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Learn acoustic before electric. Why?!

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

  1. zeeter

    zeeter Strat-O-Master

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    I started with an acoustic. One of the problems with doing this is that our parents generally buy the cheapest acoustic they can find because they think we're going to give up on it. I played on an f-hole Harmony and it was horrible. On the flip side, if I wanted anything to sound decent I had to play with perfect technique. No shortcuts. Barre chords properly fingered. Notes placed properly within the fret. Strings properly muted. When I would play a friend's good acoustic he would compliment me on how clean I played.

    After playing Strats and Les Pauls for decades I decided to buy a Martin acoustic on a whim. Got it home and could hardly play it. My barre chords sucked. My runs would skip or thud on notes. The E string would ring out when I was playing an open A chord. I had lost much of my fundamental technique. After improving on the acoustic, when I went to play my Strat again I found that I was much better.

    So, while there's no strict design, I think a lot of people would have the same experience I did where learning on an acoustic sucked, but did make me a better player.
     
  2. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

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    Learning on an acoustic and switching to electric is like learning how to parallel park with a Chevy Suburban then doing it in a Geo Metro :D.
     
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  3. fretter

    fretter Strat-O-Master

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    The players who really impress global audiences are the ones who mastered the classical guitar bit first :D
     
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  4. Diamond D

    Diamond D Strat-Talker

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    Wow. That Knopfler clip is great. He should have gotten a C. G. P. nod from ol' Chet. He deserves it.
     
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  5. acoustic1956

    acoustic1956 Strat-Talk Member

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    HI I have played acoustic most of my life and only start to play electric the last few year or so, after playing acoustic for a long time , when you move over to electric I fined things like barr chords and bending strings a lot easy to do , but it took time to get used to electric because I never used a pick just played with my fingers , but now I use both on acoustic and electric so its worked out well ,but yes I at least would have one acoustic .
     
  6. Jam Handy

    Jam Handy Strat-Talk Member

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    I've had a lot of students come to me and the only guitar they had was an acoustic. Typically strung up with huge 0.012's or 0.013's. The reason they put that gauge string on an acoustic guitar is because it makes the guitar slightly louder with huge strings.

    A great way to get somebody to quit playing guitar.

    Same thing with classical guitars... everybody seems to say "nylon strings are easier to play"... except for the often times 1-3/4" wide nut that makes it nearly impossible for young upstarts to create 6 string chords.

    1) Put a set of light gauge electric guitar strings on your acoustic (if you already have the guitar). If all you have is an acoustic strung up with piano wire... go to the music store and buy a set of 0.009's or 0.010's electric guitar strings. Or even a set of 0.008's. The idea is "the more you play, the better you get" and if your 0.013 phosphor bronze acoustic strings beat you up and discourage you from playing 30 minutes every day, go to a very light gauge (not a nylon classical guitar with a too wide neck). What people are saying about "big strings make mistakes stick out" is total B.S. and no reason to torture your knew-to-guitars fingers. I would rather see a new student practice every day for up to 30 minutes on easy to play strings, than murder themselves for 5 minutes a week dreading the extra tension of heavy gauge strings.

    2) A decent Squire Strat (or any copy-brand Strat or Les Paul or SG or fill-in-the-blank________ cheap electric guitar in these days of surprising Asian quality) can be had used for $50-$100, some times less. Then depending are where you shop, you can get a used small practice amp for $25-50. Its worth another $25-75 to have the action and intonation professionally set up. (Just make sure you buy a cheap guitar with a bridge that can be adjusted, not a"wrap around"... and has small Phillips screws in the end of the tuner keys so you can tighten them up if they are loose) Unless you spend big bucks on an acoustic guitar, most cheap acoustics in this same price range will have a terrible action, making it even more difficult to play.

    3) Once you learn how to fret the chords and build up finger strength practicing everyday, acoustic guitar is much easier... later.

    Usually if a student comes to one of my lessons and the only guitar they have to start is an acoustic with huge strings, I'll take a few minutes and give them a set of electric guitar strings (usually 010's) and when they touch their guitar next their eyes open up and they thank me for the suggestion.

    Or I've went to the store with parents and their child (or older adults who just wanted to learn how to play and had never stepped foot in a guitar store). and helped them buy an inexpensive Asian-something guitar, brought it home, set up the action and intonation for them for free, and away they go.

    I've been giving lessons since 2007, been playing for 45+ years (had an acoustic for Christmas 1975 ($44 Gibson Hummingbird copy) LOL), then a Strat copy electric the next year... I don't even own acoustic guitars these days, they do nothing for me at all (actually I have a Hohner acoustic somebody gave me as part of paying me for working on his bass)... electric has so many more possibilities with all the different pedals you can buy... an acoustic is a one-trick pony...) I have taught dozens and dozens of folks how to play, many from scratch never touched or owned a guitar before.

    This is what I do...
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
  7. Wayfinder

    Wayfinder Strat-Talker

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    Jam Handy: "an acoustic is a one-trick pony"

    No offense, but I must disagree with this, and much else that was stated. Yes, an electric solidbody can have pedals that signficantly change the sound, but have we forgotten the now-widespread electric acoustic? Even a non-electric acoustic can be made to produce so many sounds. Tell Segovia (or any of his fans) that an acoustic is a "one trick pony".

    At the same time... try to get a solidbody electric to sound like an acoustic. Even with a good acoustic pedal the attempt will be tricky.

    I recognize that you "get nothing" out of an acoustic and own all electrics, but that's subjective opinion. I own guitars of all sorts (electric, hollowbody, acoustic electrics, classical). While I can and do play electrics, my favorite and most-often played guitar is a nylon-string classical. Every person has preferences. Those preferences don't necessarily apply to the genre as a whole, nor should they.

    The "one trick pony" thought process could be applied to the flute, harp, violin, piano... just about any instrument on the market. I am fairly sure Benny Goodman didn't play a "one trick clarinet", nor Louis Armstrong a "one trick trumpet".

    Regarding classical guitars, if you're a child, play a smaller size classical guitar. A 2" neck is for an adult. Just as there are 1/4 and 1/2 violins, there are smaller guitars for smaller hands.

    I don't mean to teach the teacher but really... an instrument is as versatile as the musician who plays it. People of all ages learned music on classical and steel-string acoustic guitars for decades (centuries?) prior to electric guitars. Perish forbid it was impossible to learn on a classical guitar; we'd have had no guitar music until 1931. ; )
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  8. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    The earliest 6 string guitar is believed to have been built in Italy in 1779, so 241 years for classical--although nylon wasn't around until the 1940s. The earliest steel string guitars were built in America by Carl and August Larson, starting in 1904. So steel string guitars have been around for 116 years. People learned on classical for over a century before steel string guitars were invented, and people learned on steel string guitars for over two decades before electric guitars came about.
     
  9. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Fuzz Meister General

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  10. EFlat

    EFlat Senior Stratmaster Platinum Supporting Member

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    If you want your main instrument to be acoustic, then acoustic first and visa versa with the electric. I actually look at them as different instruments almost as different as piano vs organ.
     
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  11. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up Strat-O-Master

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    I tend to agree with this video. Distortion doesn't always hide your mistakes.

     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  12. LPBlue

    LPBlue "That Guy", again...dammit!

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    The guy who swapped me his brand new Taylor for a 1950s tube stereo power amp that I had bought at a flea market 20yrs before for $2. This was in 04 and I still have/love that guitar.
     
  13. Axeman826

    Axeman826 Strat-Talk Member

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    Ok, first off: the only reason I don't like acoustic guitar is the body!!!.. The first guitar I ever picked up was a VERY cheap copy of a ES335, in the early '70's... I never had the desire to play acoustic, even after all these years, because I can't stand the body.. NOW, IF I could afford that Fender "Stratacoustic" joint, I very well would give that sucka a shot!!!... BUT that's just me tho..
     
  14. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    The only reason to start out on acoustic first is that you can focus more on actual playing technique rather than the extra contraption, of cords, knobs, volume, Tone etc. Instead, the rank beginner Doesn’t need to confuse himself with other stuff Besides how to play a F chord.