How To: Choose Your First Guitar

What Guitar Should I Buy First?

When you first decide that you want to play the guitar the question that comes up is, “What guitar should I invest in first?” There are pros and cons to buying either an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar depending on what style(s) you want to play most and how much fun you want to have when playing. Let’s go over the pros and cons of each decision together.Electric vs. Acoustic guitar (1)

Acoustic Guitar –

Pros:

– Loud, full sound

– Bright tone

– Great for campfires, parties, or jams

– You can purchase a semi-acoustic for plugging into an amp

Cons:

– Loud, full sound. Depending on who you are (parents, roommates of the player) this can be a benefit or a drawback

– Not as versatile as an electric. Many techniques such as playing chords and melodies are a lot harder to play on an acoustic compared to an electric guitar. This is due to the thicker, stronger, denser strings and higher action (the distance of the strings to the fretboard) that require more physical force to press down and play. Which brings me to the next point..

-Longer learning curve for beginners. Due to the increased physical difficulty of playing an acoustic compared to an electric guitar, it can take much longer (twice as long in some cases!) to learn and master the basic fundamentals of playing. This results in more frustration, less fun, and it is more likely the beginning guitar player will quit before they break out of the fundamental beginner stages and get to the extraordinary fun thingsĀ that come after.

Electric Guitar –

Pros:

– Shorter learning curve for beginners. The strings are easier to press down and make a sound due to the thinner strings and lower action on the guitar.

– Easier access to more frets than an acoustic. The electric guitar body is smaller and more of it is cut away so the player has much easier access to all of the frets on the neck of the guitar. This results in more options and more fun to all players of the electric guitar.

– Most electric guitars come equipped with a type of whammy bar for the player to take advantage of. This can be used for a variety of techniques including divebombs and squealies making the electric guitar much more fun with the whammy bar than without.

– Plug your electric into an amp to take advantage of many different awesome effects such as distortion, gain, delay, reverb, and a wah pedal to make any sound you wish to create on the guitar. I know I have spent more time than I should have experimenting with different sounds and combinations of sounds just because it is so much fun to play with sounds and sound like my favourite guitar heroes.

– Can be played unplugged for quieter practicing and playing. This is the biggest benefit for parents that like their sleep at night, especially if you work night shift or are outside of the normal 9-5 work schedule.

Cons:

– Strings tend to break easier (especially the top thinnest string.)

– Internal components can strip, rip, and fail rendering the guitar inoperable when plugged in until repairs are made. The guitar can still be played and practiced on during this time, although it should stay unplugged from any amp.

As you can see, the electric guitar is a great choice for a first guitar. The learning curve to playing an electric guitar is considerably shorter than learning to play an acoustic. This one fact alone is enough information for you to make the right decision from the start.

When you decide to take music lessons you will save a considerable amount of money over the long term from investing in an electric guitar first. How, you ask? Let me show you two very common scenarios and then compare those two scenarios to each other.

Let’s say you invested $400 into an acoustic guitar and began taking lessons at $127/month right away. Let’s also say it took you 12 months to learn a certain song, chord, technique, or riff that you wanted to learn. At these rates you would have spent around $1900 to learn what you wanted to learn and be happy.

Now let’s say you invested the same $400 into an electric guitar and began taking lessons from the same school or teacher. If everything were the exact same (what you were taught, how you practiced, how often you practiced) it would take you 6 months to learn what you wanted to learn and be even happier!

So lets compare the difference in your investment…

$400 Acoustic + 12 months of lessons to reach a certain milestone = $1,924

$400 Electric + 6 months of lessons to reach the same milestone = $1,162

That leaves $762 you can then invest back into your musical education on things like strings, picks, tuners, a metronome, cd’s, etc. giving you an even BIGGER return on your initial investment.

Let me be clear, I am not saying learning the acoustic guitar is twice as hard as learning the electric guitar. What I am saying is the electric guitar has a much easier and shorter learning curve when you are first learning to play the guitar. The acoustic guitar can be much more frustrating at first and will lead many people to give up before they see for themselves what the benefits of learning to play guitar really are. You don’t want to quit, and I don’t want to see you quit either.

Many of the skills you will develop on one type of guitar can and will transfer over to another type of guitar, so choosing an electric guitar over an acoustic does not mean you have to always play that type of guitar for the rest of your life. This guide is intended to inform you of your choices, the benefits of those choices, and to arm you when you do decide to choose to invest in a guitar.

After looking at the choices you have and weighing the benefits of each choice, it is my strong suggestion to you to choose to invest in an electric guitar. This choice will greatly increase the return you get from your initial investment in your musical education. This suggestion comes from years of my own teaching and playing experience. Far greater numbers of people actually keep playing guitar for a longer period of time and have much more fun in the process when starting out on an electric guitar.

When first deciding on which type of guitar you should invest in, it is important to know your options and weigh the pros and cons of each choice. Only you can decide for yourself which guitar you really want to play, and this guide will prove to be a valuable resource when making that decision.