Enter for your chance to win!

May 2014
more... Premier BlogJuly 2013Staff Picks

Staff Picks: To Plug In or Not to Plug In

A A
Staff Picks: To Plug In or Not to Plug In

About 250 readers responded to our Question of the Month (go to our Facebook page to see all of the answers), so we chose two of them to join Mike Keneally and PG editors in discussing the best guitar for beginners to start their journey with: acoustic or electric.


Daniel Dorman -- Video/Photo Editor
What are you listening to?
Nonpoint’s Statement and Trombone Shorty’s Backatown.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
I understand the reasons why many people say acoustic, but ultimately I think it should be whatever the learner is most engaged with. That, or piano.


Chris Kies -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
While beautifying my yard, I’ve been listening to a live bootleg of fellow Iowan and man-of-the-land William Elliott Whitmore. When I haven’t been knee-deep in topsoil it’s been Lucero’s new acoustic EP, Texas and Tennessee, Middle Class Rut’s indie-rock encore, Pick Up Your Head, and desert-sludge-rock ASG’s Blood Drive.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
To each his own—acoustic or electric, whatever gets the beginner to dig in and welcome the 6-string (or 4-string) religion is a win in my book.


Mike Keneally -- Guest Picker
What are you listening to?
Low-fi recordings taped off the ’70s National Lampoon Radio Hour, Traffic’s Traffic, Grateful Dead’s Anthem Of The Sun, and some old prog like UK, Anthony Phillips, and ELP.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
If you can get your chops happening on acoustic, then transferring to electric will be a relative breeze. But it’s important to know that electric is a whole other beast and requires a whole other kind of control and expression to feel right.


Andy Ellis -- Senior Editor
What are you listening to?
Revisiting Bruce Springsteen’s early albums while reading Jeff Burger’s Springsteen on Springsteen, a revealing collection of the Boss’ interviews and speeches.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
Starting on acoustic makes sense to me: It connects us to the modern 6-string’s ancestral mothers—oud, lute, and flamenco guitar—and it removes the distractions of amps and pedals. The key to great tone? Spend nine months exploring string vibration on acoustic, then jump on electric and wail.


Virgil Mandanici -- Reader of the Month, Owner of Virgil Guitars
What are you listening to?
Steve Vai’s “Pusa Road” off Fire Garden Suite. The duel between Steve on guitar and Mike Keneally paints images of flight in my mind.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
Acoustic: The G string is wound, so theoretically you build up muscles and calluses 23.76 percent faster than an electric guitar. The best part is, after one “pays their dues” on acoustic, they get the excitement about “upgrading” to an electric. (It feels similar to putting sneakers on after ice skating).


Rich Osweiler -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
Heliotropes, A Constant Sea. This Brooklyn quartet’s debut album showcases their knack for fierce, ’70s-flavored stoner rock, along with a handful of tracks that display a gentler yet still spooky side.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
I think more people would still be playing had they not heeded advice from others on what to start with. If one or the other grabs you because of the style of music you can generate with it, you’re more likely to stick with it. Easy!


Tessa Jeffers -- Managing Editor
What are you listening to?
Something old style (R.L. Burnside, Come On In), something new style (Devendra Banhart, Mala), and something blue style (The National, Trouble Will Find Me).
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
I’ve started on electric, which is less intimidating and easier on the fingers. But to me, there’s an intrinsic nature about the tonal qualities and character of the acoustic that ignites a freedom of exploration, which is what I personally associate with learning.


Jim Olden -- Reader of the Month
What are you listening to?
My neighbor turned me on to Oz Noy. He sounds like the offspring of John Scofield and SRV.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
As a teacher of multiple instruments, guitarists are the only cavemen I’ve met who think that learning on a difficult instrument helps the learning process. I’m puzzled by the notion that you would need thick strings or high action to help “build calluses” or “hear your mistakes.” I want my students to enjoy playing. When it’s fun, you play more!


Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
I’ve been revisiting the grooves on Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales. Dominic Miller plays some of the most perfect pop-rock guitar parts and Vinnie Colaiuta is not of this earth.
Should beginners start out on acoustic or electric?
I usually recommend acoustic. First, it will strengthen your fingers quicker while keeping you honest with your technique. On the other hand, if standing in front of a big amp and strumming an open E chord is your thing—go for it.

Post a comment to this article