If you start playing guitar you obviously need a guitar (duh)! But which guitar is best to buy: classical (Spanish) guitar with nylon strings, an acoustic (western or folk) guitar with steel strings, or an electric guitar?
Don’t spend too much money!
Why buying an expensive guitar when you can’t play well yet? As a starter guitarist, you hardly notice a difference between an expensive or a cheap guitar. I always advise starters to start with a cheap guitar whatsoever, if necessary one from the local toy store ! Because do you have enough interest, motivation, aptitude, attitude and ambition to learn guitar? Are you going to like it? Maybe playing guitar isn’t your thing, but it’s drum, piano, bass guitar, violin or even brass like a trumpet? It is perfectly normal that as a starter you don’t know an answer to that yet! So with a cheap or second-hand guitar you’re always playing safe!
Choose a cheap or second-hand classical, acoustic or electric guitar?
I get a lot of starters in my studio, both children and adults, who buy a guitar before they come to their first guitar lesson. Even though I keep saying waiting for their purchase after the first guitar lesson! And with did they buy in 9 out of 10 cases … yes, a damn classic (Spanish) guitar! And what do they want to learn? AC/DC, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queens Of The Stone Age … deep sigh.
Typical first conversation during the introduction guitar lesson.
Q: “What style of music do you like listening to, and what do you want to learn to play?”
A: “I would like to learn to play rock genre Foo Fighters, U2, Rage Against The Machine, Avenged Sevenfold, … “
Q: “Okay, I love that music, but why did you buy a classical guitar in the first place?”
A: “Ah everyone tells me you have to learn to play on a classical guitar at first …”
Choose a guitar that suits YOU !
I hear this story a lot, and they once told me this as a child and that’s the only reason why my first guitar was also a classical guitar! So I don’t know where this fantasy comes from. For starters: a classical guitar is mainly used to play CLASSICAL music folks. Hey, the name “classical or Spanish guitar” should ring a bell, isn’t it 😀 ?
Anyway … furthermore, a classical guitar has a wider neck. This has pros and cons for fingering. Your fingers are less likely to hit the wrong string but will have to spread further so it’s much harder to play chords, certainly for smaller hands quite a disaster. An acoustic or western guitar has steel strings, but they are relatively thick which is much more difficult to learn to play on, especially in the beginning, and moreover, you will get pain to fingers and joints more quickly. But the guitar neck is much thinner and narrower than with a classical guitar. An electric guitar plays less heavily but usually has the strings closer together which will make fingering more difficult at first for people with thicker fingers. The guitar neck is even narrower and thinner, so the least tiring for muscles and joints.
“In the end, it doesn’t ever matter … ” (LP)
In the end, you want to be able to play on all type of guitars and that’s why it doesn’t really matter what type of guitar you start with. But still, choose a guitar that suits you, gives you a good “feeling” and motivates you. Buy a guitar according to the music style you like to hear and want to learn to play! If you listen to classical music, flamenco, etc. buy a classical guitar. If you listen to acoustic pop, folk and/or rock music, you can use a steel string to western guitar. Do you like pop, rock, metal, funk, etc. please do buy an electric guitar with an amplifier with overdrive.
Conclusion : which guitar should I buy now?
Moreover, I explain to starters the simple principles that guitars in these 3 categories, talking about music styles, are backward-compatible and not forward:
1. On an electric guitar you can also play classical music and acoustic pop music.
In fact, you can play all possible styles on an electric guitar!
2. On an acoustic (folk, western) guitar you can also play classical music, but not typical rock, metal or funk music.
3. On a classical or Spanish guitar you can play classical, flamenco, and other kinds of music, but no typical pop, rock, funk or metal stuff. So this guitar has the most limitations in terms of music genres and styles!