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Mitch8817
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22 Oct 2006, 2:59 am

Hey guys, I am thinking of starting to learn the acoustic guitar and was wondering if anybody in 'the know' could recommend to me what guitar I should buy as a beginner, or any other advice. Thanks.



Starbuline
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22 Oct 2006, 3:17 am

I'd recommend a Martin, but they can get expensive, but on the other hand they are really easy to play.



Scintillate
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22 Oct 2006, 7:30 am

Some will say get tabs, and some will say do it by ear..

I won't mention a type of guitar, as I started with the worst piece of junk possible, and fighting it to create a good sound was what taught me a lot.

Anyway, I think you should pick a band or artist that you really love, that you kinda grasp in terms of the flow of the notes or whatever, and play along to it, sure you'll suck at first, but the first step is definately playing in rhythym..

Afterwards the path is infinately divisable, for me I simply learnt every Tool song I could, because they're very clear, and easy to tell exactly where the guitarist is going, I tested out the notes (there aren't that many options) made sure I had the right tuning, and eventually started getting it right.

Others will say use tabs, so if you're better at reading and translating that way (instead of by ear) I suggest buying a tab book of an artist you like, and learning some favourite songs.

A teacher I had when I was young tried to force me to learn blues and jazz, but ultimately you will only learn if you enjoy what you're actually trying to play.


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Mitch8817
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22 Oct 2006, 4:06 pm

Thanks guys. How important is a teacher, and how early is one needed? Also, does the length of the guitar really matter? I'm 6'2'' so I have a rather long arm span, anything you recommend there? Also *breathes* does it matter whether or not my guitar has steel strings? Finally, whats the difference between a $100 guitar and a $1000 guitar? They kind of look the same, no offence...



ZedSimon
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22 Oct 2006, 4:16 pm

I think the difference in price is all about quality. Sure, you could get a $100 guitar but does it play like, or will it last as long as, a $1000 guitar? Lots to consider there. Here in the US, Esteban has a complete kit you can get from an infomercial for $200 that includes the guitar, lessons on DVD and an amp, but I hear the guitar is utter crap. And accounts are that Esteban himself is a little bit of a flake, too.



diseased
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22 Oct 2006, 4:36 pm

The difference between a 100-dollar guitar and a thousand-dollar guitar is actually more a matter of differenceS than A difference. Higher-priced guitars are (generally) made of better wood. By better I don't necessarily mean more expensive wood (tho this can be the case), but more better-treated-and-prepared wood. Thoroughly dried, better quality wood will sound better and BE better (for the overall health and longevity of the instrument) than poorly-prepared, lower quality cuts. One other hallmark of most higher-priced instruments is the greater attention to detail during construction. Makes sense, too. If you're some high-end luthier and you put a crap product, it's going to have a greater effect on your sales/reputation than, say, a small batch of Yamaha acoustics being flawed.
You'll also tend to find more doodads, like the fancy abalone trim around the soundhole; the decorative stuff, really.
As far as steel strings go, that's really dependent on the style you'll be wanting to play, and, to a lesser extent, the conditions under which you'll be using the guitar. Trying to play bluesy-rock stuff on a nylon-string guitar... well, you can do it, it just won't sound quite right. By the same token, if you'll be focusing mostly on classical/baroque-type stuff, go with a nylon-string. Easier on the fingertips for a beginner as well, not to mentio the lower string tension.
Problem is, you don't want to go out and buy a $1500 instrument when you're not even sure you'll be playing a year from now. But by the same token, an utter piece of crap instrument can be very discouraging to some (and encouraging to others, a la Scintillate and myself).
Teacher vs tablature, that one comes down to you. Personally, I'm self-taught with a lot of tablature use and an even mix of picking things up by ear. In retrospect, I think I'd've done well to have done better in school, thus ensuring my parents'd continue to pay for lessons (this was back when I was about 14.. got a report card full of F's and there went the guitar lessons and I pulled my passive-aggressive thing and refused to give a damn and went about teaching myself).
As for Starbuline's suggestion of a Martin... I think initially I'd recommend something like a Yamaha acoustic, find out whether you a) enjoy playing and b) intend to continue, then once you've made some progress, treat yourself to a Martin. I've owned one, as has one of my uncles and an aunt and they're wonderful instruments. Well-made, good tone, etc. Sadly, mine was stolen several years ago, so....
As far as arm-span and scale length, 6'2" shouldn't be an issue really, unless you have freakishly long ape-arms (and if you do, no offense intended.. had a roommate like that once and he wound up playing bass...turned out to be a good bassist, too). I'm 6' and have no problems playing most guitars. You might also look into bass. Longer neck, wider frets, etc. There's also no reason to limit yourself. I've played, at various points in my life, 6-string acoustic and electric, 12-string acoustic and electric, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- and 12-string bass, and have messed around with violin and cello.
Regardless, good luck, hope you enjoy it. I've been playing since I was 14, 35 now and I don't regret a minute of it.



Fogman
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22 Oct 2006, 7:24 pm

I would want to recommend something decent and USED. I play electric myself, and I also started on crappy Harmony guitar. If you have say, $800 to spend on a guitar, I would suggest something by Guild, Alvarez, Yamaha, or one of the 'O' series Martins ( This range of Martins have a moahogany body) You may also find a used Gibson in this price range as well.

diseased wrote:
Problem is, you don't want to go out and buy a $1500 instrument when you're not even sure you'll be playing a year from now. But by the same token, an utter piece of crap instrument can be very discouraging to some (and encouraging to others, a la Scintillate and myself).


I have to say that if you spend $1500 on a guitar, ( provided that it's used) and you realise a year later that you've lost interest in it, You can always sell it ,and perhaps get back what you invested. If you spend the same on a new guitar, and you lose interst in playing,and sell it, you'll have lost money due to the value depreciation of a new guitar that is now a used guitar.

If you spend $200 on a crap new guitar, and you lose interest in playing, you'll get nowhere near what you paid for it, when you decide to get rid of it.

Good guitars hold their value, cheap stuff doesn't. --Just something to think about.


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Scintillate
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22 Oct 2006, 10:31 pm

Teaching, it all depends on your style of learning, I have real troubles learning off someone else, so the only way for me was to get an electric, and try to learn the entire tool and mudvayne catalogue.

If you learn well off others, in terms of one on one, a teacher might be the way, though the basics can be grasped in many different ways...

For example one teacher simply showed me how to play certain songs, the other one forced me to learn scales I wasn't interested in..

Both teachers I only went to once or twice, I told the second teacher I want to play in C open only and he rejected teaching me after that :P

There IS a big difference in quality depending on how much you can spend on guitar, but my point was simply that as I forced myself to learn on a piece of junk, when I upgraded to a beast it was simply divine.

As to whether steel string or nylon, it depends what style (if any) you have in mind, personally I dislike nylon because my style has always been a more rocky one, and I planned to move onto electric so to me it seemed the logical progression.

Any guitarists in particular that inspire you to play? That might help with making the decision.


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Scintillate
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22 Oct 2006, 10:31 pm

Teaching, it all depends on your style of learning, I have real troubles learning off someone else, so the only way for me was to get an electric, and try to learn the entire tool and mudvayne catalogue.

If you learn well off others, in terms of one on one, a teacher might be the way, though the basics can be grasped in many different ways...

For example one teacher simply showed me how to play certain songs, the other one forced me to learn scales I wasn't interested in..

Both teachers I only went to once or twice, I told the second teacher I want to play in C open only and he rejected teaching me after that :P

There IS a big difference in quality depending on how much you can spend on guitar, but my point was simply that as I forced myself to learn on a piece of junk, when I upgraded to a beast it was simply divine.

As to whether steel string or nylon, it depends what style (if any) you have in mind, personally I dislike nylon because my style has always been a more rocky one, and I planned to move onto electric so to me it seemed the logical progression.

Any guitarists in particular that inspire you to play? That might help with making the decision.


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Scintillate
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22 Oct 2006, 10:32 pm

Teaching, it all depends on your style of learning, I have real troubles learning off someone else, so the only way for me was to get an electric, and try to learn the entire tool and mudvayne catalogue.

If you learn well off others, in terms of one on one, a teacher might be the way, though the basics can be grasped in many different ways...

For example one teacher simply showed me how to play certain songs, the other one forced me to learn scales I wasn't interested in..

Both teachers I only went to once or twice, I told the second teacher I want to play in C open only and he rejected teaching me after that :P

There IS a big difference in quality depending on how much you can spend on guitar, but my point was simply that as I forced myself to learn on a piece of junk, when I upgraded to a beast it was simply divine.

As to whether steel string or nylon, it depends what style (if any) you have in mind, personally I dislike nylon because my style has always been a more rocky one, and I planned to move onto electric so to me it seemed the logical progression.

Any guitarists in particular that inspire you to play? That might help with making the decision.


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markaudette
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23 Oct 2006, 1:53 pm

As an acoustic guitar player, my advice to you is to buy a cheap first guitar. Cheap but well made. Well, as well built as a cheap guitar can be!

Make sure you buy a guitar that does not have a bridge that's lifting off the face. That's a sure-fire sign you have a poorly built cheap made guiatr.

Make sure the next isn't warped in any fashion. It should be level and straight. Make sure none of the frets are lifting off the neck. If they are, you can easily beat tthem back into their grooves by using a rubber mallet to tap them back into place. No biggie...

As far as the guitar's sound, just try one that has a sound you think you like. It won't really make a difference now since you're just beginning. But when you get more advanced and hear what better made guitars sound like, you will eventually want a better sounding guitar. It's only natural in your progression as a better guitaist.

I think the best beginning guitar you can buy is an Ovation (and the exact name of the model slips my memory). The model I'm thinking of usually runs $199 (if they're even still in production, this model). It has an exceptionally good sounding guitar for a beginner's model. So much that I'd love to have my old Ovation back. It sounded better than some higher priced models I've owned.

Ultimately, in the very beginning, it really doesn't matter. Your skills and tastes will improve with practice. One day, you will get the knack of which guitar youy want to own all by just having played for a good while. You will come into it eventually.

Me, my practice guitar is a stupid Lotus L-85.



diseased
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23 Oct 2006, 4:55 pm

Ovations are nice, especially that one bowl-backed series they have.
My standard every-day acoustic is a Yamaha FG-412L lefty and my (only surviving, unstolen) electric is a Washburn KC-70V lefty. Used to have a couple of Carvins and I absolutely loved them.

Something I've recommended to beginning guitarists is to stick with the acoustic for at least 6 months to a year before buying an electric. Playing cleanly on an acoustic requires more finger strength (not tons, but noticably more pressure) and precision/intent than most electrics do, in my experience. My playing got very sloppy after I switched to electric, so I tend to make myself play acoustic periodically.



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24 Oct 2006, 7:29 pm

Yeh a lot of people I've met that jumped straight to electric played so rough it hurt my ears, they couldn't tell the difference between half pressing the notes, and actually defining them. I love acoustic for that, it taught me how to play, it strengthened my hands, and it inspired me greatly.

Once I achieved the dexterity to move fairly swiftly on acoustic, as I moved to electric, I discovered the joys of tremolo :D


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Scintillate
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24 Oct 2006, 7:29 pm

Beep.


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Last edited by Scintillate on 25 Oct 2006, 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

jonathan79
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24 Oct 2006, 10:59 pm

Definitely buy a cheap guitar first. Not an ultra-crappy one, but an alright model that will actually sound like a guitar when someone plays it. Try to get one where the strings are close to the fretboard, otherwise you'll get frustrated with not being able to finger the chords properly.

Don't go out and buy an expensive guitar right away because until you know how to play, you'll never be able to tell what a "good" guitar sounds like. If you find that you're gonna stick with it, then go out and buy a more expensive one. Different guitars sound better with different types of music, so its all relative. But, first things first, pick one up and start playing!


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