Decent guitar for a beginner

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Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby sunnyday » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:03 pm

My wife has talked about wanting to to learn to play the guitar or keyboard so I'm thinking about getting her one for Christmas. She's pregnant so I'm not sure how much time she'll be able to play it, but I'm thinking about spending between $150 and $200 for one. Should I go with an electric over acoustic -- easier on the fingers, smaller form factor (for pregnancy)? Any suggestions?
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby pennstater2005 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:13 pm

I would go with the acoustic so you don't have to buy an amplifier. If you go to Amazon and type in fender acoustic guitar you ll get a variety of results from $99 up to your $200 limit. Just read some reviews and go from there. They have some nice starter packages too. I like the fender FA 100. Good luck.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Rich in Michigan » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:36 pm

The good news is that entry level guitars are a lot better than they were when I started almost fifty years ago. You are still looking at the low end at your price range though. You are pretty much going to be limited to Fender or Yamaha acoustics. Although Fender is a great electric guitar company, their acoustics are all very low end. Still, I am sure you can pick up a nice one for a beginner. If you bump your range up another hundred dollars, you can find some of the lower end Seagull or Recording Kings. The latter is not widely known but packs a good bang for the buck.

The problem with all low end acoustics is that quality is very variable and in a perfect world you could try a bunch and cherry pick a winner from the group. It doesn't sound like you play though.

For electrics, in your price range the Fender Squire isn't a bad beginner guitar. Keep in mind you'll need a small amp too.

Check out Elderly Instruments online....in addition to being one of the top guitar shops in the country, they can point you in the right direction. Big box shops like Best buy or Guitar Center carry a lot of entry level stuff too although they are often set up poorly.

An electric will be easier for her to finger but with an acoustic she is a one woman band. Just make sure that the acoustic in question has a 1 11/16 neck as opposed to a1 3/4 neck.....commonly referred to as 000 vs OM. The latter is wider and often harder for a newbie to handle.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:02 am

For low-end guitars (and amps) I would check craigslist, and failing that, ebay. There are probably plenty in any metro area for sale and you can get a much better instrument for much less than if you buy new....if you buy on ebay be careful (but if the deal is good enough you prob can't lose too much on a cheap guitar). Craigslist would be much better since you can check the instruments out before buying and not worry about shipping.

I don't play guitar, but I do play other instruments, and would suggest playing a cheapie only long enough to know you are committed and to know what you want. Then get something you really like to play. That will keep you much more motivated. Plus, if you "work up" to it by intermediate steps you will waste a lot of money. I don't know about guitars, but a fine vintage saxophone only increases in value with time, so if it is similar, you can't really lose once you know what you are doing.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Kevin21 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:29 am

For acoustic- Yamaha FG series is great, and I believe they start at $200 retail.

It helps to try them out, or have someone experienced go with you. There can be wide variation between individual guitars, and salesmen sometimes try to unload the bad ones.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby justus » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:37 am

What kind of music does she want to play? Not knowing anything, I thought I wanted an acoustic/electric guitar but after taking a few lessons, I realized that what I should have started with was a classical guitar.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby talldave » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:55 am

Borrow first. If she loves it, get her one that is just right.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby stemikger » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:26 am

I play guitar, but I also play the ukulele. If you can, try to see if you wife would like to learn the uke instead. The uke is becoming very popular and with only 4 strings it is much easier to play all the major chords and in no time, she will be playing all her favoriate songs. Due to the size they are much easier to hold and you can take it anywhere.

I play my uke more than my guitar and I love it.

If she goes that route, I would spend about $175 and buy the Fluke Flea it is a great instrument and will last a lifetime.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gatorman » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:10 am

It is going to be difficult to find a new instrument that is easy to play and sounds good for the price you stated. Instead of buying new, I'd recommend you look for a used Seagull S6 (made by Godin Guitars in Canada) which is a very highly rated, but reasonably priced instrument. You should be able to find one for ~$250 on Craigslist or Ebay, maybe less if you are lucky. New S6s are around $420. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon, you'll see why I recommend the S6. Here is a link:

http://www.amazon.com/Seagull-S6-Origin ... ewpoints=1

Guitars come in various body styles. The three most common are the standard or classical style, the dreadnought and the jumbo. The standard size has a pronounced waist and fairly small body. The dreadnought has a larger body and less of a waist. It will produce more sound and has better bass response. The jumbo looks like a large bodied version of the standard. Most steel stringed instruments are dreadnoughts. Nylon stringed instruments tend to be standard or classicly styled. I'd recommend steel strings as you can get a lot more volume from them. They are a little harder on the fingers, but once she builds up some callus, that won't be a problem. Another body distinction is whether there is a cutaway. The cutaway permits easier access to the portion of the fretboard nearest the sound hole. There may be a slight loss of volume on instruments having a cutaway.

Practice is key to learning the guitar. From personal experience, I think one or two 1/2 hour sessions per day give far better results than a 2 hour session every 4th day. Short practice sessions are also a lot easier on the fingers while they are toughening up.

Here is a link to a description and pictures of the instrument I own:
http://www.elderly.com/items/20U-8020.htm
Mine is in much better condition and I paid $319 for it on Ebay, with a very nice case. My wife plays a fairly expensive Gibson. She prefers the sound produced by my Seagull to her Gibson.

Some other brands (also made by Godin) you might want to look for are Simon & Patrick and Art & Lutherie. If she is going to be playing while pregnant, you might want to look for a parlor guitar, it has a smaller body and might be easier for her to play. Recording King, mentioned above, also gets good reviews, but I have no personal experience with that maker.

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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby WendyW » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:28 am

stemikger wrote:see if your wife would like to learn the uke instead. The uke is becoming very popular and with only 4 strings it is much easier to play all the major chords and in no time, she will be playing all her favoriate songs. Due to the size they are much easier to hold and you can take it anywhere.

+1 on this. I started playing guitar several years ago, but in retrospect I wish I'd gone the uke route instead.

Kevin21 wrote:For acoustic- Yamaha FG series is great, and I believe they start at $200 retail.

+1 on this too. The $190 FG700S is pretty great for the money.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000FIZISQ
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby pochax » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:18 am

for a beginner you should still get a nice sounding guitar b/c you will not be motivated to play/practice unless it sounds pretty good.

i suggest Seagull S6 or Breedlove Passport C200. check out musiciansfriend.com and read some reviews on these guitars and others.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Stevee » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:47 pm

Ukes are great. Plus they have nylon strings (as opposed to steel strings)!
Steel string guitars (especially acoustic guitars) are hard on the fingers of beginners. Its takes time and practice to build up the fingertips.
There are also nylon string guitars. Which are much easier on the fingers. But most are steel string.
There is a great deal of sound difference between nylon and steel.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby JupiterJones » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:55 pm

justus wrote:What kind of music does she want to play? Not knowing anything, I thought I wanted an acoustic/electric guitar but after taking a few lessons, I realized that what I should have started with was a classical guitar.


I think this is a key question that really needs to be answered. What (if anything) is inspiring the OP's wife to take up guitar? Is it AC/DC or The Who? The Indigo Girls or Jack Johnson? Maybe Andrés Segovia?

One nice advantage of classical guitar is the nylon strings. Both electric and acoustic will be murder on her hands until she builds up calluses.

Which brings me to...

WendyW wrote:
stemikger wrote:see if your wife would like to learn the uke instead. The uke is becoming very popular and with only 4 strings it is much easier to play all the major chords and in no time, she will be playing all her favorite songs. Due to the size they are much easier to hold and you can take it anywhere.

+1 on this. I started playing guitar several years ago, but in retrospect I wish I'd gone the uke route instead.


This is definitely a worthwhile option to explore. The uke is an ideal "first" instrument, IMHO. It's easier to learn and play chords. Easier on the fingers. Smaller and lighter to hold and cart around. Fits well over pregnant bellies. Can solo or accompany.

And you just need the uke--no strap, no pick, no amp, no nothin'. Not to mention that it's just a heckuvalot of fun. And Warren Buffet plays one, so there's that. :D

Plus you can typically get a better uke than guitar for the same amount of money. $150-$200 will get you only a "starter" guitar, but you can get a decent "middle ground" uke that will last her for a long time. In that price range, I'd probably look at something like a Mainland or a Flea.

(Or you could buy two $100 ukes and learn to play with her!)

JJ
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby StophJS » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:04 pm

You should understand that while you can't get an actual "nice guitar" for $200, you can get quite a solid one for around $500. It's likely a $200 guitar will be poorly set-up and thus difficult to play, and worst of all, it probably won't stay in tune.

As far acoustic vs electric, it's true that electric might be a bit easier to play in general, but an acoustic with light gauge strings on it is just fine and it doesn't need to be tethered to an amp. You might consider getting your wife a classical guitar (nylon string). There is very little tension on these guitars and they are nice and comfortable to play.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Peter Foley » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:18 pm

I have three guitars, one classical and two acoustics. I sold two older, lower quality classical guitars earlier this year to add the two acoustics. I would recommend Craig's list with a couple caveats: You have to have some knowledge of intonation to be able to buy a guitar that will be in tune when you play it. Read up on intonation before you buy the guitar. (I have seen an I-phone app for checking intonation.) Second - the action of a guitar is especially important for a beginner. You will want a light action (easy on the fingers) with no buzz when playing an open string. Classical guitars with nylon strings have an edge here.

The size of the guitar is also somewhat important for ease of play, as is the width of the nut. The nut is the piece at the top that separates the strings. A standard nut on a classical is 2" and on an accoustic 1 11/16" (I have a Hohner accoustic with a 2' nut which makes it easier for me to go back and forth between my classical and my accoustic). Some people find the narrow nut more difficult to play while others find the wide nut more difficult.

In Minneapolis/St. Paul there are Music Go Round stores that sell used instruments (I think it is a national chain). They have a lot of reasonably priced guitars. You might want to check that out as a possible source as well. A very good beginner guitar can be purchased for less than $150.00. There is a lot of turnover as people buy guitars with the intent of learn and never do, or they buy the wrong guitar.
PS - Buy a Snark - it is a small electic tuner that fits on the end of the guitar.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Stevee » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:41 pm

Another consideration, and I don't know if this was already mentioned, is that most people (to the extent they have not already been taught) need a teacher to learn to play guitar (and uke, perhaps to a lesser extent).
A teacher could be a friend, family member, or someone you take formal lessons from.
Ideally, to have a good teacher, who could let you borrow an instrument first, and help you choose an instrument when you are ready.

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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gatorman » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:55 pm

Peter Foley wrote:I have three guitars, one classical and two acoustics. I sold two older, lower quality classical guitars earlier this year to add the two acoustics. I would recommend Craig's list with a couple caveats: You have to have some knowledge of intonation to be able to buy a guitar that will be in tune when you play it. Read up on intonation before you buy the guitar. (I have seen an I-phone app for checking intonation.) Second - the action of a guitar is especially important for a beginner. You will want a light action (easy on the fingers) with no buzz when playing an open string. Classical guitars with nylon strings have an edge here.

The size of the guitar is also somewhat important for ease of play, as is the width of the nut. The nut is the piece at the top that separates the strings. A standard nut on a classical is 2" and on an accoustic 1 11/16" (I have a Hohner accoustic with a 2' nut which makes it easier for me to go back and forth between my classical and my accoustic). Some people find the narrow nut more difficult to play while others find the wide nut more difficult.

In Minneapolis/St. Paul there are Music Go Round stores that sell used instruments (I think it is a national chain). They have a lot of reasonably priced guitars. You might want to check that out as a possible source as well. A very good beginner guitar can be purchased for less than $150.00. There is a lot of turnover as people buy guitars with the intent of learn and never do, or they buy the wrong guitar.
PS - Buy a Snark - it is a small electic tuner that fits on the end of the guitar.


Peter is absolutely correct about the guitar's action, it is very important. If the strings are set too far above the fretboard it will take an excessive amount of force to make them come into contact with the frets and the instrument will be quite uncomfortable to play. If they are set too low, they will make contact when you don't want them to and that will create a buzzing sound. A luthier can usually adjust the action if it is not right, but that will add another $30-50 to the price. She should play around with a sample of any guitar you are contemplating purchasing for her to make sure she is comfortable with the action.

He is also right about the nut width. If she is going to be playing a finger picking style, she will probably want a wider nut whereas if she is just going to be strumming chords a narrower nut might work better. The Seagull S6 comes in both wide and narrow nut styles. I prefer a wider nut because I have big fingers and it is often quite difficult for me to fret multiple notes on the same fret on a narrow necked guitar.

The Snark tuner is also a great idea, they can be had for ~$15 or so and are worth every penny. I tune before every practice session, it only takes a minute.

If you get your choices narrowed down to 2 or 3 instruments, I'd suggest you go here:

http://www.acousticguitarcommunity.com/

join (it is free), and post a message in the newbies section explaining your situation, the guitars you are looking at and soliciting advice as to which one to purchase. You will get plenty of feedback and I think it will inform your decision. I know you have a budget, but I wouldn't get too stuck on that top number if I were you, you may find that only a few dollars separate the dogs from the real gems.

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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby praxis » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:26 pm

I bought our musical son a Baby Taylor and we both enjoy playing it.http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Guitars-BT2-Mahogany-Natural/dp/B001R2R11Q/ref=pd_sxp_redirect Taylors are available at many guitar stores and on Craig's List and eBay. The size is about 3/4 of a full size Taylor so a smaller person feels comfortable right away. The strings are not hard to fret on this guitar which is a complaint of beginners with sore fingertips. Youtube is SO full of terrific guitar tutorials for every song and style and skill. I also agree with others' comments about the quality of entry level guitars today compared to when I was learning. I found many guitars at $150 recently that were great compared to what I had to begin with. I think you are considering a great gift for her. Her practicing might soothe the baby back to sleep. Or not.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby TSR » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:37 pm

Most of my suggestions have already been suggested, but I'd make a few additional comments:

1. Agree with the Baby Taylor (or a "Big Baby" used). They would be a good middle point between a guitar and a uke.
2. Yes, there are many crappy cheap guitars out there, but there are even MORE crappy cheap ukes. If you go the uke route, speak with someone at Elderly Instruments (recommended above) or perhaps Gryphon Strings about finding quality at that low end.
3. If you go the uke route, get a "concert" or a "tenor" uke over the more common "soprano." The sopranos are small and surprisingly hard to play. Also get something in all solid wood. Maybe something like this? http://gryphonstrings.com/instpix/40115/40115.php
4. Agree with the used Seagull (these are very fine instruments for the price and often have smaller body styles).
5. Agree with the Chinese manufacturers -- both Recording King and Eastman are putting out some fine acoustic guitars these days.

Good luck!
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gatorman » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:16 pm

Here is some more grist for your mill, an assortment of recommendations from around the web:
About.com has an article rating beginner’s guitars which can be found here: http://guitar.about.com/od/acousticguit ... ustics.htm

Nobs Guitars recommendations are here:
http://www.nobsguitar.com/best-beginner ... -to-start/

Buzzle likes these:
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/best-aco ... nners.html

The Acoustic Guitar Forum has this discussion:
http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/foru ... p?t=215927

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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby JupiterJones » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:44 pm

gatorman wrote:The Snark tuner is also a great idea, they can be had for ~$15 or so and are worth every penny. I tune before every practice session, it only takes a minute.


I'm of two minds about electronic tuners such as Snarks*.

On the one hand, it really does make tuning your instrument quick and easy. And playing a well-tuned instrument is quite satisfying and potentially inspiring to beginners. (Or, more to the point, playing a poorly-tuned instrument can be uninspiring to beginners.)

On the other hand, there's something to be said for being forced to tune by ear. I started playing guitar back in ye olden days. We'd use a pitch pipe, or a nearby piano, or a telephone (back when they all had dial tones). Or more often we'd just take a good guess at one string and tune the others to that. As a result, we trained our ears to hear pitch better and better--a very valuable skill to acquire.

JJ

* Or any other electronic tuner. There are several other brands of clip-on tuners that are also reasonably priced. For that matter, you can download tuner apps for your smartphone for free.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby interplanetjanet » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:56 pm

JupiterJones wrote:
WendyW wrote:
stemikger wrote:see if your wife would like to learn the uke instead. The uke is becoming very popular and with only 4 strings it is much easier to play all the major chords and in no time, she will be playing all her favorite songs. Due to the size they are much easier to hold and you can take it anywhere.

+1 on this. I started playing guitar several years ago, but in retrospect I wish I'd gone the uke route instead.


This is definitely a worthwhile option to explore. The uke is an ideal "first" instrument, IMHO. It's easier to learn and play chords. Easier on the fingers. Smaller and lighter to hold and cart around. Fits well over pregnant bellies. Can solo or accompany.

And you just need the uke--no strap, no pick, no amp, no nothin'. Not to mention that it's just a heckuvalot of fun. And Warren Buffet plays one, so there's that. :D

I picked up a "concert size" uke last year and have had quite a bit of fun with it. It's the kind of instrument that makes you smile. You can take it somewhere almost without a second thought, and the smaller neck really is easier for smaller hands.

I play weird stuff on mine though. One of Schubert's variations, transposed up a bit, is probably my favorite. That and some Aerosmith.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gatorman » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:39 pm

JupiterJones wrote:
gatorman wrote:The Snark tuner is also a great idea, they can be had for ~$15 or so and are worth every penny. I tune before every practice session, it only takes a minute.


I'm of two minds about electronic tuners such as Snarks*.

On the one hand, it really does make tuning your instrument quick and easy. And playing a well-tuned instrument is quite satisfying and potentially inspiring to beginners. (Or, more to the point, playing a poorly-tuned instrument can be uninspiring to beginners.)

On the other hand, there's something to be said for being forced to tune by ear. I started playing guitar back in ye olden days. We'd use a pitch pipe, or a nearby piano, or a telephone (back when they all had dial tones). Or more often we'd just take a good guess at one string and tune the others to that. As a result, we trained our ears to hear pitch better and better--a very valuable skill to acquire.

JJ

* Or any other electronic tuner. There are several other brands of clip-on tuners that are also reasonably priced. For that matter, you can download tuner apps for your smartphone for free.


I think you are right that it is a valuable skill to have. I try and tune by ear first, then use the Snark to see how close I am. It's a game for me. I usually end up a little sharp, not much, just a little, but I'm never dead on. Tin ear I suppose.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Murray Boyd » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:08 pm

Another vote for the ukulele. I've played guitar forever but since we had a baby my wife and I only play ukes anymore. You can hold a baby and play at the same time. We have a standard and a tenor. They're both fun. Just don't get a toy ukulele. Get one that will stay in tune.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby leo383 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:09 pm

George Harrison was a huge ukulele fan and used to travel around with a few ukes in the trunk of his car. He would get them out and anywhere could be a uke jam session.

As far as guitars go, Yamaha is always a good value proposition at any price point. That holds true for pretty much everything they make.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gkaplan » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:08 pm

Can one play the same songs on a ukelele as on a guitar?
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:11 pm

stemikger wrote:
I play my uke more than my guitar and I love it.

If she goes that route, I would spend about $175 and buy the Fluke Flea it is a great instrument and will last a lifetime.


Near where I live they have a ukelele jazz jam once a month. Though I don't play the uke (I play sax), one of these days I have to check it out. My curiosity is getting the better of me....wonder if they play bebop.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:39 pm

By the way, where I winter (Venezuela) they have a traditional instrument called a Cuatro that is more commonly seen than a guitar....my take on the Cuatro is that it is a cousin of the uke but tuned differently.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gatorman » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:50 pm

gkaplan wrote:Can one play the same songs on a ukelele as on a guitar?


My understanding (and I don't play the uke - although this thread has got me thinking about buying one) is that the uke is tuned to the same open notes as the four highest guitar strings, D-G-B-E, so one should be able to play a lot of the same songs.

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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby gkaplan » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:07 pm

Speaking of alternatives to guitars, how about mandolins and banjos? How difficult are they to play and to learn to play?
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby StophJS » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:28 pm

It's been mentioned a few times, but I don't think lessons are by any means necessary. The guitar is a very accessible instrument; easy to learn, impossible to master. If your wife is fine with taking a little initiative she can do just as well with the right book.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby stemikger » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:03 am

leo383 wrote:George Harrison was a huge ukulele fan and used to travel around with a few ukes in the trunk of his car. He would get them out and anywhere could be a uke jam session.

As far as guitars go, Yamaha is always a good value proposition at any price point. That holds true for pretty much everything they make.


+1
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby stemikger » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:09 am

gkaplan wrote:Can one play the same songs on a ukelele as on a guitar?


Absolutely. The first uke book I bought was The Daily Uke and has 365 songs for each day of the year. As someone eles here noted, George Harrison was a huge uke fan and there are tons of Beatles song books for the Uke.

I have been playing the guitar most of my life and a year and a half ago I bought myself a uke for my birthday and I truthfully play almost daily.

I love the sound and everything about it. In my opinion it is probably the easiest instrument to learn for a beginner, but don't let that fool you, you can get very technical with a Uke. I have seen great uke players on You Tube playing Mozart and Bach. You Tube also has tons of tutorials for the Uke. It really has made a huge resurgance for the last few years and now being a big fan I can see why.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby stemikger » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:11 am

Murray Boyd wrote:Another vote for the ukulele. I've played guitar forever but since we had a baby my wife and I only play ukes anymore. You can hold a baby and play at the same time. We have a standard and a tenor. They're both fun. Just don't get a toy ukulele. Get one that will stay in tune.


Very cool. I love the portability of the uke and because of that you can bring it anywhere.

I agree with getting a decent uke. The cheap ones are impossible to stay in tune.

For the money I really love my Fluke Flea.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:10 am

gatorman wrote:
gkaplan wrote:Can one play the same songs on a ukelele as on a guitar?


You could install a couple of pickups, get a monster amp, and play Slayer, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Motorhead, whatever. https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/6532337408/h7C8B7CA2/
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:13 am

gkaplan wrote:Speaking of alternatives to guitars, how about mandolins and banjos? How difficult are they to play and to learn to play?


Easy if you just want to strum a few tunes, but, like any instrument, very difficult to play really well. Check out Bela Fleck and the Flecktones if you want to hear some really interesting banjo playing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFzZXvivo4c By the way, his bass player, Victor Wooten, is revered as one of the best living bass players.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:21 am

TSR wrote: The sopranos are small and surprisingly hard to play.
Good luck!


Soprano anythings are hard to play. Soprano sax is harder than tenor. Violin is harder than cello or bass.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:44 am

gkaplan wrote:Can one play the same songs on a ukelele as on a guitar?


Ok, this isn't done on a ukelele, but it could be- Hayseed Dixie covering Motorhead on banjo, mandolin, guitar. Fun. They also cover AC/DC (how they got their name), Led Zep and lots of other stuff:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYJUywl7 ... tw&index=2

Here are a few other ideas:
Coltrane's Giant Steps on uke (this is a VERY difficult tune on any instrument): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cmxSTu2Fx4
Johnny B Goode on electric uke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLGzFcil0rk
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby TSR » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:51 pm

gkaplan wrote:Speaking of alternatives to guitars, how about mandolins and banjos? How difficult are they to play and to learn to play?


I am a pretty good guitar player/singer, having played for most of my life, and I have a high level of facility with instruments that allow you to play chord-based music to accompany voice. When I play guitar, I generally play fingerstyle -- again, with some facility. I have at various times tried to play both the mandolin and the banjo. The mandolin can be played in a rhythm/accompaniment style, but it's MUCH harder than a guitar or a uke and it produces a much less satisfying sound when played only competently. It's a better instrument for those who want to play lead -- i.e., those who are good at lead guitar and/or violin. The banjo can be played in a folky, Pete Seeger style, in which case you'd want an "open-back" banjo. It's fun to play, but your options are somewhat limited in light of the open tuning of the banjo. I got quite good at playing bluegrass-style banjo with my fingerpicking experience, but I found that it was also a better lead instrument than a rhythm instrument when played in the bluegrass style.

This is all a long way of saying that I don't personally think that either is a good "casual" instrument for people who are learning their first rhythm stringed instrument. For people who want a sing-along instrument, I'd first recommend a guitar, then a uke, and then the banjo as a distant third. Another serious option for people who already have one in their home is to study chord-based piano. A lot of people have trained classically and lose sight of the fact that a piano can be played like a guitar. Find a teacher who is willing to have you not read music but instead just pound out chords and arpeggios, and it can be a lot of fun to "retrain."
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby JupiterJones » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:08 pm

gkaplan wrote:Can one play the same songs on a ukelele as on a guitar?


You've already been given the correct short answer ("yes!"). Now here's the typical Boglehead overlong answer... :D

You can play pretty much any song on the ukulele that you can play on the guitar, but you won't always play it in the same way.

Any song that you could strum the chords to on a guitar you can also strum the chords to on a uke. In fact, if you have a piece of music that has the guitar chords written along the top of the staff, you can usually play that song on the uke. (You won't be able to use the chord diagrams, but the chord names are universal.)

Now if there's a particular intricate figure that was written for guitar, that's a different story. Take the beginning of "Stairway to Heaven" (please!). That's pretty specific to the guitar. You can play something similar on the uke, but you'll probably have to make a few concessions and rearrange a few notes in order to get it to "fit" the more limited range of the instrument. But to me, that's part of the fun of the instrument--figuring out how to take all the various parts of a song and sort of distill them down.

JJ

P.S. Anyone interested in the uke should check out UkuleleUnderground.com, where all your questions shall be answered (and where yours truly is a volunteer forum moderator too!). It is, IMHO, the ukulele equivalent to Bogleheads.org.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby letseatpaste » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:14 pm

I love guitar and think it's a great gift idea for someone who's shown interest. I also think surprising the person with a guitar you picked out is not the best idea, I usually recommend letting the person pick out the guitar themselves. An instrument is a very personal thing, even to a new learner, and not something you usually want someone else to pick out for you. I would scout out some nice locally owned shops and see what's out there, then take her for a nice lunch and make an afternoon of guitar shopping.

I also gotta say, as a recent new parent, I'd buy her a La-Z-boy rocker/recliner instead of a guitar... :) While she's very pregnant, she won't want to be hunched over a guitar, and when the baby comes, she's not going to have the time/energy for a while to even pick it up.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby protagonist » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:27 pm

letseatpaste wrote: An instrument is a very personal thing, even to a new learner, and not something you usually want someone else to pick out for you.


I agree, Mr/Ms Paste, but if you never played guitar before, I don't think you would have the ability to pick out the right one. If it were me, I'd buy (or rent ) a usable used cheapie that a guitar-playing buddy helped me pick out...and sell it for close to what you paid, give it to a poor teenager, (or if rent) return it at the point where you decided if you loved playing and were committed or if you get bored with it. If you decide you love it, you will quickly outgrow your instrument. At that point I would take your advice and buy the one that most speaks to you.

And that also goes for the TYPE of instrument you buy. The decision should not be which is more difficult to play or more versatile or any other "logical" choice- it's not like an investment. It's more like deciding whether to play baseball, football or golf. It should be what speaks to you and what you love, because that is what you will continue playing and get the most enjoyment out of. Learning to play ANY instrument passably well is a big commitment, so go for the one you love. If you prefer tuba to guitar, forget what your friends say, just go for it.

letseatpaste wrote:I also gotta say, as a recent new parent, I'd buy her a La-Z-boy rocker/recliner instead of a guitar... :) While she's very pregnant, she won't want to be hunched over a guitar, and when the baby comes, she's not going to have the time/energy for a while to even pick it up.


Depends if you want to encourage her to be a really cool mom (redefining "rocking your baby to sleep"), or a bump on a log. Actually, I take that back. That is her choice, not yours.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Fallible » Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:45 pm

JupiterJones wrote:...
On the other hand, there's something to be said for being forced to tune by ear. I started playing guitar back in ye olden days. We'd use a pitch pipe, or a nearby piano, or a telephone (back when they all had dial tones). Or more often we'd just take a good guess at one string and tune the others to that. As a result, we trained our ears to hear pitch better and better--a very valuable skill to acquire.
JJ...


Growing up, almost all of us kids learned to play the uke and to tune it. My mother, who had an excellent ear for music (but not quite perfect pitch), just hummed the chords and we picked it up. We also became sensitive to even one chord just ever so slightly out of tune and that sensitivity stayed with us when we began playing other instruments as we got older. Even now, lotsa years later, I still wince when I hear an out-of-tune instrument and this is despite a partial hearing loss I was born with. So I would agree to first try tuning on your own.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Norris » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:38 pm

Fallible wrote:
JupiterJones wrote:...
On the other hand, there's something to be said for being forced to tune by ear. I started playing guitar back in ye olden days. We'd use a pitch pipe, or a nearby piano, or a telephone (back when they all had dial tones). Or more often we'd just take a good guess at one string and tune the others to that. As a result, we trained our ears to hear pitch better and better--a very valuable skill to acquire.
JJ...


Growing up, almost all of us kids learned to play the uke and to tune it. My mother, who had an excellent ear for music (but not quite perfect pitch), just hummed the chords and we picked it up. We also became sensitive to even one chord just ever so slightly out of tune and that sensitivity stayed with us when we began playing other instruments as we got older. Even now, lotsa years later, I still wince when I hear an out-of-tune instrument and this is despite a partial hearing loss I was born with. So I would agree to first try tuning on your own.


I bought a tuning fork set to standard A-440 years ago. This is used to tune the open A string on a guitar and subsequently tune the other strings. I'm probably set in my ways, but even now I prefer to tune with the fork as opposed to my "Intellitouch" electronic tuner.

Regarding Ukes, has anyone played or own(ed) a KALA brand? My daughter wants a Uke from Santa Clause and the local dealer sells this brand.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby stemikger » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:32 pm

I would recommend the Fluke Flea over the Kala brand. The Kala I played was the dophen and for the money decent, but the Fluke is so much better however the Fluke Flea was more expensive at $175, but well worth it.

Here are links of me playing the Fluke Flea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQIj4KHE668

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMD6yzoj1SM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIHbcBVskA4
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Norris » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:17 pm

Sounds good, Stem. This is a Kala tenor made in China (of course, I would rather a U.S. made instrument), a laminate mahogony with plug in and tuner electronics. The price tag says $198 but I can buy it for $169.

Norris
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby stemikger » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:40 pm

Norris wrote:Sounds good, Stem. This is a Kala tenor made in China, a laminate mahogony with plug in and tuner electronics. The price tag says $198 but I can buy it for $169.

Norris


Thanks! I bought the dolphin for $40 and truthfully for such an inexpensive Uke, it was pretty good. It was unfair of me to compare it to the Fluke Flea which is $175 and better. So I'm sure if you get to their higher end models like you are looking at they must be pretty good. Unlike guitars when you spend $150 and better for a Uke you get a pretty decent instrument.

Good Luck and hope your daughter enjoys it.
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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby Norris » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:04 pm

sunnyday,

Just curious if these 47 replies were helpful. Were you able to arrive at a decision?

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Re: Decent guitar for a beginner

Postby leonard » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:11 pm

Does she prefer the sound of an electric guitar or acoustic. I think that is really the main question.

For learning guitar I would recommend an electric (assuming she doesn't have a strong preference for acoustic). Personally, I think electrics are easier on the fingers in general - because they can be set up with lower action (string height) which translates in to less "pushing" on the strings to voice the notes. Generally, it's easier to finger chords and learn scales.

For a solid electric guitar - I would recommend an 80's or 90's Peavey electric. Take a look at the Generation series, Horizon II, Patriot, Mystic or the various T series. These guitars are outstanding guitars at any price. But, they can be had almost at will for $300 or less. They are really a tremendous bargain. Great for beginners or pros.

If she decides on acoustic - I recently purchased a Seagull S6. They go for about $400 new. And can be found on Craigslist for $250 to $300 for like new. Very easy to play both with a pick and fingerstyle. Action is reasonably low (for an acoustic, but still not as easy to play as a well set up electric.) And, the S6 gets rave reviews in general (do a search on "seagull S6"). A great beginner guitar.

Btw - don't completely cheap out with a $100 to $200 new guitar - especially acoustic. Generally, these will be very hard to play, even if are set up as well as they can. Nothing is harder on the fingers or will end up sitting in a case unused faster than a cheap guitar. Don't bother, especially when you can pick up good used examples for $200 to $300.

Good luck.
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