By Ralph Serpe
The very first step toward learning to play acoustic guitar is to develop confidence and to destroy that "I can't do it" mentality. Your biggest obstacle in your acoustic guitar playing is not going to be money, time, or the absence of a good teacher. The biggest obstacle is going to be you. You are your own worst enemy. Once you learn how to tame the negativity inside, you will be that much closer to becoming a good acoustic guitar player.
Frustration is normal during the learning process. Learning anything new is not meant to be easy. Resistance is what helps us grow. So the next time you are working on a scale, or chord progression, and you find yourself fumbling or messing up, don't throw down the guitar with frustration, instead welcome the challenge and have patience in it.
YOUR FIRST GUITAR
Buying a first guitar is an important step for the beginner guitarist. You should have a good understanding of the acoustic guitar as a whole as well as a good idea of what your goals are as an acoustic guitar player. By educating yourself in these areas, you will be able to make an intelligent purchase that can provide you with years of enjoyable playing.
There are two kinds of acoustic guitars that you can purchase and they are your classic or nylon string guitar and your steel string guitar. One is not necessarily better than the other as it is really a matter of personal taste, but each guitar does have its own unique feel and sound. The classic or nylon guitars produce a round or dull tone, where as the steel string guitars are much different, producing a bright tinny or metallic sound. You will certainly develop your own preference the longer you play, or like many guitarists, you will enjoy using both. Only time will tell.
Another thing you will have to consider is the body style of your acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars come in a variety of different body sizes from small to jumbo. Each size has its own distinct sound. Smaller body guitars have more treble and midrange sounds and are much easier to hold. Lead guitarists tend to favor smaller body guitars because they tend to have a more balanced sound to them and are easier to make out when playing with other musicians in a band. Your larger body guitars have more bass and are more difficult to hold. The only way to really know what body style is right for you is to try one out for yourself. Your best bet is to find a guitar that you are comfortable holding and playing. Guitar playing is challenging enough in the beginning and you do not need any added difficulties.
Guitar quality will differ depending on the model and brand. Sometimes two instruments of the same make and model can differ as well. It is therefore important to try out as many guitars as possible within your price range. It is also recommended that you bring along an experienced musician when you go guitar shopping. An experienced guitar player will be able to better judge the quality of a guitar.
Buy the best guitar that you can afford. Many of the guitars that sell for under $100 are poorly made for the most part. If you cannot afford to spend more, then save up and wait until you can. A well made guitar will be easier to play, more appealing to the eye and more responsive. If you enjoy playing your instrument more, you will then be more inspired to play. You can find a fine beginner acoustic guitar for under $500. Some brands to look into are Seagull, Martin, Yamaha, Fender and Ibanez to name a few. You may also want to look into the used acoustic guitar market. You may be able to find some real gems out there at great prices, but you have to be very careful with used guitars. Make sure you take an experienced guitar player with you if you decide to buy a used guitar.
LEARNING & PRACTICE
There is probably no substitution for a good guitar teacher, but it can be rather expensive over time, so many guitar players are left with no other choice then to learn on their own. For those of you who may not be able to afford a professional instructor right now, below are some guidelines for helping you get the most out of your practice time.
Practice as many days out of the week as you can for at least twenty to thirty minutes, more if possible. The more often you play the faster you will learn. Be careful not to overdo it though and take breaks of course. Your brain can only absorb so much information before it needs a break and your hands and the rest of your body need time to recuperate as well. When you practice do not rush through any of your exercises. Twenty minutes of quality focused practice is much more effective than an hour of sloppy practice
Study Your Instrument
Take some time to learn more about the parts of your acoustic guitar. Learn about how it is constructed and how all the parts work together to produce those beautiful sounds that you hear.
Learn How to Tune Your Guitar
You can find free step by step guides online for tuning your acoustic guitar. Make certain that you spend time learning how to do this. Purchase a guitar tuner at any local music store and practice tuning your guitar with the guitar tuner. When you begin to develop a better ear, try tuning it without the guitar tuner. Then use the guitar tuner to check and see how accurate your ear was. This will help you develop a good ear.
Learn the Right Posture
If you are accustomed to just grabbing your guitar and sitting down to play in any old position, then you are at risk of injuring yourself and developing bad playing habits. Make sure you understand the correct way to sit and hold your instrument for optimal performance.
Learn Your Chords & Scales
Learn as many different chords and variations of the same chord that you can and practice your scales. This will give you a well rounded familiarity with the frets on the guitar and it will build up strength in your fingers and hands.
I hope this article has helped with your acoustic guitar learning. Keep a positive attitude and practice! Before you know you will be playing acoustic guitar like a pro. I wish you well. God Bless.
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