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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 Walt Pilcher on April 22, 2012 at 6:14pm


Below I'm copying a post I made three years ago with suggestions from my experience with this, mostly for others who may benefit from finding a group:

"Through a mutual friend I started attending a regular Thursday evening circle that meets in the home of a man who has been playing fiddle, guitar, autoharp, and you name it, for 30-40 years. The group has fiddle, guitar and mandolin players mostly, plus one who plays keyboard (so what if it's not acoustic!), and occasionally someone will show up with something else. Many in the group are accomplished players, both men and women, but some are not far beyond the basics. None makes his living with music, but some are in church worship bands and/or play an occasional gig for money or just for fun. There are probably 25 people who come off and on, of whom anywhere from four to 12 will show up on any given Thursday. There are about 10 that I would call "regulars." The "core group," if you will, of about eight, makes up a band called Bishop's Bridge (after the leader's deceased dog, Bishop) that plays mostly Celtic, folk and old time music, but with some fun modern stuff thrown in as well. When I started I played the spoons because I hadn't even started on the guitar yet! I was there because I had brought a song I wrote that I wanted some help with, and they pitched right in and worked on it.

The format is you go around the "circle" taking turns picking a song that the group will play. Anything goes. We have a collection of hundreds of chorded songs we choose from, or often people will bring in something new, so the group is always adding to its collection.

When I announced I wanted to learn guitar, Vance, the leader, lent me one of his until I could shop around and get my own, just to get me started. These folks were generous with their willingness to encourage me. It has been a wonderful learning experience.

Anyway, the point is that there may be informal music circles in other areas that will welcome newcomers of any skill level.

Suggestions for finding a group to play with:

1. Google and find out if there is a guitar club or society or acoustic musicians' society in your area. Where I live in North Carolina it's High Lonesome Strings Bluegrass Association ( ). You don't have to join it, but call up the president and ask if he/she knows of any music circles that welcome newcomers. Maybe they don't call them circles where you are, but whatever.

2. Check with the faculty at a local community college that offers music lessons and see if they know of any such groups.

3. Call the proprietors of bars and clubs that feature acoustic entertainers and see if they know or can give you the names of their performers because some of them may be involved in such circles.

4. Ask the managers of the local music stores."

Comment by Jim McHie on April 22, 2012 at 6:00pm

" Vance says, "If you show up twice, you're automatically in the band."  And that was true for me even before I could play more than one chord per song."

This.  I need this. 

Comment by Arlie Box on April 22, 2012 at 10:26am

Maybe then y'all can pick his brain on GuitarBQ

Comment by Arlie Box on April 21, 2012 at 9:45am

Scott applied yesterday, so I recon we'll see him sometime tomorrow or Monday

Comment by Arlie Box on April 20, 2012 at 11:56pm

Well Stan,

I guess we need to get Scott, over here to lend a hand, and perhaps a few of the regulars at JoyG's & GuitarBQ too.

Sounds like the starting of another group
Kentuckiana (sp?) Guitar Pickers :)

I know I live here, But I usually just say Indiana lol

Comment by Walt Pilcher on April 20, 2012 at 10:03pm

Welcome to the group, Stan.  And thanks to Arlie for inviting you.  You are doing a good thing by hosting a monthly session.  I've certainly gained a lot from the weekly music circle hosted by Vance Archer, a talented acoustic string musician here in Greensboro, NC, so I appreciate how important it is.  Like yours, everybody's welcome.  Vance says, "If you show up twice, you're automatically in the band."  And that was true for me even before I could play more than one chord per song.

Comment by Stan Attenberger on April 20, 2012 at 9:31pm

Thanks, Arlie, for inviting me to join this discussion. The monthly Songwriter GuitarBQ is at my house, but it wasn't my idea.  My friend Scott Murray Bate was involved in a similar thing in Nashville, TN, and he was looking for someone to host it.  Peggy and I are delighted to be able to do it.  It has inspired my songwriting and I always pick up guitar playing ideas from people like Arlie.  You probably need somebody like Scott that really promotes the event and keeps bringing newcomers.  We enjoy having all skill levels, but I think that part of our success is due to having some really good songwriter/players that keep showing up.  They enjoy visiting with each other and eating the wonderful food that everybody brings.  And they inspire the rest of us and keep the NewBs coming back.  We don't ever tell anybody that they are not welcome.  We were afraid that throngs of people would show up to see free entertainment, but it hasn't been like that.  It's been going on for a year, and we continue to get a good mix of people.

Comment by TheValleyGirl on April 12, 2012 at 6:33am

I'd say a couple of each :)

Comment by Walt Pilcher on April 12, 2012 at 6:16am

Welcome to the group, Aubrey Brawley of Waterloo, Ontario.  We hope you will enjoy the group.  All 400+ of us have benefitted from it whether new players or veterans.

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.


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