Does it matter if I learn on an acoustic or electric first?

Each guitar has its own challenges, however they also have a lot in common. They’re the same in placement of notes, chords, and basic technical execution.

They differ in number of frets, type of strings used, the tactile execution of the fingers, and over all style of playing. Theses differences are not necessarily great, but cause a little variation in how you play. It also depends on your ability to adapt to different styles of playing. For instance, finger-picking style versus pick style. Acoustic guitars can be nylon string or steel string. An electric guitar uses only steel strings, which are slightly different from what is used on the steel acoustic guitar. The electric guitar has a few more frets than nylon string guitars. It has any where from 20 to 24 frets.

Nylon string styles have 19 frets, and the acoustic steel has 20 frets. The easiest guitar to physically play is the nylon string, but can be the most demanding technically, because the player usually performs solo style. Classical guitar style is to guitar playing what an opera singer is to singing. It’s the ultimate in mastering the instrument. You become an orchestra! Classical guitarists use nylon string instruments.

Playing lead guitar in a blues, rock, or jazz band are high up on the scale of achievement. These music venues are wonderful for the musician who enjoys creating their own flair playing by ear rather than reading music, although most accomplished players are good note readers as well. Lead is usually performed using a pick and demands a great deal of understanding how melody lines are put together, especially when performing jazz. Keeping your audience entertained with improvisation is a lot harder than it sounds. Again, though, with thoughtful practice and listening to other performers you can begin to sound like a pro in a relatively short time, 2 to 3 years.

So, as you can see, the choice you make depends on your aspirations. If you’re not sure, I recommend starting on a nylon string. It’s very versatile and is not as wearing on the left hand for playing chords. Once you master the basic skills, it’s not as difficult to interchange the other guitars.