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Things to do in this life: learn guitar

Discussion in 'Society and Culture' started by ethics, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I know you will think me of simple or stupid but that's what I want to do now.
    I've played piano from 4 to the age of 5 but forgot almost everything.

    I know some of you play and I know some of you PLAYED or play a different instrument. I need your advice bad:

    1. Best book on how to learn how to play
    2. Best type of guitar ( I doubt I want to go electric)
    3. Where to buy a guitar

    And anything in between or in addition to.

    Thanks in advance. :)
  2. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    I'm going to go out on a limb and just tell you that the best way to learn to play a guitar is a book that teaches you how to play chords, and not music reading. The music reading comes later, after you are already making music.

    I started learning to play guitar at age 12 using a book that started off with simple folk tunes like Camptown Ladies, and the like. Once I started having fun with that and learning the frets, forming open chords and learning picking and stuff, then I started learning bar chords and more complicated fret work. After about 5 years of playing without knowing a note of music reading, I started taking music lessons and learned how to read music and play more complicated tunes.

    Too many books try to start a new guitar player out with reading music, and it can be frustrating because learning how to navigate the guitar and picking and stuff has got to be first, and become second nature before you even read a tiny bit of music.

    As for guitars, you don't want an electric, so you DO want an acoustic guitar. I'd avoid getting a classical acoustic, because they have these huge fat necks, nylon strings and are hard to wrap hands around. They have a cool sound, kinda Mexican Mariachi style, where the steel string guitars have thinner necks, easier to fret, have kind of a folksy sound.

    For brands, I'd recommend a nice Yamaha, Ibanez or Fender; all are good quality, and you can find a very nice starter acoustic guitar for less than $200. As to WHERE to buy it? Not online, until you've visited a music store first. You've got to know what kind of guitar suits you most, your hand size, the sound you like, etc. Ask the sales guys, and ask them to play it, and ask them what they'd look for in an acoustic guitar. Once you have a nice base of understanding about what will suit you, then you can refine your purchase to a model just right for you. And you'll have a lot of fun learning to play.
  3. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    There are some very fine acoustic guitars around. Martin, AFAIC, would be the premiere choice. Fender also makes some fine acoustics, as does Ibanez. I'm suggesting these , as I don't think you're ready to pony up for a Huss & Dalton or a Taylor. ;)

    I'd suggest starting with some live lessons, at least to learn tuning and basic chording, then go putz around with it and see what you can pick up on your own before going back for formal lessons.
  4. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

  5. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    :rofl: Nah, he'd have to hock it to pay for the divorce. :haha:
  6. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Good advice so far, thanks guys.
  7. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    I bought a Washburn from Sam Ash a few months ago; had a friend help me pick it out.

    I've got music lessons in my background (two professional musicians as parents), but when I was getting the chord/theory part, I ignored it. :)

    As soon as things quiet down a bit, like after we close on the house, I'm going to start lessons.
  8. Violet1966

    Violet1966 Stand and Deliver Staff Member

    I've been playing guitar, even though I'm not good at all and can't play all that much, since I'm 14. Before I picked up a guitar, I played the organ as a child, and the glockenspiel in school band in my teens.

    First guitar was an electric Montoya Les Paul style guitar. Very nice guitar even though a knock off, a very good one. Nice sound and was easy for me to manage, being small framed. Had kids and put it down. Sold it a few years later, then my husband got me an Epiphone Dreadnought ED-100 acoustic about 6 years ago. http://www.gibson.com/products/epiphone/archive/epiacoustic/2.html

    The kids and I will strum on it a few times a week, making up silly songs. I do some excercises on it here and there and play what I know, which isn't much, but I like to play with it.

    My Epi is a nice guitar for my size hands. Not all that big and bulky. Neck is just right for my hand size. Not heavy at all. Very nice sound too. You want a guitar that feels comfortable, especially if you have small hands. Your hands hurt a lot when you first start to play with an acoustic. Hands hurt less if you play with electric. I prefer playing around with an electric. One day will pick up another to play with. Electric guitars are a lot of fun and just sound so much cooler. I can do way more on an electric, than I can with an acoustic. LOL

    Here's an archive of beginner lessons. http://guitar.about.com/library/blguitarlessonarchive.htm

    I took instrumental music in school and learned a bit about chords. Had lessons in class 5 days week in high school. Took guitar lessons twice a week too privately. Before those classes though, I tried to teach myself from a beginner book I picked up at our local instrument shop, and it wasn't as easy as when someone helps you through it. Shop around for lessons. Even if you just take a few, it helps a lot. Seeing it done makes it a little easier to grasp. It was that way with me at least.

    Sam Ash in your area. They have one in Paramus, NJ if you don't have it in the city.
  9. Piobaireachd

    Piobaireachd Full Member

    I played a little guitar when I was younger.

    My advice is to find a good teacher and let them give you their recommendations.

    My only recommendation is to start with nylon strings until you build up the calluses on your fingers.

    But really, be honest, isn't the bagpipes what you REALLY want to play? :)
  10. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    LOL! Nah, I can't go really loud around here.
  11. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    I played both guitar and banjo when I was young, but wasn't really into it as much as baseball so drifted away and never really took it up again. I do have to ask, where do you find the time for all the net, gaming, book reading, family stuff and work you do?
  12. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I take one away to make room for another--minus the family stuff. Many times my kids are with me when I am doing a lot of the net, book reading, television and even gaming.

    If and when I pick up the guitar, something is gonna give with other stuff. That's how I lived my life. :)

    Haven't touched WoW in a while, need a break, so I am reading like a storm. Once that passes I go to something else or pick up WoW again. ;)
  13. Violet1966

    Violet1966 Stand and Deliver Staff Member

    It's easy to play the guitar while reading, if you're just doing exercises.
  14. Domh

    Domh Full Member

    Beginner or advanced, the best way to learn is:



    Strength is everything and it is essential to know how to strum an acoustic well. What differentiates the 90 gazillion good guitarists from the rest is those that can do MORE than wail on an electric, but can pick up any old acoustic they find at a party and make music with it.

    Fretlight is FAR and away the best way to learn. Better than books, better than a teacher.

    Affordable, fun, fast.

    I am a pretty solid player at this point, but that is on my wish list so that I can advance my lead work.

    For a total beginner? PERFECT SOLUTION.

    Enjoy. Knowing how to play the guitar is a great thing.
  15. ravital

    ravital Banned


    Sorry I missed this. You got great advice on this thread, but there's a couple more things you need to know, if you're going to go with acoustic (which is a smart decision I think).

    First: Classical, or not? [HI]NOTE: Playing a classical guitar does not mean you have to play classical music, or that it's only good for classical music.[/HI] In fact, a classical guitar for a student is probably the most versatile choice you can make.

    Other options - Dreadnought: This type of guitar usually has a larger body, steel strings, and a narrower neck, that tapers out towards the body. The narrower neck, or fingerboard, can make it difficult for a novice to squeeze fingers to hold certain chords. The wider - and more uniform width - neck of the classical guitar is much better for a student.

    Also, do not try to put steel strings on a classical guitar, even if it holds the tension, it's going to give sooner or later.

    Things to look for, besides good overall looks, no scratches, and so on:

    1. Lift the guitar so the front (or top, or soundboard, with the hole in it) faces up, and turn towards a source of light so you can see it reflecting on the top. Look near the bridge, where the strings are anchored. Look for little bumps, or "hills and valleys" beyond the bridge. If you see any, it's a sign that the tension might be too high - which means the guitar is not built or not braced very well (the bracing is under the soundboard).

    2. Action. This is the distance between the strings and the fingerboard at the 12th fret - which is at the mid-point of the strings, and right at the point where the neck joins the body, on a classical guitar. In general, the lower that height, the better, but it can be too low - try to play a few notes on the 4th fret, and above, and make sure that as you pluck the string, it doesn't rattle against other frets - you'll hear it if it does, listen carefully.

    One last piece of advice - whichever kind of guitar you get, it would be a good idea to invest in a humidifier. It's not that the guitar absolutely has to be at a constant level of moisture in the air, but for the room in which you store it or keep it, it would be a good idea to maintain humidity at 40% to 60% - 40% is good enough. This is particularly important in winter when the heating dries the air indoors (I doulbt you'll need it at all the rest of the year).

    Congratulations on your new endeavor, and the most important thing - Enjoy it :)
  16. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Whoa... some awesome advice, thank you!
  17. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    This is a very good point, and needs to be heeded. It's very frustrating to play a guitar with bad action, and while most good brand acoustical guitars will have decent action (like the brands we mentioned), it's still something that can be a problem if it's not checked.

    I've picked up guitars with such awful action that they were a waste of wood. The travel was so high they couldn't be played. These were usually off-brand guitars, copies, clones, whatever. The good brands listed above usually don't have this problem, but they should still be checked by an experienced guitar player to get a good opinion on it.

    That rattling sound - I refer to a buzz, and it shouldn't happen. It will also affect the sustain, how long the note holds after the string is plucked.
  18. ravital

    ravital Banned

    Sorry to hear that. Sometimes, with good enough construction, you can remedy the travel. I bought a low-mid range classical a few years ago. The action was just a wee bit higher than I wanted it to be. I was able to take the bone out of the bridge, run it on sandpaper a bit, and lower it to exactly where I needed it. The tedious part here is tightening/untightening the strings every time you want to test the height. And with a poorly constructed guitar, if the frets are not done right, you'll never get the good action without bumping against that buzzing problem.

    But it's fun!

    I'm seriously thinking of taking a workshop with a local luthier and building my own guitar.
  19. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Yeah, I've adjusted action on my guitars before as well. Fingernail files and stuff, to get them just right. Last guitar I ever owned was a Gibson Les Paul Studio edition, black with chrome, beautiful guitar that played like every other Gibson Les Paul - marvelously. But of course you tweak your guitars like the old gunslingers used to tweak their pistols, until as Bat Masterson once said, the blamed thing almost goes off by looking at it. And I did with this one. Dual Humbuckers, Floyd Rose tremolo bar. It was a showstopper, had a nice thick Judas Priest type sound the Studio models are good for. Fed into a Peavey stack, all the effects pedals. Years ago, fun times. The guy I jammed in our garage band with played a Golden Anniversary Les Paul. It was freaking gorgeous, worth twice as much as mine, but it was all gold that the know-nothings didn't seem to care for as much as my pretty black guitar.

    Pics attached, these were the models...

    Build your own, wow... I've heard of that, seen books on it, but never seen it done in real life. Quite a challenge, getting all those frets laid in just right.
  20. ravital

    ravital Banned

    Man, those are gorgeous, especially the black one.

    My first month in America, I came across a lefty Les Paul at a pawn shop on Canal St. in NY - this was 1979, it was priced at $400 - at the time it could just as well have been $4 Million, it was all the money I didn't have. But if only, if only... A lefty Les Paul... :drool:

    I'm hesitating on the build your own thing... if you're going to make several guitars for yourself or friends, or make a career out of it, then a workshop with a pro is the logical first step. If you're going to build one for yourself, and you're not an experienced luthier, how good an instrument can I make? I'm not crazy about spending $1,000 on the workshop and materials, to end up with an instrument worth $50. But I'll never find out if I don't try. Jury still out on that one :)

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