So you have decided the acoustic guitar is the instrument for you. What are the first steps to take to get your guitar playing off to a flying start? How about we cover the really basic stuff here, like what kind of music will I be playing? Am I aiming to be a professional guitarist? What type of amplifier do acoustic guitar players use, and what strings are best for which genre of music?
After we have covered these topics you will have a clear idea of the way ahead in your guitar playing career.
Right, so what is your acoustic guitar repertoire going to consist of? Which music attracted you to the acoustic guitar should really be your guide here. The most obvious acoustic genre for many people is folk music. This genre really took off as a form of popular music in the 1960’s and now there’s a tremendous volume of material for you to choose from. A lot of musicians who are interested in singing ballads go for the acoustic guitar because it’s so easy to pick up the instrument and go ahead and sing. Providing your guitar is in tune of course. But in general the acoustic guitar is a great companion for the ballad singer because it won’t compete with your vocals.
While we are on the subject of repertoire, don’t forget the acoustic guitar is ideal for singing your own simple arrangements of popular songs from many styles of music. Two examples of rock and roll songs that were hits all over again as acoustic ballads are “Layla” by Eric Clapton and “Light My Fire” originally recorded by The Doors, and reworked by Jose Feliciano.
To let your audience hear your playing, you can choose to amplify your guitar by simply playing into a microphone as classical or flamenco guitarists do, or make use of a pickup and an amplifier. The question of which amp to use is a matter for experimentation and talking it over with more experienced guitarists. Generally speaking you wouldn’t need any kind of effects for acoustic guitar music; it just needs to have the volume to reach your audience in a restaurant or hall. So just bear in mind you are looking for a nice clear sound from your amp to help carry your vocals rather than set up shop in competition with them.
The choice of strings for the beginner acoustic guitarist is a no-brainer. Learn on nylon strings till your fingers are toughened up. You will form callouses on the tips of your fingers during the first few weeks of playing, after that you can start on a steel string guitar if you wish without slicing your fingers. Regarding the sound of the different kinds of strings, nylon will give you a mellow, unobtrusive sound, and steel strings have a sharper sound which demands attention from the audience. This can augment your vocals and enable you to do solos if you want to.
Now you have got the basic topics covered all that’s left for you to do is enjoy your journey as an acoustic guitar player.