A guitar can be many things to a musician. It may be your passion that you spend hours honing and perfecting every week. Your guitar may be your constant companion that you play wherever you go. This special instrument may be what leads you into stardom. Regardless of the reason you play the guitar, or how many guitars you own, or the number of fans that show up at your gigs, the guitar is an instrument that will help you grow, change you, and move you.
First off, what is a guitar? A guitar is a fretted instrument that typically has six strings. You can play it acoustically or through an electric amplifier and speaker (and electric guitar). Some of the most early mentions of the word "guitar" go back to Spain in the 1200's. The lute from Central Europe and the four stringed oud are the instrument's predecessors.
Finding Your Perfect Guitar
Before conquering the guitar, it's important to start with a good, quality git. There are tons of options based on acoustic vs electric, body types and styles, or tonewoods. Don't get overwhelmed with the options though, we'll easily explain the differences, so you can pick the perfect instrument for you.
Start by checking out how the guitar sounds after a few strums. You want an instrument that's going to stay in tune and sound great. You're going to be the person that listens to your instrument the most. After long practice hours, band rehearsals, and serenading people from the occasional balcony, you want something with great tone and volume.
Consider an instrument that is easy to hold and also in your budget. It's heartbreaking to fall in love with the perfect guitar when the price will break your bank account. Look at options within a reasonable price range, but keep in mind this is an investment in your abilities. Check out our guide for Acoustic Guitars Under $500.
Second, consider your playing abilities. A guitar for a beginner is going to be much different compared to an expert player. Check the neck width on a few models and see what size is the most comfortable for you. If you have small fingers, look for a more narrow neck width and the opposite if you have large fingers. This will make it easier to reach the strings.
When deciding which guitar you want to take home, I typically ask budding guitarists what type of music they gravitate towards. This will help you determine if an acoustic, electric, acoustic-electric, or classical guitar is best for you. If this is your first time playing a guitar, an acoustic guitar is the easiest to begin learning on, but you can also read our Acoustic vs. Electric Guitar Guide for more info.
Acoustic guitars come in many different sizes. The music genre which the acoustic guitar is most suitable for is country and rock music. It has a long history dating back to the medieval times. Acoustic guitars produce a louder and deeper sound compared to a classical guitar. They have a powerful, lively tone without appearing too showy like the electric guitar.
Due to the sheer volume of options on the market, we've created a dedicated guide to picking the perfect acoustic guitar for you, based on your musical style, tonewoods, shapes, body styles, and skills.
When you need powerful volume, or need a guitar that fits your frame, opt for a jumbo acoustic guitar. Not only to they have great volume, but they give a powerful, warm, and balanced tone. These are often nicknamed the 'cowboy' guitar.
If you're in the market for a jumbo guitar, look for a git that takes projection to the next level. We recommend one with it's Sitka spruce top and rosewood sides.
A size smaller than the jumbo acoustic, is the dreadnought. It's one of the most popular guitar body styles and is great for bluegrass players. Look for an instrument with good quality and projection.
For a bit smaller sized guitar, go for the orchestra acoustic. This body type is also termed an auditorium guitar, but potato/potato. Orchestras are almost the same size as a dreadnought but have a smaller waist. You'll get a balanced volume and tone. Eric Clapton had an orchestra guitar!
The grand auditorium has a lower and wider bout than the dreadnought. You can easily recognize this instrument, because it has an hourglass figure. A grand auditorium guitar is known for it's versatility.
The next smallest size is the grand concert acoustic. Expect a strong sound and a good mid-range from the large body of this guitar. They typically come in 14 to 14.5 inches from the lower bout.
For a bright sounding tone, choose a concert acoustic. This is a classic guitar that dates back to the 1800s. It's a perfect example of the saying, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." I recommend this guitar to guitarists with smaller frames, because it'll be easier to reach the frets.
The smallest and easiest to carry when you're on the move is the travel guitar. This is ideal for musicians that want to play on the road, but don't want to worry about getting their guitar messed up in the process. If you're considering traveling with your guitar, make sure to follow our Guitar Travel Guide, so you don't encounter heartbreak on the road.
When you store your guitar, or take it with you on a trip, make sure to bring a guitar humidifier with you. You can find out why in this article.
For an entirely different acoustic sound, opt for a classical guitar. These guitars tend to run in a league of their own and require different techniques and materials. Read our guide on Classical Guitars to get the inside scoop.
Remember that guitars don't always come with the best strings on them, it's a similar scenario as buying a new car. Make sure you've got the best strings for your git with this guide, How to Choose the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings. You can also compare Nylon vs Steel Strings for your guitar.
Electric gits also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. That's the beauty of guitars, you can play one, then pick up a different one for a completely different sound. If you're just starting out with an electric guitar, read the Guide to Rock-stardom Electric Guitars for Beginners to help find the perfect electric guitar for you.
If you happen to be on a budget, but still want a quality electric guitar, take a look at our Best Electric Guitars for the Money guide.
Solid body electric guitars are great for long sustain and loud amplification and the most popular style on the market today. They are made from a flat piece of wood that's cut into the precise shape of it's future self. They also pair nicely with different effects.
If you're a heavy metal player, we've covered what you'll need to look for when finding your guitar in this article.
These are similar to the hollow body electric, but typically have a thinner body with a wooden block in the center. If you've got your heart set on an electric guitar, but want to get that acoustic sound every once in awhile, the semi-hollow body electric is perfect for you. Be prepared to need some serious amplification!
The hollow body electric guitar is ideal for jazz guitarists looking for a warm tone. The technology of this style have come a long way since they were first used in the 1930's in Big Bands. The hollow body electric was used to compete with other loud instruments on stage. Be careful though, as the volume goes up so does the feedback.
Take a look at these archtop guitars to channel your inner Joe Pass.
Guitars for Kids
Child-size guitars get their own special section, because kid guitarists need an instrument they can comfortably hold. Our Child-Size Guitar Guide helps you find the perfect guitar for your kid to learn depending on their age. We'll also teach you how to ensure it's the right size and shape for them. We'll help you find a 'cool' look instrument that they can grow with, which will also keep them motivated.
If you've got a specific git in mind and want to see what other players think about it, check out our guitar reviews section!
How to Play the Guitar
Once you've got the perfect axe in your hands, it's time to start learning! Coustii has the guides to help you master your instrument from the very beginning.
Getting to Know Your Guitar
Before we start rocking out, it's best to start by getting to know your instrument better. You can learn the different parts of an acoustic guitar or electric guitar in these articles. This will help you understand maintenance and how to fix things if something breaks, plus keeping your guitar in tune.
An acoustic guitar has less bells and whistles than an electric guitar, but regardless you need to know what purpose each part of your guitar plays when you make music.
The Guitar Basics
When you first start out playing the guitar, it's easy to get discouraged, because it's difficult to learn a new skill and read music. Fortunately, our experts have written this guide to the easiest way for you to learn to play your guitar.
One of the first techniques you should master, is how to hold the guitar properly and with correct posture. It's incredibly difficult to un-learn bad habits.
Guitar Notes, Scales, and Chords Oh My!
Before we dive into playing your favorite songs, we need to cover a few things to help you learn and play songs. First you need to learn how to play the notes on the guitar. This Guitar Note Cheat Sheet will help you get started. After a bit of practice, you'll have every note memorized.
To build on top of your notes, you also need to learn your scales. This will help you build the perfect practice routine and warm-up before you start shredding. This easy to digest format helps you learn the scales at home by yourself. Make sure you aren't just learning the patterns of your scales, but getting to understand your fretboard instead.
If you don't know how to read sheet music, that's ok, because guitar players actually use tabs. We will teach you how to read guitar tabs and what each symbol means so you can jump start your learning.
After you've learned your notes, scales, and know how to read guitar tabs, it's time to start conquering chords! Let's get started with learning how to read guitar chords. This quick guide will help you not only identify each chord, but be able to masterfully play each one.
The best place to start with guitar chords are the easiest ones. This guide will allow you to build on your current knowledge and slowly progress into the more difficult guitar chords. We'll first master the common chords, C-A-G-E-D. Then we'll learn how to play three minor chords, Am, Em, and Dm. After learning how to play Bm and F, we'll conquer some common version of the F chord. If you're into pop music, you'll enjoy playing the 5 sus chords. After the sus chords, we tackle the tricky 7th chords and Major 7th chords. And last but not least, we play the minor 7th chords. That's a total of 31 chords for you to learn and practice!
Taking Your Practice to the Next Level
I always recommend my students start with the 5 Guitar Finger Exercises. This can help you take your guitar playing to the next level by increasing your strength, flexibility, and fluidity. Make sure to include this routine at the first five minutes of every practice or jam sesh.
It's important to find a guitar practice routine that you actually like. It's really hard for anyone to stay motivated when they don't enjoy what they are doing. Every session should include the following:
- Warm Up
- Fundamental Skills and Music Theory
- New Techniques
- Building Your Song Repertoire
- Jam Time!
Focus on challenging yourself, but don't get overwhelmed. The guitar is an instrument that takes time and patience to master. When you're ready to make things a bit more difficult, try learning the Power Chords. These rock chords sound great on the guitar and are fun to play around with.
If you're into folk, rock, classical, or country music, teach yourself How to Fingerpick with this guide. This will help you advance your technique and you'll be able to apply to your favorite songs!
Whether you're a beginning guitarist, or an advanced player, it's important to envision your future rock star at all times. When you practice, when you prep for a gig, and when you perform in front of an audience. Think about your goals (short and long term) every time before you pick up your git.
Easy Guitar Songs
Nothing is more fun and rewarding than learning how to play your favorite songs on the guitar. Start out by mastering a few of these Easy Guitar Songs. We've included instructional videos from different teachers, so you can find an teacher you really mesh with.
Classic Songs for Guitar
As you're learning or mastering your instrument, remember to find inspiration and creativity in everyday life. This can spice up your practice routine and help you find new and fun ways to play your guitar. Try learning the classic song House of the Rising Sun. This tune has multiple techniques, depending on your skill level.
If you'd prefer a song that's more recent, try Jason Mraz's I'm Yours. This song will surely be a hit at your next campfire. Imagine sitting around the warm fire and singing your favorite songs with your friends. This will impress them!
Pizzazz for You & Your Guitar
After you've mastered some of the basics with the guitar, it's fun to keep yourself motivated with little rewards for yourself. These guitar accessories can challenge your playing skills and also make things a bit more fun!
Essential Guitar Pedals
If you've got an electric guitar, we've got a lot of fun items you can pair it with. First thing you'll want to do is get your gear box loaded with the essential guitar pedals. With so many options out there, choosing the right pedals can be a daunting task, especially when you're just starting out. We'll tell you about each one, what they do, and how you can use them.
Next, we've got the Coustii recommended list of overdrive pedals! Push your amp to the next level with more gain boost. If you play rock, blues, metal, or punk, this is a pedal that needs to be added to your gear bag. Learn about every control in this comprehensive guide of overdrive pedals.
Do you know what to look for when buying a compressor pedal? Coustii has you covered with a number of favorites and a guide to help you know what to look for before making your purchase. This Compressor Guide covers everything from presets, to body, to programmable options to help you make the best decision.
Are you a one person band? A guitar looper pedal allows you to maximize your playing and make it sound like you have an entire band with just the touch of your foot. We'll teach you how to use the handy pedal and what to look for when buying them in this guitar looper article.
Gifts for Your Favorite Guitarist
If you have a holiday or birthday coming up and you're completely stumped on what to get your favorite guitarist, look no further than our Gifts for Guitarist Guide! We have every budget size and a few gifts that will make that special someone giggle. Who doesn't need a guitar shaped toilet flusher in their house? It sure is a conversation starter in my home.
Whether you're a budding guitarist, or an experienced shredder, we've got the resources to take your playing to the next level. Inspiration, motivation, and a drive to master your guitar is what will lead you to success. Of course, Coustii is here to help too. Our experts and guitar instructors have provided the best tips, tricks, and reviews to help you be the best guitarist you can be!