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Acoustic first/electric later?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by BCblues55, Jan 29, 2021.

  1. blue17

    blue17 Tele-Meister

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    I feel for the idea that acoustic will get your technique better in the short term and such, however...

    I think the real question is what’s going to make you keep at it long term. Can you play “Sunshine of your love” on an acoustic? Sure. Is it what a 14 year old wants to do? No. If it doesn’t excite you, you’ll probably quit.

    Also, the transition from electric to acoustic is much easier than people make it out to be IMO.
     
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  2. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I started with a cheap Teisco electric. Then I bought a used Harmony Sovereign and actually learned how to play.
    It’s too easy to get distracted with distortion and whammy bars . You can impress yourself and believe that you can play but an acoustic won’t lie. I mostly play electric now but picking up an acoustic shows me where I’m getting sloppy.
    Acoustic is the best way to learn but if you must go electric avoid whammy bars like the plague. A coworker of mine bought a Flying V because his hero played one, the first problem was that he couldn’t tune it.
    He actually had to take it to have it “professionals tuned”
    Simplicity is the key. Focus on learning first
     
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  3. Terrytown

    Terrytown TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Electric! It's just easier even if you don't have an amp. Just keep playing and learn.

    Additionally owning an acoustic is a must. Keep it close by and on a stand so when the urge hits you or if you have an idea or a song you hear you want to quickly work out you don't have to mess with all the chords, effects, knobs, and adjustments only to find you forgot the original idea. No cords to trip over when you are not playing.

    An acoustic on a stand invites you to noodle a little every time you walk by.

    TF
     
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  4. letterk

    letterk TDPRI Member

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    Played acoustic for almost 30 years before picking up an electric. It's a totally different guitar. I'm not sure one comes before the other.
     
  5. Auherre756

    Auherre756 TDPRI Member

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    It's tough playing an electric while sitting around a campfire...the pots get kinda scratchy:twisted:
     
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  6. PeteM1966

    PeteM1966 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Learning on a crappy guitar doesn't make you better. Learning on an acoustic doesn't make you better. Practice does. Nothing will make somebody give up on playing more than making the basics hard. Or using an instrument like an acoustic that isn't suited for what they want to play. If a beginner is into Zeppelin or just rock in general, grab an electric and start learning songs you know and love. Learning Kumbaya on an acoustic doesn't help anybody and will make Joe or Jane Beginner quit in a heartbeat.

    My first guitar 35+ years ago was a cheap pawn shop Les Paul copy ($40 then, so about 100 now). A year or so later I bought a Fender Squire Tele as my next guitar. I don't think I even touched an acoustic for several years after I started, and today I would put my acoustic skills up there with any average player. A guitar is a guitar, and the faster and easier a person can get the basics down the better for them and the longer they'll want to play.

    Just my 2 cents of course.
     
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  7. Ricoblues

    Ricoblues TDPRI Member

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    I've started on acoustic because I'll want to play with some friends CSN&Y and America songs, but I'm a bluesman in my heart so I've switched to electric a couple of years later. They are different beast and depend what kind of music you want to play/study.
     
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  8. Bill in VA

    Bill in VA TDPRI Member

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    I learned and took lessons on an acoustic as a teenager. I promptly sought and then bought a well-used, and modified '63 Telecaster in 1967 (folk was done and UK blues was in). Played for a number of years jamming and informally, and life intervened and then I put it away for many years with short periods of taking it out and re-stringing and playing for myself with headphones.

    When I retired, I decided to buy an acoustic. It was a Dreadnaught (in retrospect a mistake, should have bought an OOO body) set up with lighter strings (like the Tele), and played well and I was having fun, but I began noticing certain things were getting harder to do well. I pulled out the Telecaster and it was like an old shoe (but needing a re-fret :( ).

    What I (just me) found was so radically different and hard to adapt to was not the added width or higher tension, but the "flat" acoustic fingerboard. The Tele radius has spoiled me, plus I think my older hands were just not as flexible. I also played a friend's Epiphone and Gibson Les Pauls, and also found they felt too flat and wide. That Fender Telecaster radius and longer neck were what drew me when I first bought it, and most of my playing habits were based upon that design.
     
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  9. MiniMig

    MiniMig TDPRI Member

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    My biggest problem with starting on electric is that there are essentially no songs written for solo electric. I can have any normal human playing simple songs on an acoustic in 15 minutes, and isn't the desire to make music central to the dedication necessary to advance on any instrument? Electric beginners often focus on licks rather than complete pieces, therefore they don't get the satisfaction of playing a whole song. You're gonna also have a tough time as a beginner finding people who will want to play with you, an important component of the process.The kids I've taught on electric do not progress as fast as acoustic players. I believe that electric players tend to spend too much of their practice time fooling around with pedals and amps searching for that tone which truly only comes from talented fingers.

    Of course, I realize I'm writing this in a Telecaster forum...LOL!
     
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  10. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Why agonise over it?... get both.... start a quiver....


    guitars are cheap and available these days.....:D
     
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  11. BCblues55

    BCblues55 Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    Many more great responses. Thank you again!!

    I’m glad to hear from you all that there isn’t “one” way to get into guitar. Next time I see Keef, I’ll set him straight (LOL).

    Thanks again!
     
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  12. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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    I learned on an electric before playing acoustics. I used to live in a poor country. I was only able to save up for only one for my first guitar, and I chose the electric because I wanted to be a rock star. It wasn't even much of a guitar which was only $25 (saved lunch money new at the time). It was a strat knock-off with ply body..
     
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  13. Tele Plucker

    Tele Plucker Tele-Meister

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    One very bad isolated opinion on the acoustic player jibe.
     
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  14. palethorn

    palethorn TDPRI Member

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    I started with an acoustic and it was really fun. Got the guitar as a birthday present in high school, didn't cost too much. I was very lucky to get a good guitar, it never had tuning issues or high action issues. Didn't touch the truss rod to this day, and I had it for more than a decade. I learned most of my playing on acoustic and it was a valuable experience. Felt good playing acoustic songs while hanging with friends. I miss that now. But I felt like falling short because I listened mostly to rock music where electric prevails. Lost interest when I went to college and I haven't played the guitar for more than 5 years. After a couple of years when I got my steady job I decided to get an electric. I immediately felt at home and played it regularly since. Felt more versatile, but I had to relearn the instrument. I had no idea about how much gain I need, what EQ settings to use, never learned how to bend strings until then, and I had to work on my string muting. Electric felt softer and easier to play due to lighter strings, which I never considered using on an acoustic. I went to 0.012 gauge strings at first because I was gripping the chords so hard they would sound out of tune. I use 10s now and I still have to pay attention to my grip. I still play my acoustic sometimes and it feels great to switch to a different instrument for some inspiration. I would have never considered acoustic if I bought the electric first, but I'm glad it's the other way around. Also, I don't really know what would have happened if I got a crappy guitar at first would my desire to play prevail?

    One thing to add. My acoustic playing improved also after I started playing the electric. I think that's because of all the extra practice I invested in guitar playing but I also learned to listen to myself while playing. I didn't pay much attention to dynamics, rhythm and tone before as much as I do now.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
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  15. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    To my ears, the wisdom Richards is putting forth is pretty straightforward. Since the majority of "your sound" comes from your fingers, it makes sense to start by learning technique with an instrument which gets all its tone via technique, and not knobs. Do I subscribe to that approach? Not so much, and at 57 years of age, not going to get a do-over.
     
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  16. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Holic

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    Yann G and Terrytown make great points. Terrytown says keep it on a stand. Yann G says keep it visible, not in its case.

    After buying hard cases for my instruments a couple of years ago, I found myself not playing them. Out of sight, out of mind!

    And we all need to play. It's good for mental health and mental ability. Keep 'em out of the case!
     
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  17. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    On the other hand, no less of an authority than Marty Friedman (how does he get his hair so nice anyway) would not only have you start on electric, but jack that gain up as well. Sheesh if you're gonna be metal, you can't start half way! Start at 0:49

     
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  18. kmaster

    kmaster Tele-Meister

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    Exactly this. They're related, but incredibly different tools. Start with the one that makes your heart sing!
     
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  19. MyLittleEye

    MyLittleEye TDPRI Member

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    It might seem justified to focus on one style or other if you only listen to Rock or Folk music but my experience of learning any instrument has been that it can very quickly broaden one's taste.

    I started with a Les Paul copy aspiring to play like ZZ Top but quickly found myself getting into early blues with John Lee Hooker, then Lightnin' Hopkins, then Mississippi John Hurt and Skip James. One thing led to another and now I play Old Time, Bluegrass and Irish tunes on mandolin and am only just getting around to fulfilling my earlier Rock guitar aspirations

    I would say as soon as you can, learn using them both! They each have something to teach. I sorely regret not having an acoustic guitar in my teens; I gave up electric because it was a faff to plug everything in and having lots of distracting knobs to tweak. It amplified all my mistakes and generally sounded pretty crap! Second time around I got a cheap little short scale parlor acoustic as well as a free electric from a local Freecycle page. I taught myself how to set them up with Youtube and put medium strings on the electric to match the light strings on the acoustic - I don't feel there's a lot of difference between them.

    I find it really rewarding to switch between the two. So many techniques are interchangeable, for instance fingerstyle and hybrid picking. My Gretsch Jim Dandy is a great playing little guitar; it cost less and gets used WAY more than my so-so multi-effect pedal!
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
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  20. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you have already played an acoustic guitar for a while and you've arrived at a place where you've begun asking yourself whether you should buy an electric guitar then you have arrived at a place when you should buy an electric guitar.
     
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