This question has been asked by thousands upon thousands of new players so far. It is a good question too. Today we will attempt to give you the best answer we can, without going into extremes. What we won’t do is take sides. If you have spent even a day conversing with various guitar players, you have probably learned that just about each one has their own taste and opinion. Therefore, it is imperative that we approach this question from an unbiased standpoint. Let’s give it a shot.
Is Classical Guitar Hard to Learn and a Good Choice For Beginners?
Classical guitar is different from an average acoustic guitar, and even more so an electric guitar. The differences aren’t only aesthetics either. Before we get to that, we need to mention that classical guitars are the oldest type of guitar still in use.
What we call a classical guitar these days has been around for a few hundred years. However, it is the direct descendant of a much earlier and more traditional design that goes all the way back to the 15th century. That being said, some would argue that you can push this time frame back a few hundred years and still end up with an instrument that is somewhat related to the modern classical guitar.
If there is one key difference that separates a classical guitar from an acoustic or an electric, it is the neck. Whereas the latter two have very slim and fast necks, a classical guitar has a wide neck. Not only that, but neck tension is generally higher on classical guitars. Furthermore, these guitars use nylon strings which gives them a very unique sound.
Wrangling the Wide Fretboard
That neck width we have mentioned earlier is what this whole discussion, or argument, comes down to. The idea is this. Learning to handle notes and grip chords on a wider fretboard will pay in dividends when you switch over to the regular acoustic or electric guitar. In all honesty, entire generations were taught this way and it did have a positive effect.
However. It is very hard to argue that classical guitars are the optimal tool for learners. These days, the opposite might be the case. Most learners back in the day were limited in terms of guitars. You couldn’t just go to your local music center and grab a $200 Strat clone. Back then, you pretty much had to start on an acoustic or a classical guitar. That is no longer the case. Today, you can get great guitars in all budget segments that will get the job done and then some.
The same goes for acoustic guitars. It is recommended that you start on an acoustic guitar if possible and this kinda covers classical guitars as well. One of the most important aspects of learning how to play is nailing down the proper technique. That means clean playing all throughout. If you insist on learning on an electric guitar, you just won’t be able to notice certain things. Especially if you dump a whole lot of distortion into your signal chain.
With classical or acoustic guitars, every single mistake is audible. You didn’t press the string hard enough? You’ll hear it. You didn’t grip the next chord properly? You’ll definitely hear that one. As a beginner, you’ll want to hear all of these mistakes because that means you can work on them. Electric guitars, as awesome and exciting as they are, can be detrimental to your learning experience at first.
Where classical guitars are irreplaceable are traditional genres. This is where you can find your classical music with a myriad of complex and legendary pieces. Then we have the flamenco and that entire side of the classical guitar family. Spanish guitar is next and so forth. If you are into any of these genres, a classical or flamenco guitar is a must-have. These styles differ so much from the average guitar curriculum that they fall within a category of their own.
Are Classical Guitars Beginner Friendly?
In this day and age, we have to go with maybe. We can’t say yes because there are many easier and often times cheaper ways to learn how to play. On the other hand, we can’t say no because there is actual value in learning to play on a much wider fretboard. It all comes down to what you feel like doing. At the end of the day, those who ask the questions we’ve spent this entire article answering, overlook one very important thing.
The best guitar to learn on is the one that keeps you coming back.
Simple as that. If the guitar you’ve chosen doesn’t excite you, it’s a problem. That is why parents shouldn’t force their will when it comes to choosing their kid’s first guitar. You need to be excited about your guitar, not hate it. If you hate the guitar, you’ll hate playing the guitar. Do yourself a favor, and try all types of guitars out before making a decision. Find what works for you and stick with it. That way your chances of ending up disappointed are reduced to almost none.
Hopefully, this short discussion has given you enough arguments to form your own opinion. Being a beginner can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there that people simply don’t know who or what to trust anymore. Because of that, doing your own research is pretty much a must.
If you end up loving the guitar as an instrument, chances are you’ll get more than one. That’s just the way it is. The point we are trying to make here is that you shouldn’t really beat yourself over choosing your first guitar too much. Sure, get a good one, but don’t make choices as if you’ll never buy another. That’s just not a healthy way of going about this whole thing. At the end of the day, it’s all good as long as you’re learning and growing your skills.