I am a beginning guitar player. I enjoyed playing in my childhood, but for some reason I was not able to learn.

But now I want to learn guitar. I wasn't sure whether to buy an electric guitar or a classic guitar to start with. I'm currently teaching myself by referring to this guide.

I've heard that electric guitar is better to start with for now rather than starting with a classical guitar because it's very difficult to learn for new people. Is this correct? What are some of the main things I need to focus on when learning guitar?

Is it a good idea to start off teaching myself or should I take classes? I've heard that it might be better to take lessons rather than self-teaching, but I'm not sure.


5 Answers 5


I highly recommend you learn to play on an acoustic guitar, and with an instructor if possible.

Selecting a guitar:

The two major kinds of guitars for your purposes are electric guitars and acoustic guitars.

Acoustic guitars are further divided into two types: Steel-string or "folk" guitars on the one hand, and nylon-string or "classical" guitars on the other hand. Both are good kinds of guitars to learn on. The nylon-string classical guitar requires less strength in your fretting hand, and calluses will take less time to build up. However, if you have smaller hands, the steel-string "folk" guitar will be easier for you to learn, because the fretboard is narrower than on a classical guitar.

One of the hardest parts of learning how to play guitar is building up strength in your fretting hand, the hand you will use to press the strings down to the fretboard (usually the left hand); and also building up calluses on your fingertips. While these take more time on an acoustic guitar than on an electric guitar, I still recommend learning acoustic guitar first for this reason: It's not difficult to learn to play the electric guitar after having originally learned to play on the acoustic guitar, but the reverse is not true. Making the leap from electric to acoustic guitar is more difficult.

Electric guitars introduce additional elements of complexity, including different pickup combinations, and (on some guitars) additional mechanical elements. A simpler instrument will allow you to concentrate on learning chords and notes rather than learning about pickup combinations and amplifier settings. Also, the amplifier on an electric guitar is really a part of the instrument, and guitar amps can be somewhat complex.

Learning on your own versus learning with a teacher or a group:

Learning an instrument on your own can be frustrating, particularly if it's your first instrument. It's certainly possible to learn mostly on your own, particularly if you're very dedicated and patient. Learning any instrument requires patience and, most importantly, practice.

A good teacher will tailor their lessons to address your weaknesses. If you have difficulties in a particular area, an experienced instructor will spend more time in that area. (A good sign of a bad teacher is when they don't do this and rigidly stick to a predetermined lesson plan.) However, this is more expensive than learning on your own or in a group.

Learning on your own offers you the opportunity to go at your own pace, and it can be inexpensive. However, this can be a detriment; knowing that you have a lesson on Tuesday is a good impetus to practice before then!

If you have a friend who plays guitar well, that friend is a great resource if they have the time and are willing to teach you.

If you can't afford lessons for an extended period of time, consider combining the two approaches: Pay for a few lessons to get you started, then learn on your own.


In summary, the best way to learn guitar is with an acoustic instrument that's good enough that you'll like playing it, but within your means. If possible, I suggest learning with a teacher or a group, but there's no correct way to do this. While it may not be as pleasurable or as quick, you can learn on any guitar, and completely on your own. Whatever you do, remember that you need to pus in the time practicing, but playing guitar is supposed to be fun; it won't take long before it is.

  • @Sankar - I've used this as the basis for a longer article, more here if you're interested. Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:56
  • Disagree that electric is harder to learn on. You don't have to fiddle around with the pickups and amp, once you get some sound coming out it's really no different than an acoustic as far as learning your first chords and strumming goes. I also found the lighter-gauge strings made it easier to get good sound, but that might just be me (I have fairly small hands).
    – Anonymous
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 13:51
  • Nothing is an absolute, of course. As the conclusion says, there's no single "right" way to do this, but there are methods that will make it easier in the long run. If you find it easier to learn on an electric, then go for it! Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 16:47

I will awnser differently. Start on the guitar you want to start out with.

For example, if you dream of playing electric guitar, and you are stuck playing an acoustic guitar which does nothing for you, you will abandon your project.

It is better to start on the instrument that will truly motivate you.

  • 1
    There's an additional point: If you live in a place that you can't play a guitar, not even an acoustic, you can learn on an electric with headphones. Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:58
  • 2
    This is so true. When I was a kid, my dad insisted on buying me an expensive acoustic and all I ever really wanted to play was electric. I played for a year or so and got decent as a beginner. Now, 30 years later, I finally have the electric I wanted and am really enjoying playing again. Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 3:11

IMO an electric guitar is not the best to get started with. You will have to learn not just to play the guitar but to handle the electronics in it, and the amplifier. And you'll never know whether something you hear is due to your playing or to the way the amplifier worked what you played. You'll also get into a tendency to hide your mistakes by adding more and more effects on the amplifier (this is how many "popstars" get away with being abysmal musicians). And of course there's the initial cost of getting started, which would include not just a guitar but also an amplifier, cables, etc.

Rather I'd say start with a steel string acoustic guitar. An honest, down to earth, and relatively cheap instrument.

As most beginners want to start on a rather low budget as they're not certain what they want (or if they want to keep it up at all) they end up buying relatively cheap instruments. If from that same low budget you don't also have to buy an amplifier (which will eat up about half that budget) and cables (a good cable can cost you $100+), you're going to end up with a far superior instrument that not only makes you sound better but will be easier to play and last longer before you find yourself running up against the technical limitations of what your instrument can do (and thus will want to invest in a more expensive, higher end, instrument).

To learn to play, having a good teacher at your disposal is a very nice thing to have. If you don't, make sure you get the best instructional material you can get your hands on ("free youtube videos" are NOT good instructional material, even if some of them are good the majority are junk, same with "free instruction websites"). I like the stuff from Legacy Learning Systems (http://www.learnandmaster.com) (no, I get no kickbacks, just a happy customer). Not only is it high quality instruction (with the instructors actively participating in the support forums) but the community is great as well. Sadly I had to cut short my training because of health problems (arthritis like symptoms in my hands) but as far as I got I had a good experience.

  • Not sure where OP lives, but around me the "big box" stores have both electric and acoustic "getting started" kits for about $100. One of my nephews got the acoustic and his brother got the electric and both guitars seemed to be of about equal "quality" (Fender Starcasters). Both had some fret buzz and cheap tuning machines, but overall adequate for beginners.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 14:07
  • I've seen those kits, and consider them wholly inappropriate to start with. In fact I used to have one, and it was so bad it caused me to give up playing for over a decade until I figured out it wasn't me that caused the constant failure but the terribly bad instrument (and that was an Epiphone, so a major brand kit)
    – Anonymous
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 21:10

That is a broad question Sankar. If I were you I'd go have a read of these questions:

And in general, practice first on an acoustic, as you will build up the strength you need to develop speed and accuracy later.


Much good here, but I feel lead to be the contrary voice and champion the electric guitar. Not only for the repertoire reason (learning to play acoustic when you want to play thrash isn't quite right), but the strings are lighter with less tension, and are more conductive to melodic playing.

Yeah, it's a start toward the pedal sickness, but really, worse things than that, right?

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