5 Myths about the Guitar (and its accessories)

March 22nd, 2011

a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society
b : an unfounded or false notion

When it comes to the guitar and the abundance of information that is now available on the Web, it is very easy for beginner guitarists to get caught up in the misconceptions, fabrications and downright myths that are directly related to learning the guitar.

We here at GLC consider this really unfortunate because learning the guitar is going to take some time, determination and patience much less if half the time you are getting the wrong information and/or basing your reasoning on unverified facts.

So…In order to combat guitar myths we strongly recommend that A) you do some research before buying a new guitar B) invest in a high rated guitar course and C) seek further advice from experts/seasoned guitarists in your respective community.

Here are five common but complete myths about the guitar (and its accessories)…

Myth: Acoustic guitars, due to their simple construction and lack of electrical hookup are easier to play when compared to electric guitars

Quite the opposite actually. Electric guitars are easier to play because they have lighter strings, lower action and a smaller neck. This is not to say that it’s impossible to first learn on an acoustic guitar but most experts would recommend electric over acoustic.

This revelation should interest a far share of our readers because we have found that most beginners would prefer to play electric guitar anyhow.

Myth: Expensive guitar strings rust and lose their tone just like cheap guitar strings so why pay the extra price? I can save so much money!

Like anything, you truly get what you pay for. It’s true that even the best guitar strings on the market will eventually lose their tone and need replaced, but high-end strings will last way longer if you maintain the strings regularly. For example, did you know that you can clean your strings after practice with a lint free cloth (i.e. handkerchief) as well as coat the string with a protective chemical such as FingerEase or “Fast Fret”?

Invest in quality strings, apply proper maintenance and your strings will last way longer than you might think. It’s vital that your instrument sounds great and for the guitar it all begins with the strings!

Myth: …But low action and thin strings still play faster!

Again, another common misconception about guitar strings.

In theory, you would assume that lighter strings are faster because of less resistance, right? It’s simply not true. In fact, a lot of legendary classical and jazz guitarists absolutely kill it with either acoustic or nylon strings which are traditionally very thick. Consequently, virtuoso technique is all about correct strength, control, technique, etc and very little about the size of the strings.

We should note that action and size of strings vary largely depending on the guitarist. Consequently, it’s easy to fall into the illusion that thinner strings create more speed but always focus more on accuracy and control if you really want to play faster. On a site note, you should also consider that thinner strings create a weaker tone.

Myth: Large amp equals biggest sound possible, right?

Wrong. In certain circumstances, larger is better but not always the case with guitars and more specifically guitar amps. Actually, some of the most gigantic sounds that have been recorded have been done with smaller 10 to 20 watt amps with the tube jacked up loud. As a result, a lot of bands prefer to put a lot of large amps on stage that are empty of speakers (and really only there for looks) while they tuck a small amp that is mic’d up to the PA system.

A lot of guitar “starter packs” include a practice amp which is a slightly less powerful, smaller amp and like the name implies intended primarily for practice. But just up from the “practice amps” you can find a lot of quality amps for a far less price.

Myth: What about cheap cables? Are they worth the risk?

I imagine you’re starting to see a trend here? Just like cheap strings, amps and guitars can alter the quality of sound output the same is true with cheap cables. Moderate to High priced cables will last longer and the difference in quality is quite noticeable.

How noticeable? A wise guitarist could invest in a phenomenal guitar and amp but with low quality cables the setup will never produce the sound the instrument and amp is capable of producing. Like anything, you can shell out a small amount of cash every six months or spend some more upfront and increase longevity.

2 Responses to “5 Myths about the Guitar (and its accessories)”

  1. Very good tips, thank you for laying it out so nicely!

  2. The lower the action without any buzzing is best to me. But some people say there is “too low”. To me, the lower the better and the faster you can play.

Leave a Reply