When it comes to what guitar you are going to play, the best answer is usually whichever guitar you have available to you. When my first started playing guitar, my grandmother had an old nylon string classical guitar under her bed, and she let me borrow it. It worked until I saved up enough to buy something else.
For this course, I’m assuming you’re going to be playing a 6-string guitar (I wouldn’t recommend a 12 string, for example). Whether it’s electric, acoustic, classical, etc doesn’t really matter – as long as it’s 6 strings tuned to standard tuning, you’ll be good to go.
I like to tell students that using an acoustic guitar to learn on is typically preferred, mostly because you don’t need an amp to play one. You can use an electric guitar, though – the way you play/learn them is exactly the same. You can also use an electric guitar without an amp, but it will just be quiet.
Assess your current guitar (if you have one)
If your guitar is very cheap and poorly made, it will be difficult to play and learn on. There are a couple reasons why this is, but the main reasons are as follows:
- Cheap and poorly made guitars don’t stay in tune very well (or don’t tune properly at all). If your guitar won’t tune properly, you won’t really be able to use it at all. And if it does tune, but goes out of tune easily, you’ll constantly be fighting it.
- They typically have very high string action (how far above the frets the strings are). The higher the string action, the hard the guitar is to play – you literally have to press the strings harder.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to find someone who plays guitar, and ask them to assess your guitar for you – they’ll be able to tell you if it’s fit to use to learn on.
What if you want to buy a new guitar?
I’m not suggesting that you have to go out and buy a new guitar if you already have one, but if you are in the market for something to learn on, here are a few suggestions. We also did a video on the best cheap (read: budget) guitars and amps – I’ve embedded it below:
The acoustic guitar we recommend is the Martin 000x1ae (find it here). For electric guitar, we recommend a Fender Standard Telecaster (find it here). We also recommend you buy them used, which puts either guitar in the $3-400 range.
If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments – see you in the next lesson!
Thanks for the guitar tip. Cheap is not the way to go, especially with instruments.
Thanks Adrian. Typically you get what you pay for 🙂
Some real useful tips.
Can i sand the bridge to lower my string.(the little white peice on the bridge the strings rest on and if so .whats the proper height from fret board to string
Hi Jonathan – on an acoustic that is how you would do it, but the proper adjustment depends from guitar to guitar. Since this is a permanent change, I’d recommend taking your guitar to a tech or a luthier and either asking their advice or having them do it.
I have an Ibanez acoustic guitar. Is that a good one?
It depends on what guitar – Ibanez and almost every guitar maker builds some really good models and some not so good models. If the guitar plays good and sounds good to you, then it’s a good one 🙂
Have you ever heard of a shortened guitar ?!? I have one (Simon & Patrick Luthier Songsmith -Model 30088) and want to know if I could use that or get out there and buy a new one?!? Also what’s your thoughts on an electric acoustic … I’m kind of leaning towards an acoustic that plugs in hmmm
I really like the Martin that we suggested in the ‘Best Cheap Guitars’ video. I have heard of shorter guitars – usually they are 3/4 size. Typically those are made for children, though.
I never enjoy playing my guitar which is very cheap. I didn’t know why. So I am now saving for a better guitar. Thank you
A cheap guitar isn’t always fun to learn on – what guitar are you planning to save for?
I intend to save for the martin which you recommended in the video.I will probably ask for your assistance in sourcing one once I am ready, and should there be a need for me to
Hello I Am brasilian
Confesso que pensei que jamais conseguiria aprender violao online, até encontrar o site.. Deus abençoe
Agradeco pela iniciativa!!
Thank you for the tips
Hi, I am fron India. Thanks for the free course. I intend to learn playing for the purposes of our Sunday school.
I used to practice on the jumbo sized guitar that my husband had, but it seemed difficult for me, I assumed it was because of me being short(I am 5″2). Can you suggest what size guitar I should go for?
Hi Nayomi – I would look into a parlor (000) style guitar – the Martin we suggest in these videos would be a great fit for a smaller person.
Thanks for the free course. I’m a large woman (fat) wanting to learn. I have a 3/4 size guitar but it hurts my strumming arm trying to hold it and I can’t see the fret board to see where I’m putting my fingers without straining my neck hard and being uncomfortable. What size guitar would be best or shape.
Hello, my name is Alee and I just recently purchased a guitar from a friend. I don’t know much about guitars but I thought why not buy it since I’m interested in learning. It’s a Fender acoustic guitar and it says the model is FA-100.. Would you be able to tell me anything about it? Is it good?
Hi Alejandra – I’m not all that familiar with Fender acoustics.
I have a used Yamaha fg800. Is that what you call a cheap guitar?
Hey Paul – I’m not familiar with the fg800.
I have a Bonero guitar and I found it at a garage sale…. Is that okay? I don’t know how old it is.
Hey Sarah – I’ve never heard of Bonero. If it sounds good and plays good, it is good.
I have a Taylor GS3 Mini. I really like it and have been learning on it for about 7 months now.
Are you familiar with a Yamaha FG-75? I’ve had it for a few years so I’m getting some new strings for it and am hoping it’s decent enough to learn on.
I haven’t tried one of those, but if it plays OK, it should work just fine. Thanks!
I am from Hong Kong and I have a Baby Taylor BT2E. It sounds pretty good.
I wanted to buy a Martin guitar, but before I had made that decision, I brought a friend with me, we went to different shops and we tried a lot of guitars. Finally, I made the decision to buy a Taylor instead of Martin. The point is I do agree with you saying bring a friend who knows how to do the set up, that’s make a process and experience very different.
Have a great week
Thank you for the tips they were very useful!
These lessons are going to be a big help for me! Thank you very much for your ministry!
I used to be learning how to play the guitar a few years back, and now want to get back in to it.
My instructor taught me to play right handed, despite being left handed. Is there any benefit to playing left handed?
Secondly, the guitar I had was a classical acoustic with nylon strings and no sling or plugin capabilities. The strings have now disintegrated and snapped, so will have to replace them. Is it worth getting a new acoustic electric guitar? and if not, what strings should I get? Thanks in advance for your help!