#1
Hi all,

Just got into learning the acoustic guitar about 2 - 3 months ago.

Is it necessary to learn theory and scales?

My main goal is just to be able to pick up a TAB and play it fingerstyle.

On the other hand I'm also interested in learning the electric as well.

Should I focus on acoustic before moving onto electric? Will playing both at the same time hinder my progress?

Any help is much appreciated.
#2
I won't say it is necessary or not necessary to learn theory and scales. Rather, I will say it is USEFUL to know at least the basic instead of totally sweeping them under the carpet. More so if you want to learn the finger style guitar. It makes the learning process more effective when you understand music.

As to your Acoustic v electric guitar qn, I don't see why learning both at the same time can hinder your progress. It is even better to learn both as you can place yourself in a broader music spectrum.

Enjoy !
#3
What yayapapaya38 said is very true. Having at least an understanding of the basics in the beginning will certainly help you. If you learn a little about theory and scales now, you'll subconsciously build upon that in this early stage. Keep in mind that the more you understand about theory and scales, the more likely you'll be able to just look at or hear something and be able to pick it up quickly. Of course everyone is different. But there isn't a need to drown yourself in music theory now. Move at your own pace!

If you haven't checked it out yet, I would highly recommend justinguitar.com. He does free guitar lessons that are for any level of playing, and he makes theory really easy to understand.

The acoustic vs electric thing, I think that depends on the person. I first learned on acoustic, which I think all in all is a bit harder. So when I picked up electric for the first time, it was super easy for me. In my case it was kind of like learning to drive in a Van, and then getting a compact car. I hope that makes sense.
#4
Quote by vinhlamn
Should I focus on acoustic before moving onto electric? Will playing both at the same time hinder my progress?

Since you've already got your acoustic playing going along, I'd recommend you should probably start out with the acoustic first although it is YOUR decision to decide. For acoustic, it's not because you've already been playing it but it's mainly because it IS harder than an electric as 'thecrimsondawn' states. Because it's harder, you MIGHT (well it can start you off) be able to get away with electric guitar more easily. Why?

First of all, it'll make your fingers seem more challenged and will make them very stronger than practising with an electric. Now I understand that you've may already have your calluses already building up and that's great and shows improvement on the acoustic guitar but using an electric to build them up isn't that good since the strings are really easy to press down so you're putting down less pressure onto the strings.

With some time, your fingertips will be as tough as nails and that'll apply to electric guitar playing making it more easily to press down the strings without feeling a thing (ok, maybe a little bit of pain).

Secondly, it is the CLASSIC way to play guitar. I mean like with an electric, it's basically an guitar that doesn't produce as much sound as an acoustic when it has no amp. Costly wise too, you don't need an amp for an acoustic so that'll save you money. You can basically take it anywhere and play away to all your friends without a power source.

I need to mention too that there are electric/acoustic guitars available in case you ever want to amplify the sound (but surely the sound hole's making enough sound as it is without pickups?).

I would recommend electric guitar for these following reasons:
- You're too much of a wuss to get your fingers hurt pressing down on the strings
- You (would) like to play flashy riffs and solos!
- You are more into rock, metal, etc. (acoustic's mostly for blues or country)
- You don't have much finger strength
- You've already got an amp, lead or whatever gizmo's
- You like cool effects (distortion, reverb, wahwah) with use of pedals and other cool stuff.
- You're a power wizard and like to fill up your parents electrical bill

Either way you will still end up as a very good musician in the end. Don't think that it'll hinder your guitar playing because you're still going to be playing guitar no matter what. For me, I play both and actually, I'm kinda like you. I've got alot of friends who have been playing for years and years and they've been giving alot of good advice to me.

I think imo, getting a taste of experimenting electrical guitar will show you alot of cool things that you probably cannot possibly do on an acoustic. I've started out on acoustic (a crappy cheap one too with strings barely close to the fretboard) which with what I can afford actually made my fingers tougher (with the exception of bleeding jk).

Sorry for being such a card btw and I hope this kinda helped you abit.
Judge if you want to aswell if you feel like you don't agree with what I say (just don't be abusive, I can bite! )

Keep it going dude!
I'm an interesting person... sometimes
Last edited by Joshie2499 at Jan 17, 2015,
#5
Quote by Joshie2499
Since you've already got your acoustic playing going along, I'd recommend you should probably start out with the acoustic first although it is YOUR decision to decide. For acoustic, it's not because you've already been playing it but it's mainly because it IS harder than an electric as 'thecrimsondawn' states. Because it's harder, you MIGHT (well it can start you off) be able to get away with electric guitar more easily. Why?

First of all, it'll make your fingers seem more challenged and will make them very stronger than practising with an electric. Now I understand that you've may already have your calluses already building up and that's great and shows improvement on the acoustic guitar but using an electric to build them up isn't that good since the strings are really easy to press down so you're putting down less pressure onto the strings.

With some time, your fingertips will be as tough as nails and that'll apply to electric guitar playing making it more easily to press down the strings without feeling a thing (ok, maybe a little bit of pain).

Secondly, it is the CLASSIC way to play guitar. I mean like with an electric, it's basically an guitar that doesn't produce as much sound as an acoustic when it has no amp. Costly wise too, you don't need an amp for an acoustic so that'll save you money. You can basically take it anywhere and play away to all your friends without a power source.

I need to mention too that there are electric/acoustic guitars available in case you ever want to amplify the sound (but surely the sound hole's making enough sound as it is without pickups?).

I would recommend electric guitar (w/th electric) for these following reasons:
- You're too much of a wuss to get your fingers hurt pressing down on the strings
- You (would) like to play flashy riffs and solos!
- You are more into rock, metal, etc. (acoustic's mostly for blues or country)
- You don't have much finger strength
- You've already got an amp, lead or whatever gizmo's
- You like cool effects (distortion, reverb, wahwah) with use of pedals and other cool stuff.
- You're a power wizard and like to fill up your parents electrical bill

Either way you will still end up as a very good musician in the end. Don't think that it'll hinder your guitar playing because you're still going to be playing guitar no matter what. For me, I play both and actually, I'm kinda like you. I've got alot of friends who have been playing for years and years and they've been giving alot of good advice to me.

I think imo, getting a taste of experimenting electrical guitar will show you alot of cool things that you probably cannot possibly do on an acoustic. I've started out on acoustic (a crappy cheap one too with strings barely close to the fretboard) which with what I can afford actually made my fingers tougher (with the exception of bleeding jk).

Sorry for being such a card btw and I hope this kinda helped you abit.
Judge if you want to aswell if you feel like you don't agree with what I say (just don't be abusive, I can bite! )

Keep it going dude!


this sums it up pretty well. If you just commit to putting in the work as well as the time to do the work and sometimes the expense of getting stuff to help plus the outlying danger, things tend to work themselves out. It all comes down to work/practice and repeat. I thinik a lot of times people jump into the lake of mud thinking it will be a cakewalk and in reality, it turns out to be a dance in the middle of a flaming jungle.

if I were you, I'd take the good advice of the posters above and just do the jigalong. Hence the name, right? Good luck with it and let us know how it goes. We are always here....
#6
Hey all,

Thanks for the detailed reply. It has helped me tremendously in making my decisions.

I'm enjoying every minute of it although I know I am playing poorly.

I've been taking the beginners course from Justin's site and it has helped me tremendouly.

On the other hand where I'm stuck with is what to practice. I've read a tonne of articles on how to schedule a practice session. However, without a proper teacher I'm not sure what I should be adding into my practice session. I have the following planned for the next month or so.

Day 1 , Warm Up , Chord Changes (Work on chord changes i.e Fmajor Barree, to Am etc) , New Chord , Finger Picking pattern, Song practice (Fingerstyle course)
Day 2 , Warm Up , Chord Changes, Justins beginners course, Song practice
Day 3 , Warm Up , Chord Changes , Rhythm/Timing practice , Song practice (Rhythm song)
I am plannign to mix it up with a bit of scales/ear training practice in between.

Any other suggestions? Is this the right plan to becoming a better guitarist ( Fingerstyle + Rhythm?)

I'm currently around 3 month into practice and can play a handful of chords including some barree chords. However, I still struggle to play pieces perfectly even beginner songs. Is my progress slow?

Thanks for all the help.
#7
Further to the above I have also purchased a couple of books including:

Mark Hanson - Fingerstyle beyond basics

Guitar Theory for dummies.

You guys probably don't know much but are these two books enough for beginners like me to progress to the next level? Should I be referencing other sites as well? I have found that I spend too much time looking for resources to learn from... To the point of information overload....
#8
Quote by vinhlamn
Is my progress slow?

You've got to be joking, of course not! Look at what you've put down here...

Quote by vinhlamn
Day 1 , Warm Up , Chord Changes (Work on chord changes i.e Fmajor Barree, to Am etc) , New Chord , Finger Picking pattern, Song practice (Fingerstyle course)
Day 2 , Warm Up , Chord Changes, Justins beginners course, Song practice
Day 3 , Warm Up , Chord Changes , Rhythm/Timing practice , Song practice (Rhythm song)


You're doing more progress than me so far and you seem eager to learn.
If you want to see it my way, progress is progress and it doesn't matter if you take it slow. In fact, I think taking it slow is the best way to progress. Taking your time is what makes progress perfect.

You don't want to rush into things too quickly otherwise what progress is that going to get you? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

To be fair, giving your time to guitar is kinda hard if you put it in a way, especially if you're working towards exams like me or you're living on your own, sorting out bills, college or some other annoying shit that life chucks at you that you gotta do on your own priority.

If you want to get more progress, I can show you some things. For starters, how good at you with language skills or literacy? How about poetry?

I'd start off by composing a song. You might be thinking "Why?". Well first of all, if you want to keep it up with the current songs being played today, maybe you should put yourself to the test.

I should also say you don't need to 'write' your song like lyrics but also you can just make a little tune with the chords you learn every day. Lets say you play these chords in order which seem very easy to play:

Em -> C -> G -> D

Try and include a strumming pattern if you can. It's good to include them whilst playing but you can just practice along without really going in a pattern.

Another thing you can do is listen to two (or up to 5) songs you love very much which includes guitar and look up for tabs and chords on how to play them. If you got Tab Pro on your mobile like I have, you can save these tabs and take them away to play to ensure you're playing songs that meet up to today's standards of songs. Not only that but it keeps you VERY occupied.

You wouldn't want to stick with one song because that would be just completely boring and reduce your playing ability when it becomes a habit. Be more... Diverse

If you can't find a good (or easy) song for your liking, Google will be your best buddy to guide you through some. Here's some examples of songs that are kinda easy to play:

Black Haired Girl - Van Morrison
Breaking the Law - Judas Priest
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - Leadbelly (or Nirvana)
Zombie - The Cranberries
Good Riddance - Green Day

Those are the one's I've learnt as a beginner. Now I'm going towards slightly harder songs like:

No More Mister Nice Guy - Alice Cooper (The God of Shock Rock)
Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana

Even my band is making me play The Trooper by Iron Maiden (which I've got the hang of on rhythm guitar)

But yeah, books are good. They can give you a lot to learn from compacted little sentences and diagrams which can help you. Only problem with me is I'm not spending a penny on a book that's gonna cost me like... dunno £20. I wanna work first.

Well, the book is 'For Dummies' so are you a dummy or a beginner? Both? Seriously though, read the books. They'll get you far, trust me. Another thing you can probably pick up is a DVD. I have one as a gift from Fender and they include a teacher which gets you through the basics which includes practise tracks and more.

That's all I can say so far.

Keep it up!
- Joshie

P.S Try keep playing from short periods of time unless you want blisters like me (doh'!)
I'm an interesting person... sometimes
Last edited by Joshie2499 at Jan 19, 2015,
#9
You seem to be very dedicated to practicing, and that's a great thing. It's a true sign of how much you really want to play.

When it comes to how much time to devote to practice, the recommended is usually no less than 15 minutes a day, and up to however long you feel COMFORTABLE. There's the obvious hand and finger pain that you've no doubt encountered, and a bit of that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But be careful in your practice and don't force your hands to cramp up! XD

Your choice in reading material seems to be solid. I haven't had any first hand experience with the books you've picked, but I can't imagine them leading you astray. May I make another recommendation?

A while back I bought a paper back book for less that $3 that is just a bunch of scale charts (I also have the bass version as well). It's super thin which makes it really easy to stuff in a gig bag, and I find it particularly helpful when writing. Since you've specifically mentioned finger picking, I think this might become a useful tool for you as well. All the scales are organized by key, which means that you can search for a scale (or scales) just by searching for the root note of a chord progression and work from there. It can be really handy for lead guitar also, and with it being so cheap, it's a great deal.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/books-sheet-music-media/hal-leonard-the-ultimate-guitar-scale-chart-book

It sounds like you've really taken the information everyone here has given, and I know I'm personally very excited to see you grow! Best of luck.
#10
Thanks Joshie and Crimson.

Great advice again!

Song writing never crossed my mind at all but why not give it a go? After all there are heaps of bad music/songs in the market lol.


I have just received my guitar theories for dummies so I'm going to start cracking on that and hopefully understand the guitar a little better.

Do you think its a good idea to learn rhythm (Strumming patterns) and fingerstyle (Travis/Arpeggios) on alternative days? Not sure if I should focus more on strumming or vice versa for the mean time.

I've just started to play with the metronome and found out how bad I was with timing. My strumming and fingerpicking is all over the place.

I've actually learnt all the chords from green day good riddance and the strumming pattern. I can hear what I'm playing but it's all over the place.

My next goal is to learn some chord progressions. I'm currently stuck playing everything in the first 3 - 5 frets.

Thanks again guys!
#11
Quote by vinhlamn

Do you think its a good idea to learn rhythm (Strumming patterns) and fingerstyle (Travis/Arpeggios) on alternative days? Not sure if I should focus more on strumming or vice versa for the mean time.


I'm not actually sure of the benefits of alternating like that versus a little of each everyday. Except maybe if you have an easier time giving your focus to one thing at a time. I'd say that's your call to make. From what you've said about your practice schedule thus far, you seem to enjoy having something more rigid rather than free form. So if this works for you, go for it!

Quote by vinhlamn

I've just started to play with the metronome and found out how bad I was with timing. My strumming and fingerpicking is all over the place.

I've actually learnt all the chords from green day good riddance and the strumming pattern. I can hear what I'm playing but it's all over the place.


Using a metronome will definitely improve your timing and rhythm, so kudos for starting that early. As far as Good Riddence; are you having issues because you're off timing wise, or are you having problems switching chords? If it's the later, try doing exercises specifically for practicing chord switching (I know justinguitar actually has an exercise for this if you haven't already seen that). If it's just a timing issue, it will get better with practice. If you have the option available to you to record along with the track (such as with an IOS device, garageband, or audacity) then I would recommend doing that. It doesn't have to be great quality. Just being able to listen back and hear your mistakes and successes externally can do wonders for you. it's a lot easier to be more objective when you're not in the moment of playing.
#12
I might just stick to a day of strumming, and two days of fingerpicking for now.

My ultimate goal is to be able to play songs fingerstyle and also be able to strum songs like good riddance.

I don't have problems changing chords at all... I believe it's just my rhythm that is all over the place. I mean people will be able to recognize what I play but it just won't sound professional.

I never believed in the metronome until I used it... It really shows your weaknesses in terms of timing.

I've read a few articles about learning the minor pentatonic scales for improvise.. I have no plans to improvise at the moment does that mean I should delay learning the scale later on... or will learning the scale not only help me improvise better but improve my other areas of playing as well?
#13
Quote by vinhlamn

I've read a few articles about learning the minor pentatonic scales for improvise.. I have no plans to improvise at the moment does that mean I should delay learning the scale later on... or will learning the scale not only help me improvise better but improve my other areas of playing as well?


I will definitely improve your improvisational skills, but I personally think there are a few more benefits. Not everyone shares this same view, so you'll probably hear a couple other opinions.

In my opinion and personal experience, playing through scales will improve your picking accuracy for your fret hand and strumming hand, and also help you to "learn" the notes on your fretboard. Hearing the notes while your finger is pressing down on certain frets can help you subconsciously familiarize yourself with the relationship between each fret. It helps you to be able to predict the change in tones and semi tones, and in some cases recognize tuning issues. So playing scales can help you to train your fingers and your ears. But that's just from my experience.

(Not only that, but it can sometimes be easier to learn these things earlier rather than later. I personally wish I had been instructed to learn it much earlier, since I find the whole thing difficult now that my brain has already made a lot of connections that are hard to rewire.)

Of course when it comes to playing scales, some people can't stand just repeating the scale forwards and backwards. If you find this dull, it can actually take away from your practice rather than improve it. But there are a lot of people who have posted lessons here on UG that are just about making scales more exciting. And, obviously, you can mess around with your own ideas and make fun patterns to help keep your scale practice ever evolving.

Ultimately, it's up to you! You'll be able to tell when you're growing or not. Trust your gut.
#14
Thanks again for the advice!

I've just started to learn the A/E minor pentatonic scales.

I've read a couple of books and it appears that some authors are saying you don't need to remember the notes on the fretboard just the pattern.

Do you agree wit this?

Is there a guide on roughly how long it takes for progress? I know this sounds like how long is a piece of string question.

i.e 1 - 3 months = easy 4 chord songs

3 - 6 = intermediate song including songs with barre chords and etc.