8 Answers for Guitar Beginners
- Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 15:53
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- 12 comments
Guitar Beginners are excited about learning the guitar but often get nervous about making wrong first-steps in the beginning. Here are answers to some questions that are asked repeatedly in my beginner guitar lessons. I hope this helps some of you out.
1) Should I buy an acoustic or an electric guitar?
Buy whichever guitar you think you will enjoy more. Electric and acoustic guitars are different instruments but, fundamentally, their technique is the same. Think about the music you like and your favorite guitar players. It is likely you will practice more if you are pleased with the look and sound of your instrument. Practicing more means achieving new sounds, progress and enjoyment of this great hobby. Many guitarists eventually own both an acoustic and an electric guitar.
2) Are there advantages to learning on an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar?
Learning on an acoustic guitar puts the focus on your technique and not on ‘sound effects’ that can be gained with an electric guitar and amplifier. The slightly heavier strings of the acoustic encourages stronger technique.
An electric guitar has lighter strings and lower action, making an electric guitar easier to play than an acoustic. A drawback is the added cost of an amplifier, cables, etc. Sometimes the adjustment to acoustic guitar is uncomfortable for someone who has learned on an electric.
3) Should I learn on a hand-me-down guitar?
If it plays well. If you do get a used guitar to learn on, I suggest taking the guitar to a friend or music retailer and get some expert advice on its quality as a beginner’s instrument. I caution that I have seen many beginners get discouraged when the problem wasn’t with their technique but with the inferior guitar they are learning on. Sometimes these guitars have been in someone’s closet or attic for years, have problems with intonation or string height, and with strings that are older than the person trying to learn! My best suggestion is to purchase a new, name-brand guitar. They won’t slow you down and keep their value. Many manufactures bundle beginner guitar packages with guitar, tuner, strap, amplifier and cable (for electric guitars), guitar case or gig bag, picks and sometimes an instructional book or video. Usually at a great discount than if you bought everything separately.
4) What should I practice?
A good practice routine will include some core areas of study: Chords/Rhythm Guitar, Single Notes/Improvisation, Sight Reading, Ear Training, Repertoire. Avoid focusing exclusively on any one of these and you can become a well-rounded musician. And pay attention to that inner voice telling you what you real need to work on.
5) How much should I practice?
You should practice as much as you feel like, if you play every day. No amount of reading, watching or listening can substitute for time on the guitar. I recommend 90 minutes a week for a beginning student, more if you feel like it. Most importantly is play every day. Fifteen minutes every day will show far greater results then a 3 hour marathon practice session every Saturday. Finally, focus your practice on what you don’t already know. Playing favorite riffs for an hour doesn’t count as an hour of practice.
6) How long will it take to get good?
This is a hard question to answer. So much depend on factors such as already playing another instrument, better hand/finger coordination and flexibility, how young you start, and how much you practice time you put in.
There is no reason you can’t play the guitar. I don’t care if you think your hands are too big, too small, too wide, too narrow. If you started late in life. If your Mom raised you on Lawrence Welk records and now your a Ramones fan. Famous guitar players have been blind, missing fingers, learned on poor equipment, etc. The most important hurdle to get over is thinking that you can’t do it. Tell yourself you can do it and anything is possible. The journey to realizing your musical goals is covered in single steps. Enjoy every step of the way toward your goal and you will have fun. And you might reach your goal before you know it.
7) How young can you start playing the guitar?
My youngest student is 3 years old. However, playing guitar takes coordination of both hands to get the correct sounds. Usually children around 5-6 years old will have the motor skills and attention span to follow a lesson plan and begin on the guitar.
8. How old is too old to start playing the guitar?
You are never too old. Music is a hobby for life.
What are your guitar questions?
Now, I could us your help. I need your guitar questions in the comments section of this post. Beginner questions or advanced, rhythm or lead guitar, guitar gear, whatever. I need more questions for an upcoming report I am writing and could use your feedback!
I get questions, you get answers. A win-win situation right? So fire away!