Electric vs Acoustic - What is the Best Guitar? - Odd Nugget
Everyone knows guitarists get all the girls. But nobody agrees on WHICH guitarists are the ones getting them.
Some say it's the Slashes and Bucketheads of the world - they twirl their fancy electrified axes as notes spill forth from their sparking fingertips. Girls either chase after them, or their faces melt on contact with the righteous howls of their perfectly plucked harmonics.
Others insist it is only the "Wonderwall" guys and backstreet alley Jon Gomm acoustic heroes who abscond with the world's women. They slap sweet bass licks on the lower strings and hambone into another dimension, returning only to dazzle spectators long enough to steal their girlfriends away for good.
Ultimately both electric and acoustic guitars have their strengths and weaknesses. Choosing what works best for you is usually a matter of getting one of each and pretending you need them both when people ask.
How hard is it to learn to play the guitar?
Learning to play the guitar can be surprisingly easy or a real slog depending on the timeframe you have in mind.
If you're hoping to pick things up in a jiff like August Rush - all teary eyed and fingers a'twinkle - then you might be in for a rude awakening. Learning to play an instrument (ANY instrument) well takes time.
Some would add "a life" to that "time" for good measure.
If you approach learning guitar like any of life's other mystical quests of self-discovery, then you'll find there really is no point at which you can stop and say "there, enough already, I've done it. There's nothing left to learn."
Learning to play guitar is like learning a new language.
It's a language you can only speak with your fingers (and maybe your toes). It's a language that nobody understands, but everyone can feel. It's a language with limitless intonations and inflections, but not a single word.
Most importantly, when it comes to learning guitar, just like the language you think you've learned, there's always more to explore. The journey is essentially the destination.
All that matters is that you get started now so you can spend more time enjoying the experience.
How to Learn Guitar Without Taking Classes
So you can't stand stuffy old classrooms and snooty six-string instructers hell-bent on crushing your soul with endless scale recitals?
Well, considering that's not really how most guitar classes actually are, I haven't the faintest clue why you're worried about all that. Regardless, I know how it feels to be an unsung DIY kinda guy. It feels like work.
Listen, guitar classes are a perfectly acceptable route for any aspiring shredder to take, given you have the coinage to keep your teacher's door from slamming in your face. But, if you're set on doing things your way, all the way, then...
Search for Free Resources Online
There are plenty of free tools, tabs, books, videos, podcasts and more available to you on the net.
I myself boast of a teeming surplus of less-than-legally obtained music references dedicated to the noble six-string. If I could find them oh so free of charge, then you too, young pupil, can follow in my footsteps of digital piracy.
Focus on Relaxation and Quality Over Quantity
As you begin to fumble around with your new guitar for the first time, you will inevitably come up with all sorts of ways to hamper your development down the line.
Clenching your buttcheeks everytime you pluck a string, gritting your teeth for every barre chord, dropping a lung on every arpeggio... Yep, there are loads of ways to limit your guitar potential and they all involve relaxation, or the lack thereof.
Without a teacher, you'll have to monitor your own body as you practice, administering corrective self-punishment when you tense up too much in your absent instructor's stead.
As for learning actual techniques... Keep things simple, especially at first, and just focus on playing basic chords and licks cleanly. No point knowing every tapping trick under the sun if they all sound like the same kitten being mauled by a harpsichord.
Reasons to Choose Electric Guitars
"Electric - it's the best trick." - Me, Right Now
1. Electric Guitars are Versatile
Electric guitars are a lot more versatile when it comes to sounds.
As we have an external amp, there’s a huge opportunity for sound expansion.
Most amps have a clean channel and a distortion channel, so instantly you have more tone options than an acoustic. We can also enhance our sound by adding effects pedals to our guitar sound.
2. You Can Change Your Electric Guitar's Sound Alot
Electric guitarists have a lot of options for altering the timbre and tonal character of their instruments. The guitar’s tone and volume knobs, its variety of pickups, stompbox pedals, and amplifier functions can all contribute to a wide range of sounds.
Due to the options presented by these components, electric guitar players like Wes Montgomery, Brad Paisley, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields can sound completely different from one another while all technically playing the same instrument.
3. Electric Guitars are Easy to Play
Electric guitars have smaller bodies, thinner necks and use lighter gauge strings and hence are easy to play. The pickups and an amplifier do all the work of projecting the sound. So a lighter touch along with lighter strings makes playing electric guitar a whole lot easier.
4. Electric Guitars Can Sustain Notes Forever
Musicians may also take advantage of feedback loops between the amp and the guitar.
If the sound coming out of the amp and speaker is loud enough, it can cause the guitar's strings to vibrate. The musician can hit a note with the guitar, and the amp will cause that string to continue vibrating indefinitely. Both of these concepts -- amp distortion and feedback -- are unique to the electric guitar.
5. Electric Guitars Fit Almost Every Music Genre
You might not have considered a semi-hollow electric guitar, but you might once you learn more about their incredible range and flexibility. These are truly genre-hoppers and are great at a lot of things – if they're to your liking.
6. Electric Guitars + Effects = Musical Magic
Technically you can run an acoustic through whatever effect you like. But then it’ll just come out sounding like an electric guitar. Because electric guitars are awesome.
Listen to Alice In Chains’ “Down In A Hole,” a beautiful if supremely depressing tune which features Jerry Cantrell playing acoustic guitar through a bunch of amps with inbuilt vibrato. Sounds like an electric with a chorus pedal, right?
Reasons to Choose Acoustic Guitars
My favorite reason... Cuz, why not?
1. Acoustic Guitar Skills Transfer Over to Electric Guitar
If you can play something on a steel-string acoustic guitar, you'll be able to play it without any problems on an electric, something that cannot be said vice versa.
2. Acoustic Guitars Sound Nice by Default
An acoustic guitar has a tone that is naturally soothing and calm compared to the distorted tone experienced on an electric guitar.
3. Acoustic Guitars Require No Amp
You don't need an amplifier to play an acoustic guitar. You can sit on your bed playing without disturbing anyone and listen to the beautiful sound. You never heard of the neighbours complaining about an acoustic guitarist playing too loud.
4. Acoustic Guitars are More Portable Than Electric Guitars
There is an immediacy to the acoustic guitar that the electric guitar does not have. [...]with the acoustic all you need is your guitar and a pick. Over time, you might find that you don’t even need the pick; fingerstyle guitar might suit your sound better. That makes it super-portable, fuss-free, and a trusted performer even during a blackout.
5. Acoustic Guitars are Great for Rhythm
The acoustic guitar is perfect for playing rhythm. I tell my members in the Relax and Learn Guitar membership that the most important thing when it comes to playing guitar is learning to play in rhythm or time.
90% of playing guitar is rhythm. And the acoustic guitar is more naturally percussive than an electric guitar.
6. Acoustic Guitars are Easy to Get Started With
Learning to play on an oboe or piano is a pretty specialized endeavor. But with an acoustic guitar, you can play a plethora of tunes with just a few chords. Begin with the G, C and D chords, and you’re off and running. Heck, throw in an E-minor and you might have an entire songbook at your fingertips.
As you can see, the truth is that BOTH electric and acoustic guitarists get all the girls.
Read about guitarists who don't use a pick next.
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