• Maisie Loh

Should I Learn the Classical Guitar Before Playing the Electric Guitar?


Beginners might have this question when interested in picking up the guitar, “Should I learn classical guitar before playing an electric guitar?” This is a valid question as the electric guitar can seem intimidating. Before you make your decision, there are some things you should know that make up the classical guitar and makes it different from the electric guitar.


Guitar Strings


There are two types of guitar strings - nylon and steel strings. The classical guitar is made with nylon strings while the acoustic and electric guitars are characterised with steel strings. The difference in strings creates different sounds.


Nylon strings are found in the Latin, Flamenco, Spanish, and Classical music genres. It is not common to hear classical guitars in contemporary music such as pop and rock. Nylon strings sound warmer and fuller than their steel counterpart. They are also gentler and softer on the fingertips, which may be more suitable for beginners.


Steel strings are a lot harder and tougher on the fingertips. When playing an electric guitar, you may start growing calluses on your fingertips due to the constant friction and pressure against steel strings. Steel strings tend to sound sharper and brighter. It also sustains a note longer than nylon strings. The sound on an electric guitar is conditioned by factors such as the type of amp, amp settings, guitar pedals, settings of the knobs and switches on the guitar.


Types of Music


Since the classical guitar and electric guitar are used for different genres of music, which one you pick to start with really depends on what types of music you like. When it comes to genres of music, the electric guitar has a wider range. You can play jazz, blues, soul, funk, pop, rock, country, and metal music with the electric guitar. Whereas the classical guitar is limited to classical sounds.


Size and Shape


When it comes to size and shapes, the electric guitar again has a wider range. Though the size of a guitar influences the sound it makes, it does not affect the sound of electric guitars. Therefore electric guitars come in different designs compared to the classical guitar. The classical guitar comes in a single “default” shape.


Fretboard and Weight


If you have small hands, you might want to consider which type of guitar, to begin with. Classical guitars have the widest fretboard and it could be almost impossible for your thumbs to fret notes depending on the size of your hands. The extra width is made to accommodate the thickness of nylon strings. Electric guitars have a smaller fretboard. When it comes to playing, it would be easier to play an electric guitar as the distance between the strings and fretboard can be brought down lower than the classical guitar without losing the tone. Classical guitars lose a bit of volume and tone when the strings are brought closer to the fretboard.


Electric guitars are heavier than classical guitars because the body is made of one solid piece of wood. The hollow in classical guitars make them lighter. The metal components of an electric guitar also make it heavier, making it less easy to transport around.


Test It Before You Decide


The guitars all come with a cost. The electric guitar is the costliest. Not only does it have more electrical and metal components but you need an amp to play the electric guitar. The classical guitar costs slightly less and you do not require to purchase an amp.


The decision of which guitar to start with really lies with the types of music you want to learn. If you are undecided, it would help for you to start with trial lessons so that you can get a feel of the instruments themselves.


Ritmo Music Studio offers a Flexi-package as well as trial lessons in acoustic and electric guitar. We are located near Chinatown. Get in touch with us to learn more.


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