#1
I have played wind instruments for over 50 years and started to study the guitar 6 months ago....specifically, electric guitar. Recently I purchased an acoustic because the sound is so much richer but I am having great difficulty playing it and it has caught me off guard....specifically, the finger strength required to play acoustic seems to be 2X or even 3x what is needed for an electric. In fact, I am finding my fingers sore and fatigued similarly to how it was on the electric at the beginning. I did use light strings on the acoustic. So My question is....

Is the normal? He'll, even my forearm is fatigued trying to apply finger pressure to the fretboard.

Thank you, in advance for your comments.
Last edited by Elgrecomac at Jul 20, 2014,
#2
wow ! what brand/model guitar are you working with ? it definitely wouldn't hurt to have your acoustic looked at at a good local shop to see if any adjustments can be made to make playing it much easier and more enjoyable.
most of us have here have discovered that most lower end acoustic play like crap. the action of the strings is usually very high and difficult to push down. the sound is usually kinda boxy and lacking sustain. the notes usually decay very very quickly.
sadly, most new players don't want to spend much on a guitar to learn on. and sadly most lower end guitars are so unplayable, it makes most give up after a short amount of time.
there are a few lower priced gems out there but they are few and far between. Yamaha's FG700S, Seagull's S6 are the most popular. but usually, the playable guitars start around the $500 mark...usually( here's where all the forumites claim that their $125 Luna/Ibanez/Dean was a miracle of wood and doesn't fall into the junk guitar category).
it is amazing what a difference a better guitar makes.
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
#3
As stepchild says. It's a problem with the industry to some degree. Knowldegable, experienced guitarists know how they like a guitar "set up" for action and playability, and they will have it done by a technician or do it themselves.
But beginners often do not even know what a "set up" is, or have never heard of the term. (I didn't...)
So they take that entry-level guitar from the show, get a simple book or tune in to an instructional channel, and have at it.... With painful results.

The industry is in the position that the profit margin on entry-level instruments is razor thin to begin with, and these adjustments are done by hand and take time.... Expensive time.
So... They ship the instruments with an action that's rather high... Knowing that it's much easier to lower things than to raise them.
They know that most players will have the instrument adjusted to suit. But again, beginners don't know this and they suffer unduly.

Now things appear to be getting better; I've handled several off the shelf instruments in recent years that were quite playable. Could use a little improvement... But not finger-breakers.

So... Your fingers WILL get tougher... But in the interim get a tech to look at the guitar. Won't cost that much and your fingers will thank you.
#4
You know, I suspected that it might have to do with the quality of the guitar as I spent $300. And now even the setup is brought into question. I will take the guitar to a local shop and have them take a look at it.

It is difficult to bring yourself to spend a large amount of money on a instrument you are just learning to play, partly, because the first year or so is the time when you decide if it is something you wish to continue with or not and to go out and drop several hundreds of dollars on something you may end up selling, perhaps at a loss, just a few month later makes the purchase a difficult one.

Fortunately my electric is of decent quality and I enjoy practicing with 1 to 2 hours a day. But I am enamored with the sound of an acoustic so I'll probably end up buying one of better quality and may end up selling the original one if it's not a setup issue.


Thank you everyone.
#5
Quote by stepchildusmc
wow ! what brand/model guitar are you working with ? it definitely wouldn't hurt to have your acoustic looked at at a good local shop to see if any adjustments can be made to make playing it much easier and more enjoyable.
most of us have here have discovered that most lower end acoustic play like crap. the action of the strings is usually very high and difficult to push down. the sound is usually kinda boxy and lacking sustain. the notes usually decay very very quickly.
sadly, most new players don't want to spend much on a guitar to learn on. and sadly most lower end guitars are so unplayable, it makes most give up after a short amount of time.
there are a few lower priced gems out there but they are few and far between. Yamaha's FG700S, Seagull's S6 are the most popular. but usually, the playable guitars start around the $500 mark...usually( here's where all the forumites claim that their $125 Luna/Ibanez/Dean was a miracle of wood and doesn't fall into the junk guitar category).
it is amazing what a difference a better guitar makes.


You might not get a $125 Luna/Dean or Ibanez to sound like a $500+ guitar to the discriminating ear but with a little bit of know how, you can set it up to play reasonably well. A cheap acoustic can still be a good guitar to learn on if the action is set up right.
#6
Quote by Elgrecomac
You know, I suspected that it might have to do with the quality of the guitar as I spent $300. And now even the setup is brought into question. .
Dude, the setup is always brought into question! Even when there is a lot more money involved than that which you've spent. The primary thing that is of concern is how the neck is set. Which is to say, the neck should have a very, very slight negative angle, with the fret board falling away toward the bottom of the guitar. If the guitar has a "high neck", level to, or rising slightly from the sound board, you'll never get it right.

Mercifully, these days, that doesn't seem to be the case as often as it once was, with Asian made instruments.

A quick way to verify what's up, (pun intended), with the neck, is to check how much of the white saddle is showing above the bridge, versus how far above the fret board the strings are sitting. With a bit of experience you can interpolate that information on the fly, sighting down the neck, observing the string height, and determining how much the saddle needs to be sanded down. A quick way to tell, is simply push down the low E-6 string at about the 14th fret, until the action is where you'd like it to be. That distance would need to be removed from the saddle. If there's enough saddle left, you're good to go. If not, move on and check the next guitar.

As far as price goes, do you like the way the guitar sounds? No one can develop their taste for sound character having owned a single guitar. Plus you're "tone" won't be all that it can be, until you're able to fret notes fully, and get entire chords to sound all the notes in them.

Playing the acoustic is always going to be more difficult than playing an electric. The strings have more tension in them. You'll get used to it. The setup of an acoustic is going to change a bit from season to season. Whereas, you can set your electric on a stand all year, and most of the solid body guitars won't budge.

So, here's a good setup guide: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html

Give it a good read through or three, before you panic or sink into despair....


Quote by Elgrecomac
It is difficult to bring yourself to spend a large amount of money on a instrument you are just learning to play, partly, because the first year or so is the time when you decide if it is something you wish to continue with or not and to go out and drop several hundreds of dollars on something you may end up selling, perhaps at a loss, just a few month later makes the purchase a difficult one.
Face it, for 99.99% of the guitars in existence, the sale is always going to result in a loss.

Besides, everybody's financial situation is different. Poor left handed folks like myself have to make compromises on price, yet can still get a lot of satisfaction out of their reduced choices.

You can buy a Gibson J-200 any where from $3,000.00 to $21,000. I doubt the high end issue sounds 7 times as good, but you do get to brag a ton for owning it.

Quote by Elgrecomac
I have played wind instruments for over 50 years and started to study the guitar 6 months ago....specifically, electric guitar. Recently I purchased an acoustic because the sound is so much richer but I am having great difficulty playing it and it has caught me off guard....specifically, the finger strength required to play acoustic seems to be 2X or even 3x what is needed for an electric. In fact, I am finding my fingers sore and fatigued similarly to how it was on the electric at the beginning. I did use light strings on the acoustic. So My question is....

Is the normal? He'll, even my forearm is fatigued trying to apply finger pressure to the fretboard.

Thank you, in advance for your comments.
Well, the fact that you have, "played wind instruments for over 50 years", tells me that you are not a teenager. Not being a teenager, means it's going to take a long time to build up muscle tissue. So fatigue is normal. It's part of the aging process. Believe me, I'm speaking from experience.

Playing the guitar requires a person to use muscles in "abnormal", or perhaps, "unusual" planes of motion. With that said, in a lot of ways, you're starting from scratch when doing this type of "exercise".

Look on the bright side, playing guitar is more difficult than playing the piano, but quite a bit easier than playing the violin.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jul 20, 2014,