So, you want to play guitar?
Good choice. At least I think so. My name is Debbie De Steno, and I have been playing and teaching guitar for over thirty years. Playing the guitar and music, in general, have changed my life. Music has been there for me no matter what my mood may be or what is happening in the world. There are many reasons why someone wants to play guitar; whatever your reason may be, what you get out of it is what you put into it. In this article, I will share some essential items to get you started on your musical journey.
I love teaching, always have. I have met some amazing people, both kids and adults. While I may be the teacher, my students have taught me plenty of things! In the next few months, I will give you some guitar lessons and pointers that I have learned along the way.
Let me tell you a bit about myself before we go on:
I was born and raised in northern New Jersey. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house that was always filled with different types of musical genres. With having such a musical household, I began writing lyrics at the age of ten and started playing guitar at twelve.
Over the years, I have been involved with the arts in many forms; theater, bands (rock and jazz), and both taking and giving guitar lessons and have always loved every minute of it.
I moved to Ohio over fifteen years ago and have continued to play the guitar, write, and teach music. I also have been involved with local bands, my own previous band Steel Wynd, and my newest band Herbie and The Love Bugs. We play in the Northwest Ohio Bowling Green/Toledo area.
Whether you want to play guitar for fun or become a famous shredder, it requires some commitment and practice.
First things first: The Guitar
Acoustic or electric—it doesn’t matter what you learn on but here are some things to consider.
Acoustic guitar is defined as: A guitar that does not require electric amplification, having a hollow body that amplifies the vibrations of the strings. Also, the strings on an acoustic are thicker, so you will have to press down a bit harder than on an electric guitar.
Electric guitar is defined as: A guitar with a built-in pick-up or pick-ups which convert string vibrations into electrical signals for amplification.
If you are using an electric guitar, you will need a cable (you can purchase a midrange priced guitar cable anywhere between $20-$50) and an amp. Amps come in so many sizes and prices, and for the beginner, I would start off with a solid-state amp and spend no more than $130-$200. My first amp was a 15-watt Marshall that my parents bought for me, and I still use it today.
Next: Guitar-related accessories
Some other items you might want to have on hand for lessons/playing the guitar are a pick, extra strings, a tuner, a guitar strap, a guitar case, a music stand, a guitar stand, and a binder. Let’s take a closer look at each.
If you aren’t sure what kind to get, get a variety. You are guaranteed to lose them, so you should have extras on hand. There are many jokes out there about guitarists losing their picks, and all of them are true! I usually keep a pick until the pointy end is no longer pointy.
Whatever type of guitar you are playing, there are strings, and those strings always snap. So keep an extra set handy. Make sure you know what gauge (thickness/size) they are. There are many name brands out there and several different sizes and prices, so explore different kinds and see what you like. Personally, I usually use the Elixir brand, but they can be pricey.
A guitar tuner device detects and displays the pitch of musical notes played on a musical instrument. Pitch is the highness or lowness of a musical note. There are so many different tuners out there. You can find a good cheap one or even download a tuner app to your phone.
A guitar strap helps if you are playing standing up. Again, there are so many out there in all shapes, sizes, and prices. When you try them on, sit with the guitar and strap and then stand with it. See what is comfortable and feels good.
You need to protect your guitar, and if it is exposed long enough to the elements, you will ruin your new-found friend. You do not need anything fancy, just something with a bit of padding that will keep it safe. A case will help protect your guitar from the weather, dust, other people, and pets. There are both hard shell and soft shell cases. Get what you can afford—you can always get a different kind down the road.
A music stand helps keep your sheet music in place while you are playing. If you can avoid the collapsible stand, then I suggest you do, but if that is what you can afford, you can always upgrade when you have the money.
A guitar stand is a seat for your guitar! The stand helps your guitar from falling over, being damaged, or being knocked out of tune.
I tell all of my students to get picks, extra strings, a tuner, a case, and a binder for their music and materials. The binder is basically helping you to create your own music book along with the guitar book we work out of, which is usually Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition.
This is where it all starts, my friends! Congratulations on taking the first steps to play guitar! Just make sure you try it all out before you put your money down.
See you next time and stay cool,