To learn guitar, should i start on an Acoustic or go straight to electric?

I want to learn electric guitar but someone told me i should start on acoustic. I shoulda included this in the question i asked a little while ago but i forgot lol. So, acoustic or electric?

Chosen Answer:

If your intention is to play electric guitar, then learn on an electric guitar. For an amp, you can get a Marshall pocket amp, which is only . I keep one on my livingroom table when I’m just playing by myself and don’t feel like cranking up the studio.

People who say learn on an accoustic guitar are usually people who play accoustic guitar. They have no clue about electric guitar and shouldn’t even be answering this question. For example, one guy wrote that it’s good to learn on an accoustic because it blisters your fingers – as if that’s a good thing. Let me tell you something : most beginning students on electric guitar make their fingers BLEED. But there is one benefit to all this suffering. Because the strings on an electric guitar are closer together, your fingers will become more nimble and your fretting technique more accurate, but it will take you longer to master than fretting on an accoustic guitar. If you want body-builder hands, then go squeeze a tennis ball. We are PLAYING guitar, not weight-lifting it!!! As for philosophy and music theory, there is no difference. The chords are the same on both types of guitars and playing fast like Yngwie Malmsteen or Michael Angelo Biato is no worse than Paganini busting his chops on violin. Did I forget to mention that wood on an electric guitar colors the tone and is just as important as the wood on an accoustic guitar?

When I started playing guitar, I had a classical guitar and often I went to a friend’s house because his older brothers had a band set-up in their basement. I found electric guitar much more interesting because it is a more expressive instrument. You can’t get amp feedback on an accoustic, you can’t flick off cool-sounding harmonics on an accoustic (well, you can, but no one will hear them ring), you can’t do monstrous fretboard slides or awesome string scrapes (unless you outfit your accoustic with electronic pickups – so you might as well just play an electric guitar), and you sure as heck can’t dive like a madman using a whammy bar (because an accoustic guitar doesn’t have one!) Why would you want to deprive yourself of all these useful and cool features???

But aside from the bling, the REAL reason you want to learn on an electric guitar is because the playing technique is significantly different than an accoustic guitar. The MOST IMPORTANT thing to master on an electric guitar is string muting. This means dampening the strings you are not playing so they don’t vibrate and send harmonics through the amp. You can NEVER master this technique on an accoustic guitar because an accoustic guitar has no electronic pickups. This is why accoustic guitars are mic’d directly on stage. (Yes, there are reasons to put electronic pickups in an accoustic guitar, but it’s not usual and it’s not cheap!)

If you learn on an accoustic guitar, you will find that when you switch to an electric guitar, you will be extremely frustrated because you are not used to string-muting. It is the one thing beginning electric guitar students must master before they can even play a single song. How are you going to feel when you can play really nice licks on an accoustic guitar, but when you pick up an electric, you’re back to square one? Not only that, you will have to untrain your fingers and teach them all over again. I’m telling you from personal experience that is WORSE than having to learn from scratch.

If I had to do my musical training all over again, I would have played electric guitar exclusively and if I wanted my guitar to sound like an accoustic, all I would have to do is put my amp on a clean tone. If I wanted to sing around the campfire or play in an unplugged band, then I would borrow an accoustic guitar. But to learn on one when my desire was to be an awesome rock/metal musician? No thanks,

Let me put it this way: I have never met someone who played electric guitar that couldn’t pick up an accoustic guitar and play well. But I have met many accoustic players who could not play an electric guitar because they couldn’t properly string mute and all this horrible unwanted string feedback came through the amp, which ruined the songs they were trying to play.

The top accoustic guitars are Martin and Ovation and sometimes you can find a good used one for a reasonable price. For electric guitars, Yamaha makes fairly inexpensive guitars which are excellent quality. A friend of mine in Japan plays Yamaha guitars and Cliff Burton played a Yamaha bass guitar. The BC Rich Platinum series is well-made and so is the Fender Mexican-made Stratocaster. Avoid the Fender Squire and the BC Rich Bronze series. Samick is junk, but the Gibson Epiphone series is okay.

But don’t take my word for it. Go to a guitar store that sells both accoustic and electric guitars. Ask the salesman to let you play an accoustic guitar and then have him plug an electric guitar into an amp so you can check it out. Go to another store and do the same thing. Finally, ask your question again at the Guitar Forum on www.harmonycentral.com It’s where the serious guitarists and the pros hang out. There is also a search feature you can use to see if anyone else has asked a similar question.
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on: 6th August 10

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6 Responses to To learn guitar, should i start on an Acoustic or go straight to electric?

  1. Ryan says:

    it doesn’t really matter honestly. personally if i were to learn over again, i’d start with the acoustic because i like it better now. you don’t really need any other equipment other than the guitar so its less expensive too. but all in all, i don’t think it makes a difference either way.

  2. Russell E says:

    Since you probably want to get right into playing electric guitar, you might as well just get an electric guitar starter set for $300 and learn on an electric.

    For some folks on here, I get the idea that they really aren’t all that interested in REALLY knowing guitar technique and theory and just want to play songs as quickly as they can, so why bother with acoustic and then having to buy more stuff.

    I usually say, yes, better to learn on acoustic and then graduate to electric. But, what the heck, if you want to learn electric, go ahead and learn it on an electric.

  3. loveyoulongtime says:

    acoustic, cuz it blisters your fingers so playing electric seems easier.
    thats what everyone tells me.

    can you answer mine please?
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Aul4yW8MidZFpZQzSGoiKHXsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20100802202502AA4PCbS

  4. gtarczar says:

    Start with an acoustic. The fact that you do not need an amp is one thing to consider but the main reason for this is that when we learn guitar we are placing our less coordinated hand (left) on the neck doing the harder job! Our left hand is much less coordinated than our right hand. It is virtually an idiot compared to our right hand! Because of this it actually benefits from the slightly heavier strings of the acoustic guitar.
    Think of it this way; we give a small child a big toy to help develop its coordination and motor skills. In the same fashion, by giving our left hand the bigger strings of an acoustic guitar to work with, it actually develops coordination and motor skills faster and more effectively.
    By starting on an acoustic guitar your fingers will gain strength and callouses much faster than on an electric guitar.
    Every guitarist should have an acoustic guitar to play some basic songs on. It is a portable instrument that lets you take music anywhere!

  5. ObamaBot THX-1138 says:

    This question comes up from time to time and I sort of at a loss to answer it. I suppose one ‘should’ do all kinds of things, like learn music theory, play the piano, feed the homeless, mow the lawn.

    I am fairly positive that your life will be better if you get a nice acoustic and hear the beautiful tones of wood and steel. The acoustic implants on one a philosophy and respect for chords and placement on the neck that no electric can accomplish. On an electric, one chord is sort of just like another. But on an acoustic, each chord has it’s own personality – the conservative and mindless C, the liberal G, the all to pretty D, the workhorse F that requires so much effort, the blues E and B7 (since B is too hard to play), and of course the workingman’s A. Then there is the sad Am, the existential Em, the anguished Bm, and the child of neglect, the Dm.

    But, who am I to question if someone ‘wants to learn electric’. It is likely you will want to do what all the kids do, which is to desire to play a lot of distorted, screechy notes just as fast and loud as possible, with as many strings and frets you can afford. Well, I suppose it does offer a path from utter pointless obscurity, so who am I to judge?

  6. Victoria says:

    If your intention is to play electric guitar, then learn on an electric guitar. For an amp, you can get a Marshall pocket amp, which is only $40. I keep one on my livingroom table when I’m just playing by myself and don’t feel like cranking up the studio.

    People who say learn on an accoustic guitar are usually people who play accoustic guitar. They have no clue about electric guitar and shouldn’t even be answering this question. For example, one guy wrote that it’s good to learn on an accoustic because it blisters your fingers – as if that’s a good thing. Let me tell you something : most beginning students on electric guitar make their fingers BLEED. But there is one benefit to all this suffering. Because the strings on an electric guitar are closer together, your fingers will become more nimble and your fretting technique more accurate, but it will take you longer to master than fretting on an accoustic guitar. If you want body-builder hands, then go squeeze a tennis ball. We are PLAYING guitar, not weight-lifting it!!! As for philosophy and music theory, there is no difference. The chords are the same on both types of guitars and playing fast like Yngwie Malmsteen or Michael Angelo Biato is no worse than Paganini busting his chops on violin. Did I forget to mention that wood on an electric guitar colors the tone and is just as important as the wood on an accoustic guitar?

    When I started playing guitar, I had a classical guitar and often I went to a friend’s house because his older brothers had a band set-up in their basement. I found electric guitar much more interesting because it is a more expressive instrument. You can’t get amp feedback on an accoustic, you can’t flick off cool-sounding harmonics on an accoustic (well, you can, but no one will hear them ring), you can’t do monstrous fretboard slides or awesome string scrapes (unless you outfit your accoustic with electronic pickups – so you might as well just play an electric guitar), and you sure as heck can’t dive like a madman using a whammy bar (because an accoustic guitar doesn’t have one!) Why would you want to deprive yourself of all these useful and cool features???

    But aside from the bling, the REAL reason you want to learn on an electric guitar is because the playing technique is significantly different than an accoustic guitar. The MOST IMPORTANT thing to master on an electric guitar is string muting. This means dampening the strings you are not playing so they don’t vibrate and send harmonics through the amp. You can NEVER master this technique on an accoustic guitar because an accoustic guitar has no electronic pickups. This is why accoustic guitars are mic’d directly on stage. (Yes, there are reasons to put electronic pickups in an accoustic guitar, but it’s not usual and it’s not cheap!)

    If you learn on an accoustic guitar, you will find that when you switch to an electric guitar, you will be extremely frustrated because you are not used to string-muting. It is the one thing beginning electric guitar students must master before they can even play a single song. How are you going to feel when you can play really nice licks on an accoustic guitar, but when you pick up an electric, you’re back to square one? Not only that, you will have to untrain your fingers and teach them all over again. I’m telling you from personal experience that is WORSE than having to learn from scratch.

    If I had to do my musical training all over again, I would have played electric guitar exclusively and if I wanted my guitar to sound like an accoustic, all I would have to do is put my amp on a clean tone. If I wanted to sing around the campfire or play in an unplugged band, then I would borrow an accoustic guitar. But to learn on one when my desire was to be an awesome rock/metal musician? No thanks,

    Let me put it this way: I have never met someone who played electric guitar that couldn’t pick up an accoustic guitar and play well. But I have met many accoustic players who could not play an electric guitar because they couldn’t properly string mute and all this horrible unwanted string feedback came through the amp, which ruined the songs they were trying to play.

    The top accoustic guitars are Martin and Ovation and sometimes you can find a good used one for a reasonable price. For electric guitars, Yamaha makes fairly inexpensive guitars which are excellent quality. A friend of mine in Japan plays Yamaha guitars and Cliff Burton played a Yamaha bass guitar. The BC Rich Platinum series is well-made and so is the Fender Mexican-made Stratocaster. Avoid the Fender Squire and the BC Rich Bronze series. Samick is junk, but the Gibson Epiphone series is okay.

    But don’t take my word for it. Go to a guitar store that sells both accoustic and electric guitars. Ask the salesman to let you play an accoustic guitar and then have him plug an electric guitar into an amp so you can check it out. Go to another store and do the same thing. Finally, ask your question again at the Guitar Forum on http://www.harmonycentral.com It’s where the serious guitarists and the pros hang out. There is also a search feature you can use to see if anyone else has asked a similar question.

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