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Author Topic: Beginner guitar  (Read 17006 times)

Tom

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Beginner guitar
« on: May 08, 2014, 09:03:44 AM »
My baritone ukulele (tuned DGBE) produces a really mellow sound. I didn't take it along in the coach on our recent trip, but I've been playing it since we got home. It now has me thinking about buying an acoustic guitar. I don't want to sink a few $K into an instrument that I have no idea if I'll be able to play. Any suggestions on guitar brands that won't break the bank, but won't leave me wishing I hadn't bought it?

I'll probably make a trip to my favorite music store in the next few weeks, and I'll check out their guitar inventory. While there, I'll also check out a banjitar (banjo tuned like a guitar). The last time I tried this instrument out, I had no idea what to do with it.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2014, 10:08:15 AM »
Are you talking about a nylon string guitar like classical artists use or a steel string guitar?

I don't know anything about brands. I shop strictly by beauty. I want a gorgeous looking guitar, I can get used to playing anything.

Your best bet is to visit all the local music stores and play lots of different guitars. The one for you will be obvious.
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2014, 10:13:10 AM »
Quote
Are you talking about a nylon string guitar like classical artists use or a steel string guitar?

I was thinking steel, not realizing that nylon stringed guitars are available.

Quote
The one for you will be obvious.

That's what I tell folks who ask me which uke to buy  ;D
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 10:20:17 AM by Tom »
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jagnweiner

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2014, 10:42:16 AM »
You probably already know this, but there are two general types of acoustic guitars, classical and folk.  I would guess that 95% of the acoustics sold are folk guitars.  Classical guitars have nylon strings, as Tom S. alluded to.  They also have a wider fretboard, designed to make it easier to play individual notes at a rapid pace, whereas folk guitars are designed primarily for playing chords.  Classical guitars also have a different tuning peg design.

Here's a more detailed explanation:  http://www.ehow.com/about_6661571_difference-between-classical-folk-guitars_.html

I'm guessing you probably want a steel-stringed acoustic folk guitar.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 10:53:29 AM by jagnweiner »
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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2014, 10:47:10 AM »
You will also want to consider whether you want a purely acoustic guitar, with no pickup to allow it to be plugged into an amp, or an acoustic/electric, which has a pickup and often a small pre-amp built into the body of the guitar.

Martin is often regarded as the premier acoustic guitar maker, and Martins are priced accordingly.  Yamaha, Ovation and Takamine are a few other brands that come to mind that are known for acoustic guitars.

I would go to a store or two, ask questions, and play some.  Before buying, I would go to a large guitar retailer online like Guitar Center or Musician's Friend and look at online reviews of whatever model you are interested in.  Specifically, look at the comments to see if there are any trends or negative aspects identified.

(note, I am not a guitar player myself, but my teenage sons are, so I've spent a fair amount of time guitar shopping. :D)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 10:51:32 AM by jagnweiner »
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2014, 11:02:12 AM »
Thanks Scott. I just got off the phone with my mentor, and he said much of the same things you mentioned.

I've looked at Yamaha and Takamine online, but didn't know how they stack up against some of the other brands.

Good point re reading reviews.
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Jammer

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2014, 11:27:12 AM »
Hi Tom

Back in my misspent youth it was necessary to shell out $500-$1000 to get a playable guitar.  That is no longer the case.

Right now I mostly play an Ibanez that has a built-in tuner and pickup.  Since I play outdoor gigs having the built in tuner is a big help.  I also have a Yamaha that I bring to gigs as a backup, and a 12-string Seagull that I bought used.  None of these instruments cost more than $300. I have used all of them for paying gigs at one time or another.

I have friends who have better taste in guitars and buy instruments from Guild and Takamine and Martin and the other fancy makers, all costing well into the four figures.  They're beautiful instruments to look at.  But the difference in sound is subtle.

When buying a guitar it's important to get the set-up work done properly.  This includes verifying that the frets are level, that the angle of the neck is correct, and that the bridge and nut are at the proper height.  Unless you keep your instruments in a climate-controlled vault this sort of thing really has to be done every year, or sometimes more often, to keep the instruments in top playing condition.

Instruments hanging on the wall in a store usually aren't set up properly.  Stores want to make the sale and send the guitar with you, which is fine, but do yourself a favor and get the setup work done.  I usually buy cheap guitars at Guitar Center and then take them to an independent shop and pay them for setup.  It's usually around $60, more if the frets have to be leveled (which shouldn't be necessary on a new instrument).  The small shop makes more money on the setup than they would have selling a $250 guitar so it works out for everyone.

Be sure to get a strap, case, several sets of strings, a capo (Shubb is best), and picks.  Not sure if you use a pick on your uke.  If you do you probably know what you like.  If not I would suggest getting nylon picks.  They will last for hours and hours of playing, probably until you lose them.

Enjoy the journey
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 11:29:43 AM by Jammer »
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Larry N.

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2014, 11:30:27 AM »
Tom, I've had a 12 string Takamine for almost 40 years (gift from the wife), and it plays nicely and has a sweet sound. I also have a more recent (15-20 years) Yamaha six string, which is nice, too.
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wackymac

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2014, 12:01:46 PM »
Check out Ovation guitars.  I bought a nice one for about $700.00 from www.sweetwater.com.
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Water Dog

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2014, 12:30:38 PM »
Check out the Canadian made Seagull. Really nice playing guitars for in the $400-$1000 range. I've had mine for years. Martin also has an import called the Sigma which is produced overseas supposedly to Martin's standards. I bought one of those for my son when he was learning to play, and it sounded quite good.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/seagull?source=3WWRWXMB&kwid=25fe8df24d644952b50a16bf05190847

« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 12:38:44 PM by Water Dog »
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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2014, 03:53:28 PM »
Guitars are much like cars; they'll all get you there. 

Like everything, your choice will be influenced by your personal vanity - You can; Stress over a stunning $12,000 Taylor in custom koa. Impress with a 1952 Gibson for $5000.  Or enjoy a $350 anybrand.  Name isn't everything - do a blindfolded music store audition (seriously, even have someone play it for you if you can't yet) and buy the tone/feel you loved the most.  I once opted for a battered Guild over a new Martin because of the special song it made.

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2014, 05:34:39 PM »
Thank you all for the thoughtful replies. I'll digest the advice and head off to my favorite music store and try out a bunch of makes/models.

I probably should have mentioned that I expect to be primarily strumming rather than picking.
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Larry N.

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2014, 08:42:42 PM »
Quote
...I expect to be primarily strumming rather than picking.

Check out the 12 strings, then Tom, given your comments in the other thread about the 8 string uke "filling out" the sound. 12 string guitars, at least the ones I know of, are typically tuned a couple of frets low, primarily to reduce the stress on the neck. But a friend had a 12 string Guild (I loved to play that one) that was OK to tune normally -- extra strong he said. Of course Guild's aren't cheap...
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2014, 08:46:23 PM »
Aye Larry, I was thinking about 12-string; IIRC correctly, that would be known as a "Spanish guitar"  ??? . I just need to grow an additional 7 fingers on my left hand  ;D
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SeilerBird

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2014, 05:54:30 AM »
12 strings do have a lovely sound however they are not easy to play. The extra six strings require a lot of extra pressure with your fretting hand. Most players can't play a 12 string for more than about 15 minutes. If you do decide to get a 12er then spend time in a music store playing one.
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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2014, 07:25:09 AM »
... I just need to grow an additional 7 fingers on my left hand  ;D

As opposed to growing one for a six string?  ::) :o ;D ;D
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jagnweiner

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2014, 07:36:04 AM »
I say this again with the caveat that I am not actually a guitar player, just one who listens to a couple of young players and assists them with their gear purchases, but I would not want to purchase a 12 string as my first/only acoustic guitar.  A 12 string does have a neat sound, but it's something you use to supplement your regular repertoire.  A six string is much more versatile, besides being easier on the fingers.
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BigSkyTrailerGuy

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2014, 09:09:48 AM »
12 stringers I've seen do always seem to "magically" turn into 6 stringers!

12s are like chili powder.... a little occasionally is delightful... but it's too easy to overdo it!  :P
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 09:15:14 AM by BigSkyTrailerGuy »

Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2014, 09:41:48 AM »
Thanks all. Good points re the 12-string guitar. I bought and played several 4-string ukes before buying an 8-string, and it (the 8-string) doesn't get played on all songs.
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greensleep

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2014, 01:43:42 PM »
I know this may be anathema to some, but how about a banjo? I've played guitar and mandolin for decades and taught myself banjo a few years ago----I enjoy playing it as much, if not more, than most of my other stringed instruments. Yes, I've heard all the banjo jokes, but you rarely see a banjo being played with a frown.
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2014, 02:15:28 PM »
I already own a plectrum banjo, still learning to play.
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carson

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2014, 02:44:42 PM »
Tom, you could be one-man band if you could figure out how to hang several string instruments on your body and play some of them simultaneously.
 Will that be your next project ? Maybe a mouth organ at the same time.

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« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 02:49:18 PM by carson »
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2014, 03:31:16 PM »
Aye Carson, I have a photo of my Dad's 1-man band somewhere.
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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2014, 03:39:35 PM »
I picked up a nice Yamaha accoustic electric guitar today from my favorite music store. They let me have it on their rental program, with full credit towards purchase should I decide to buy. Price will be the same as amazon's price. No downside if I decide not to keep it.
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2014, 06:24:35 PM »
After we got home, I mentioned the Yamaha to my Music Director/teacher friend, and he offered to come here and give me my first lesson on Monday. He did the same thing when I bought my banjo.
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2014, 05:03:23 PM »
Had my first hands-on guitar lesson today. This is quite unlike playing any of my ukes or my banjos; The physical body size, coupled with a much wider neck, offer (me) a little bit of a challenge. Off to practice switching between chords in several keys until muscle memory kicks in.

What was that line ...

Q:  Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?

A:  You practice.

Interesting comparing my Yamaha with my friend's Taylor; They could be identical twins, but the Taylor has more (acoustic) bass.
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2014, 06:34:21 PM »
I recall when I first started learning to play ukulele that I wanted to give up. I'm currently feeling just like that with the guitar. In frustration, I pulled my plectrum banjo out of its case and started strumming away. This instrument is so much easier (for me) to play than the guitar; A combination of smaller body (pot), narrower neck, and easier chord fingering. Having a sprain in my left hand doesn't help.

Time to call my private tutor for another lesson, and maybe ice for the sprain.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2014, 06:40:32 PM »
The hardest part of learning to play guitar for me was keeping the strings that aren't being used quiet. If you are strumming a chord that takes up all six strings it is pretty easy. But if the chord only uses 5 strings then the unused string must be muted either with the left hand or the right hand. If the unused strings are not muted properly then the chord sounds muddy.

It is a lot more difficult to keep unused strings quiet when playing on a single string. One string ringing and 5 strings must be muted. Try doing some a scale slowly and pay attention to muting the unused stings and you will see what I am talking about.
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Tom

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2014, 07:40:32 AM »
How do you mute some strings and not others while strumming chords? So far, the only chords I've attempted to play require strumming all 6 strings.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Beginner guitar
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2014, 07:54:42 AM »
Well you have ten fingers and two palms. It only takes three fingers for most chords and two fingers on your right hand to hold the pick. That leaves five fingers and two palms left over to mute with. It is not easy to do and very difficult to describe how to do it. But as you advance the notes that are ringing that should not be will irritate you to no end. Talk to your friend who is giving you lessons about it.
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