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Learn acoustic before electric. Why?!

Discussion in 'Acoustic Soundboard' started by gretev, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. gretev

    gretev Strat-O-Master

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    Who has heard the phrase that has almost reached platitude status : „if you want to learn guitar you must start on an acoustic first“ , also commonly said as „you can only tell how good a guitarist is if you hear him play an acoustic“ or any of it‘s iterations.
    When I was twelve years old I wanted to play electric guitar because I was infatuated with punk, pop punk, emo and hardcore music and that‘s what I wanted to play. My piano teacher made this whole stink about how I must learn on a classical spanish guitar first and learn theory before I attempt to even touch an electric. I did it for 2 years, hated it and quit. Only to pick up an electric years later and taught myself how to play blues. I am a guitar addict now and I can definitely play. Everybody learn differently but I have always been mystified as to why so many believe you must be able to play acoustic guitar before electric. It makes no sense. In my personal experience it is untrue. Am I missing something? Any input is appreciated.
     
  2. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    acoustics have thicker strings and mistakes stick out. Forces you to build finger strength, to play cleanly, and learn dynamics.

    Not that I think it's a necessity, but it's a good way to start to learn the instrument.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  3. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    You definitely need to learn to play on an acoustic guitar... if you want to know how to play an acoustic guitar. :)
     
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  4. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Senior Stratmaster

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    When I was a kid my grandpa played & sang three-chord funny mountain-man songs on guitar. My dad had his late 50s Silvertone guitar stored at grandpa's house (he had quit playing) and I wanted to play that thing. It looked cool. They said you can have the guitar but you have to take classical guitar lessons, so I did.

    I didn't always enjoy it, and it sounds you didn't always like it either, but I appreciate the techniques and everything I learned. I also learned how to read music, some theory, etc. When I wasn't practicing classical I would use a pick and strum to learn rock songs. I would hit as hard as I could and played power-chords on it to play along with Sabbath and Rush and Van Halen on that guitar.

    I was in middle school. I sold my BMX bike to buy my classical guitar bought my own electric in high school after taking classical guitar for 2.5 years. I wound up continuing classical lessons and also began lessons on electric to learn hard rock tunes and that technique.

    I understand that everyone learns differently and has different interests. From my own experience I know that 4 years of classical guitar training made me into a fairly well rounded player. I'm satisfied with the experience and would recommend it. Someone who just wants to know basic chords to strum along with Neil Young tunes wouldn't need the path I took.

    So, I wouldn't insist that everyone do it, but it worked for me.
     
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  5. Lionpotato

    Lionpotato Strat-Talker

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    It’s more difficult to play and exposes mistakes. Teaches you to play fluidly and change chords smoothly....if you put the time and effort into it. If you start out with delay and distortion with ultra light strings you are masking what you sound like as a player and have a crutch to cover poor technique.

    My acoustic has Medium 13’s on it. I began guitar playing bluegrass because that’s what the guy who lived near me knew. But I loved the guitar enough to continue even though I wanted to learn classic rock. Here’s the acoustic.


    Here’s the electric with 10’s, delay, distortion. If you can play clean you can play dirty.

     
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  6. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    My grandpa was a guitar player too. The only one in my extended family, outside of me and my brother. Never got to meet him, but would have been cool to see him play (no idea if he was awesome, or bad, or anything in between.) Saw a pic of him playing a '50s Tele with my mom as a little girl in the photo.

    Wish I had that guitar too...
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  7. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    Sounds good!

    We got a lot of Hoosiers on this forum.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  8. Hydr0

    Hydr0 Strat-O-Master

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    How many people quit guitar because the acoustic was too painful on their fingers...maybe if they started on electric first, built up the strength and then went to acoustic (if they wanted)...they’d still be playing?...I always thought it’s better for people to work their way up..maybe an acoustic with nylon strings or something. That said, I am a firm believer in practicing with minimal or zero gain, in the beginning at least, to hear your mistakes....no where to hide.
     
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  9. DeMelo

    DeMelo Senior Stratmaster

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    “Learn acoustic first”. Biggest pile of BS one can sum up in 3 words.
     
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  10. nigelr

    nigelr Senior Stratmaster

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    I think learning on an acoustic guitar is a good thing, but learning classical guitar shouldn't be forced on people.

    Playing acoustic and electric make a more rounded player in my opinion, but it's not for everyone.

    I know a few good electric players who suck at acoustic guitar but that's ok, it's not for them.
     
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  11. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    I agree the gatekeeping is a bit silly. I've encountered it myself in other ways.

    I play exclusively open tunings, and was told "that's the wrong way!!" by various people. But it works, and the people who told me that, do little to nothing with guitar anymore.

    There is no right or wrong in playing.. it's the end result that matters.
     
  12. Chont

    Chont Most Honored Senior Member

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    I've always been a big fan of both at the same time. Sure start with one or the other. But I've met a LOT of people that are great on an electric and then they switch to an acoustic and play it like an electric. Like my neighbor. Busted out a couple of acoustics at a BBQ and he just chugged power chords on it. I'm not the greatest player by any stretch but I do think I can pick up an acoustic and sort of make its sound like its meant to sound.

    I guess i would just advise a new player to not limit to one or the other.
     
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  13. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Strat-Talk Member

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    Urban legend. Start with the instrument you want to play.
     
  14. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Senior Stratmaster

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    I do not subscribe to the theory of "must learn acoustic first".

    Electric and acoustic are different enough to merit their own learning curve.
    I play each very differently. Many things don't translate from one to the other.
     
  15. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    great advice. Exactly. They are the same instrument, but really different. Purely power chords sounds awful on acoustic. If someone is only able to play one, they are really limiting themselves.

    It's definitely easier (finger pain-wise) to learn on 12-13s with no effects then later switch to 9-10s with reverb, distortion, delay... than vice versa.

    But there is no wrong way to learn.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  16. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    "Lean acoustic first" was the wisdom of a bygone age when the economics were VERY different. A time when a decent acoustic cost half as much as a decent electric guitar plus a practice amp.

    Nowadays the economics are reversed. You can get an electric plus amp for half what a decent acoustic costs.
     
  17. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Senior Stratmaster

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    That's a really good point, about cost. Also, a cheap acoustic is also very uncomfortable play, compared to a cheap electric
     
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  18. Blue Beagle

    Blue Beagle Strat-O-Master

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    Never really played an acoustic, seriously doubt I'd ever buy one.
     
  19. 33db

    33db Senior Stratmaster

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    Watch the whole thing, it's worth it.
     
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  20. thomquietwolf

    thomquietwolf Dr. Stratster Silver Member

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    Gotta love it
    =========
    There used to be a drive time radio Mark n Brian
    Knopfler called in often....
    Funny
    Funny
    Funny
    Intelligent
    Intelligent
    Intelligent
    If he says sometng....
    Believe it....

    Thanks @33db

    slightly vulgar national resonator :D
     
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