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      Tuesday 25 September 2021

      Choosing Between Nylon, Steel & Electric Guitars For Beginners

      With 32 years of trading history in Sydney, Sunburst Music has generations of experience in staff and patrons who have experienced that first guitar feeling and the uncertainties that come before making that crucial choice.

      What drives our passion each day is pairing you with the right instrument, no matter the level of experience, style or quality you seek. Understanding the monumental amount of information (and in my person experience, uninformed opinions) present online is an immense task, and one that can turn many a potential player down the wrong path. In this article, I hope to clarify many common held conceptions and recommendations and enable you to make your own well informed decision.

      Before anything, I feel it is important above all else to dive straight into what you're most passionate about, whether it be that power and crunch of a driven electric guitar, the softer nuance and warmth of a classical or the fullness and familiarity of sound of a steel string acoustic. If you love what you have, any hiccups in learning are pushed aside by the enjoyment you feel, something far more powerful and engaging.

      Steel Strings vs Nylon Strings:

      Many of us experience this as the first question that pops up or the general advice passed onto us from friends and teachers when starting out. While both types have their merits, the reason for the divergence and subsequent advice is owing largely to cultural and technological shifts across the 20th century, pushing one ahead of the other with many of the previous drawbacks of each design now no longer merited.

      An immensely popular belief and one which I disagree with is the idea that learners must start on a nylon string guitar due to the softer strings. While nylon strings do indeed require less pressure to fret, the larger neck width and higher action necessitated to accommodate the thicker strings cause many young players to be turned away. Additionally, due to the focus on tradition in nylon string design, most classical guitars lack certain features such as truss rods causing many necks to curve with changing humidity and heat, compounding playing stresses.

      Inversely, with huge advances in skill and technology; especially the previous decade alone, entry level steel strings guitars are becoming far easier to play with greater build quality. Significantly better construction overall has allowed first time guitarists to start on steel string guitars with almost no setback. When strung with regular gauge strings, younger learners will likely find the tension greater but with a finer tuned setup; something we at Sunburst Music pride ourselves on delivering, you can have a guitar that is no harder to play than a nylon strung alternative. The slimmer neck found on steel string guitars also aids greatly when learning chords for smaller handed players.

      The increased tensile strength of steel strings in conjunction with the truss rod in the neck enable these guitars to stay in tune better, with less affects by climactic conditions present. Lastly, travel size guitars are an excellent alternative to a half size nylon string, with the advantage of the shorter scale decreasing the string tension vastly.

      The increased tensile strength of steel strings in conjunction with the truss rod in the neck enable these guitars to stay in tune better, with less affects by climactic conditions present. Lastly, travel size guitars are an excellent alternative to a half size nylon string, with the advantage of the shorter scale decreasing the string tension vastly.

      If you prefer a warm sound, wish to learn fingerpicking as a focus and prefer a smaller body size, the nylon string may be ideal for you.

      If you want to strum out loud with a pick or play fingerstyle with a brighter sound, enjoy the familiar twang of the steel string or maybe go for that iconic look, the steel string may be the one.

      Steel String Guitars at Sunburst MusicClassical Guitars at Sunburst Music

      See all Steel String Acoustic Guitars

      See all Nylon String Guitars

      Acoustic vs Electric:

       

      While the vast majority of guitarists start on an acoustic, it is important to note that there are no drawbacks to starting on an electric. You'll quickly find that each excel in differing ways, and complement rather than replace one another.

      Choosing an electric as your first choice adds many diversities and options, so if you're inclined towards simplicity and just want to get playing quickly, the acoustic is likely your better alternative. If however you love the endless paths an electric can take you on, like shifting from a clean and clear sound to the overdrive of rock and roll, the extreme gain of metal and grunge and the swirl and churn of indie and psychedelia, there is nothing else.

      Electric Guitars at Sunburst Music

      With a great many options available, I will guide you through the differences in acoustic guitar sizes, electric shapes and amplifiers in the next article.

      Sunburst Music

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