Start Playing Acoustic Guitar
What You Need To Know!
When you pick up a guitar for the first time, the instrument may seem intimidating; but don’t let that put you off.
There is something special about being able to play the acoustic guitar: it gives us a feeling of great musical satisfaction as we hear the beautiful tones produced.
I believe that it is great therapy for people suffering from the stresses of modern life, and helps us to relax. Of course, it is also a great reason for communities and groups to get together to create that fantastic atmosphere and feeling that we all experience when listening and playing (more so when playing)
When you get the courage to pop down to your local music store, you’ll probably feel timid about picking up an instrument to try, but after a while, you’ll soon get used to the ‘feel’ of it and you’ll want to start learning.
You will no doubt start with strumming the strings initially, either with fingers, or a plectrum. Both methods are popular but you’ll probably develop your own system as you grow in confidence.
If you want to move ahead much faster in your learning, then of course a really good quality course can help you tremendously.
Watch the video!
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Guitar Size & Shapes
Before you choose your guitar, it’s important to ensure that it is the right body shape and size for your needs.
The main sizes are Jumbo size, Dreadnought, Martin 000 series, 00 series and 0 series. Others are defined as Orchestra, Parlour and Mini sizes.
The important points to establish are, how comfortable is the instrument to play: can you reach the top of the fretboard and form chord shapes easily – or is it a struggle?
When you find the best size for yourself, take some time doodling with the instrument in the guitar shop to see if you like the ‘resonance’ of that instrument (very important). Don’t rush and buy it there and then – research the product on YouTube and other places that have reviews, so that you’ll have a good understanding of that particular guitars’ reputation.
Solid Top Or Laminate?
Most, if not all low-cost guitars have a laminate top surface, back and sides: The debate has always been strongly in favour of a ‘solid top’ none-ply finish. The argument being that, the solid wood has better natural resonance that laminates.
I don’t think we can really argue against all the Luthiers preferences for making solid top instruments and I therefore would recommend that you try and afford that extra cost.
However, I must admit, that when I bought my Takamine GN10 a couple of years ago – thinking it had a solid top (the sales blurb made me think so), I was surprised to find out later, that the top was a laminate? Yet it had a very good resonance and seemed louder than other guitars in the showroom.
Cut-away Or Full Body?
The purpose of the cut-away body style, quite clearly, is to allow the player to gain easier access to the high-end frets.
Since this article is aimed at beginner to mid-level player, it is unlikely that the upper frets -say, 13th fret upwards, will be used.
Does the cut-away affect tone? Well, it is probably a very debateable point, but I prefer to have the full body style, ensuring that I get the maximum tonal quality from the guitar.
The guage of strings used will be suggested by the guitar maker and their products retailed with the correct strings.
To some extent, this will be personal choice, but I use light guage, phospher-bronze due to their good life-span. I believe that the feel of strings is an important element in getting the right tone for your playing style.
Learning Music Theory
If you want to truly move ahead with learning acoustic guitar, there is no other option really, than to learn the fundamentals of Music Theory.
That sounds daunting, but in reality, when getting your teeth into it, you’ll find that it isn’t too difficult. You don’t have to be able to read music for example; as long as you understand the basic theory.
Knowing the major and minor scales and how they are constructed, and chord theory will be the foundation for moving forward at a much faster pace – rather than being confused.
When you become more accomplished and are able to play a few songs fluently, you may want to explore tackling chord structures further up the neck.
I believe that one of the best ways to learn how to play up and down the fretboard is by using what is called the CAGED system. (click on the link to learn more).
Be Proactive! Join Open-Mic events
There is no better way to become more accomplished than by joining your local folk/country music club and ‘open mic’ events which are now very popular. Getting to know other like-minded people will be inspirational and will give you that drive to succeed!
But remember one thing!
YOU MUST PRACTICE EVERY DAY WITHOUT FAIL!
Practice, practice, practice is the key!