How to Buy an Acoustic Guitar: Tips for buying your first one

With the abundance of guitars on the market, you might feel its difficult to chose the right instrument, especially if you are a beginner. You may not know what to look for and what to pay attention too.

As explained in the video, guitars come in different body sizes. If the guitar is too big, you may struggle with strumming on the guitar. If the guitar is too small, you may lose the bottom end of the sound. That is quite confusing, isn’t it? I think it is important to find something that feels good, looks good and will inspire you to practice.

Go to a music shop and ask for a few different guitars, so you will have some kind of reference. If you don’t know how to play the guitar, you could ask a friend (if you have one who plays the guitar) or ask a salesperson to demonstrate the sound and features of the guitar for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help. Everybody who plays the guitar was at the same stage you are at right now. Nobody was born with these skills.

Another thing to consider is the action of the strings (the distance between the frets and the strings). If the action is too high, you will struggle to play this instrument. If the action is too low, the strings will buzz in a very unpleasant way. So it has to be balanced, not too high and not too low.
The scale of the guitar will determine how the guitar feels. The scale means, the active length of the strings. If the guitar has a shorter scale, the frets will be a little bit closer, but also this instrument will sound a little bit different and will have a little bit of a different feel.

Another cool thing to consider is a preamp with a tuner built into the guitar. With this feature you will be able to plug the guitar into an amp but also tune up the guitar. That means that, as long as your batteries are alive, you don’t need to carry a guitar tuner with you 🙂

If you decide to buy a guitar, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or some extra items for free. Most music shops will give you some discount or some accessories (guitar picks, a gig bag,…) for free. It is always nice to get something extra 🙂

Have fun buying the instrument and share your story with me.

A few examples of potential guitars you could buy:

  • Yamaha F310 – good, cheap guitar, the body is quite big though
  • Takamine GN15CE  – very comfortable neck, great sounding guitar
  • Washburn HF11SCE – smaller bodied guitar, cool sound
  • Epiphone Dr-500 – good sound, great value for the price
  • Martin LX1E ‘Little Martin’- small body, really cute guitar


How to play Money – Pink Floyd

Money is a great classic song by Pink Floyd. It features a cool base line lick that we will learn during this lesson. Pay attention to your finger choices.

I like to assign one finger per fret, that way it is easier for me to memorise the song, but also it is easy to transpose songs to different keys. In this lesson, as explained in the video, one way of looking at this song is by focussing on the chords, in this case the power chords B5, F#5 and E5. You can learn songs more quickly and easily, just by finding some logic around the stuff happening on the fretboard.


How to read guitar tabs – Tablature for beginners

Guitar tab or tablature is a very popular method of notating guitar music. What makes tab so popular is that, once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to read.

Guitar tablature (tab in short) is a little bit different from typical chord diagrams. The main difference is that the numbers you see on the lines are not fingers or fingering, but the numbers of the frets. Lets have a look at a diagram:How to read guitar tabs - Tablature for beginners 1

Each horizontal line represents one string – the bottom one is the thickest one on the guitar (low E), the top one represents the high E string. The numbers are the frets, lets analyse this diagram:How to read guitar tabs - Tablature for beginners 2

As you see, there are no finger numbers; you have to decide which finger to use.  This sometimes makes tabs tricky to read.  Now, have a look at this next diagram:How to read guitar tabs - Tablature for beginners 3

The name of the chord is A minor.  So if you know how A minor looks, you will instantly know what to play. But what if there is no chord name written? The only way to figure this out, is by trial and error (placing your fingers on the guitar neck and hopefully you will recognise that it is A minor). Welcome to the crazy tab world! Luckily, most tabs have chords written at the top of the tabulature section.

Now lets get into the details:   The part above the tab section (with the black dots) is what is called standard music notation (huge subject on its own).  In this article we will focus only on the tab. The vertical lines are dividing the tab into sections called bars:How to read guitar tabs - Tablature for beginners 4

It is very easy to find your way around because the bar lines make the tab much more clear to read.  Often, though, the tab does not have any bars and unfortunately this is usually pretty normal. Playing from the tabulature is like reading a book, you go from the left side to the right one.  Lets focus on bar number 1. You see here 5 vertical numbers : 0 2 2 1 0 :How to read guitar tabs - Tablature for beginners 5

It is very easy, 0 on the 1st line from the top is an open 1st string (an open string, is a string that you play but do not put your finger on, the first string is the thinnest one on your guitar).  The 1 on the 2nd line from the top is the 1st fret on the second string, 2 on the third line is the second fret third string, then 2 on the 4th line is, as you guessed the 2nd fret 4th string and 0 on the 5th line is an open A string (5th string).  All these notes played together will give you the sound of the A minor chord. There is no number on the 6th line because in the A minor chord we do not play the 6th string. Not so difficult – right?How to read guitar tabs - Tablature for beginners 6

Now let’s have a look at the second bar. We have exactly the same chord – A minor – but this time, it is spaced horizontally (not vertically as in the first bar).

The A minor chord here is presented as an arpeggio. Arpeggios are a way of playing the notes.  Instead of strumming the chord you play the individual notes. In this case, we go from the open 5th string (0 on the fifth line) to the 2nd fret on the 4th string (2 on the 4th string), then 2nd fret on the 3rd string (2) and finally the first fret on the 2nd string (1). It looks like you are supposed to play each note separately (by placing one finger at a time on the fretboard).  But wait! If you just hold the A minor chord, (1st and second bar have the same numbers just spaced differently) and play the strings in this order: 5th, then 4th, 3rd and 2nd you will end up playing A minor as an arpeggio. It is getting easier, right?  Bar number 3 is again an arpeggio but this time we play strings 5 3 4 and 2.

I hope we have clarified a little bit about the myth behind tablature. To be honest, the examples chosen for this articles are pretty easy and most of the tabs are much more complex than the one we used in this article, but this a great starting point.  As we progress through our course we will discuss different examples and we will gain a deeper understanding of tablature.