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Old 01-28-2012, 02:13 AM   #1
jmitchell42
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Beginners guitar corner.

I know some of this was covered in the original atf thread, but i feel a separate thread for people to poast there beginner guitar questions could be helpful. i have been playing for a while, but still consider myself a beginner so do hesitate to ask any questions here. setup, tuning, technique, or style, there are a lot of people checking this forum that can answer your questions and are willing to help. ask away.
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:25 AM   #2
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

What are the best guitars for beginners?

Last edited by smooth101; 01-28-2012 at 02:25 AM. Reason: first
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:35 AM   #3
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

I think it's more important to have the guitar setup the best it can possibly be.

A lot of cheapo guitars are just awful out of the factory.

Usually by being way too high in terms of string height to the fretboard.

This is a sure fire way to kill your enthusiasm as a beginner.

That being said is it acoustic or electric you want and what price range?

It will make all the difference.

I know pretty average guitarists who have plenty of money and own some amazing guitars over 3k + in value. Needless to say it would be easier to play a Les Paul out of the factory than it would a 100 buck no name, but not all of us have that sort of cash!
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:47 AM   #4
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by analoguesounds View Post
I think it's more important to have the guitar setup the best it can possibly be.

A lot of cheapo guitars are just awful out of the factory.

Usually by being way too high in terms of string height to the fretboard.

This is a sure fire way to kill your enthusiasm as a beginner.

That being said is it acoustic or electric you want and what price range?

It will make all the difference.

I know pretty average guitarists who have plenty of money and own some amazing guitars over 3k + in value. Needless to say it would be easier to play a Les Paul out of the factory than it would a 100 buck no name, but not all of us have that sort of cash!
Yeah, I was unsure about whether I should get acoustic or electric. I was thinking less than $500 because I do not know if I will enjoy it or keep with it. So less than $500 seems reasonable for entertainment.
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:53 AM   #5
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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Yeah, I was unsure about whether I should get acoustic or electric. I was thinking less than $500 because I do not know if I will enjoy it or keep with it. So less than $500 seems reasonable for entertainment.
You def should be able to find a nice starter guitar for less than $500. I think its silly to spend a ton on a guitar when you dont even know how to play. Obv, you wanna get one with good action and that will stay in tune. I recommend spending a little now and getting a nice one the second time you buy one.

Try finding a decent acoustic for around $300ish. I would skip the electronics in it because it will just raise the price. Play it for a while until you are convinced that you are gonna stick with it. Once you know for sure that you are gonna continue with guitar, and once you have gained some skills, go buy a nicer one.
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:57 AM   #6
smooth101
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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You def should be able to find a nice starter guitar for less than $500. I think its silly to spend a ton on a guitar when you dont even know how to play. Obv, you wanna get one with good action and that will stay in tune. I recommend spending a little now and getting a nice one the second time you buy one.

Try finding a decent acoustic for around $300ish. I would skip the electronics in it because it will just raise the price. Play it for a while until you are convinced that you are gonna stick with it. Once you know for sure that you are gonna continue with guitar, and once you have gained some skills, go buy a nicer one.
Thanks for your response, I was thinking that acoustic would be a good choice since I would not have to worry about amps and other electronics.
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:59 AM   #7
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

i got the fender squire kit for $200. included a guitar, amp, music stand, case, and tuner. it needs a good setup and i am working on that, but otherwise has been a great starter tool.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:01 AM   #8
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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Originally Posted by jmitchell42 View Post
i got the fender squire kit for $200. included a guitar, amp, music stand, case, and tuner. it needs a good setup and i am working on that, but otherwise has been a great starter tool.
That sounds great. Did you know how to get the correct settings for the amp? Would it be hard to understand if you never used an amp?
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:02 AM   #9
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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Thanks for your response, I was thinking that acoustic would be a good choice since I would not have to worry about amps and other electronics.
Thats a good idea. All that stuff will just cost you more money anyways.


Plus, you can take an acoustic anywhere and play. Playing outside is a great imo.


Just buy one and try it. All you have to do is practice. There are no short cuts. But its fun and its something you can do forever.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:05 AM   #10
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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That sounds great. Did you know how to get the correct settings for the amp? Would it be hard to understand if you never used an amp?
it is a super simple amp. it has a treble, bass, and volume knob, and a distortion button. not a whole lot to it. not hard to understand at all. i still don't know a whole lot about electric guitar, but play on this almost every day. great for the money.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:08 AM   #11
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

Great, thanks.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:11 AM   #12
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

Ok electric vs acoustic:

I guess a lot of people start of learning on acoustic as they are portable (no amp required) and also the (generally) cheaper option.

If you buy something decent, tire of it, and then want to sell it, you are more likely to get your $$ back if you have a quality instrument.

If you can I would avoid Korean and other Taiwanese etc made guitars. This may be difficult as all of the cheaper options (even of "name" brands) seem to come from this part of the world. (I have a Korean car though and it's awesome!!)

Japan made quality copies in the 60's 70' 80's etc but I am not convinced that the newer asian makers have that ability.

I have a range of makes and the one I don't really like is Korean. The ones I have that are good are USA made, Australian made or Japanese made.

Like I said in the other thread I would probably try out some second hand guitars.

Do you have pawnbrokers or second hand dealers nearby?

Sometimes you can find some gems at decent prices.

It may help to have someone who knows about guitars with you at the time.

If you aren't comfortable with playing them and knowing how they play, then having someone who does will help big time. This is the mistake I made with my first few guitars. I bought them with little knowledge and/or assistance and made a couple of mistakes.

What country are you from? USA?

You generally get more options there than say Australia in my experience, so that makes a difference too.

Last edited by analoguesounds; 01-28-2012 at 03:13 AM. Reason: I spent too long constructing this and it's probably useless info - just go with what they said!! ^^lol
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:16 AM   #13
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

i bought a classical first, and got frustrated. put it in my closet. several years later i bought an acoustic. got frustrated, and set it aside. then i was drunk one night on here and remembered that i heard that electric was easier to learn, so i went for the kit. i am at a frustrated point, but have more resources around now to keep me going. electric is def easier in terms of fretting notes, and 'forgiveness' of mistakes. i want to eventually be able to just pick up the acoustic and play.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:23 AM   #14
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

How do you get frustrated on a classical lol? Nylon strings are the easiest on the fingers although the wide neck does kinda suck
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:24 AM   #15
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

@ jmitch:

yeah I think that's pretty spot on

I mean barre chords or power chords just sound awesome on an electric, even when you are learning.

Not so much on an acoustic.

I still have moments of doubt and frustrations even though I do this for a living - maybe it's because of that.

At the moment I feel I suck as a musician and haven't really grown.

I see other musicians and see how amazing they are and I feel a bit inadequate.

I am more a vocalist than a guitarist so I guess I just have to focus on that the most and try to keep improving as a guitarist.

I guess what I am getting at is that we are all, at some point, in the same boat.


@gambit

because classicals suck when you are trying to bust out smoke on the water et al, but possibly good for stairway
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:26 AM   #16
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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How do you get frustrated on a classical lol? Nylon strings are the easiest on the fingers although the wide neck does kinda suck
very beginning of trying to learn. had nothing to do with discomfort. more of knowledge. the instruments i play were very linear, and the guitar isn't at all. it is hard to get yourself through that kind of frustration imo. at least for me.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:28 AM   #17
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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@ jmitch:

yeah I think that's pretty spot on

I mean barre chords or power chords just sound awesome on an electric, even when you are learning.

Not so much on an acoustic.

I still have moments of doubt and frustrations even though I do this for a living - maybe it's because of that.

At the moment I feel I suck as a musician and haven't really grown.

I see other musicians and see how amazing they are and I feel a bit inadequate.

I am more a vocalist than a guitarist so I guess I just have to focus on that the most and try to keep improving as a guitarist.

I guess what I am getting at is that we are all, at some point, in the same boat.


@gambit

because classicals suck when you are trying to bust out smoke on the water et al, but possibly good for stairway
i love this. well put.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:33 AM   #18
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

Nevermind, I see your point. I thought kinda the same thing when I first started messing around with guitars. It drove me nuts how the guitar was actually set up. Didnt make sense to me at first. Still to this day, if I am trying to understand something I usually look at a piano since all the notes are in order. Its much easier to physically see the distances for me for some reason.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:35 AM   #19
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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@gambit

because classicals suck when you are trying to bust out smoke on the water et al, but possibly good for stairway
Its not the classical that sucks, its Smoke on the Water that sucks lol

**** I hate that song!
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:38 AM   #20
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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Originally Posted by gambit8888 View Post
Nevermind, I see your point. I thought kinda the same thing when I first started messing around with guitars. It drove me nuts how the guitar was actually set up. Didnt make sense to me at first. Still to this day, if I am trying to understand something I usually look at a piano since all the notes are in order. Its much easier to physically see the distances for me for some reason.
it is definitely hard to go from a linear instrument to a non. i can't picture overlapping pianos to get what the guitar can do. it is amazing but difficult as hell.

have a good night mang. i am bed.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:40 AM   #21
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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Originally Posted by jmitchell42 View Post
it is definitely hard to go from a linear instrument to a non. i can't picture overlapping pianos to get what the guitar can do. it is amazing but difficult as hell.

have a good night mang. i am bed.
Good night

Last edited by gambit8888; 01-28-2012 at 03:42 AM. Reason: bach stradivarius tho
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:44 AM   #22
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

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Originally Posted by gambit8888 View Post
Nevermind, I see your point. I thought kinda the same thing when I first started messing around with guitars. It drove me nuts how the guitar was actually set up. Didnt make sense to me at first. Still to this day, if I am trying to understand something I usually look at a piano since all the notes are in order. Its much easier to physically see the distances for me for some reason.
Haha.. I'm totally opposite. I look at a piano and I don't have a freaking clue. I can look at a fret board and know where every note is. Once you learn scales and practice every day its gets a lot easier. I wish I could play piano but I suck at it.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:05 AM   #23
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

@gambit

fair enough on the smoke on the water jibe, but i think 99% of guitarists at least try that riff out when they are learning

@tiltmonkey

I am the same - I would love to have a clue about piano/keyboards

My duo partner is a multi-instrumentalist and it makes me a little jealous. He bust out the flute for a Jethro Tull song we are covering. I was like WTF!
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:24 AM   #24
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

My #1 piece of advice for raw guitar beginners: get a decent tuner. Nothing will demoralize you faster than trying to learn on an out of tune guitar because even when you're playing the proper notes you will still sound bad. I like my Snark clip-on tuner, you should be able to buy one for $20.

As a beginner I found electrics easier to play than acoustics because the strings on an electric tend to be lighter and easier to manipulate.

Knowing what I know now, if I were buying my first set of gear, I'd go to as many pawnshops as possible, and take someone who REALLY knows guitars with me if possible. If you don't have someone to help I'll do my best to detail what you're looking for in a solid first guitar.

Here's the bad stuff to look for, if you see it, you probably don't want it.

Look for any cracks in the wood. This tends to happen where the neck is joined to the body or around the bridge/tremolo area. Are there any cracks in the nut? Cracks are usually bad. Chipped paint and scratched pickguards are no big deal imo but may be indicative of an abused guitar(dropped and such).

If it has a tremolo, is it raised up off the body? If so these can be hard to keep in tune. This however can be usually be a cheap, easy fix by adding some springs to keep it flush against the body. Skip the fancy Floyd Rose/Kahler floating style tremolos as a beginner.

Jiggle the hardware a little bit, are all of the strap buttons, tuners, knobs and switches present and solid? If they're missing or wiggle around it probably needs some fixing, as a beginner you probably don't want to mess with this stuff.

Now the neck, maybe the most important part. As a beginner buying a cheap guitar, you probably don't want to pay to have it professionally set up, costing a decent percentage of what you bought it for in the first place, though it's really not a bad idea. So here's what to look for in a good neck.

Put the base of the body by your nose and look down the fretboard, specifically the edges of the frets, do they make a straight line? If so, that's good! Do you see a huge bow one way or another? That's real bad, put it down and move on! It is normal to see a slight forward bow though.

Test the action(string height) by putting a finger behind the first fret of the thickest string and a finger behind the last fret way down by the pickups. Look at the string height above the 12th fret. You want the string as close as possible to the 12th fret without touching it for ease of play. Perform the same check on the thinnest string. If one string is touching the fretboard in this check and one is not, the neck may be twisted.

Play each string at every fret. Hear any buzzing? If so, you probably want to move on. It means the string height is too low and the string is rubbing up against one of the frets in front of the one you're using.

If you like what you've seen/heard so far, plug it into an amp(make sure the amp volume is down when you first plug it in).

Does the jack hold the guitar cord plug firm? If not it's usually an easy fix but you may not want to mess with it.

With the amp volume turned up some, twist each knob on the guitar? Is there a skritchy sound when you turn them? If yes then the pots are dirty, the guitar has not been well maintained. You could probably fix it but probably don't want to mess with it. Move on! Can you tell a difference in volume or tone when you adjust each knob? If not, that knob is probably nonfunctional. This may not be a big deal to a beginner though if the sound you're getting is acceptable to you. But if you don't like it, move on!

Now test the functionality of the pickups. Sound each string and repeat with the pickup selector switch in every position. Sound good? Good! As long as one of the pickups works it's probably good enough for a beginner to learn on but if you don't like it move on. My middle pickup doesn't work but it doesn't bother me much.

That's the basics of what you're looking for in a second hand guitar. $100-$150(maybe even less) should get you something decent to learn on and figure out if you like playing.

As far as buying at a pawnshop, never pay the tagged price. Haggle away. You can probably get up to 20-30% off the price. Also, pawnshop salesmen will usually give you better deals if you buy more stuff all at once. Say you see a guitar priced at $129, the very most you should pay is $120 out the door(that means tax included). You may even be able to get it for $100. In my neck of the woods, pawnshops usually only pay $20 or so bucks for those cheap guitars they price at $99-$149.

Anyway, I hope that helps someone, don't forget to get that tuner.

Last edited by Heya; 01-28-2012 at 04:29 AM. Reason: Can we get an apostrophe and a letter i editted into the thread title pretty please?
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:21 AM   #25
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Re: Beginners gutar corner.

Ok, my turn:

Gonso's List of Stuff to Look For in a Beginner's Electric Guitar:

1) Get a guitar with a pair of humbucking pickups, or that at least has one in the bridge. One of the properties of humbuckers is that they cancel out what's called 60-cycle-hum, which is often a problem with single coil pickups especially if you have a lot of interference. Your standard humbucker looks like a double-pickup, which is all it is. Compare here with this photo.

Single coils tend to have a different sound than humbuckers and fit different styles of players, but on your first guitar I wouldn't worry so much about that. There's time to learn about all that. From my experience you'd be happier starting out with noiseless pickups and not dealing with a bunch of hum driving you nuts.

2) Don't get a guitar that comes with a whammy bar. On cheaper guitars you'll have all kinds of tuning problems, and the thing can be a distraction besides. If you know how to jerk off you've already half mastered the whammy bar, so work on your chords and picking and the rest of your fundamentals.

3) Use standard strings for a while, not too heavy. For beginners I suggest a common .009-.042 is gauge leaning to the light side, it's a little easier on your fingers. Buy a 3-pack of these or these.

4) Invest $50 in a basic professional setup. That's enough to get someone to set up your instrument properly. Typically they will adjust the neck relief a bit, perhaps slot the nut a little better, and adjust intonation so that your guitar is in tune everywhere on the fretboard. None of these things are recommended by me if you're just starting out and don't have tools. It's not a dummy proof process. And give them the type of strings you have to set them up with!

5) If you're on a budget, don't sweat the wood type of the guitar so much. Agathis is common and works fine, though some are put off because it happens to be cheap & plentiful where the overseas factories are. It's fine. So is basswood, and poplar, and alder especially. If you want a little heavier sound, mahogany will help a bit.

6) Used guitars are fine, and it's a great market to buy them in. But there are a lot of products out there ranging from great values to crappy pieces of junk. Get help, or ask on a forum with people who know what they're looking at.

7) For a new guitar, I'd budget at least $250. Used is all over the place and you can often find a perfectly good used instrument for half that or less. A Squire Tele Custom fits the bill and that's $250. Maybe the ESP LTD Viper-100FM, or ESP LTD H-101 at the same price.

8) Read #4 again.

9) A little solid state amp is fine. Usually it will have treble, bass, volume and maybe distortion. It will sound like ass compared to anything good, but when you're starting out your playing sound like ass too. Ass through a $1,200 Fender Twin will still sound like ass. You could also take advantage of technology and get a little iRig or something similar. That's not the best idea necessarily, as like the whammy bar you'll probably spend an inordinate amount of practice time playing with effects and making noises. I recommend practicing in the clean channel most of the time when you're new to it. Effects hide mistakes and develop bad habits.

Last edited by Gonzirra; 01-28-2012 at 06:47 AM.
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