By: Al Tan
Having played the guitar for a number of years, I am often asked
this question by eager learners - "Should I start learning with
the acoustic or electric guitar?" In this article, I'll talk a
bit about both so you can come to an informed decision.
First of all, let me get something straight. The actual notes
and fretboards work the same for both, so if you start with
either one, its always interchangeable, although the playing
techniques might differ.
Most younger players would gravitate towards the electric guitar
thanks to MTV and the "cool factor". The acoustic guitar seems
to have a more "folksy" image to it. Both sound very different,
with the acoustic relying purely on natural acoustic principles
to generate the sound, using the body of the guitar as an
"amplifier". The electric guitar on the other hand needs an
electric amplifier to generate sound. There are of course
hybrids, but that is not relevent in this article.
So, which is better for the beginner? I'll cover 3 aspects below
- cost, convenience and playability.
Cost Both are about the same, you can get really expensive
custom built electric of acoustic guitars. However, the electric
can start to get more expensive simply because of the tempting
options and accessories like amplifiers, pre-amps, effects
pedals, volume pedals, etc. The acoustic on the other hand might
be simpler to start with. It plays right out of the box!
Convenience Again the acoustic wins as you can take it almost
everywhere without worrying about a power socket. There are
personal practice gadgets available for the electric guitar
which allows you to practice with headphones.
Playability My personal preference here is the electric guitar.
I find it easier to play, with the strings being softer and thus
less effort to play.
Either way, they both should be respected and used for what they
are and any good guitarist should be adept at both. For the
beginner, I would prefer the acoustic as it helps a lot in ear
training as you get accustomed to the vibrations of the body
making the tuning of the strings are easier to detect.
My final piece of advice is to don't get too obsessed with your
instrument while you're learning but focus on the music instead.
Once you start to get better at it you'll know instinctively
what sort of 'ax' you'll need. I've met my fair share of
musicians who are so into the gear but have not improved in
their skill much and on the other hand, have heard some amazing,
soul-stirring music from blues masters that have played the same
guitar all their life!
About the author:
Al Tan tries to be a guitarist when he's not building websites.
One of the best resource to learn guitar online that he's come
across which has step-by-step guitar lessons on video is
http://www.niknax.com/jamorama.html. For acoustic guitar, try