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How to buy a guitar

Better Guitars have the little snake of wood between top

and sides.
If you have one, why not use it?  If it's too big, your child will have trouble getting his/her arms around it.  In that case, you should probably get a smaller guitar.  My favorite way to get a guitar is at pawn shops or flea markets.  Here are tips to apply while shopping.
How can you tell if a guitar is really good?

Look into the hole of the guitar.  There should be wood that joins the top and bottom flat pieces to the sides of the guitar.  It looks like a snake of scored wood.  Look here at this photo of a restoration for a vintage Gibson guitar.  Do you see the snake of wood?  That is the mark of a really good guitar.  Such a guitar is worth a few hundred dollars.  I got mine at a pawn shop for less than $200.

When to get an expensive guitar

If your child is 10 or younger, I suggest you get a child's guitar and spend no more than $80.  See if the child gets excited and practices with dedication.  After a year or two you can look into a guitar.  It will be appreciated and treasured if you wait.  You may also develop a really cool story about how you found the guitar.  That's always fun.  Your child's instrument is a friend of sorts.  They spend hours together and grow up together.  If your child really falls in love with the instrument, he/she should have a guitar that really suits him/her.  It's good to wait.  Here is a link to a site to buy a children's guitar at a reasonable price.  There are other brands available on the site, just poke around a bit if you want to compare.  I suggest 1/2 size for children under 10 and 3/4 for kids under 10-12.

Nylon strings are best.  The low E, A, and D have a

metal coating, but they are still considered nylon.

IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THERE ARE NO STRINGS!  They cost $5 at any music store.  I'll show you how to put them on then you can do it yourself.  No big whoop.  Use a lack of strings to talk down the price.  Pretend that it effects the value of the instrument.  IT DOESN'T.  I love flea markets!

GET NYLON STRINGS, EVEN IF YOUR GUITAR HAS METAL ONES.  Your beginner fingers will be cut and they will BLEED.  You need to have the nylon strings to avoid this.

Here's a primer on the different kinds of guitars available.

Classical Guitar:

This guitar is smaller than the other guitars.  It is light and the sound is sweetest.  This is my favorite kind of guitar.  This guitar is made for facility on the fretboard (neck).  The technique for playing classical guitar is to have one foot on a stool and the guitar pointing upward.  Click here for a  video of a great classical guitarist.

People who really apply themselves to a musical instrument have fallen in love with the sound.  They want to make that sound.  As beginners they sometimes have a glimpse of that heaven and it urges them onward.  That's how I am with classical guitar.  I just love the sound of it.  If you love it too, get a classical guitar.

This is Chet Atkins playing country music on guitar.  His sound and technique are like that of classical guitar.  He has a gorgeous fluency and is considered one of the greatest players of all time.

Notice the close-up of his nails.  He has long nails on his right hand and short nails on his left.  Enjoy the lesson at the second half of the video.  He gets such a lovely sound.

Western Guitar

Western Guitars have large rear ends.
They also have a guard to protect

the body from the pick.  Here it's black

and kidney-shaped by the rosette
Imagine a guitar that knows what fried butter is.  It's gonna have a big behind, isn't it?  Well, that's what a Western-style guitar is.  Johnny Cash played one of these.  So did Elvis.  You hold this kind of guitar on your lap with the neck parallel with the ground.  Look how Johnny Cash holds his guitar.  His right arm just rests over the guitar's backside.  This is a great guitar for a singer.  The guitar takes a back seat to the vocals.

I decided to play guitar because I wanted to play chords for songs.  That is precisely what country guitar is.  These guitars tend to be much too large for a child player.  They are built for full-grown men.

This is a wonderful video of Johnny Cash in his later years.  He's a great storyteller with a guitar.  Notice the wonderful carpet of sound that his song walks upon.

Electric Guitars are awesome, but keep them at home

Electric Guitar

This kind of guitar is NOT good for lessons.  You need an amp to hear it at all.  You may want one at home if this is the sound you love.  Here is a link to Santana playing fantastic electric guitar.  Please do NOT bring electric guitar to lessons.  Hooking up to amps and tweeking volume will take the entire lesson.  The important thing is for you to learn technique.  You can keep your electric guitar in your bedroom.  Use an acoustic for lessons please.

One of the great guitarists of all time is jazz player, Charlie Christian.  Here he is playing big band music.  He uses a Gibson guitar, an electric guitar that sounds and plays like an acoustic.  This kind of guitar is built more in the classical proportions than Western ones.

According to the Gibson site, Eddie Van Halen is one of the top 10 guitarists of all time.  Here he is doing a rock solo.  He has wonderful facility and amazing technique.  Yes, he breaks in and out of playing Bach and some Spanish etudes among his riffs.  It's obvious that Mr. Van Halen knows classical technique.

A word about left-handed guitar

You need two hands to play guitar.  I myself am left-handed.  I play the guitar in the regular way.  I will NOT teach you if you play with your guitar stringed upside down and backwards.  I know there have been great lefty guitarists.  They are all self-taught.  I'll teach you the regular way.


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