you're going to have to put in the time. Remember, though, keep it fun!

    Good luck and report back to us on your progress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slim Chance View Post
    All good advice above, accept buying from a pawn shop unless you can take someone with you who is an experienced player. As someone who dabbled for years, but got serious about six years ago I have a few words of advice:

    1. Take advantage of the liberal return policies of stores like Guitar Center, which has a 45 day return policy. 45 days should be sufficient time to tell if you like a guitar.

    2. Don't assume that your first guitar will be be your last. I went through many until I had been playing a while and knew what I liked.

    3. As mentioned above by blackfranco, if you like rock, buy an electric. I don't believe the old adage of learning on an acoustic to develop your callouses. If you're going to play electric, you don't need acoustic callouses. If you want to rock out, you don't want an acoustic.

    4. Take lessons from a good instructor rather than trying to learn online. Online/youtube stuff is great, but it's best to develop good technique first, before trying to learn from someone who can't correct your mistakes.

    5. Be prepared to woodshed. Unless you're a natural, you're going to have to put in the time. Remember, though, keep it fun!

    Good luck and report back to us on your progress.
    Good advice all! Especially #5. In other words, play & practice until your fingers fall off...or until the cops show up. When the cops leave, start practicing again.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    Good advice all! Especially #5. In other words, play & practice until your fingers fall off...
    But don't forget the "woodshed" part if you have a spouse. After I got my dad's wife into ukulele he asked me, "how many more times am I going to hear Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?".

    My own repertoire is more advanced than that but my wife has a similar opinion as my dad.

  20. #20
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    My very first guitar teacher, when I was around 8, suggested I start off with a narrow neck nylon stringed guitar.
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    Thanks for the advice folks!

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