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Acoustic Newb

A network of beginning acoustic guitar students for sharing discussion, encouragement, ideas, resources, and support as we begin the journey.

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Comment by Edward Sparks on April 9, 2012 at 7:35am

For those of you who do not get these emails from Acoustic Guitar...

April 6, 2012

Guitar Shopping: Acoustic vs. Acoustic-Electric

Q: What should I consider in choosing between a straight acoustic, and an acoustic-electric?
A: In recent years, amplification systems for acoustic guitars have gone from being an option to being practically standard equipment. In many cases, manufacturers have simply added pickups to their existing acoustic models, and the acoustic properties of the instruments are not affected by the retrofitting. But many other instruments are designed from the ground up with amplification in mind, and they strike a compromise between acoustic and electric sound: they tend to be thinner bodied and have less unplugged volume, but they can sound great plugged in and be more trouble-free onstage.

So your choice really hinges on whether the acoustic or amplified sound is more important to you. What do you see yourself doing with this instrument, now and down the road? Margie Mirken of Shade Tree Stringed Instruments says that from her perspective “the most important things are tone and playability, so a pickup system takes a backseat. If a student thinks it's fun to plug in and make a big sound even before he or she is ready to get a gig, so much the better. Have a blast. But I also see people who've bought a really bad guitar (bad tone, back neck angle, bad frets, horrible playability) with a pickup system, and it's apparent that the manufacturer put all the money into the electronics. The student is really loud but sounds terrible.”

In the end, you are buying a guitar first and a pickup system second, and you need to make sure the guitar is a good one that you can grow with. Keep in mind that pickup systems can be very easily and inexpensively added to acoustic instruments, so if you are not sure you want or need to plug in, you should get the best straight acoustic you can and see how your interests develop over time. Also remember that amplification technology is changing constantly. Acoustic-electric guitars with built-in pickup systems, especially those with control panels cut into the side of the instruments, commit you to the current technology, so you may be better off with a system that can be added, removed, and upgraded as your needs change.


Comment by Walt Pilcher on April 5, 2012 at 5:15am

David Brockman, welcome to the group.  I see you've been playing for awhile.  We love having more experienced players such as yourself because we all learn from each other.  Hope you enjoy the group.

Comment by Walt Pilcher on April 1, 2012 at 1:06pm

Welcome to the group, Julie Clark!  Hope you will find it fun.  I see you have a Taylor 410.  I'm sure you like it as much as I like my 210e. 

Comment by Seamus1967 on March 18, 2012 at 5:21pm

Thanks Walt!

Comment by Walt Pilcher on March 17, 2012 at 9:41am

Welcome, new member Seamus1967 from Wales, UK.  Hope you will enjoy the group!

Comment by Walt Pilcher on March 14, 2012 at 7:03am

Good stuff, Arlie!  These kinds of events are fun and can be very helpful especially to newer players when the atmosphere is as welcoming as the one you describe.

I encourage newer players to try to find groups like this because it has been so helpful to me to be in a weekly Thursday evening acoustic music circle that meets at Vance Archer's house here in Greensboro, NC. http://www.acousticguitarcommunity.com/profile/VanceDArcherIII

As I've posted before, being in such a group has really helped me, and I encourage anyone, even a rank beginner, to try to find one even if you don't feel you could contribute. You'd be surprised, and you'll learn a lot! I was fortunate to be invited to this music circle (because I had written a song they offered to help me with) before I even started to learn guitar. Vance lent me one of his guitars while I shopped for one of my own, but I actually went to the circle for the first few months without the guitar while I was taking lessons -- I just played the spoons and sang! Then when I started bringing the guitar it was like a door opened. Incredibly, the core group, a band called Bishop's Bridge who are all acccomplished players, let me play at some of their gigs even though all I could do at that time was position myself in the rear, see which chord was the prevalent one in each song and then just play that chord when it came around! I've progressed since then, of course, but I will always be grateful for that experience and encouragement.

The circle has been in existence long enough to have a large "library" of songs, with music, lyrics and chords, plus we all introduce new stuff frequently, whether it's an original composition or just something we've heard that we like. Each of us keeps a large 3-ring binder full of the songs. Vance is an accomplished fiddle player (as well as guitar and several other instruments), and he generously conducts a fiddle workshop for new fiddlers for a half hour before the regular circle begins.

Vance also leads a monthly "hootenany" that meets at different peoples' homes in the area and is mostly for people from his church although anyone is invited. The musicians who want to participate do so and the non-musicians sing and have a lot of fun. I've only been to a couple of those.

If you can't find a group, maybe you could start one. You could start by entering your city in the search box in the upper right of this page and see who comes up. If enough come up (try other cities in close proximity as well), then contact them or put a general announcement out in the AG Community that you are interested in starting or finding a music circle in your area, and see what develops.  Or Google for music associations in your area, such as High Lonesome Strings in my area of NC, and see what you can find.

Comment by Arlie Box on March 13, 2012 at 10:50pm

@ Edward Sparks:

I didn't organize this. The couple that owns the house did either on their own, or coordinated it with some of their friends.They said this is a monthly thing (2nd Sunday). This was the first one of the year, and turned out to be the first spring like day (lower to mid 70s), so I think a few who said they going to come went riding instead.

It was very informal, and I was glad to not see the "attitude" you sometimes run into when Guitar players get together. We just all sat sort of in a circle, and took turns playing. If you didn't have an original tune, that was no problem either, and it was fun trying to follow other people, and keeping up with their chord changes when you had not heard the song, or if it was a cover, the way they played it. There were some, (as you saw in the pictures) playing indoors, but I was enjoying the release from cabin fever to do much more than walk around a bit inside.

In that group shot of us playing outside, the guy on my left is the host. Him & his wife had cooked up some food & had beverages in the Kitchen that was self serve.

I hardly leave the house much anymore, and heard about it by getting an event invitation on Facebook. We had been working on the house (& still are), but I decided to take the afternoon off & go. I didn't know a single person there, but was welcomed just as if I was an old friend.

Right now, it is held in their house & back yard, which is quite small. I was told, the yard next-door will be opened up for next month's get together.

As far as putting something like this together in your area, maybe talk with some of the Guitar players you know, maybe at Church, or open mic. nights,  and such. See which ones might be interested in spending a nice Sunday afternoon sharing guitar and songs in a relaxed setting.

I'd like to see this one maybe once to try, going to one of the parks in town, where everyone could come by & listen.

I think it is a good thing, and hope that you can get something going where you live.
Oh I did tell them about AGC while I was there.

 :)

Comment by Rosemary j. Lambin on March 13, 2012 at 10:02pm

The GuitarBQ looked like a lot of fun. It was good to see both male and female performers, and to see people of different ages. And it's great that it is open to anyone who is interested.

Comment by Edward Sparks on March 13, 2012 at 6:20pm

Wow Arlie, great pics!  It looks like it was a blast...lots of players and an age range to keep it interesting. I just love the name too GuitarBQ!  Tell us more about the whole event...maybe we will want to pull together something similar locally.  Edward

Comment by Mark on March 13, 2012 at 5:38pm

Cool!!

All those players  would certainly make me feel inconsequential...  But I love going to stuff like that just to see all the spontaneous music that happens!

 

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