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I'm a very new student to the guitar. I'm interested in pretty much the whole spectrum of acoustic. I was wondering, should I learn and practice exclusively on my steel string regular acoustic exclusively or invest in a classical too at this early stage? I'm really interested in both, so should I stick with one for now until I reach a decent level, and then pick up the other or go for both now in the hope that they may compliment each other?

  • By my reckoning, this is the 1000th question regarding guitars. Surely note-worthy? – Tim Feb 5 '15 at 11:16
5

I'd say start now with both of them. It takes a long time to get good at an instrument and there are people that after they spend so much time on an instrument, they don't want to spend so much time again on another one.

If you practice both of them, it would take you more time to become good, but you'll be good at two types of guitar rather than one.

This is just my opinion, what I did on bass. I started playing electric bass and some months later I started playing double bass.

3

Clearly this is in the realm of opinion.

The following differences exist:

  • The strings, are farther apart on the classical, and closer together on the steel string. This means that the the finger placement will have to follow a slightly different accuracy. I do not know how I negotiate this difference myself, but I do. Probably best to jump in and do both from the start to get used to this (Opinion warning).
  • The steel string guitar has a radius to the neck (the fret board is not flat but curved). This makes the steel string more comfortable. (oops kind of an opinion there.)
  • The steel string requires more pressure to properly depress the strings to the fret board. This means that when you play the classical you are probably over doing it, but perhaps it could help lower your pressure on the steel string. (Many of us over do it. (Not an opinion in my opinion.))
  • The position and size of the guitar are dramatically different. Classical guitarists have a very specific way that they hold the guitar. I suspect that this is a good thing (the switching between the two guitars that is). The varying positions are probably better for your back than any one position. (Tangent: There is something to be learned from the classical position, as it can be better for your hands.) Standing with a steel string may be good for your back. There is a benefit to the classical guitar technique of raising one leg, but it is offset by setting an imbalance to your backs position (only one leg). Switching and playing steel string and raising the other leg with the same stool could help balance this issue. (lots of opinion here, with some basis in fact based on observing physical therapy practices.) Just don't slouch, like my grand mother always told my sister whose back never suffered from her youthful indiscretions.
  • The sound is different (no deterrent there.)

I vote you go ahead and play both now rather than waiting for some magic day when you graduate from one to the other. I have known too many people that wait for a day that never comes to do something that they want to do based on some small limitation that they perceive as insurmountable.

  • I had a classical teacher that was viscerally offended that I played other guitars besides the classical. He thought it would spoil my technique. – amalgamate Jan 30 '15 at 18:34
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I say choose the instrument you're most comfortable with. Do you like to play classical pieces or is it really about singer/songwriter stuff that you want to play? Personally I really like to listen to the latter but I prefer playing classical/flamenco stuff that is played on a nylon instrument. In addition I occasionally try to write non-classical finger-picking pieces but my head just turns it into some weird baroque thingy that no one can sing to :-). So I suggest using the instrument that suits the music you want to play!

Happy shredding g

  • I want to play them both! I have a steel string acoustic. I think I'll invest in the classical too and see how I get on. I would have thought that they may be mutually beneficial as at this stage...thanks for your replies! – user1600386 Jan 30 '15 at 16:37
  • I see, my recommendation would be to take your first steps with the classical guitar. Like one of the other posts stated the neck is wider and it's essentially a little bit harder to play at first because you need to build strength in your fingers. I found that the brain is very good at adapting to the easier to play instrument. However you have to take a closer look at the applied pressure (on both instruments). At first it's hard to find the right balance but it will work out. Just be sure not to overdo practicing too long per session - that's frequently the source of frustration and fatigue – mfeineis Jan 31 '15 at 20:49
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Hang both of them on the wall. Really. Like they do in the music stores. You will begin to pick one up for one thing, and the other for another thing. This way your style may lead you to be more proficient on one, or favor one, or both. Your decision will come from experience, instead of limiting your experience with a decision now.
I have six guitars on the various walls at home. Having them handy makes it easy to play and practice regularly. I used to have my Martin in a case, as it was the most expensive of my guitars. Not anymore. It hangs on the wall with the rest; I was unintentionally denying myself the joy of playing my favorite guitar because I wanted to protect it. From what, I wonder now.

  • I think he was asking if he should buy one, not that he already had one and is asking how to play and where to put them. – Jacob Swanson Jul 2 '15 at 0:27

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