Monday, April 21, 2014

How to Find the Right Guitar for Your Music Lessons and Musical Taste

By Christine Terrisse

After years of dreaming of strutting across the stage wielding your Fender or custom Taylor over the audience holding them transfixed with your moves, you finally decide to make a go for it and sign up for guitar lessons. But wait, aren’t you missing one important thing? That’s right, you need a guitar. Finding the right guitar can be stressful. Your emotions might want one thing and your budget another. Or, maybe you just want to find a guitar that you  like but one which also suits which genre of music you want to play.

Style and Substance

One of our excellent guitar instructors at Hollywood Academy of Music, Justin, just bought a Gibson Les Paul custom shop 1958 reissue guitar. It is beautiful and a little bit of an investment; worth it if you have been playing for awhile and enjoy playing hard classic rock (think Keith Richards or Slash). He says it’s also good for blues.

“You want to choose the proper guitar for the style of music you are playing because, for example, if you are playing blues music you don’t want to have a nylon string guitar where its very difficult to bend and keep in tune and if you are going to play classical or flamenco music you don’t want to have an electric guitar because you use your nails and you play with your fingers and its much more difficult to do that on an electric guitar…you want to have a guitar that inspires your sound. If you have something that is sounds very jazzy and you’re trying to go for a rock n’ roll sound you won’t be as into it.”

It’s not just the type of music that you are into, but where you are at in your music studies. An    important aspect of buying a guitar is to find one that is physically the right fit for you or your child. If you are a beginning guitar student, our guitar teachers recommend a Squire Stratocaster for electric players.

A 3/4 size nylon-string guitar is a great  for younger players

What if you are a small child starting lessons? A nylon stringed acoustic guitar in a 3/4 size will usually work best as its more suitable to small hands and would be easier for your child to wield. “You want to find a guitar that fits best for you, that’s not too difficult to play.” says Jay, another of our guitar teachers. Having a guitar that’s too big to play, one that is not in tune or with strings that hurt your fingers can be discouraging for young students.

The Fun Part

Once you get the hang of the basics it’s time to think about style. This pertains to what kind of guitar will not only be comfortable for you to play, but one which you will enjoy looking at, holding and playing. One that will make the right sounds for the genre you are working in. For acoustic guitar playing, Martin’s and Taylor’s are more on the high end and have lasting value. A Fender or Takamine is a less pricey while still being of good quality.

Guitar student Lincoln with his instrument of choice - a Fender Telecaster
Lincoln is an adult student here at Hollywood Academy of Music. He has been taking lessons for awhile from Justin and is more advanced. He recently purchased a new guitar at the NAMM convention, the National Association of Music Merchants, a music trade show. Lincoln enjoys keeping aware of trends and was looking for a guitar that could inspire him to play the rockabilly and hard rock styles of music he enjoys. He recommends looking for a guitar that has a weight and size you are comfortable with and do research to see what trends are out there. Maybe you can’t afford the guitar of your dreams now, but there is a similar, more affordable guitar that is just as suited to the genre you are into. He cites McCabe’s music store, an independent music store in Santa Monica as a great place to shop or Guitar Center, which also has a lot of choices and staff who are very well informed.

Regardless of which guitar you end up choosing, the most important thing of all is to play! Keep it visible by using a stand or wall hook. Not only will it look nice in your room but it will be out of the case, ready for you to make music.