It’s the age-old question for most any beginner guitarist – should I be learning on an acoustic, electric or classical guitar?
Thankfully, the answer may be easier to find than you first thought.
When deciding on a beginner guitar (see this comparison guide to beginner guitars), there are a few questions that you should ask yourself to determine whether you will find learning easier on an acoustic, electric or classical guitar.
There are benefits unique to each type of guitar but there is one key question I’ll share at the end that trumps all benefits/costs analysis. Answer that question and you’ll know exactly what to get.
Benefits of Learning on Acoustic Guitar
An acoustic guitar was one of the first that I owned as a kid and it’s what I practiced on for the first few years of learning.
What most people love about the acoustic guitar, especially as compared to the electric, is that there is no need to plug into any sort of sound system. The body of the guitar is its sound system so you can bring it where ever you go and will have no problem playing!
As compared to a classical guitar, the neck of an acoustic guitar is smaller and easier to play.
Acoustic guitar strings are an excellent way to build up your finger calluses, which in turn will allow you to confidently play almost any guitar that is put into your hands. If you’re patient to work through buzzing issues, this can be a huge benefit for you as a player.
Finally, an acoustic guitar has a sophisticated, natural beauty that most electric guitars don’t have. Personally, this is one thing I love about my acoustic guitar as I’m not a very flashy type of person.
Benefits of Learning on Electric Guitar
An electric guitar is almost a completely different instrument when compared to the acoustic guitar for learners.
Most young students love that the electric guitar is not just the modern style but also the ease of playing. The strings aren’t that hard to press down (although not as easy as the classical guitar) which means you’ll probably be playing chords with less effort than you would an acoustic guitar.
For parents, spouses or other co-habitants, an electric guitar is great because it is silent – or at least it can be. Don’t forget, you can also use headphones to keep the sound at a minimum for others nearby.
There are some guitars, like the Epiphone Les Paul PRO, where you can plug headphones directly into the guitar. Not a bad option, but you’ll be paying a bit more for it.
Finally, electric guitars are great for younger learners just because of their size. They are not quite as bulky as an acoustic or classical guitar. Therefore, youth can comfortably hold and play them in their lap.
Benefits of Learning on Classical Guitar
Last but not least, the classical guitar. It’s the least popular option even though it shouldn’t be. Two years into learning guitar I was given a classical guitar and I credit much of my technical skills to having practiced on this guitar.
Classical guitars are great to help people of any age learn correct finger and hand techniques. The neck of a classical is so thick that you pretty much have to be meticulous with technique.
Classical guitars also don’t need to be plugged into a sound system to produce great sound. And, most traditional classical guitars don’t even come with that option. There are a few exceptions to that rule, however, such as this classical guitar and this one.
Finally, classical guitars usually have nylon strings. These are easier on the fingers and much easier for a beginner guitarist to learn on.
The Key Question (Important!)
So, as you consider the advantages of each guitar, you should be asking yourself some questions. Such as whether you want to be tethered to an expensive amplifier or sound system or if your fingers already have calluses.
But the most-important question you need to ask yourself when choosing between an acoustic, electric or classical guitar is this:
Which type of guitar is going to inspire me to practice?
The answer to this question is all you need to know. The rest is just to keep you informed about what to expect when you do choose.