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Learner guitars - help

FoolishMortal

Contributor
I am a bass guy but those are 3 beauties! Amazing shape.

My guitar (not bass) pride and joy is my 1939 Gibson EH-150 Amp.👍

sorry for the derail, OP!
Maybe we need a bass thread? I have been learning since last June with a Schecter Stealth (present from SWMBO) and an A/E Dean AXS (present from her parents). Since COVID hit, work has sucked up all my time, so practicing is, unfortunately, too rare.

Good luck, @Toothpick !
 

syngent

Moderator
Leaning guitar is hard. Acoustics are even harder. I you wan to play electric, just get an electric. Also I didn't read all pages so I may be way behind
 

Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
Moderator
Leaning guitar is hard. Acoustics are even harder. I you wan to play electric, just get an electric. Also I didn't read all pages so I may be way behind
I think eventually I’ll want to play both. But for now I don’t want to deal with an amp. I know folks here have said you can play an electric unplugged but I doubt it sounds the same or as good as an Acoustic. So I’d rather start with the acoustic that sounds good and no amp worries.
 

syngent

Moderator
I think eventually I’ll want to play both. But for now I don’t want to deal with an amp. I know folks here have said you can play an electric unplugged but I doubt it sounds the same or as good as an Acoustic. So I’d rather start with the acoustic that sounds good and no amp worries.
I bet you rock Mary had a little lamb.
 
It’s a Martin D-18 Authentic 1937. I’m more of a mahogany guy. I also have an OM-28V, not pictured. I am a bit of a guitar nut.

In case anyone’s curious, the one on the far right in the picture is a 1946 J-45.

You have some awesome guitars there
 

Owen Bawn

"Ask me about a fluffernutter"
I still have my first guitar- a Yamaha parlor guitar from 1970. I think it might be an FG-75. I forget the model #. I think it cost $80 new. I'm an old trad folkie at heart. I've always thought I'd someday get a Martin 0-18 or perhaps something even smaller, but I never have. In fact, my only guitar is the exact opposite of a parlor guitar. It's a big early 70s Guild F-50R. Big, rich sound. Much more Nashville than Galway.

I had a Madeira in the 70s as well. As cheap as a Yamaha but an incredible guitar. I gave it to a girl around 1978. I Don't regret giving it to her, but I wish I still had it. It was a terrific guitar.
 
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I still have my first guitar- a Yamaha parlor guitar from 1970. I think it might be an FG-75. I forget the model #. I think it cost $80 new. I'm an old trad folkie at heart. I've always thought I'd someday get a Martin 0-18 or perhaps something even smaller, but I never have. In fact, my only guitar is the exact opposite of a parlor guitar. It's a big early 70s Guild F-50R. Big, rich sound. Much more Nashville than Galway.

I had a Madeira in the 70s as well. As cheap as a Yamaha but an incredible guitar. I gave it to a girl around 1978. I Don't regret giving it to her, but I wish I still had it. It was a terrific guitar.
I've always had a thing for parlor guitars. I transitioned to them from nylon string classical guitars. Right now I have a Washburn R318 parlor guitar that's numbered #40 out of only 250 made in the world. It's beautiful and it sounds great, but I'd love to own an antique Martin parlor guitar.
 
Maybe we need a bass thread? I have been learning since last June with a Schecter Stealth (present from SWMBO) and an A/E Dean AXS (present from her parents). Since COVID hit, work has sucked up all my time, so practicing is, unfortunately, too rare.

Good luck, @Toothpick !
We do need a bass thread!

My bass habit makes shaving gear look like chump change. I flew to New York just to pick the body and neck woods for my last bass. It cost more than my car. 🤪

I gigged almost every week before COVID. Now my fingertips are as soft as a baby’s butt. I really should practice more.
 

Owen Bawn

"Ask me about a fluffernutter"
I've always had a thing for parlor guitars. I transitioned to them from nylon string classical guitars. Right now I have a Washburn R318 parlor guitar that's numbered #40 out of only 250 made in the world. It's beautiful and it sounds great, but I'd love to own an antique Martin parlor guitar.
Ian Anderson may be the only somewhat well known artist who plays a parlor guitar. He's lent his name to both Martin and Manson (seen here) models. Each sells for around 3 grand. Little guitar, big sound.

 
Another guitar nerd here, it's my main hobby/obsession.

I've done bits and pieces of teaching over the years and my recommendations for a new guitar would be to answer these questions first.

1) What kind of music do you like the most?
If someone is a folk singer, bluegrass fan, metalhead and so on your choice of guitar will be different. I'd never recommend a Metallica fan to get a classical guitar. Even for an acoustic guitar, there are different ways of playing eg using a pick or fingerstyle that might have an impact on your final choice.

2) How tall are you?
Following on from Q1, not quite as important but if one is looking to buy a new guitar and they are 5 foot 1 aspiring folk singer looking for an acoustic guitar, a 17" Gibson Super Jumbo might not be the most ergonomic instrument, a 'parlor' guitar might be a better choice.

3) How big are your hands
Some guitars have thin necks, others baseball necks. It is important to find a guitar neck that fits your hands, there's no such thing as a one size fits all.

4) Are there any good guitar shops nearby?
Try a few different body sizes, different brands and so on to find one which suits you the most

5) Once you've bought your instrument, factor in a little for a set up (Find a good tech)
Seriously, I've been playing for almost 25 years and it's taken me this long to work out how important a good set up is. A good tech will adjust the relief, string height at bridge/nut, your favourite strings (go a little lighter if you are a beginner)

Ok, there are a lot of questions all at once which could be overwhelming but I'm sure many here will be able to guide the buyer through the aspects.

Good luck with your choice @Toothpick
 

Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
Moderator
There is a Guitar Center not to far from me. I’ll go there and check things out and get everything I need
 
The height of the strings above the fretboard - the "action" - is really important. Too high and the guitar will be hard to play, especially higher up the neck.

To understand what's going on think about the geometry. The strings vibrate in a kind of ellipse suspended at each end by the nut and the bridge. Let's call that the string envelope. The biggest deflection is around the 12th fret, bang in the middle of the string.

So, for the perfect low action, you want the nut to be at exactly the right height above the fretboard at one end and the bridge to be at exactly the right height at the other end: the lowest you can get without the strings hitting the frets.

Also, you want just the right amount of shallow curve in the fretboard to match the curve of the string envelope. The shape of the neck is adjusted using the truss rod. But only if you know what you're doing ;)

A full setup might involve a fret level to get the frets perfectly flat, a truss rod adjustment to set the right curve in the neck, a new nut, and a new bridge. Even expensive guitars often come out the factory in bad condition.

It's hard to justify the cost of a full setup for a basic guitar but the good news is you can often make a big improvement just by lowering the bridge. Get a couple of bridge blanks (keep the original intact!) and file away. They're cheap so it's easy to experiment.

Try to keep the base of a new bridge absolutely, perfectly flat. The bridge transmits string vibrations into the top and the top is where the magic happens.

A huge part of the art of acoustic guitar making is the challenge of making a very light but also strong top with vibration modes which create a good tone. The stiffest and lightest woods like quality sitka spruce are used for this.

As for playing the thing... it'll take a few weeks for your finger pads to toughen up. You just have to get through that.

Progress tends to come in fits and starts. You might be practicing every day for a couple of months or more and nothing seems to be happening. You feel like you're not getting anywhere. But you will. The best advice for anyone learning a musical instrument is to stick with it and just don't give up.

That's all it takes. Anyone can do it. A musician is just someone who didn't give up.

Fine motor skills develop slowly as your brain gradually rewires itself. You can speed the process along a little by practicing for longer each day, if you've got the time, but whatever you do practice *every* day.

Concentrating intensely on what you're doing, but in a relaxed kind of way, is important if you want to make that baby sing. Don't tense up just listen closely to the instrument and feel how it responds.

For a while I made a living playing flute, lots of classical music & Mozart. Some of it was really hard. It really pushes your limits. But on a good day, when you're in the zone, time seems to slow down and you're not playing an instrument any more: you're just... singing.

All anyone has to do to get there is don't give up.
 
The height of the strings above the fretboard - the "action" - is really important. Too high and the guitar will be hard to play, especially higher up the neck.

To understand what's going on think about the geometry. The strings vibrate in a kind of ellipse suspended at each end by the nut and the bridge. Let's call that the string envelope. The biggest deflection is around the 12th fret, bang in the middle of the string.

So, for the perfect low action, you want the nut to be at exactly the right height above the fretboard at one end and the bridge to be at exactly the right height at the other end: the lowest you can get without the strings hitting the frets.

Also, you want just the right amount of shallow curve in the fretboard to match the curve of the string envelope. The shape of the neck is adjusted using the truss rod. But only if you know what you're doing ;)

A full setup might involve a fret level to get the frets perfectly flat, a truss rod adjustment to set the right curve in the neck, a new nut, and a new bridge. Even expensive guitars often come out the factory in bad condition.

It's hard to justify the cost of a full setup for a basic guitar but the good news is you can often make a big improvement just by lowering the bridge. Get a couple of bridge blanks (keep the original intact!) and file away. They're cheap so it's easy to experiment.

Try to keep the base of a new bridge absolutely, perfectly flat. The bridge transmits string vibrations into the top and the top is where the magic happens.

A huge part of the art of acoustic guitar making is the challenge of making a very light but also strong top with vibration modes which create a good tone. The stiffest and lightest woods like quality sitka spruce are used for this.

As for playing the thing... it'll take a few weeks for your finger pads to toughen up. You just have to get through that.

Progress tends to come in fits and starts. You might be practicing every day for a couple of months or more and nothing seems to be happening. You feel like you're not getting anywhere. But you will. The best advice for anyone learning a musical instrument is to stick with it and just don't give up.

That's all it takes. Anyone can do it. A musician is just someone who didn't give up.

Fine motor skills develop slowly as your brain gradually rewires itself. You can speed the process along a little by practicing for longer each day, if you've got the time, but whatever you do practice *every* day.

Concentrating intensely on what you're doing, but in a relaxed kind of way, is important if you want to make that baby sing. Don't tense up just listen closely to the instrument and feel how it responds.

For a while I made a living playing flute, lots of classical music & Mozart. Some of it was really hard. It really pushes your limits. But on a good day, when you're in the zone, time seems to slow down and you're not playing an instrument any more: you're just... singing.

All anyone has to do to get there is don't give up.
Bravo @McBlade what an exceptional post, I post on some guitar forums and your post above would excel there as well as it has done here. There's nothing I could add to it aside from noting it's excellence, thanks for posting it.
 
Another great one that I didn't see mentioned: Gretsch Jim Dandy! I think for a beginner it'd be terrific. I've had one for a few years now and it's my take all over the place guitar. With the right strings it actually sounds pretty decent.

Here's mine:

 
If you want to try electric without bugging anyone, a headphone amp is a nice way to go. I’m learning now as well, and this is nice not to torture folks in earshot.




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