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Thread: learning on an acoustic vs an electric

  1. #1
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    learning on an acoustic vs an electric

    it seems to me that if i can play the song on an acoustic then i can easily play it on my electric. however constantly practicing on the acoustic prevents me from experimenting with different lead techniques

    what style of a guitar did you badass guitar players learn on?

  2. #2
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    If i may reply ..

    i learned on an electric guitar and got into accoustic playing years later and it worked out fine.
    Of course someone who learned fingerstyle or real classical style is much better at playing accoustic than me, but i always learned the thing that fit my needs, so i can do what i want on an accoustic and that is enough for me.

    What i experienced over the years and with different students when they come from learning on an accoustic is that they have to re-learn a big part of technique, left and right hand.

    Problem with the left hand is mostly that they get too much string noise because they didn't get into muting technique that much cause it isn't that necessary on an accoustic compared to an electric guitar.

    Problem with the right hand is the lack of dynamic control and movement effeciency.

    So, either way it is re-learning certain techniques to adjust them to the circumstances.

    It is like learning to drive a car and learning to drive a motorbike.

    You steer and accelerate and use the brakes, but to do it correctly in both vehicles you have to know the "special moves".


    Parents most of the time came up to me and asking if it should be better to learn on an accoustic.
    My answer was no. If your kid want's to play electric let it play electric. If he/her likes accoustics better get an accoustic.


  3. #3
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom
    Parents most of the time came up to me and asking if it should be better to learn on an accoustic.
    My answer was no. If your kid want's to play electric let it play electric. If he/her likes accoustics better get an accoustic.

    EXACTLY. Thats one of those "myths" in my opinion (Hey Sven, how about we set up our own TV show.. "Guitar Mythbusters"... trying to find out the truth about myths like "A beginner HAS to start on a nylonstring before he can switch to electric", "Theres a definite best way to pick fast", or stuff like the superglue-story about SRV?)
    I usually tell parents that sure, each has its own advantages, but if you have a kid that desperately wants to learn how to play Metallica-songs or something like that, it might be discouraging to try that on a nylon-string.
    I never believed in the "you need to learn on acoustic before you go electric"

    I always kept switching, depending on my mood or whatever I wanted to work on. Even practiced picking on the acoustic a lot, which has its merits. But just like Sven pointed out, both possibilites have their advantages and their disadvantages.
    Eric

  4. #4
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    I've heard opinions from both sides defending the virtue of both. My thoughts are similar to Phantoms about it being a different beast, especially to a beginner, and the students intended use should be the deciding vote. I feel most people go for the acoustic if it's the parents choice mostly due to the fact that you dont need an amp but also because I think they secretly want to strum their favourite songs at the campfire and relive glory days Maybe not heh heh. It's actually good to see those started kits with all the accesories being sold as more players will go electric.

    My concern about learning on an acoustic is this; most acoustics have really NASTY action and you can forget about playing anything above the 9th fret because it's 1" off the fretboard. AND the neck is usually fatter AND it's strung with 12s(usually. I think this is a great recipe to teach students to have a grip of death on the strings and have great difficulty later on trying to relax the hand. Since when do beginners use 12s anyway? I'm starting to rant now so I'll leave it to that.

  5. #5
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    I agree that if a beginner wants to play electric they should start on an electric. I went through this dilemma about 30 years ago, and the suggestion was to go with an acoustic. I insisted that I was much more interested in an electric, and the guys at the music store and my parents didn't really protest. So I came home with a Tele copy and a crummy little practice amp and never looked back.

    As mentioned above, acoustics (especially cheap acoustics) have a high, stiff action that not only promote "death grip", but create very sore fingertips. Sore fingers do not make for a motivated beginner. As for fret access, the acoustic body/neck joint is usually at the 12th or 14th fret, so any playing above the 10th fret is an adventure. One last thing; do yourself a favor and have your new guitar properly set up so it plays in tune and doesn't buzz like a hornet's nest.

  6. #6
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    well, i am not exactly a beginner, but im pretty sure that most on this forum could put me to shame. i have a really slack boring job and i bring my acoustic guitar to work every night, i cant really bring the electric because then id have to carry an amp and that would just be pushing the limits. luckily when i bought an acoustic i bought a decent one (taylor 110-e) and the action isnt too high, but what ken parker said about learning on thick strings is true, it is very difficult to do vibrato compared to my electric guitar and my callouses just now built up enough to withstand more than an hour of playing on the acoustic.

    generally though i have been playing both guitars about evenly

  7. #7
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    If I play an acoustic for even 15 minutes it can take me days to get my light feel back on electric. I've battled really bad tension habits for the last couple years that were set in over a 20 year period. Maybe in another year or so I'll try to play an acoustic again but with an aproach that won't bring back the "death grip". No problem playing nylon though as the tension is much lower and I play a Nylon Fly so it's just a treat to play.

  8. #8
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    I currently have two guitars I use regularly. One is a cheap headless piece of s*** with a high action and bad intonation haha, and the other is a Les Paul Custom. Basically I have the headless guitar handy at all times so I can easily grab it while watching tv or whatever, and it encourages me to play more. Obviously the bad action is harder to play on, but it's manageable.

    The treat comes when I pull out the Custom at weekends mostly. Apart from the tone, compared to the headless the Custom is literally like playing butter, and I can reach higher speeds comfortably.

    It's just an alternative method I guess.... practice on a toughie and stretch yourself, so when you pick up a nice instrument you can really glide on it

    Playing on different guitars is a good idea anyway imho. You can get bored with one guitar. I use an acoustic sometimes too.

  9. #9
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman
    I currently have two guitars I use regularly. One is a cheap headless piece of s*** with a high action and bad intonation haha, and the other is a Les Paul Custom. Basically I have the headless guitar handy at all times so I can easily grab it while watching tv or whatever, and it encourages me to play more. Obviously the bad action is harder to play on, but it's manageable.
    I keep an acoustic travel guitar always at the ready for the same reasons. To be honest I play the cheap guitar more often than anything else since the more expensive guitars shouldn't really be left out of their cases due to the potential for damage.

    While there are no doubt differences in technique . . a fretboard is a fretboard . . since the majority of my practice is related to working in various keys, chord voicings, arpeggios and scale fingerings - I don't see how the work on the acoustic could possibly be hurting my electric chops.

    But to each his own I guess.

  10. #10
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    Not sure if I should post here, not being a "badassed guitar player" and all that, but I'll give it a shot, for what it's worth.

    I recall my first actual guitar playing happened on an electric. That was because most of the music I liked at that time was electric. I do remember occasionaly bumming because there was a song or two that didn't translate well to electric. So I got an acoustic, too. Problem solved. I ended up playing an electric on music that demanded an electric, and acoustic on music which demanded an acoustic.

    I supose I "learned" on both. Technique is different for each. This was back before every guitar player was armed with scales, modes, tab, and the internet. We learned songs and riffs back then instead of scales. Thus, we learned on both, really. We learned techniques rather than scales. Those of us who knew anything about music theory probably played some instrument in the school band, if you get my point.

    I suggest learning on either, depending on the music you like and want to play. No sense learning 4nps alternate picking on a heavily distorted electric if all you ever want to play is delta blues. The music is the thing. The guitar is what you chose to produce it. Choose based on what you like.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  11. #11
    Registered User makeshiftmayhem's Avatar
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    I have to say that many here have made some good points. My experience with playing guitar has been brief. I have to say that I purchased a cheap electric just to see if I would stick with it. I can't tell you how many postings I see on Craigslist of people who started and never really get started. I did not want to be that person. So I played on an acoustic first and it had horrible action and cheap strings that did not sound very good.

    Since it was cheap I decided to put new strings on it and also filed down the bridge on it so the action was much better. This made the playing easier but as was said before there were some pretty stiff strings on there. I think it was good to build the coordination and finger strength on the acoustic and have been playing my electric guitars now for a few months.

    Personally I feel that the time I invested into the acoustic has made my electric playing easier, but they are both different and have their place. I would not say one way is any better than the other just different.....

    Thanks,

    MM

  12. #12
    Registered User Obivion's Avatar
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    I started on acoustic, strung with 11s (I think) and it was useful to get the basic techniques down, but the frets were screwed above the 15th fret so I never got round to learning many solos... Then when I got my electric, I started to get into more solos and it's a lot easier to play although I think some things are better to learn on an electric and some on acoustic:

    Electric Techniques:
    Sweep picking (you can't check the muting on an acoustic)
    Vibrato (as someone said, 12s are so hard to use for this)

    Acoustic Techniques:
    Finger Picking (it just feels better on an acoustic, I don't know why)

    Any other thoughts?
    No one sings the blues quite like Yngwie!

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