Electric Guitar : What To Start With?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
I decided it would be neat to finally learn to play the guitar, but why not have fun and start with an electric? If you were going to buy a pretty good electric guitar what would YOU suggest?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    can't go wrong with a nice strat.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,227member
    I'm in the same boat. I want to learn Guitar but I think I'm going to go Acoustic Nylon first. Nylon strings are harder to play which means your technique improves so that one you move to Electric and Steel String Acoustic your chops are well developed. Nothing sounds worse than sloppy Electic Guitar. Whatever way you go good luck.



    If you want to get deluged with advice hit up the <a href="http://www.harmony-central.com"; target="_blank">www.harmony-central.com</a> messagesboards, the Guitar Section is the most heavily posted section. But be forewarned you have brand loyalists and eventually a Paul Reed Smith vs Gibson-versus Fender battle is sure to arise.
  • Reply 3 of 19
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    if i had the choice and the money I would have started with a nice nylon string acoustic.... they sound so beautiful.



    also nice to be able to learn and play without an amp all the time
  • Reply 4 of 19
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    [quote]Originally posted by hmurchison:

    <strong>I'm in the same boat. I want to learn Guitar but I think I'm going to go Acoustic Nylon first. Nylon strings are harder to play which means your technique improves so that one you move to Electric and Steel String Acoustic your chops are well developed. Nothing sounds worse than sloppy Electic Guitar. Whatever way you go good luck.</strong><hr></blockquote>I don't agree with this, unless you're primarily interested in playing classical guitar music. You're probably going to want to use a pick and bend strings if you're into rock/pop music, and nylon string guitars are just not made for that. If I were just starting out I might go with a steel-string acoustic, though.



    And this idea of going nylon first because they're harder sounds like advice from someone who doesn't want anyone else to play. I've been playing guitar forever and I've seen lots of people pick up a guitar with heavy strings and just give up because they couldn't play a bar chord, or any thing else for that matter.



    If I were drewprops and was primarily interested in rock/pop music, there are tond of under-$500 stratocaster-lookalikes that come with amps and electronic tuners that I'd go with and just have fun.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    good points...hmmm



    i want an acoustic guitar...wahhh.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    [quote]Originally posted by BRussell:

    <strong>If I were just starting out I might go with a steel-string acoustic, though.



    </strong><hr></blockquote>





    I've been trying to pick up the guitar off and on over the past year. Obviously one needs to really dedicate time and effort in order to get good.

    But my efforts with steel string acoustic has been rough (it's pretty tough on the fingers).

    I've thought about trying nylon classical or electrical thinking it may be easier on the fingers. Better learn on any guitar than quit altogether.

    However, I haven't and will give the steel strings another go. I suspect there's a learning curve I just have to overcome, then I'll be fine.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    I believe that it makes perfect sense to buy the type of guitar that kinda represents the type of music you enjoy and want to learn to play. If you're a B.B. King fan, kinda stupid to go buy a nylon string classical model.



    Conversely, if you're into Michael Hedges or whatever, buying one of those pointed-shaped "shredder" guitars in some neon color with a snake airbrushed on it probably isn't too smart either.







    These days there are TONS of well-made, decent guitars in the mid-$200 to $500 price range, in all types (electric, acoustic, nylon).



    If you're into electrics, Fender makes some really nice "assembled in Mexico out of U.S. components" Strats and Telecasters (I'm a Telecaster man myself). Gibson has their Epiphone series. Most major guitar companies seem to offer a foreign-made budget counterpart line to their main U.S.-made (read: expensive) stuff.



    Lots of online sources for what to look for in a guitar, so I'd start there. If you have buddies that play, exploit their knowledge and opinions as well. And try to take a knowledgeable buddy with you when you go to buy. Some music stores can be as bad as stereo stores or used car lots.







    They can sense a beginner or whatever and some of the jerkier ones can steer you COMPLETELY in the wrong direction, just for the sake of their commission or whatever.



    I've seen it happen a hundred times.







    In a nutshell, you want to get something that's made well enough so it stays in tune (decent machine heads...individual gears) and, if buying an acoustic, think about a solid top guitar. You want one that lets you adjust the neck, bridge, etc. for different string types or playing styles too. At this point, I'd stay away from gimmick and gizmos (built-in fuzztone or whatever) and just try to buy the best guitar you can (after doing the research).



    I think a mistake SO many people make (I've played for 21 years, gave lessons for 6, played in bands from 16 to 23, so I can speak with some authority on this) is getting something SO cheap and of such low quality that it doesn't stay in tune, is physically hard to play (neck bows and the strings are about a quarter-inch off the neck...ouch!), etc. That only discourages people. I know so many people who thought they wanted to play, got a pawn shop or yard sale piece-of-shit guitar, realized that it was "too tough" or "not fun" and simply gave up.







    Shouldn't be that way. Doesn't have to be, that's for sure. Of course, I learned on a total piece-of-crap Service Merhandise acoustic, so...







    But I also knew I really wanted to play and was VERY serious and stuck with it.



    Cool thing too, with technology and all, learning guitar has never been easier. You have Internet-based guides and methods, as well as those CD-ROM things that split the screen and show you both hands and all.



    The way I learned was buying a basic chord book and I simply listened to all of my parent's records and would just learn the songs. Got to where I could hum them and tell where the chords changed. Once I did that, I just figured out which chord it had to be. It got easy really quick because pop, rock, country, folk, blues music (all of which I was learning with) kinda sticks to some basic theories and approaches.



    Hell, you learn one blues shuffle, you kinda learn them all. You learn one country waltz, you kinda learn them all.



    Then it's just down to rhythms, tempos, fills, etc. It took me about a year of constant playing, noodling, listening, etc. to get "good" (in the sense that I could just lay back and let it rip and not have to look at my hands and manually position my fingers and all).







    I distinctly remember (and most guitarists will probably tell you this) there was indeed this "wall" or barrier at first (the physical discomfort of developing callouses on your fingers is just something you have to go through for a couple of weeks...no getting around it), but I remember when I first figured out barre chords and exactly what a capo did. That day, I instantly "got it" and a light went on and I truly remember from then on out, it just came easy and made sense to me.



    I never learned to truly "read" music, but I knew just enough theory (how chords are constructed, the names of the notes on the guitar, what makes a minor chord a minor chord, time signatures, etc.) that I was able to slowly - during that first year - start putting it all together.



    More than anything else in my life, it's the one constant and the one thing that I'm sure I'll always do. I'm SO glad I picked one up. I mean, the chicks alone were totally worth it!







    Your ear is your best teacher ever, and I learned from the best: Chuck Berry, George Harrison, Chet Atkins and B.B. King. Who, in turn, led me to so many others, past and present.



    [ 12-21-2002: Message edited by: pscates ]</p>
  • Reply 8 of 19
    thanks guys, great advice~
  • Reply 9 of 19
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Great post, pcates...makes me want to pick up my guitar right now!

    Somehow the neighbours might not appreciate it at this time of the morning.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    [quote]Originally posted by satchmo:

    <strong>I've been trying to pick up the guitar off and on over the past year. Obviously one needs to really dedicate time and effort in order to get good.

    But my efforts with steel string acoustic has been rough (it's pretty tough on the fingers).

    I've thought about trying nylon classical or electrical thinking it may be easier on the fingers. Better learn on any guitar than quit altogether.

    However, I haven't and will give the steel strings another go. I suspect there's a learning curve I just have to overcome, then I'll be fine.</strong><hr></blockquote>One thing you could try is to get lighter-guage strings, or even electric guitar strings. Your steel string acoustic probably has a wound third string, but the electric guitar strings won't, and that makes a big difference in how hard it is to play. Some guitarists look down on that, but the important thing is to play.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    What are your thoughts on electric-acoustic combination guitars? I too am looking into learning the guitar but I want to be able to play both acoustic and electric songs on a 300 dollar budget. Suggestions?
  • Reply 12 of 19
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    As pscates says, they really are two different instruments with two different styles - an electric for rock style and an acoustic for folk style. It's pretty tough to find a guitar that you'd want to do both on - the electric has low action (strings close to the fret board) and thin strings to facilitate single-string soloing. Volume doesn't matter because it's electric, so you can barely hear it unless it's plugged in. The acoustic has heavier strings and higher action because volume is important, but for that reason it's hard to do rock-style soloing.



    You've really got two options, neither of them ideal for playing both styles. You can get a regular acoustic guitar with electronics so you can plug it in if you want, but you're still not really going to play Van Halen rock style. Or get a hollow-body electric guitar (archtop). But even that won't be very loud for acoustic unless it's a big jazz-style guitar, and those usually have a wound third and heavy strings anyway.



    I shouldn't talk though, I had been a 70s rock guy before I started getting into Bach and Villa-Lobos and all that, so I learned to play Bach's lute suites on a Les Paul before I got my Takamine classical.



    My advice would be to get a regular (steel-string) acoustic. It's really more versatile IMO. I'd be interested in hearing what pscates has to say about it.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Well then, here goes...







    I don't know...I guess it's all up to each person's interests, needs, intentions, etc. No "one for all" solution or advice, since there are SO many types of guitars, styles, genres, etc.



    Personally, in the past four years (not really playing in bands anymore), I've unloaded my Teles and my Rickenbacker 12-string (I STILL regret that one, actually...sigh) and now I simply have a Gibson J-45 acoustic which I LOVE. It sounds so good!!!



    And I have a little silver sparkle Danelectro DC-3 model with - get this - a big washing-machine type button called (heehee) "Switch-O-Matic", which offers 7 combinations of the 3 lipstick tube pickups. Hell, the name alone was worth it!







    In my opinion, I think acoustics are great. They're more "song" guitars. And since you don't have to use an amp with them, they're perfect to take places and get instant use/joy from them (camping, parties, etc.).



    I've always been more of a song guy (as opposed to just endless noodling and wanking on solos...even though I do my fair share of that too). To me, nothing beats just sitting down to strum and sing and play songs (chords, rhythm, etc.). That's what I enjoy, that's what people want to hear (you lay a little "Into the Mystic" or "Chevy Van" on a chick and you're practically guaranteed a smooch or two... )



    Unless you're just a total diehard rock and roller and listen to nothing but Vai, Satriani, Gilbert, etc. and want to pursue that style/genre, I think you're get more mileage, so to speak, out of a good acoustic.



    It's so different and personal for each person, though. But I think, in general, you should buy what suits you and holds your interest and ultimately represents the style(s) you want to play or are interested in.



    Bending strings on an acoustic isn't as fun as it is on an electric.







    For me, I'll have this Gibson forever, no matter what electrics may come and go (or if I end up playing in bands again). Not a day goes by that I don't reach over and grab the J-45 for 20 minutes or two hours.



    But that's just me and what I prefer. Everyone's different.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    ahhh, the joy of seeing bunch of people picking up instruments since they're getting them for xmas



    i suppose i will chime in with some guitar advice.



    first of all, guitar is a family of instruments. picking up classical/electric/steel string guitars, will depending on what you want to achieve as a "guitar player." I wanted to play rock music, so i picked up a cheap electric guitar first. practice, practiced and ditch high school to stay home to practice (later, eventually got me a MA in music, but not guitar tho). thru the years, i've seen many peole pick up the guitar and then dropped it.



    my advise to you would be to answer the following questions:

    1. what type(s) of music are you planning to play?



    2. how good do you want to be?



    those two questions will narrow down all the choices for you.



    most important--- find a GOOD teacher. double check his/her credential. easiest way is to see if your local state university/college has a good guitar department and see if there are some DMA or MM students there that are takign students. as most DMA or MA candidates have students and they can teach you the fundamentals of guitar (doesn't matter what music you plan to go into). they might be classical guitar players, but trust me, they all dabble in other stuff and can help you out on the fundamentals (position, tension of arm/finger)



    final warning: do not attempt to learn it on your own unless you don't plan to get very good at it. many people are self taught, and they're not very good (or aren't as good as they can be) because they think guitar is cake, and they could have become way better.



    expect to pay anywhere from 30-75 dollars an hour. this is not a waste, b/c if you teach yourself you WILL collect bad habits. I have lots of private students (guitar and other instruments) that are self taught and all we do in lessons is trying to "unlearn" those bad habits.



    good luck



    [ 12-23-2002: Message edited by: Wagnerite ]</p>
  • Reply 15 of 19
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    [quote]Originally posted by Wagnerite:

    <strong>ahhh, the joy of seeing bunch of people picking up instruments since they're getting them for xmas



    i suppose i will chime in with some guitar advice.



    first of all, guitar is a family of instruments. picking up classical/electric/steel string guitars, will depending on what you want to achieve as a "guitar player." I wanted to play rock music, so i picked up a cheap electric guitar first. practice, practiced and ditch high school to stay home to practice (later, eventually got me a MA in music, but not guitar tho). thru the years, i've seen many peole pick up the guitar and then dropped it.



    my advise to you would be to answer the following questions:

    1. what type(s) of music are you planning to play?



    2. how good do you want to be?



    those two questions will narrow down all the choices for you.



    most important--- find a GOOD teacher. double check his/her credential. easiest way is to see if your local state university/college has a good guitar department and see if there are some DMA or MM students there that are takign students. as most DMA or MA candidates have students and they can teach you the fundamentals of guitar (doesn't matter what music you plan to go into). they might be classical guitar players, but trust me, they all dabble in other stuff and can help you out on the fundamentals (position, tension of arm/finger)



    final warning: do not attempt to learn it on your own unless you don't plan to get very good at it. many people are self taught, and they're not very good (or aren't as good as they can be) because they think guitar is cake, and they could have become way better.



    expect to pay anywhere from 30-75 dollars an hour. this is not a waste, b/c if you teach yourself you WILL collect bad habits. I have lots of private students (guitar and other instruments) that are self taught and all we do in lessons is trying to "unlearn" those bad habits.



    good luck



    [ 12-23-2002: Message edited by: Wagnerite ]</strong><hr></blockquote>



    What is your opinion on guitar classes at local community colleges?
  • Reply 16 of 19
    drewpropsdrewprops Posts: 2,321member
    And since I've hit a rich pocket of guitar knowledge, could you guys just toss out some name brands of electric guitars that you could buy for under $500 that would be considered "okay" to learn on?



    Isn't there one that has it's own amplifier built in? One that you can just plug your headphones into and play by yourself? I remember seeing that....I swear I do.





    D
  • Reply 17 of 19
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Look at the Mexican-made Fenders (says "Made in Mexico" in little letters on the headstock. Great guitars! Also, the Squier brand of Fender guitars are pretty well-built, for the money. They're made in Korea and other places and can be had for the $200-400 range, depending on model and all.



    Also, Epiphone has some stuff in (and below) that range, I believe.



    Yamaha has a budget line as well, although the name escapes me. Let's see...



    Guild, Washburn and Ibanez all offer sub-$500 electric guitars.



    But my favorite? Great guitars with funky, retro style, great tone and REALLY affordable? You can't go wrong with Danelectro!



    <a href="http://www.danelectro.com"; target="_blank">http://www.danelectro.com</a>;



    <a href="http://www.danelectro.com/DCU3.htm"; target="_blank">This is the model I own...the one on the left</a>



    Keep in mind, also, that those prices you see on their site (as well as Fender's, Gibson's and nearly everyone else's) are MSRP. Stores (and online vendors) sell them for much less. The list price on that silver sparkle Danelectro says "$399", but I bought it in a little guitar shop in Pasadena, CA for $279...with a tweed gig bag thrown in!



    Not everyone's cup of tea, appearance- and sound-wise, but they're cool little guitars for blues, roots rock, basic rock & roll, etc. I've owned a few over the years and they're really neat. I don't think they make a model OVER $500!







    Cool thing, Drew: Guitar World magazine just published its 2003 Guitar & Bass Buyers Guide (just saw it today at Barnes & Noble) and it pretty much includes EVERYONE in it, with prices, features, etc. broken down. Also includes acoustics, amps, accessories (tuners, effects, cases, etc.).



    Pretty much a treasure chest of information for someone in your current position!







    [ 12-23-2002: Message edited by: pscates ]</p>
  • Reply 18 of 19
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    <a href="http://www.music123.com/Item/?itemno=82424"; target="_blank">This is what I had in mind.</a>
  • Reply 19 of 19
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Perfect! Nice little Squier Strat, amp, etc. Perfect, BRussell.



    Drew, listen to BRussell! I think he just solved your whole thing for you.



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