Wanting to learn how to play the guitar is one thing. But first, you have to know the basics: how to choose your guitar, tune your strings, and the necessary accessories that go along with playing the guitar.
Learning to play the guitar cannot be improvised, and we want to tell you everything you need to know to get started playing the instrument. And, how to get started navigating your way around the bits and bobs that make up the guitar: from the fretboard or fingerboard to the headstock, tuners, and body shape.
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Buying Your First Guitar.
When buying a beginner guitar, knowing what to choose is not an easy thing. It often happens that you need to change guitar models afterwards, but this first purchase has lasting sentimental value. Honestly, ask pretty much any guitar players and they'll say that their favourite musical instrument was their first one.
Types of guitars
Before choosing your guitar, you must identify the style of music that you wish to play: rock, flamenco, pop, blues, reggae, etc.
According to the style of music, you will be drawn towards a specific type of guitar.
There are 3 main types, and two of these are acoustic guitars:
- The folk guitar (or acoustic): an acoustic guitar with steel strings. This instrument enables you to play many different musical styles (rock, pop, jazz, country, heavy metal etc. pretty much anything except classical). The dreadnought is the most familiar of the body styles.
- The classical guitar: an acoustic guitar with nylon strings, often used for classical music or flamenco music. It's easy to transport and can be played anywhere without amplification. The nylon string sound is much gentler and warmer than the steel string.
- The electric guitar: this is not an acoustic guitar. It must therefore be connected to an amplifier to make it loud enough to hear. It’s equipped with metal strings, which is ideal for purely electric music styles like rock, metal or heavy metal, etc.
Do not forget the financial factor of buying a guitar..
For a folk or acoustic guitar, a beginner’s guitar starts around $100-$400, while better quality models run upwards of $500. Basic electric guitars cost $200-$400, with better quality models also costing at least $500. Some can be much more expensive.
Many shops will provide an option that combines a guitar for beginners with different accessories: a spare pack of either acoustic guitar strings or electric guitar strings; a gig bag or guitar bag case (rarely a hardshell case); sometimes a guitar tuner and music stand. You'll find that starter packs for electrics also include a cheap guitar amp and lead.
Choosing Your First Guitar.
A piece of advice and guitar tutorial: even if you wish to buy your first guitar on the Internet, go to a music store and try out the model or models that you have your eye on, ask for advice from the salesperson, and read articles and guides on the Internet or in specialized magazines.
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The guitar is your instrument! You will surely keep it for a few years, hence the importance of choosing your first guitar well.
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The Ideal Beginner's Guitar?
A lot of beginner musicians straight up ask the question: which is the best guitar for me to buy? Here, we've put together some suggestions.
|Acoustic: Epiphone DR-100||A very good acoustic from a well-regarded brand: nice design, good playability, and great sound for the price.|
|Acoustic: Seagull S6||A new brand that makes incredibly good instruments. Pricier than other beginner instruments, but a dream to play - both for amateurs and experts.|
|Electric: Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V||One of the most respected brands in beginner musical instruments. Classic Stratocaster shape with great price.|
|Electric: Epiphone Les Paul Special II Pack||A good option for those looking for a stylish axe but with all of the accessories.|
|Classical: Cordoba Iberia C5||From the best of classical guitar manufacturers, the perfect beginner guitar.|
|Classical: Yamaha C40||A great, reliable instrument from one of the most-loved guitar brands out there.|
Choosing the Guitar Strings
Knowing how to choose your guitar strings is not always easy, especially when first starting to play the guitar.
The possibilities are endless and it's easy to get lost in the process.
There are two things to think about so that you don’t make a mistake when buying a guitar:
- You should know which truss rod (a bar that runs inside the neck of the guitar) corresponds with your guitar strings so that you buy the same type.
- If you do not know how to tune your strings, it is recommended that you go to a music store and ask a salesperson for help with your guitar strings. This professional will be able to find which strings need to be replaced.
It’s important to note that different types of strings are used for a classical guitar, an electric or folk guitar, and even acoustic-electric guitars.
There are stainless steel strings, nickel strings, nylon strings, phosphor strings, and copper strings (for bass guitars).
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The Cost of Guitar Strings
After paying for the guitar and using it a bit, there will surely come a time to buy new guitar strings:
- Take into consideration your guitar model: classical, acoustic, electric, or acoustic-electric
- Buy guitar strings according to your level and the style that you want to play
- Expect to pay between $5-$30 for guitar strings regardless of the model or style
- Avoid low-end strings (less than $5) that risk quickly going out of tune or even breaking
Strings and Beyond can help you find the perfect guitar strings for you!
How Often Should I Change the Guitar Strings?
That depends on how much you play your instrument? Professional musicians can change them every couple of weeks, but the bedroom guitarist might do it a lot less frequently.
What you need to be aware of is the sound. If the strings begin to sound 'muddy' - as in less resonant - then they probably need a change. Look to see if they look bright too, because if they are very dark, then it is probably time.
A Guitarist’s Perfect Toolbox
A guitarist is not just a guitar and some sheet music and tablatures with it.
They are a knowledgable musician who must deal with the unexpected, whether it be repairing a string, tuning the guitar, or simply caring for their favorite instrument.
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Here’s the basics for every guitarist (the accessories for playing the guitar), and what’s necessary to have with you in any circumstance:
- A capodaster: an accessory that attaches to the neck of the guitar allowing the pitch to be easily changed.
- A tuner: often electric or electronic, it is able to tune the guitar at any moment (it is also possible to use a tuning fork or a smartphone application).
- A pulpit desk: this may seem obvious, but not all guitarists have a pulpit desk to follow the notes of their song. Let's not forget that it prevents back pain.
- A set of guitar picks: to be chosen according to your style of music (some will attach directly to the microphone stand if you sing, otherwise you keep them in your guitar case or in one of your pockets)
- A set of strings: always have at least an entire set of extra strings of hand, especially for the highest strings.
- A footrest: very useful for classical and folk guitar in particular, it allows you to raise the guitar.
- A strap: helps prevent back pain (suitable for electric and acoustic-electric guitars)
- A cable jack: a cable to plug your guitar into any amp or a sound card or even a mixing console.
The website, Musician's Friend, has a large variety of guitar accessories that every guitar player will find useful.
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How to Choose Your Guitar Strap?
We cannot approach the various accessories that accompany playing the guitar without mentioning the guitar strap.
You know those hasty guitarists who hold the guitar in their arms, without ever needing a guitar case or even a strap? Much good may it do for them, but let’s admit that a strap has two advantages:
- It’s able to support the weight of the guitar. Especially when you play often.
- It’s stylish. Because yes, the guitar strap will give you a certain look, especially if it’s a little loose and holds the guitar on the guitar player's hip.
So what’s the criteria for choosing a guitar strap? Here:
- Choose a good quality strap,
- Adapt the dimensions of the accessory to its size,
- Choose a strap adapted to your guitar style,
- Opt for a comfortable material that will not hurt the guitarist.