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Acoustic or Electric Guitar - Which Is Best For The Beginner
Having played the guitar for a number of years, I am often asked this question by eager learners - "Should I start learning with the acoustic or electric guitar?" In this article, I'll talk a bit about both so you can come to an informed decision.
First of all, let me get something straight. The actual notes and fretboards work the same for both, so if you start with either one, its always interchangeable, although the playing techniques might differ.
Most younger players would gravitate towards the electric guitar thanks to MTV and the "cool factor". The acoustic guitar seems to have a more "folksy" image to it. Both sound very different, with the acoustic relying purely on natural acoustic principles to generate the sound, using the body of the guitar as an "amplifier". The electric guitar on the other hand needs an electric amplifier to generate sound. There are of course hybrids, but that is not relevent in this article.
So, which is better for the beginner? I'll cover 3 aspects below - cost, convenience and playability.
Both are about the same, you can get really expensive custom built electric of acoustic guitars. However, the electric can start to get more expensive simply because of the tempting options and accessories like amplifiers, pre-amps, effects pedals, volume pedals, etc. The acoustic on the other hand might be simpler to start with. It plays right out of the box!
Again the acoustic wins as you can take it almost everywhere without worrying about a power socket. There are personal practice gadgets available for the electric guitar which allows you to practice with headphones.
My personal preference here is the electric guitar. I find it easier to play, with the strings being softer and thus less effort to play.
Either way, they both should be respected and used for what they are and any good guitarist should be adept at both. For the beginner, I would prefer the acoustic as it helps a lot in ear training as you get accustomed to the vibrations of the body making the tuning of the strings are easier to detect.
My final piece of advice is to don't get too obsessed with your instrument while you're learning but focus on the music instead. Once you start to get better at it you'll know instinctively what sort of 'ax' you'll need. I've met my fair share of musicians who are so into the gear but have not improved in their skill much and on the other hand, have heard some amazing, soul-stirring music from blues masters that have played the same guitar all their life!
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