Why Learn the Guitar?

     The guitar is the most common, popular, and favorite musical instrument in the world! Nowadays, no matter which country you may travel to, you will most likely be able to hear or see the guitar. It can be heard at a formal concert or at a house party, and you can also encounter people playing it at various camping events, at beaches, on ships, trains, and even in a space station! Needless to say, the guitar is also often heard and seen on TV, radio, and the internet.

     The huge popularity of the instrument has mainly to do with several major factors: First, the guitar has always attracted its listeners by its soft, intimate, very unique and amazingly beautiful tone. Yet, it is a very versatile instrument which, in the hands of a master, is capable of expressing various emotions and feelings. Depending on the musical situation, the guitar can be melancholic or uplifting. It can mimic various orchestral instruments, and, when appropriate it can even produce harsh and aggressive sounds. As the great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven once said, “The guitar is a miniature orchestra in itself.” With its humongous capabilities, the guitar is able to complement almost any major genre or style of music, from a very simple accompaniment to a song, to a complex polyphonic fugue or virtuosic concerto with orchestra. Finally, along with its sound and versatility, the guitar is also a very portable instrument that you can take with you just about anywhere you like. In addition, the guitar is relatively inexpensive and affordable when compared to many other musical instruments.

     The history of the guitar covers several thousand years, and over time many notable names and people were connected with it in one way or another. The guitar’s history goes all the way back to the period of antiquity. It is believed that its infancy began in the countries of the Middle East. There, thousands of years ago, the guitar’s ancestors first appeared. Egyptian pyramids and Assyrian architectural legacy contain hieroglyphic images of a musical instrument which is remotely reminiscent of the modern guitar. Similar images can also be found in ancient Greek paintings. Today, there are many educated opinions on the guitar’s ancestry. However, due to its antiquity it is now nearly impossible to trace and define the exact ancestral derivative of the modern guitar. Throughout the ages there were many different kinds of guitar-like plucked string instruments, each of which in turn has undergone modifications and changes throughout its evolution.

     The more modern instrument as we know it today, commonly called the six-string classical or nylon-string guitar, is several hundred years old. By now, it has established itself as the concert instrument with a very interesting, rich, and unique repertoire. Concerts of classical guitarists are now taking place all around the world in the largest and the most prestigious concert halls, sharing equal success with concerts of pianists, violinists, and cellists. Along with all other instruments, the classical guitar is now also being taught at the most prominent music schools and universities throughout the world!

What Kind of Guitar Should You Learn First?

     Traditionally, various regions of the world have had unique types of guitar. These include: Spanish or flamenco guitar, Russian seven-string guitar, Hawaiian guitar, Mexican guitarrón, and others. The more recent types of guitar emerging during the past 20th century include such variants as electric or rock guitar, jazz guitar, steel-string or finger style acoustic guitar, as well as countless made-up derivatives and variations.

     Thus, today we have a great number of different kinds of guitars and variations of those kinds. And so, if you are wanting to learn to play and at the moment are shopping for guitar lessons and the right instrument to buy, you might naturally be confused and wondering which type of guitar should you or your child learn, or at least, which one should you begin with?

     Well, this is a very good question and I’m glad that you’ve asked it! A short answer is the classical guitar! The longer answer would be as follows:

     South Bay Guitar Academy presents only the classical guitar because mastering this instrument will open more doors and possibilities for you than any other type of guitar. In spite of its antiquity, the classical guitar remains always modern and is being appreciated for its purity of tone by musicians and listeners alike all over the world. It is truly the most profound, quintessential, and complete type of guitar! Learning to play the classical guitar will teach you many useful things such as: good playing techniques, how to read music, and it will provide you with a better and deeper understanding of music and the way it is structured. In combination, all this represents a very strong foundation which you will be able to use later on in case you decide to master any other type of guitar. In such instance, after going through a certain “acclimatization” you might not even need the instructor. You may be able to do it mostly on your own. For instance, some of the renowned jazz and rock guitarists have hardly had any formal instruction. They are mostly talented, self-taught players.

     Also, when changing from classical guitar to any other type of guitar, your ability to read music will place you at an important step ahead of the majority of other guitar players who began their studies with other types of guitars. There is a famous joke about electric guitar players: “How do you make an electric guitar player turn down the volume of his amplifier? You simply place the music score in front of him and ask to read it.” On the other hand, changing from any other type of guitar to classical (as this sometimes happens among some serious students) is a somewhat difficult and painful task since it requires you to change a lot of your playing habits and to learn many new things from scratch.

     Thus, before you begin your guitar studies, consider all the benefits to choosing the nylon-string classical. It is definitely something to think carefully about before selecting your first instrument!