If you’re an experienced guitarist and you love playing anywhere you go, a folding guitar is great for you. However, if you’re just beginning, you should consider one of the following: acoustic, electric or classical guitars. Each of them has its pros and cons, and we will be discussing them in this article.
There are 3 main types of guitars that you can usually find and they all have their good and bad parts for beginners. You have the classical guitar, with nylon strings, the acoustic one, which comes with steel strings, and the electric guitar.
The electric category also has some semi-acoustic models, that are basically still electric, but they come with a semi-hollow body. These are a bit louder than the simple electric guitars. Also, you can find electro-acoustic guitars, which are closely related to the acoustic models. These are acoustic guitars that have been fitted with electronics that allow them to be amplified.
Now that we know the main types of guitars, let’s see how each of them plays. The electric models are usually the ones people buy when they dream of starting a band. These instruments are often associated with a loud volume, but that is not necessarily the case. You can always control the sound volume with the help of the knobs on the guitar.
Furthermore, you don’t even need to plug the guitar in to play on it. Of course, an electric model doesn’t sound great when not plugged in, but it allows you to play it silently if you sometimes need to keep things quieter.
The most important factor
The distance between the fretboard and the strings, also known as the guitar’s action, is what makes a guitar easy to play or not, and that might be the most important thing to look at when you’re a beginner.
When the action is low, you have an easier time pressing the strings against the frets. However, you don’t want it to be too low as this leads to a buzz when playing, caused by the strings touching the frets while vibrating.
On the other hand, when the action is too high, the guitar becomes difficult to play, as you have to put a lot of pressure on the strings, and that is a difficult thing for a beginner to do. Furthermore, this can lead to damaged fingertips, a thing that most starters won’t appreciate. That is why getting a guitar with low action is recommended.
There are, however, some benefits of having a guitar with high action, and those are mainly related to the guitar’s tonality. But when you start you don’t need to worry that much about the perfect tone, you just want to learn the instrument as fast as possible, without breaking your fingers or finding the whole process a difficult one.
Fortunately, you will usually be able to find a professional luthier, or an experimented guitarist able to help you with your guitar’s action. That person can adjust the height to match your style. Beginners often feel a great difference when the action of their guitars gets changed. The action is especially important when you try to play those barre chords on acoustic guitars.
Getting your finger to press evenly on all the strings is a difficult thing to do on an acoustic model that has steel strings, but it’s even more difficult to do on an old classical guitar with terribly high action.
So, keep in mind that the lower the action, the easier the guitar is to play. Electric models do best in this case, although they might have the issue that the action is too low and the strings buzz when you play them. Acoustic guitars have a medium action, depending on the model, and classical guitars are the ones that have a really large distance between the fretboard and the strings.
Playability and style
If you’re looking for the easiest thing to play, the electric guitars are for you. They don’t require much force, and their strings are thin and low, so they’re easier to press down. Another important thing is that their neck is narrower too, and that will allow you to use your hand better, especially when you’re just starting and you don’t know how to position your fingers best.
When it comes to acoustic models, especially the cheaper ones, you will find that the action is very high, and that may make barre chords almost impossible to play. Acoustic models require more strength, especially in your fingers, and they will make you wish you played another instrument at first.
Furthermore, badly-designed acoustic guitars have a curved neck (which should be as straight as possible) and that will mean musical notes further up the fretboard will sound horrible. The action of these guitars is so high in those upper frets that you can almost fit a finger between the strings and the fretboard.
So that’s another important feature to look at when buying a guitar – have a look at how straight the neck is by looking at it from different angles. Fortunately, this can be adjusted too, if you give the guitar to a professional luthier.
When it comes to classical guitars, they have nylon strings, which are a lot softer than the steel ones, and thus easier to press. They also feel better on your fingers. However, classical guitars have a neck that is much wider than acoustic guitars, and that can cause problems to beginners. And as we previously mentioned, the action of the classical guitars can be higher too.
Furthermore, the soft strings don’t sound as loud as their steel counterparts and have a different tone. They’re good for quiet practice but not for making yourself heard in a large hall. Taking all of these into consideration, you should decide wisely depending on what you want from your guitar.
When it comes to style, you probably already know what each guitar is used for. Electric models are great for rock, blues, or anything like that. If you’re the kind of guitarist that loves to play folk or looks to impress with his fingerstyle technique, acoustic models with steel strings are the choice. Classical music, of course, should be played on a classical guitar.
Keeping a tight budget
Beginners are often tempted to buy the cheapest models, sometimes because they aren’t sure if they’re going to practice that instrument too much or not. While this reasoning makes sense, you don’t want to buy a guitar that plays and sounds horrible. That is often the case with the cheapest acoustic guitars, which could be considered toys.
You will sometimes find acoustic guitars for less than $100 and although that might seem like a good catch, the reality is that most models costing that little money can’t produce a good sound. If your budget is that tight, try looking for second-hand models, or classical guitars that have a decent action and a neck that is not too thick.
Surprisingly, you can find electric guitars that are better than the acoustic ones, when the price is the same. So if you want to start cheap, get an electric guitar with decent action, strings that are soft enough, and a straight neck. You don’t need to buy an amp from the start. If you’re just looking to learn, this is the best choice.