Acoustic guitars are physically harder to play than electric guitars, classical guitars, and ukuleles. The string gauge used on acoustic guitars is often larger and wrapped in a phosphor bronze metal which is harder on your fingers. The steel used in acoustic strings makes them harder to bend, requiring more effort to press down onto the fretboard.
Yet, most people elect to start their guitar playing career with an acoustic guitar. If it's harder to play, why do people do that? There are a few reasons that the acoustic guitar still prevails as the instrument of choice for most beginners (and even long-term guitar players), despite being harder on your fingers.
Why Beginners Still Chose Acoustic Guitars
People choose their instrument for a variety of reasons, and it should be noted that not all beginners start with the acoustic guitar. In my case, for example, I started with an electric guitar at the age of nine years old and picked up the acoustic later.
However, the larger share of people who want to get into a stringed instrument will start with the acoustic guitar.
Here are a few reasons why.
1. The acoustic guitar is convenient
While the acoustic strings are heavier and harder to move, the acoustic guitar as a whole is a self-sustaining instrument that can be played without electricity, cables, or an amplifier. This factor alone explains a lot of the appeal that it has to beginners. It's just simpler to pick up and play.
2. The acoustic guitar is ideal for strumming and playing chords
There's something about the heaviness of the strings and solid feel of an acoustic guitar's body that makes it really ideal for practicing open chords and progressions. Since beginners often start with basic chords, the acoustic guitar becomes a logical choice for that kind of practice.
3. The acoustic guitar helps you build strength
It's not necessarily a bad thing that the acoustic guitar is harder to play. If the goal early on is to build strength and get your hands used to playing a stringed instrument, the heavier strings will do a better job of training your hands. Then, if you want to branch out, moving to the electric guitar will be somewhat easier.
Should I choose an easier instrument?
Starting with a different instrument than the acoustic guitar isn't a bad idea. In fact, some people just prefer the styles that lend themselves to electric or classical guitar. If you think you might just enjoy that experience more, then it's an equally valid approach. At the same time, if you want to start with acoustic guitar, don't be scared off by the tougher strings.
I do not believe that starting/learning on an acoustic guitar is a must. So, if you think a different instrument might be better for you, you can learn on it all the same.
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