So you decided to learn guitar. That’s fantastic, congratulations! Now the next question is: should I start with an acoustic or electric guitar? Here are a few things to consider that will help you in making an educated decision.
Ask ten people and you will likely get ten different answers. Even among guitar teachers this question is subject to an ongoing and likely never-ending debate. So don’t get confused if people give you contradicting opinions. In the following I will explain to you why I believe that it makes more sense to start with an acoustic guitar vs. learning on an electric guitar.
Should I Learn Acoustic Or Electric Guitar First
Nylon Strings Hurt Less
It’s true, as a guitar beginner, it doesn’t matter whether you learn electric or acoustic guitar – you will inevitably experience a certain level of pain on your fingertips. However, the fact remains that starting out on an acoustic guitar with nylon strings – those guitars are called classical guitars – your fingers are simply not going to hurt as much as they would do when playing a guitar that has steel strings. As a guitar starter it will take some time for you to develop calluses. Your wrist, the joints in your fingers need some adjustment, too. But undoubtedly, the most pain you will have in your fingertips. Therefore, I do feel that it makes more sense to start with a classical guitar.
Classical Guitars Don’t Mask Mistakes
Starting on an electric guitar can be tempting. After all you can crank up your amp, add some gain or distortion and the fun can begin. Even if you just play a few beginner guitar chords, with the right amount of volume and fuzz you’re playing will sound great. The problem is that this can be very deceptive because a guitar played over an amp will mask – at least to some extent – playing errors and little inaccuracies. For a guitar beginner though, it is very important to identify these things so corrective action can be taken. And that works much better if you learn to start playing on an acoustic versus an amplified electric guitar.
Making Switching Guitars Easy
It is much easier to learn on an classical guitar and then switch to an electric guitar vs. the other way around. The on a classical guitar is wider compared to a western or electric guitar. While the nylon strings will hurt your fingertips less, you will be required to stretch your fingers a little bit more on a classical guitar. However, when you’re ready to pick up an electric guitar later on, you will likely find the transition relatively easy because the neck is slimmer and the frets are closer to each other. Doing it the other way around, though, is much harder.
Borrow First, Buy Later
As I recommend in my Free Beginners Guitar Course, if you don’t have a guitar yet and ask yourself should I get an electric or acoustic guitar, my advice is to ask around within your family and among your friends if anyone has a guitar you can borrow. Very likely you will find someone who has a guitar just sitting around. Ideally, it’s a classical guitar but if not, well, there’s nothing wrong with at least getting you started on the process with whatever guitar that may be. At least that way you didn’t spend any money. Later on, you then may decide just to get your own guitar but at that point you will likely have a better vision for yourself what type of guitar want to get. The only thing I want you to caution on is that you make sure that whatever guitar you borrow or buy, make sure it’s a decent instrument and not a just a toy.
Okay, that’s it. These four aspects are usually part of my response when people ask me whether it’s better to learn guitar on acoustic or electric. I will admit that this is merely my opinion and not everybody agrees. But at least from what I’ve seen over the past 25 years, students have better success when they start on a classical guitar and then later on upgrade to a guitar with steel strings.