LEARNING TO PLAY GUITAR:
Don't forget to consider the option of purchasing a new instrument from a local dealer who will normally setup the instrument to suit your needs at no additional charge. New guitars come with warranties and are generally very affordable. Music stores will also be able to change strings for you when they become worn or start to sound "dead." They will also have other supplies like cases, humidifiers, and guitar picks, capos, and publications for beginning players.How much should it cost? If you purchase a new instrument you can expect to pay several hundred dollars for the instrument itself, and perhaps another hundred for a case to protect your investment as well as accessories as previously mentioned. This is true even if you buy a used instrument from an individual or a pawn shop. While there are cheaper instruments, many are of poor quality and difficult to play. And while the lower price may be attractive, the downside of not being able to play the instrument comfortably will stop you before you even get started. So be prepared to spend between $300 and $500 to get something of suitable quality. Remember, if you decide that playing isn't for you it will be much easier to recoup a reasonable portion of your investment if you've purchased an instrument of higher quality.
Acoustic or electric? If you're a beginner you may not realize that both acoustic and electric guitars are basically the same instrument with the exception that the electric guitar must be plugged in to some kind of amplifier (a home stereo or boom box can work) in order to be heard beyond a whisper. Electric guitars are easier for beginners to play because the strings are of a lighter gauge and the action (distance between the strings and the fingerboard) is generally smaller (lower) making the strings easier to press down. There are also acoustic-electric guitars that have features of both types of instrument that you might consider too. A good example of an affordable acoustic-electric guitar would be the Ovation line of guitars. I generally recommend these guitars for beginners because they are nearly indestructible, easier to play, very affordable, and much more versatile for performing if you take your playing to a level beyond just playing at home for friends and family or your own enjoyment. The Ovation Celebrity model is a great choice at around $250-$450 plus case and accessories, depending on the dealer.
|Regardless of whether you choose to buy new or used,
here are some guidelines to help you make a good choice.
Finally, don't be afraid to negotiate on the price, especially if this is a new instrument. The musical instrument market is a very competitive one and good deals abound. Check the internet to determine the price range for the instrument you're considering purchasing and use that information to negotiate the best deal you can. Most dealers have a policy of matching or beating a legitimate advertised price for the instruments they sell. Print out the ad for the best price you find and bring it with you when you're shopping.
If you've followed the guidelines above you should have acquired a fairly decent quality instrument with which to begin learning to play the guitar. The next step is to find a good teacher or self-teaching manual to get you started, which is the subject of another article. My recommendation to anyone just beginning to play guitar is to take lessons from a qualified instructor for at least a month or two just to get you started properly. Your local music store can usually recommend a teacher, or you can check the internet for teachers in your area.
Remember, that your progress will be determined by how much time you devote to learning about and practicing the instrument. I recommend short practice sessions of 15-minutes a few times a day when you're getting started, rather than long sessions that tax your patience and make your fingers sore. Learning to play is a long-term structured process. For sore fingers, try an old guitarist's remedy: Mix a small amount of glycerin and rubbing alcohol (available at most drugstores) in a small capped bottle and apply it to your fingertips after each practice. The alcohol will help eliminate soreness and the glycerin will keep your calluses supple and prevent peeling.
Above all, have fun and enjoy your new musical
adventure with the guitar.
Bob Buford, Instructor