The advantage of starting out on an acoustic guitar is that you don’t need a guitar amplifier. Acoustic guitars are one of the most popular musical instruments in the world because it’s relatively easy to learn and you can take it with you wherever you go. Many of the most famous songs were written on an acoustic guitar!
Nylon string acoustic guitars are also known as classical guitars or Spanish guitars. The advantage of nylon strings is that they are easier on your fingertips. The disadvantage is that the neck is much wider and stretching your fingers is a bit more difficult. For kids under the age of ten, we sometimes recommend a ½ size or a ¾ size nylon string acoustic guitar because they fit comfortably, and pressing down on the fingerboard is much easier for little fingers.
Steel string guitars are a bit harder on your fingertips but you will soon build up calluses. One advantage of a steel-string acoustic guitar is that the neck is a bit thinner than a nylon string guitar and therefore easier to stretch your fingers. Mostly we recommend steel-string acoustic guitars because they are used in almost every style of music – rock, pop, folk, country, indie, bluegrass and worship music, etc.
For most adults a full-size acoustic guitar will fit comfortably. For kids between 10-13, a ¾ size acoustic fits well. For kids under the age of 10, we recommend purchasing a ½ size acoustic guitar.
The sound of an acoustic guitar is far less important than the playability. How easy an acoustic guitar plays is mostly determined by the action. The action on a guitar is the height of the strings from the fingerboard. A lot of cheap acoustic guitars have the action set too high and this makes the playability of the guitar difficult. You don’t want to give up the first week you start playing just because your acoustic guitar’s action is set too high!
If your fingers are hurting too much and you feel that the action is too high you can have the action lowered at a local acoustic guitar repair shop. It can cost anywhere between $25-$60. Having the action lowered on a guitar can make it 100% easier to play! You can ask the repair shop to put on a set of the lightest acoustic strings. This also makes the playability of an acoustic guitar much easier for a beginner.
A huge part of the sound of an acoustic guitar is the strings. When the strings are old and corroded the guitar will sound dull. Changing your strings a few times throughout the year will make your guitar sound clear and bright. At a minimum try to have the strings changed once per year. We recommend that you use light to medium-light gauge guitar strings because it’s a lot easier on your fingers.
If you’re left-handed and you’ve already been playing guitar a little bit then you can shop for a left-handed acoustic guitar. If you’re left-handed but you’ve never played guitar before we recommend buying a right-handed acoustic guitar. The advantage is that there is a bigger selection of acoustic guitars to choose from without having to do a special order. Another advantage is that when you go to play someone else’s guitar it will probably be right-handed. Some right-handed acoustic guitars can be converted into left-handed by changing the bridge saddle and the nut. When playing guitar you will be using both hands. In fact, the left-hand does more of the intricate work.
By far the most important thing to learn on the acoustic guitar is the basic chords and strumming patterns. If you can change between basic chords and strum you can play of thousands of songs.
Most basic songs involve changing between chords and strumming with a pick. You can also learn to strum with your fingers but getting an even and consistent sound is a bit more challenging. Many guitarists use their right hand for fingerpicking, also know as fingerstyle playing. Blackbird, Dust in the Wind, and Landslide are a few good examples of fingerpicking songs. Ultimately you will learn to play with a pick and your fingers. Classical guitar music is almost exclusively played with the fingers.
The answer depends upon how often you practice and how advanced of a guitarist you want to become. Within the first several weeks or months of playing you will learn the basic chords and strumming. This will enable you to play many of your favorite songs. The more you learn, the more you can see how much there is to still learn. You can always keep learning and improving on guitar throughout your whole life!
An acoustic guitar can cost anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars. You may want to spend between $100 and $250 for an acoustic guitar that plays well and stays in tune. The price of an acoustic guitar is based on the quality of the wood and the overall craftsmanship of the guitar. Guitars that are made in the USA are generally more expensive. The more expensive brands sound, play, and look better.
You should also purchase a guitar tuner. Tuning a guitar by ear without any experience can be difficult. A guitar tuner simply clips onto the headstock of a guitar and each string is tuned individually to a note (EADGBE).
For steel string acoustic guitars that we recommend – Yamaha, Ibanez, Epiphone, Recording King, and Cort. For more expensive brands we recommend – Martin, Taylor, Guild and Gibson.
For nylon string acoustic guitars we recommend – Yamaha, Epiphone, Cordoba. For more expensive brands we recommend – Cordoba, Martin, Taylor and Takamine.
We hope this helps you in your search for an acoustic guitar!
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Thanks for reading!