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09:44 AM on 11/20/12 
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Skumfuk41
Jesus of Suburbia
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Firstly, apologies if this is the wrong section but I thought since it'd be musicians giving me advice, I'd be given the right piece of information.

Anyways, I've recently been looking into learning guitar (electric preferably). However, I don't know where to start. Like, for example, I have a few questions that are on my mind:

What guitar would be recommended to start off with?

Best way to learn? Teacher? Self teaching?

Is it as 'easy' as acoustic? I've tried acoustic a few times and in my case, the strings always felt 'harder' compared to an electric. I've heard a few electric guitar players say how much easier electric is compared to acoustic. Just wondering.

Would it be too late for me, realistically? I'm 18 now. Just turned that age three months ago.

Anyways, thanks very much!
03:41 PM on 11/20/12 
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barkjon
we were a roman candle
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Seattle, WA
Male - 17 Years Old
I have some tips, but take in mind I'm also learning to play. I'm currently learning from my dad, who is an excellent guitar player.

First off, I'd say learn acoustic first. You get calluses quicker (though it hurts like hell for a while), which will make electric easier to play. It's also a little simpler than electric, in my opinion.

Also, a lot of beginning guitar players just strum up, then down, then up, and so on. Don't do that. Rarely will you ever actually have a strum pattern like that. Come up with complex strum patterns, such as "down-down-up-up-down".
09:57 AM on 11/22/12 
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dearmsterri
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Philadelphia
Male - 24 Years Old
I'll echo barkjob's post. All great points there.

I agree, learning acoustic first is the best way to go. The strings hurt like hell, but you get used to them.

Also, learning from a person opposed to videos and such, is the best way to learn.
10:21 AM on 11/23/12 
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barkjon
we were a roman candle
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Seattle, WA
Male - 17 Years Old
^yeah. Trust me, your fingers will hurt like crap after even a few minutes of playing, but you gotta get calluses.
01:11 PM on 11/30/12 
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honestkyle
HonestKyle
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Canfield, OH
Male
The way I started to learn guitar was by reading guitar tabs (tablature).

They're numbered strings referring to fret numbers on your guitar neck. Easy to learn

You can find sites like Ultimate-guitar that have every song you would ever imagine and just pick a couple songs that you know that sound easy.

If you're into electric guitar, try Blink-182 or Alkaline Trio. Very easy songs.

If you're into acoustic, maybe try that Green Day acoustic number, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).

Even if these bands aren't your favorites, it'll at least get you playing popular stuff that's easy.

That was my strategy and guitar came easy for me :)
08:22 PM on 11/30/12 
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Hamburglar
Jeff
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Houston, TX
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I learned at 18, definitely not too late. For the first month or so it's gonna seem overwhelming but you just have to stick with it until you reach that breakthrough. For me that was just figuring out how to play ONE song, and being able to play that song all the way through and being able to sing along without fucking up the strum pattern was what it took to really give me the confidence to keep going.

It's going to be rough at first, I'd recommend finding a song with a basic 4 chord progression and learning from there. Alot of people will tell you to learn all your chords before you try playing songs, but for me they were too random and I couldn't remember them until I started learning how to play them in the context of a song.
04:06 PM on 12/01/12 
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honestkyle
HonestKyle
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Canfield, OH
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I learned at 18, definitely not too late. For the first month or so it's gonna seem overwhelming but you just have to stick with it until you reach that breakthrough. For me that was just figuring out how to play ONE song, and being able to play that song all the way through and being able to sing along without fucking up the strum pattern was what it took to really give me the confidence to keep going.

It's going to be rough at first, I'd recommend finding a song with a basic 4 chord progression and learning from there. Alot of people will tell you to learn all your chords before you try playing songs, but for me they were too random and I couldn't remember them until I started learning how to play them in the context of a song.

What he said.
12:45 PM on 12/28/12 
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pinkfrosty
Does not give a fuck
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DC
Male - 29 Years Old
I'd say start on electric. I teach guitar as a side gig to my real job and the biggest obstacle I've seen for new players (outside of things that can't be taught, like motivation and passion) is getting past the physcial struggle of putting flesh to wood. You have to teach your hand to accept the muscle contortion that happens when you play. There's really no getting around it.
A simple Squier strat or a cheap Ibanez will do the trick. If your struggling to form a simple E chord on an acoustic it can make you not want to even bother. Don't waste your time learning to play acoustic first, you'll get way more enjoyment and fun out of an electric when you first starting to play.
02:06 AM on 12/29/12 
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Synthetic Flesh
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Írebro Sweden
Male - 29 Years Old
Even though learning to play an acoustic first has it's benefits, I would say play the electric if that's what you really want to play.
Especially if want want to play with distortion which most electric guitar players want.
I've seen more than one person that plays the acoustic well and then think they can play electric just as well.
They just don't know what to do with all that distortion because they're not used to it. The result is, they sound like shit. Everything becomes a mud.

And also, I was first self tought and did ok, then a year later I took lessons. I had to relearn a bunch of stuff, like techniques, how to hold the pick correctly and so on. So it might be a good idea to take at least a few lessons first to get a good start. You'll probably save time that way.
01:25 PM on 01/02/13 
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nabced
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PA
Male - 21 Years Old
Firstly, apologies if this is the wrong section but I thought since it'd be musicians giving me advice, I'd be given the right piece of information.

Anyways, I've recently been looking into learning guitar (electric preferably). However, I don't know where to start. Like, for example, I have a few questions that are on my mind:

What guitar would be recommended to start off with?

Best way to learn? Teacher? Self teaching?

Is it as 'easy' as acoustic? I've tried acoustic a few times and in my case, the strings always felt 'harder' compared to an electric. I've heard a few electric guitar players say how much easier electric is compared to acoustic. Just wondering.

Would it be too late for me, realistically? I'm 18 now. Just turned that age three months ago.

Anyways, thanks very much!

First of all, I always recommend to start off with a cheap guitar to learn on IE First Act. You can get a guitar+amp combo pack at walmart for like 100 bucks and if it turns out you dont like guitar you arent out of too much money. Electric or Acoustic is something you want to think about as well i would recommend if possible to get one of each for different situations acoustic is good to learn on to build finger strength and also so you can hear yourself play. Its also something that you can play at night or different times when you can't use and amp. But electric can also teach you different techniques that you can use and most likely will if you make a band(that isnt an acoustic band). Best way to learn all is determined by yourself; Like a lot of guitar its all going to come down to what exactly is right for you. I learned by myself without a teacher but its up to you. Remember that you have access to the internet things such as youtube, ultimate-guitar etc. there is no shame in using videos to teach yourself. Age doesnt matter when playing guitar its never too late to start dont let that discourage you. Hope this helps!
08:37 PM on 01/13/13 
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johnallard
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Nashville
Male - 24 Years Old
If playing an acoustic guitar isn't any fun then start on electric. Acoustic guitars have wider, flatter necks and use thicker strings and all that makes forming chords harder which can be discouraging if you're just beginning and trying to get the motivation to learn.

Pinkfrosty's right about getting a cheap squier strat or an ibanez guitar if you are going electric, then all you need is a small practice amp. 10 or 15 watt. If you are going acoustic, there will be some benefits but it's not going to make you a crazy good guitarist much faster than if you start playing with an electric guitar. Getting a cheap takamine, dean, or yamaha is the way to go if you want an acoustic guitar.

Having someone to teach you basic chords in the beginning is a lot more reassuring than learning from a book or the internet but after a while guitar lessons can get monotonous because most guitar teachers teach by ear and will mostly teach you how to play chord progressions from songs but won't teach you how to understand what you're doing. Still, they are good at first to help you get off the ground. Most guitarist take lessons until they feel like they can teach themselves and they go from there. I had lessons at first but after I got my footing I quit lessons and consider myself a self taught guitarist.

18 isn't too late to learn either, the guitar is a straight forward instrument, you can pick it up in a couple months and be able to play basic chord progressions in no time.

If you want to try to use videos to learn just do a youtube search for basic guitar chords for beginners and try to find one that breaks everything down like this one.
09:39 AM on 01/15/13 
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pinkfrosty
Does not give a fuck
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DC
Male - 29 Years Old
First of all, I always recommend to start off with a cheap guitar to learn on IE First Act. You can get a guitar+amp combo pack at walmart for like 100 bucks and if it turns out you dont like guitar you arent out of too much money. Electric or Acoustic is something you want to think about as well i would recommend if possible to get one of each for different situations acoustic is good to learn on to build finger strength and also so you can hear yourself play. Its also something that you can play at night or different times when you can't use and amp. But electric can also teach you different techniques that you can use and most likely will if you make a band(that isnt an acoustic band). Best way to learn all is determined by yourself; Like a lot of guitar its all going to come down to what exactly is right for you. I learned by myself without a teacher but its up to you. Remember that you have access to the internet things such as youtube, ultimate-guitar etc. there is no shame in using videos to teach yourself. Age doesnt matter when playing guitar its never too late to start dont let that discourage you. Hope this helps!



While I understand the logic here, as someone who teaches guitar, I have to disagree with that statement. If you're trying to learn on a POS guitar, it's only going to hold you back. It makes it harder on the student b/c it's an inferior instrument. I'm not saying he'll need a American Strat or LP Standard but spending as little cash as possible doesn't help the cause either. But like you said, it's really about the player/student. I've had students with the shittiest little acoustics that will barely hold pitch become some of my best, most accomplished students. I've also seen older guys (35+) with $2500 PRS Custom 24s, JCM800 stacks and all the nicest pedals struggle with the simplest little chord changes and scale patterns.

My advice if you're going to go down the "budget" route, stick to known brands like Fender/Squier, Gibson/Epiphone (I highly reccomend Epi's), PRS/ PRS SE, Ibanez, Gretsch, Jackson and the like. I say this because you're more than likely gonna get a decent instrument from a reputable builder, and known brands also hold their value more than an off-brand would. Not saying they're aren't lesser-known builders out there that make quality stuff (PRS started out that way), but if you're concerned you may not stick to guitar, at least you'll be able to get some of your money back if you get a known brand. You won't get any money back from an off-brand, no one wants to buy a 2nd-hand no-name guitar. But people will want to buy a 2nd-hand Stratocaster, Teleaster, Les Paul, SG, ES-335, etc.
06:28 AM on 01/16/13 
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nabced
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PA
Male - 21 Years Old
While I understand the logic here, as someone who teaches guitar, I have to disagree with that statement. If you're trying to learn on a POS guitar, it's only going to hold you back. It makes it harder on the student b/c it's an inferior instrument. I'm not saying he'll need a American Strat or LP Standard but spending as little cash as possible doesn't help the cause either. But like you said, it's really about the player/student. I've had students with the shittiest little acoustics that will barely hold pitch become some of my best, most accomplished students. I've also seen older guys (35+) with $2500 PRS Custom 24s, JCM800 stacks and all the nicest pedals struggle with the simplest little chord changes and scale patterns.

My advice if you're going to go down the "budget" route, stick to known brands like Fender/Squier, Gibson/Epiphone (I highly reccomend Epi's), PRS/ PRS SE, Ibanez, Gretsch, Jackson and the like. I say this because you're more than likely gonna get a decent instrument from a reputable builder, and known brands also hold their value more than an off-brand would. Not saying they're aren't lesser-known builders out there that make quality stuff (PRS started out that way), but if you're concerned you may not stick to guitar, at least you'll be able to get some of your money back if you get a known brand. You won't get any money back from an off-brand, no one wants to buy a 2nd-hand no-name guitar. But people will want to buy a 2nd-hand Stratocaster, Teleaster, Les Paul, SG, ES-335, etc.

Doesn't Walmart sell Squiers? when usually asked about what to start brand wise I saw squiers. And I agree 100% with the whole resale part of it but i dont know so much about selling back and making any significant money, for example i would imagine a person who is looking to buy a guitar for their kid/relative/friend what have you is going to look in a store before they look online for the USED guitar because they most likely dont know about it. I am confused how people come across PRS's and dont have any talent whatsoever, how do they know what to look for, why would you waste all that money on a guitar if you cant even play while i drool at the thought of owning a PRS :P. Since you are a teacher what advice would you give to a guitar player who has been playing for a number of years and wants to finally learn the whole music theory part of it? much appreciated.
08:54 AM on 01/16/13 
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pinkfrosty
Does not give a fuck
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DC
Male - 29 Years Old
Doesn't Walmart sell Squiers? when usually asked about what to start brand wise I saw squiers. And I agree 100% with the whole resale part of it but i dont know so much about selling back and making any significant money, for example i would imagine a person who is looking to buy a guitar for their kid/relative/friend what have you is going to look in a store before they look online for the USED guitar because they most likely dont know about it. I am confused how people come across PRS's and dont have any talent whatsoever, how do they know what to look for, why would you waste all that money on a guitar if you cant even play while i drool at the thought of owning a PRS :P. Since you are a teacher what advice would you give to a guitar player who has been playing for a number of years and wants to finally learn the whole music theory part of it? much appreciated.


I'm not sure if Walmart sells squires or not, might depend on the area. Well what I was saying about reselling it was just a general suggestion. If you're gonna buy a guitar you might as well buy one that will hold some value if you decide to get rid of it. The whole PRS thing might be something specific to where I live (Washington DC), I've had a few students that were clearly just rich guys who thought that having the best guitar was gonna make them a great player. There's a lot of ignorant people with too much money in DC.

As far as theory goes, this is actually a question I get asked a lot. I am of the opinion that there are certain pieces of music theory that are more important to guitarist than others. Not saying that learning all the different parts of theory is a bad thing, it's just that as a guitarist, knowing all the particulars of what makes Baroque music Baroque, what makes Romantic music romantic, etc, isn't really that important. If you were learning piano or cello that would be different, b/c that's the kind of music you're gonna be playing. The main theory you want to learn on guitar is the concept of Scales, Chords, and Chord progressions. I don't know how much basic theory you already know, but if you've been playing a few years, you've probably already started to grasp some of the fundemental concepts. To reiterate the basics:

1. Western Music is based around the "major" scale. In the key of C that would be: C D E F G A B C

2. All of the other concepts like Chords and Chord progressions build off this concept of a major scale. For example to make a Chord from the above scale, you put the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale into a stack and play them together: C E G . That's a simple major triad (3 notes together).

3. A Chord progression is what happens when you take that same scale, build chords around each note of the scale, and then play a certain "progression" of chords in a defined sequence. The most basic of this concept would be a traditional 12-bar blues progression. Staying in the key of C, you want to make a chord around the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the scale. Using the same intervals (distance between notes) as #2, you get the following:
1- CEG
4- FAC
5- GBD

Those are your chords. A 12-bar blues progression would be 1-4-1-5-1, using the numbered chords above.

I'm sure you probably already know most of this. Basically how you want to learn theory on guitar is to learn some basic concept like above, and then apply the same concept to all 12 keys. 95% of the time when I hear a "bad" or "terrible" guitarist, it's not their fretting or picking technique that's the problem. It's their inability to change keys with the song.

Another thing is learning all the different scales you can. There are different schools of thought about how to do this, but I'm a big fan of the CAGED method. And the really important thing about scales is once you learn them, re-learn them with different fingering patterns, starting at different octaves, etc. There's probably nothing worse than hearing someone run up and down the minor pentatonic scale in the same position over and over. The guitar is a lot like the piano in that you can take the same fingering shape (like a power chord) and move it all over the neck and get the same chord. That same concept can be applied to scales and even songs.


Wow I didn't really mean to write that much. Hope this helps in some way.
09:41 AM on 01/16/13 
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nabced
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PA
Male - 21 Years Old
I'm not sure if Walmart sells squires or not, might depend on the area. Well what I was saying about reselling it was just a general suggestion. If you're gonna buy a guitar you might as well buy one that will hold some value if you decide to get rid of it. The whole PRS thing might be something specific to where I live (Washington DC), I've had a few students that were clearly just rich guys who thought that having the best guitar was gonna make them a great player. There's a lot of ignorant people with too much money in DC.

As far as theory goes, this is actually a question I get asked a lot. I am of the opinion that there are certain pieces of music theory that are more important to guitarist than others. Not saying that learning all the different parts of theory is a bad thing, it's just that as a guitarist, knowing all the particulars of what makes Baroque music Baroque, what makes Romantic music romantic, etc, isn't really that important. If you were learning piano or cello that would be different, b/c that's the kind of music you're gonna be playing. The main theory you want to learn on guitar is the concept of Scales, Chords, and Chord progressions. I don't know how much basic theory you already know, but if you've been playing a few years, you've probably already started to grasp some of the fundemental concepts. To reiterate the basics:

1. Western Music is based around the "major" scale. In the key of C that would be: C D E F G A B C

2. All of the other concepts like Chords and Chord progressions build off this concept of a major scale. For example to make a Chord from the above scale, you put the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale into a stack and play them together: C E G . That's a simple major triad (3 notes together).

3. A Chord progression is what happens when you take that same scale, build chords around each note of the scale, and then play a certain "progression" of chords in a defined sequence. The most basic of this concept would be a traditional 12-bar blues progression. Staying in the key of C, you want to make a chord around the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the scale. Using the same intervals (distance between notes) as #2, you get the following:
1- CEG
4- FAC
5- GBD

Those are your chords. A 12-bar blues progression would be 1-4-1-5-1, using the numbered chords above.

I'm sure you probably already know most of this. Basically how you want to learn theory on guitar is to learn some basic concept like above, and then apply the same concept to all 12 keys. 95% of the time when I hear a "bad" or "terrible" guitarist, it's not their fretting or picking technique that's the problem. It's their inability to change keys with the song.

Another thing is learning all the different scales you can. There are different schools of thought about how to do this, but I'm a big fan of the CAGED method. And the really important thing about scales is once you learn them, re-learn them with different fingering patterns, starting at different octaves, etc. There's probably nothing worse than hearing someone run up and down the minor pentatonic scale in the same position over and over. The guitar is a lot like the piano in that you can take the same fingering shape (like a power chord) and move it all over the neck and get the same chord. That same concept can be applied to scales and even songs.


Wow I didn't really mean to write that much. Hope this helps in some way.
I know some of that but most of which comes new to me. I do a lot of writing recently and the chord progressions that you are describing i have been using before i even realized this more of like a pattern learned from other songs or heard to sound right with the ear. Do you think theory is something that can make or break a writer i know i have been writing and it all sounds fairly good to me but i havent ever sat down and thrown out some theory on paper. The music i write is mainly pop punk and i have spoken to a few other people who say that theory is something that is good to learn but not a necessity. Thanks for all the information man i really appreciate it!



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