Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar: A Complete Beginners Guide

Acoustic V Electric Guitar

As you set out on your journey of learning to play guitar, you will be faced with dozens of decisions, but perhaps the first decision you’ll have to make is what kind of guitar you want to buy. 

On the one hand, you’ve probably seen the glamorous and glitzy electric guitars played by rockstars the world over. On the other hand, you can’t miss the subtle beauty of a dreadnought style acoustic with its delicate Mother of Pearl inlays. So, how do you decide between acoustic vs electric when standing inside your local music shop?

Acoustic vs Electric Guitar: A Beginners Guide

Ed Sheeran or Eddie Van Halen?

Before we discuss the differences between acoustic and electric guitars, I feel that it is first important to think about your personal goals and musical interests. For instance, if you prefer classical guitar or country music, it is natural to gravitate towards an acoustic instrument. Younger people tend to prefer electric guitars for their flashy appeal and the wide range of sounds they can produce. We need to try and find the best beginner guitar for you and your situation.

There is no right or wrong answer when selecting a beginner guitar, and thousands of talented guitarists have found their way on each side. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking to play grunge rock, an acoustic guitar probably makes little sense for you, and vice versa.

We have a complete guide to finding ‘The Best Kids Guitar’ if you require any further help.

Body Types

The first thing you’ll notice about electric guitar vs acoustic is that they have very different body types. Most notably, acoustic guitars are known for their large bodies and natural wood finishes, while electric guitars feature slim bodies, usually with interesting cutaways that may or may not serve a purpose for playability. So you can see the parts of the guitar are very different in every way.

I always recommend that you go try out a wide range of different body styles to see what feels natural to you, but don’t despair if nothing feels quite right just yet. It does take a while to get your posture perfected, and you will probably feel like some body styles are just too bulky for you. That is totally normal! However, if you are really struggling to find a good fit, you should know that guitars come in many shapes and sizes.

A Quick Note on Guitar Sizing

Guitar shops are mostly filled to the brim with full-size guitars, but that is not the only option available. There are half-scale and 3/4-scale guitars as well. These guitars have been scaled down to fit younger learners while maintaining the proper proportions so you can move into a full-scale guitar with proper techniques already established.

The Difference In Sound

Electric

Aside from the distinct looks of an acoustic and electric guitar, they also differ in the way they produce sound. An electric guitar uses magnetic pickups mounted on the body beneath the strings to pick up the sound of the vibrating strings and send it to the amplifier. In this case, the amplifier is actually responsible for producing the bulk of the sound that you hear.

Acoustic

By contrast, an acoustic guitar is designed to produce a sound all on its own using the vibrations captured through the soundhole beneath the strings. Here, it is the construction of the acoustic guitar’s hollow body that is responsible for producing the sound you hear.

Now, you may wonder how an acoustic guitar could produce enough sound to fill an entire concert venue if it doesn’t use an amplifier? Fear not! Professional acoustic guitar players rely on tiny electric amplifiers built into the hollow body of their guitars. These pickups offer large-scale benefits of amplification without damaging the warm, natural tone that comes from playing acoustically.

For beginners, spending the extra money on an acoustic guitar with a built-in pickup is not strictly necessary, but you can find some affordable options that will give you more flexibility in your playing later on.

Strings

This is a good time to discuss the differences in strings when playing electric or acoustic guitar. Because an electric guitar uses an amplifier to produce a robust sound, it does not require very large strings.

Notes on a guitar are produced by pressing down on the strings at different intervals, changing the length of the string and the sound it produces. So, it stands to reason that the lighter weight strings in electric guitars are easier to press than their acoustic counterparts.

If you find that you are struggling to press the strings down to produce clear sound, or if you have small hands, an electric guitar is a great place to start.

With an acoustic, you need much thicker strings to produce a strong enough sound for the body to pick up. As a result, many young players struggle with acoustic guitars until they build up hand strength.

What Are Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners? Click here for our guide.

Playing Technique

Finding the right fit is the most important part of selecting the right type of guitar for you. The right fit has a lot to do with your comfort and strength. Yet there are also some differences in playing style. So far, I have focused on how your fretting hand is affected by the guitar you choose, but now we will look at your strumming hand.

Strumming Differences

The arm you strum the strings with rests on the “shoulder” or “body” of the guitar, and your strumming hand sits over the strings. This will probably feel uncomfortable as you adjust to the edges of the guitar pressing against you. You will become comfortable with practice.

With an electric guitar, the slimmer body style makes it easier to drop your arm over the strings. On an acoustic guitar, you have to prop your arm up at about shoulder height and rest it on the body. From there, you will have to strum across the strings to produce sound.

With an electric guitar, you don’t have to strum too hard because you can artificially change the volume with the help of your amplifier. On an acoustic guitar, the volume of the sound you produce is entirely dependent on how hard you strum. For those with short arms or little strength, producing a strong enough sound with an acoustic guitar can be challenging at first.

Don’t Get Distracted

Electric guitars provide many opportunities to get distracted from the music by adding effects, adjusting your amplifier, and dialing in your instrument. By contrast, the bare-bones nature of the acoustic makes it great for focusing all of your energies on playing technique and perfecting the music itself.

If you feel that you can learn proper playing techniques well on an electric, and you are committed to getting them right, that’s totally up to you. On the other hand, if you really want to be sure you build technique, and hand strength, an acoustic guitar might be just what you need to keep your practice time distraction-free.

Cost

A final consideration you might want to make is the cost. Both acoustic and electric guitars range from a few hundred dollars up to nearly ten thousand dollars. For a first-time guitar player, you can expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars to get started, although you might find second-hand guitars cheaper.

However, there may be one downside of starting with an electric guitar. You have to buy the instrument, the amplifier, and the cables to connect it. Fortunately, there are a few companies like Squier, that offer beginner packages that include a super starter pack that includes everything you need. This is usually a pretty good bargain for any new player and can save you a lot of headaches trying to build a complete setup. In general, you can find a starter kit for around $200, which is comparable to a low-end acoustic guitar.

On the other hand, if you choose to go with an acoustic, all you really need is the guitar itself. Obviously, you do need to purchase a decent tuner with both acoustic and electric guitars. But you may choose to buy a strap as well, which will help you hold the guitar up even when you are sitting, but it is not required.

The Verdict: Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar

The question I hear a lot is “should I start with an acoustic or electric guitar?”

Is electric guitar easier than acoustic to learn? No, they’re completely different animals. Two different instruments. Neither is ‘easier’ to learn than the other. It’s all about personal preference. Hopefully, we’ve helped you more with your decision

For most people and playing styles, the electric guitar is a great beginner option. It is versatile and easy to learn while you’re building hand strength, and more comfortable for new players. In addition, with the starter packs available today, you can find a complete electric guitar setup at a very affordable price. You can even begin to learn the ins and outs of modifying your guitar sound early on.

If you do prefer a more classical sound, you are always free to start on an acoustic instrument instead. You may find that there is a variety of sizes available. If you go this route, be sure to consider changing to lighter strings. New guitars generally come with a poor standard of strings attached. So, give yourself the best chance to succeed when you start and buy some decent strings. Here are some to get you started: ‘Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners

Here’s some valuble tips from the National Guitar Academy if you need further advice.

Let your journey begin!

17 Famous Guitar Riffs You Need To Hear

Famous Riffs Header

Sometimes the riff in a song has more effect on the listener than the song itself. Nothing feels better than hearing big fat chunky famous guitar riffs. Or a riff that takes you to a golden memory. Without guitar riffs, the world would be a pretty boring place. Imagine no air guitar! 

To qualify for our 17 Famous Guitar Riffs it’s pretty simple. The melody has to be memorable and make us tap our foot.

It’s almost impossible to write one article on the best riffs of all time (i could create a whole website on it) so let’s look into some of the most recognized and enjoyable to listen to. Being a guitarist of 25 years myself, I’d like to share with you some of the most enjoyable riffs I’ve learned and played along with. Maybe you could share yours?

Let’s get influenced and learn some new riffs. I’ve left out the complete obvious riffs as I’d like to branch out a bit further. But only a little!

What Do We Like In A Classic Guitar Riff?

Firstly, it has to be memorable. Sometimes without even realizing it, we’re subconsciously taking the riff in. We’ll be walking around later humming it to ourselves. That’s where the genius of the guitarist has got you. The hook is what musicians call it.

Classic guitar riffs are a piece of music that is instantly recognizable or enjoyable to listen to. Some riffs are so powerful they can define a generation. Let’s dig a little deeper. A riff doesn’t need to be a sequence of single notes and a melody, it can also be a group of chords. You know Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ right? That’s a riff too. 

It’s scientifically proven that there are major benefits to playing guitar that affect your whole wellbeing. Yes, it’s true, check out the proof ‘The Fascinating Benefits Of Playing Guitar’.

There’s also a very important quality when playing riffs. You gotta look like a god playing them! Look at Jimmy Page, Slash, Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Brian May, Lenny Kravitz, Angus Young, and Marty McFly! Swagger, you can’t be taught that. Let’s plug you into some of the best guitarists doing what they do best. Banging out riffs.

Foot Tapping Rating

I’ve rated the riffs on my foot tapping scale from 1-10. They are in no particular order, just 17 riffs that make you wanna tap your foot or crowd surf through your lounge.

I’ve Separated our Greatest Guitar Riffs into three sections:

  • Acoustic
  • Soft Rock
  • Rock/Hard Rock

That’s enough talk, let’s get into some bangers:

Famous Guitar Riffs: Acoustic

Tears in Heaven-Eric Clapton

Foot Tapping Score: 5/10 

Everybody knows this hook. It’s a very sentimental song for Eric Clapton. The intro riff is so very memorable and the brilliant guitar playing continues throughout the song on his classical guitar. Definitely worth a watch.



Heart Shaped Box-Nirvana

Foot Tapping Score: 5/10

Nirvana could have made it onto all three of my riff criteria. This version of ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ is played on acoustic, unlike the original. Kurt picks through the chords and comes up with a very simple but memorable melody. This is a version that you need to hear. Ladies and Gentleman, the super talented Kurt Cobain.



Use Me-Bill Withers

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Trust me, you need this riff in your life.

I’m not sure there is a better groove in music. Although not a guitar riff, the groove and melody on the keys are truly undisputed. What a super talent Bill Withers was. One of my very favorite musicians. Within 5 secs I’ll have you tapping your foot, guaranteed. 

Press play and be enlightened



Shape Of My Heart-Sting

Foot Tapping Score: 4/10 

It’s been covered so many times, but there’s a reason for that, it’s an incredible song with a memorable hook in the intro. This is easily the most beautiful riff on the list. This version is a must-watch. Just Sting and his guitarist. Low foot-tapping score but the most peaceful song on our list. 



Solsbury Hill-Peter Gabriel

Foot Tapping Score: 7/10

What a great riff in the intro, the acoustic continues throughout the song in the same vein. Brilliant 12 string guitar playing by Steve Hunter (on the original record). It was difficult to find a good video of the acoustic, so this clip is perfect to show you how good the guitar playing is on this riff. Enjoy



*Its time to turn up!

Famous Guitar Riffs: Soft Rock

Paperback Writer-The Beatles

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

In classic Beatles fashion, the fab four begin with tight 3-way harmonies, then burst into this meaty riff. Great tune from the best band ever. 



Crossroads-Eric Clapton

Foot Tapping Score: 7/10

Eric’s got more than a few riffs tucked up his sleeve. I just love the guitar playing on the intro to crossroads. It’s also a good listen for bass players as Jack Bruce is all over the fretboard.



La Grange-ZZ Top

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Is there a cooler riff out there? This is the essence of chill. Old School blues riff in A but when the band comes in its high on the foot-tapping richter scale. Texas Finest, these boys are still gigging. Heroes! I just love Billy Gibbons’s voice. 

You’ll need a shower after listening to this. The riff is so dirty:



Crosstown Traffic-Jimi Hendrix

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Nearly didn’t make it onto Electric Ladyland! Can you imagine if we’d of never been able to feast our ears on this riff from Jimi? Great tune, guitars doubling up on the intro riff. Did you know Jimi sang the “do do do do do dooo do’ through a comb with cellophane wrapped around it?

The unmistakable Rock God Jimi Hendrix. We’ve got a lot to thank him for.

Money For Nothing-Dire Straits

Foot Tapping Score: 7/10

Probably the hardest one to play (properly) on our list. A mixture of several fingers picking at different times and clever use of pinched harmonics make this riff so memorable and showcases Knopfler’s brilliant ability on the guitar. Truly one of the best guitarists ever. Not many people haven’t heard this beaut. He has a few more but this is probably Knopfler’s strongest riff.



Message In A Bottle-The Police

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

It helps to have a brilliant drummer when you’re writing riffs in a band. One of the best live 3-piece bands ever. Superbly written, unorthodox riff by Sting. You gotta have long fingers to play this one. Here’s a live version I love. Stuart Copeland is the man on this footage!



HEALTH WARNING: Earplugs may be required for the following videos:

Famous Guitar Riffs: Rock/Hard Rock

Freedom-Rage Against The Machine

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Now, this is a riff! Start as you mean to go on. These guys were legendary in the riff department. Literally, one after another, sometimes five or six in one song! What a band, lifting roofs off venues since 1991. This may not be your cup of tea but RATM was the Daddy when it came to the guitar riff. Check out minute 2:34 & 3:40 for more beasty riffs! You get your money’s worth with RATM.

Here’s one beast ive chosen from many:



Beat It-Michael Jackson

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

The Late great Eddie Van Halen played ‘that’ iconic solo for MJ’s monster hit, Beat it. This Riff is a monster in terms of popularity. Such good fun to play, it’s memorable, chunky and you’ve got the best vocalist ever singing over it. One of the best guitar riffs of all time. Amazing tune and well worthy of a mention. 



Stone Cold Crazy-Queen

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

In my opinion, the best live band ever. What a belter from Brian. A super-fast riff and certainly no walk in the park to learn. These guys were as tight as a skin on a grape. Possibly the best frontman ever in Freddie Mercury. The man is English royalty. Here’s some powerful Queen footage back in the early days: 



Thunderstruck-AC/DC

Foot Tapping Score: 10/10

You didn’t expect a famous guitar riff article without Angus, did you? Any live footage of Angus is worth watching. The masters of the power chord, AC/DC had riff after riff. I decided on Thunderstruck but I could choose from 75+ riffs. It almost sounds like its played on a violin. If we ever needed a (National) Anthem for planet Earth, here it is. Angus, we salute YOU.



Foo Fighters-All My Life

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

The more simple it is, the more it resonates with your audience. Dave Grohl starts off chugging on one note but when the band comes in, it’s HUGE. RIP eardrums. I actually prefer the muted riff on the verse but there’s some pretty powerful music here. 100mph band and soooo good live. Foo Fighters have many meaty riffs and are truly worthy of Rock Gods. I mean, Grohl’s been in not one. but two of the biggest bands ever. That’s just greedy.



Kashmir-Led Zeppelin

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

By far the best band to play riffs along with (if you can!) About 150 riffs to choose from. Nobody can construct a riff like the master Jimmy Page. Undoubtedly one of the best guitarists of all time. Helped along by a brilliant drummer and bassist. They really are the creator of The Guitar Riff. Difficult to find footage suitable enough for this clip as its very old. That shouldn’t take away the fact Zepp was one of the biggest bands in the world. Rightly so. Special mention to Bonzo on drums, without him Zep’s riffs just wouldn’t be as meaty. Riffmiesters Supreme!



Eye Of The Tiger- Survivor

Foot Tapping Score: 10/10

Come on, you know you love it. Who doesn’t bang their head to this brute of a riff? I know it’s cheesy but I love it. Survivor created a riff so good, it’s used in many situations where energy, positivity, and guts are required. Would the Rocky films be as successful without Survivor doing the soundtracks? The 1980s is a gold mine for rock bands and riffs. Great band. There are some really nice mullets in the video. Enjoy



Winner

Lenny Kravitz-Are You Gonna Go My Way

Foot Tapping Score: 11/10 (Amps go up to 11 so why can’t my scoring system?)

From the very first note, you’re tapping your foot, I love this simplistic riff. Shades of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, which makes me like it even more. 

I used to play this in a band. It was so much fun to play, for all the musicians. The doubled-up riff in the intro is right up there with the best riffs ever. Again, you all know it. Fast-paced, heart-thumping rock guitars and harmony riff. It has all the ingredients of a true rock riff (it helps to look as cool as Lenny too). 

Just a side note, Craig Ross’s guitar solo in this also got voted one of the best in history. Wow, what a tune. Go On Lenny! 

Here’s an awesome live version, it’s worth watching just to see Lenny’s jacket and shiny gold Flying V.  



That’s it, go give your ringing ears a rest! 

I apologize for missing out on so many artists, guitarists, and riffs. As I said, I could build a complete website around famous guitar riffs. These were the riffs that get me going. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on other riffs and musicians. Feel free to add yours. That’s the beauty of music. Opinion. 

If you’re still hungry for more, here’s a great selection of rolling stone top 100 guitarists and 100 more riffs here at 100 Greatest Rock Guitar Riffs

Our friends over at Listening Through The Lens do a great ‘Top 100 Most Essential Folk Songs’. Go check it out 

 

 

 

The Fascinating Benefits of Playing Guitar

Fascinating Benefits Playing Guitar

 

It may seem like a mountain to climb when wanting to learn the guitar. Maybe it’s a daunting task, or you just can’t spare the time. Well, I’d like to show you the fascinating benefits of playing, and how to get yourself started. It’s a skill that can give you a lifetime of enjoyment.

I’ve been playing for around 25 years and I couldn’t imagine not having it in my life. I’d like to share these benefits of playing guitar with you, as you’ll see, some of them are truly amazing.

The Benefits Of Playing Guitar On The Brain

Cognitive

Scientific studies confirm guitarists have unique brain functions compared to nonplayers. Other musicians learn their instruments through sheet music. Guitar players can learn by listening and exploring their fretboard to find the notes or chords.

Extraordinarily so, guitarists can synchronize using the brain’s neural network. Without consciously knowing, they can predict what is to come before and after a set of chords. The more you jam with another guitarist, the stronger the chemistry becomes.

The Brain is made up of millions of nerves called Neurons. Neurons fire off signals whilst you’re performing ordinary duties. Almost all areas of the brain are functioning when you play guitar. Guitar playing causes The Corpus Callosum to link the rational left side of the brain, to the creative right. That’s pretty special.

Experienced guitarists can switch off the conscious part of the brain, triggering the unconscious. Over time you can learn to be less conscious of what you are doing and allow the art of playing guitar to emerge.

Creative Brain

Picking up a guitar and learning is a great way to add some creativity to your life. Develop your knowledge, write, arrange, bang out your own Jimmy Page style riff. The magic of writing your own material is unique and rewarding to the soul.

It’s so easy to send your music out to the world via social media. It’s nice to receive positive comments from family, friends, or a fan from the other side of the world. You have a creative brain, maybe you don’t know it yet. Grab a guitar, unlock this gift, and let it flow. You’ll be surprised by what you’re capable of.

I’ve always enjoyed learning from my favorite guitarists. That’s all I really wanted to do from the start. To feel like I was in the shoes of Jimi Hendrix, to observe, copy, and understand how Jimi created his art, is incredible. If you can get close to learning some of your own hero’s material. It’s so rewarding and addictive.

No Excuses, Re-String Your Brain

Seattle-based musician was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002. His muscles developed weaknesses resulting in coordination problems. This made playing the guitar extremely difficult. By using the brain’s neuroplasticity, he relearned how to play chords and scales on the guitar.

The adult brain is capable of forming new cells. The undamaged neurons in the brain can sprout new nerve endings, rewiring the links to other cells.

Prolong Mental Degeneration

High activity musicians who play for 10 years or more, keep their brains sharp. All aspects of playing guitar help toward avoiding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The National Centre of Biotechnology tested 70 Seniors from the ages of 60 to 83. The tests were to clarify if playing guitar can slow down mental degeneration. The results revealed, those with 10 years of musical experience, had a far superior nonverbal memory, than those who had no experience whatsoever. This delayed the mental decline, preserving cognitive functioning in advanced age.

Health Benefits

We all have moments in our daily life when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or in pain. When the body and mind senses a threat, cells in our body produce chemicals in response. Playing guitar can create an adverse counteraction to aid this emotion. Music literally has the power to make you feel better. So, next time your parents scream at you for playing AC/DC too loud, tell them it’s part of your therapy!

Meditation

Playing Guitar is a powerful form of Meditation for sure. It’s an escape. Whilst you’re strumming through those new chords, all other thoughts fade away.

It takes patience, peace, discipline, and practice to learn an instrument. To say guitar playing is therapeutic is an understatement.

The sound you create is entirely in response to what your brain is telling your fingers to do. Which is far superior to listening to music.

Emotional Benefits

Being able to express yourself via the guitar is a major plus. This adds such a positive vibe to your emotional health and well being.

Performing Emotion

I’ve been lucky enough to have played in clubs and bars quite a lot over the last 20 years. The emotional rush I get out of performing with a great band is nothing short of euphoria. Ask any musician about their feelings whilst playing live. It’s something very very special.

Social Benefits

Connecting with like-minded musicians is essential. You can learn so much from watching somebody else play. I would advise you to collaborate and learn with other guitarists. The social bonds through guitar can create camaraderie and most importantly, friendship forever. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you’ll always need people around you to create a strong social network.

Children’s Development Through Guitar

Children are constantly developing, they’re like a sponge, soaking up every experience. Children benefit the most from learning an instrument. These advantages include:

  • Enhanced concentration
  • Long term memory
  • Comprehension skill
  • Increased performance in other academic topics.

Measuring time signatures is Math. Whether it’s 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8, your child’s reasoning and mathematical understanding will improve.

Here’s a clip of Nandi Bushell, aged 10. She’s taking the UK by storm and has been on various TV shows and recently jammed with Lenny Kravitz. Nandi’s primarily a drummer (although she plays guitar too now). I was so inspired by this that I had to share it. Trust me when I say this is worth 1 min 10 seconds of your time. Just watch the power surging through her. This is a perfect example of what children can achieve at such a young age through music.

Learning A New Skill Is Easy Right?

You’ll Only Stick with Habits if you Enjoy it!. State the obvious!, but wait, Andrew Ferebee, Founder of Knowledge For Men explains:

There is a helpful process of creating habits, and sticking to them. They are;

The Cue:

The Cue or Trigger is the stage when you take some kind of action,’ I’m going to look for a guitar tutor’

The Action

This is the part where you book that guitar lesson or buy that acoustic I saw in the shop window.

The Reward

This is the section of the habit loop where the brain is rewarded for taking the desired activity.
These tips sound easy, yet a lot of people don’t complete The Action and fail.

Get yourself to the reward stage. You’re more likely to succeed in creating a New Habit if you try my essential tips.

Essential Tips

Don’t Give Yourself An Unrealistic Goal

Start with a goal that’s so small, you cannot fail. An example could be: Sit in the correct position with the guitar, hold your pick, and strum all the strings within 2 days. Get a feel for it.

Break Your Task Down. Keep The Tasks EASY

If your goal is to learn the E minor shape, start with memorizing where your fingers need to go. What fingers are you going to use?

Arrange A Schedule

Get yourself a calendar and write down your schedule. This is a visual reminder that’ll help, especially if you hang it up in the kitchen, or somewhere you’ll see it often.

Create Your Environment

The more energy it takes you to turn the TV off, walk into another room, get the guitar out, tune it, find a pick, the less likely you are to do it. Keep your guitar on a stand next to the TV or in a place you can see it. Guitars are a beautiful addition to anyone’s home.

Fascinating Benefits of Playing Guitar Feature

Slipping – ‘Never Skip Twice’

You will miss a session. Sometimes you’ll make a mess of the task and get frustrated. That’s completely normal, but the golden rule is, never miss two lessons in a row. If you have to cancel a session with your guitar tutor or you don’t feel like sitting down to practice, only do it once!

Emotional Investment And Reward Over Willpower.

It’s true. It doesn’t matter how much willpower you put in, if you don’t emotionally reward yourself, you will get bored. Now, having willpower is still important to everything we do, but not as the end goal. If you treat music as a physical or mental exercise, it’ll become soulless and boring. Having skill on the guitar is an advantage in life, but if you’re not making a connection with yourself, it’s useless. Learning guitar is a journey, not a destination.

What’s The Rush?

Be patient. Daily improvement will start to show, and you’ll never look back. Slow and steady, that’s the key. Once you’ve eventually ripped out that Slash solo note for note, you’ll be glad you didn’t quit so easy.

Pass It On

Are you already a part of the guitar family? Influence/inspire someone else to begin. Get your friend or son/daughter to learn with you. If you know somebody who is starting off, you can blow their mind by passing your knowledge on. You now know the full benefits of playing guitar.

 

Summary

No hobby can give you so much enjoyment and such powerful implications for the brain’s development. Science has proven guitarists have that something special. With so many reasons to play guitar, it’s time to start your adventure. It doesn’t matter what standard of player you become. It doesn’t matter what age, religion, or culture you’re from. It’s an art form, so create your own by using a guitar.

Best Kids Guitar 2021: Complete Guide To Finding The Right Guitar

Best Kids Guitar Header

This is my review of the Best Kids Guitar 2021

It’s not an easy task trying to get your kid into playing guitar when they have so much more going on in their lives.

We at AuthorityGuitar have extensively reviewed the children’s guitar market and narrowed it down to assist you.

We give you a much clearer idea of the route to take before buying the best kids guitar. We also have valuable information on what size guitar will fit your little rock star. 

Receiving a guitar as a gift is truly a life-changing experience. Learning to play guitar has an incredible effect on a child’s health and wellbeing. We’ve even written an article about it: ‘The Fascinating Benefits Of Playing Guitar’

What Is The Best Guitar For A Child?

Enthusiasm Is Key

There is no direct answer to this question. The ‘best guitar’ for your child is the guitar that keeps them enthusiastic and coming back for more. That being said, that’s why you’re here, and we’re going to help you through any queries you may have.

It has to be a fun learning process, It’s as simple as that. Children already have enough going on in their heads in today’s busy world.

We’ve also got to battle against the instant gratification of the Xbox.

I am a parent and a musician in this very position. A guitar for kids could be the escape they’re looking for. It was for me.

Age And Size

The size of the guitar is obviously very important. We also need to consider the child’s age. There are different size guitars to suit various ages of children. We have written out a clear, simple chart for you to follow below.

Young hands are much more sensitive to pain, so we have to look at lighter gauge strings. Fret sizes also vary, overstretching can also be difficult and painful for small hands. Finding a suitable guitar would firstly be based on your child’s overall size. 

Follow Their Lead

A child needs to be kept inspired. So buying a guitar that suits their musical interest would be the best option. For instance, if they like pop music, go for the little strat type guitar and Nile Rodgers type tone, or if they love rock music, get some gain behind their sound.

If your child loves the fingerpicking or mellow strumming sounds, then go for an acoustic guitar for kids. You may end up with the next Ed Sheeran.

Adapt the instrument and the tone around the child’s initial interest. This can all change later, but that’s ok. It’s very important to embrace that initial interest. 

Quick Glance: The 8 Best Kids Guitars

 

 

Electric Or Acoustic?

Consider These Two Factors

1. An acoustic is ideal for a child who has no real idea of what musical influence to follow. An acoustic guitar is portable and can be ideal for school lessons, carrying back and forth, and is considerably much lighter than an electric.

It’s like a blank slate, you can learn without the tweaking of the knobs, messy distortion, or understanding what an acceptable volume is.

No cables, no strap, no amp, no picks necessary! An acoustic can be played with nothing but the guitar and your fingers. Can also be good for the longevity of Mum and Dad’s eardrums. 

2. My daughter is 6 years old, she simply enjoys plugging into my amp with me and making noises. She has a mini electric guitar (it’s bright pink). For me, this is great, she has that initial interest. Although she’s not interested in learning anything yet (because it takes longer than 15 seconds). But for me, this is very exciting, she has a curiosity. This could be molded into something later in her life.

She also has a Ukulele but is not interested in it because I don’t play one. She wants to make noises like her Dad. In this scenario, I probably wouldn’t buy her an acoustic guitar.

The whole reason I wanted to start playing guitar all those years ago, I heard those dive-bombing noises of Jimi Hendrix. That was all I wanted to do. That was my ‘initial interest’. It’s really up to you as a parent to judge between acoustic or electric.

So my example was to get you thinking of your child’s route into the guitar. Follow the interest of your child. Keep it fun. Nurture the interest. You’ll stand a much better chance of success. 

To the people who say you should learn on a classical guitar first, I can’t disagree to an extent. A classical guitar has a clear tone and has soft nylon strings. But in my opinion, you should follow your child’s personal interests first (and, classical guitars aren’t easy to play by no stretch of the imagination).

What Size Guitar Should I Buy?

Comfort is King!

There are quite a few variants in guitar sizes, but in general, we can narrow it down into the most commonly used.

Here’s a rough guide to follow: 

Age HeightGuitar SizeTotal Guitar Length
4-61.04 to 1.14 m1/430′
6-91.14 to 1.30 m1/234′
9-121.30 to 1.42 m3/436′
10-121.44 to 1.60 m7/838′
12+1.60+ mFull41′

Best Kids Guitar Review

 

Loog Mini Acoustic Guitar for Children and Beginners

  • Pros: Very Light In Weight, Nylon Strings, Nice Flashcards Pics With Chord Diagrams, Beautiful Range Of Colours, Comes With App Lesson Too
  • Cons: The Sound Isn’t As Nice As A Ukulele

At 22 inches in length, the Loog Mini gives a child of 3+ a chance to get into playing. Strings are made from Nylon, so it’s very soft on little fingertips. There are three strings tuned G-B-E (like a standard guitar). The body is made from real wood (Linden wood). 422gs in weight, so very very light for a toddler to carry around the house.

Personally, I’m so pleased there is a product out there for children to learn at such a young age. This is not a toy, the strings need to be tuned and kept as a normal instrument. It’s very sturdy so can take a toddler battering. The Loog Mini would make a perfect gift and is a lovely introduction into music. Well done Loog, 5-star product.

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Yamaha Acoustic Guitalele, GL1 – A hybrid between guitar and ukulele

  • Pros: Reputable Acoustic Brand, Comes With Gig Bag, Lacquer Finish, Amazing Tone, Easy To Press Strings
  • Cons: It’s Very Small

As I was reviewing so many guitars, I didn’t realize there is a hybrid kids’ guitar. Yamaha are the leaders in children’s guitars, they are a well-respected manufacturer. Built using Yamaha’s specifications.

This model, the GL1 is 70cm/27.5′. This is bigger than a Ukulele but smaller than a 1/4 size guitar. Again, this would suit a very young child around 4-6. It’s a real instrument, not a toy. Yamaha has crafted a beautiful instrument which sounds fantastic considering its overall size. As the guitar is finished in lacquer, it’s durable and will handle the dings and bangs better than its competitors. Nylon strings for soft little fingers, tuning is (A/D/G/C/E/A). Check out the four classy colors too (black, natural, persimmon brown, and tobacco sunburst brown)

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3rd Avenue Junior Electric Guitar Pack – Red

 
  • Pros: Inexpensive, Great Starter Pack, Durable As Hell, Great 1st Electric Guitar,
  • Cons: Tuning Pegs May Slip If Not Tightened

The 3rd Avenue Junior guitar collection supplies you with a 30inch guitar (1/4 size), an amplifier with cable, strap, picks, and a gig bag. This is a nice starter pack at a very good price.

My daughter has one of these guitars and they’re fine for messing around on keeping them interested. Comes with a reasonably good pickup that can be plugged into any amp situation. Extremely durable but need a bit of setting up, to begin with. High gloss red or black finish and made from Linden wood. Tuning pegs are ok but you’ll probably need to tighten them yourself (with a Philips screwdriver).

The Amp is very small, it’s literally just a box that makes a noise (runs off a 9v batt). Don’t expect Dave Gilmour’s tone here. Steel strings so would suit a child 5+, even though the strings are gauge 9. Which is super soft, just not nylon soft.

Not a pro guitar by any means but for the price and extras, this is definitely my favorite pick at the lower end of the budget.

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Fender Squier Mini Strat Guitar, Torino Red

 
  • Pros: World Class Manufacturer, Three Single Coil Pickups, Value For Money, Built To Last
  • Cons: None

The world-famous Stratocaster shape. Squire has the rights to use the classic specifications of the Fender Strat. So you’re already onto a winner when it comes to build quality.

A maple neck, polyurethane glossy finish (basically means it’s a really tough bodied guitar). Rosewood fretboard and 6 steel strings in standard tuning E-A-D-G-B-E. At 4kgs in weight, it’s the heaviest guitar so far. As it’s a 3/4 size guitar, it would suit the older player from 9-12. Comes in Torino Red, Black, or Pink.

If the child would like to take the guitar seriously, then this Fender kids guitar is hands down your best choice.

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>Check Price At Sam Ash Music<<

 

Yamaha CS40II Classical Guitar for Kids, 3/4 Size – Traditional Western Body – Natural

   
  • Pros: Big Player In The Classical World, Made WIth Distinction and Quality, Warm Soft Tones, Easy To Play, Very Light, Low Price
  • Cons: Fragile

A beautiful state-of-the-art warm, balanced sound with an even and clear response. It’s recommended by teachers that beginners learn on a classical guitar. Well, this is easily my favorite.

A 3/4 size rosewood back and bodied guitar. 1.3kg in weight means it’s very light and a perfect size for children of 7-12 years old. Ideal entry-level guitar and still good enough to showcase live.

This is Yamaha’s least expensive guitar in a very popular range. With real quality craftsmanship, it’s built with the highest caliber. It’s perfectly designed for the child/beginner or adult due to its size, ease of play, and its character Yamaha tone. Soft and warm, creating a chilled atmosphere. All this for such a low price

This could be what you’ve been looking for. Try the Yamaha CS40II, you won’t be disappointed.

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Yamaha GuitarGo – Starter Set, 

 
  • Pros: Top Seller, Essential Extras For Beginners, Best Budget Acoustic, Top Brand,
  • Cons: A Little Dull Sounding

The first full-size acoustic guitar in this review. I really like this F310 Yamaha guitar. We’ve had one in the family and it lasted years.

The guitar can be purchased alone, but I was so impressed with the extras, and the low cost of the upgrade. As we’re covering kids/beginners starter guitars, this little starter pack is essential. The pack includes a voucher for a month of the practicing app JamFactory as well as a voucher for a guitar lesson at the Yamaha Music School, which is available online Items, gig bag, strings, picks, tuner, guitar strap, and guitar stand, plus 2 vouchers. This isn’t to say the guitar is awful, it’s the complete opposite.

The Yamaha F310 has a well-balanced tone, warm and responsive. I’ve played far more expensive guitars that don’t come close to this. The fretboard and neck are surprisingly light, slim, and easy to learn on. Made from a combination of good quality eco woods, you can’t go far wrong with this deal to get you going. This is the top-selling budget acoustic in the UK. Thumbs up to Yahama, again.

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Martin LX1E Electro Acoustic, Natural

  • Pros: Massive Acoustic Guitar Brand, Electro-Acoustic, Gig Bag Included, Professionally Made, Easy To Play
  • Cons: Less Expensive Wood Type On The Back And Sides Makes Me Question The Price

The Classy Martin LX1E is the most expensive guitar in the review. It’s 7/8 in size and would suit the 9/10-year-old upwards. You’ve possibly seen Ed Sheeran one of these Martins too. It’s a pro-level acoustic that does reflect that in price.

Martin is a huge player in the acoustic guitar and string world. Beautiful looking and much louder than expected. A lovely woody, bassy tone, just like its more expensive range. Built with quality construction and material, giving you a robust yet high-quality instrument. The Martin LX1E also has a pre-amp, so you can use this baby to gig with or play through an amp. The ideal travel partner or just playing at home. This is a complete step-up in class. If I was learning all over again, I’d want something small, comfortable, and nice to look at. This would be my choice without a doubt.

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3/4 New Jersey Classic Electric Guitar + Amp Pack, Sunburst

  • Pros: 10W Amp Included, Slick Rocker Look, Durable Guitar, Value For Money
  • Cons: Doesn’t Sound As Good As The Squire Playing A Clean Tone

The 3/4 Size New Jersey Electric Guitar pack was another one I chose because of the quality of the guitar and really helpful essentials. If you’re starting out with an electric, you’ll then need to shop around for an amp a strap, picks, etc. To get them all at once is such a benefit.

This shaped guitar reminds me a bit of the Gibson Junior, it’s very cool to look at. Green Day type of guitar. The guitar gives you all the great rock tones of the traditional model, but in a size that is more suitable for younger players and adults with a smaller reach. The Neck is made from maple and the body is sunburst color made from basswood. The Machine heads are a chrome die-cast (which is a good thing in terms of sturdiness) this will keep the guitar in tune well. You also have two humbucker pickups, and with that 10w amp, that’s enough trust me!

Loads of fun to be had with this, all at a budget price.

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Best Kids Guitar Review: Winners

After reviewing lots of guitars, we’ve separated Electric, Acoustic, Classical guitars.

There is plenty to choose from above, you just have to mix and match the guitar that fits your child’s age/size and budget.

Our clear winners in the 3 main area’s are:

Children’s Electric Guitar Winner

Fender Squier Mini Strat Guitar, Torino Red

Easy choice really, made to last and produced with the real Fender in mind. Can’t go wrong at this price. If you want to learn and learn properly, here is your next guitar. Fender Squire Mini Strat-style guitars sound so beautiful through a small tube amp. You can almost get that pro tone for much less than you think.

>Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<<

 

Acoustic/Classical Guitar Winner

Yamaha GuitarGo – Starter Set

Owning a Yamaha guitar at any price you’re guaranteed a safe, sturdy, quality instrument. This acoustic pack is ideal for the beginner as it has all the little extras which save you from going out buying more.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

Alternative Guitar Winner

Yamaha Acoustic Guitalele, GL1 – A hybrid between guitar and ukulele

After putting much research into the Guitalele, It just sounds amazing. Definitely an ideal starter for children. The size is perfect, a mix between a guitar and ukulele. It’s light and good enough to last and learn properly. Love it! Get your kids going with a Guitalele.

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>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<

 

The Easy Way, But Not The Smart Way

The easy route would be to save up enough money to buy a well-known branded guitar, visit the local store and buy it. Surely this is the best way, as I’m paying for a quality branded instrument? Actually no! just because a manufacturer produces the best most popular (adult) guitar, that doesn’t automatically mean they build a good beginner guitar. 

Follow our sound advice and we can assist you in finding the correct guitar for your child. Our size chart above will be our first stop before considering anything else.

Depending on your child’s musical needs, you will need to budget in some cash for small essentials. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an improving player, you will definitely require some of the following. 

Here are some examples:

A Tuner: On top of the list, you cannot have a guitar without one. As simple as that. We have a list pre-made in depth article for you. The 7 Best Guitar Tuners

Picks: Unless you’re learning fingerstyle or bass guitar, I would say every guitar player requires some picks. These come in different gauges also.

Amp: Electric guitar players will need a small amp. We’ve whittled the best 5 down for you. Best Small Tube Amp: The Complete Buyers Guide

Strings: Nearly all new guitars arrive with poor strings attached, get yourself some decent strings, and give your child the best chance of succeeding. Your child will break strings as they’re learning. They are very affordable and make a world of difference to the tone. Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners

A Capo: Maybe a little too early for a beginner but later on down the line capos are fantastic for alternative sounds and keys. If you feel you are ready for a capo, check out our ‘Best Capo: Everything You Need To Know’

Tablature Apps Etc: I would choose a teacher before downloading any apps, you don’t want to spend a year learning chords in the wrong way then to be told to re-learn them the correct way. This is soul-destroying. 

Guitar Lessons: 100% required. If you can stretch to paying for a tutor or you have a guitarist friend, it’s very important to get off on the right foot. Learning by yourself at the beginning can be very tough, especially if you’re doing it wrong. Sitting opposite somebody is so helpful. Get yourself a tutor, even if it’s two lessons. 

Gig Bag: If you’ve just spent your hard-earned wages on your child’s guitar, there’s a strong possibility they might knock it or drop it. A guitar case can protect and extend the life of your instrument. Especially if you plan on re-selling the guitar later on down the line. 

Cables: Good cables for the electric guitar player. The cheap cables are scratchy and won’t last a year. Get a reasonably good cable and it’ll last. 

Strap: If you’re in a school band scenario, or you feel comfortable learning standing up then get yourself a strap. They say band guitarists should do a large amount of rehearsing standing up. 

Guitar Pedals. NO!  We need to learn the instrument first. No pedals. We cannot hear our mistakes behind a wall of distortion. Having a distraction from learning properly, can be fatal. Pedals come later. You gotta earn them!

 

8 Tips To Consider Before Buying

  1. Pay attention to the neck size and weight. Look out for the term ‘Slim Neck’. This is perfect for children. If the guitar is too heavy the child won’t be comfortable.
  2. Look out for poorly made guitars, you’ll only end up buying twice. We’ve reviewed plenty of suitable guitars for your needs.
  3. You don’t need to spend a small fortune but set aside some money for essential extras. 
  4. Online Lessons vs Tutor? If you can’t stretch for a personal tutor then that’s the perfect option, but use all resources available. There are some good beginner guitar videos online, like justinguitar.
  5. Have a place in mind for your child to practice. A decent upright chair, with no arms, quiet and away from distraction (if possible). Give them the best chance to succeed. 
  6. Get the best guitar for your budget. Don’t go any lower. Poorer quality instruments often don’t stay in tune and won’t last long. They may end up bending or becoming completely useless. 
  7. Stay away from the overly decorated guitars, the more paint, and rubbish they’ve splashed over it, it’s probably hiding the cheap nasty build. If it’s too good to be true, IT IS. 
  8. Don’t buy a guitar from a toy shop! No explanation is necessary.

 

Best Beginner Mandolin: Everything You Need To Know

Main Header Best Mandolin

This is our review for the Best Beginner Mandolin

There’s a lot more to the mandolin than you may realize. Let’s look at the essentials and guide you towards finding a suitable beginner mandolin. 

Due to the success of the Ukulele and Banjo, the Mandolin has had a surge in popularity. They a widely used in modern-day music, with REM, Led Zeppelin, Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead, White Stripes, Goo Goo Dolls, Rolling Stones, Steve Earle, The Band, Chris Cornell, and Rod Stewart, all incorporating this historic instrument into their music. Imagine ‘Maggie May’ without it! Or REMs ‘Losing My Religion, unthinkable.

They’re a pretty unique and beautiful sounding instrument. 

 

 

 

 

Beginner Mandolin

 

The 5 Best Beginner Mandolin Review

Hola! Music A Style Mandolin Instrument with Adjustable Truss-Rod Model HM-3TS, Glossy Sunburst Finish

Best A-Style Mandolin

  • Pros: Great Beginner Choice, Very Nice Tone, Value For Money, Hola Has Great Customer Support, Vintage Look
  • Cons: Tuning Heads May Slip After A Little Use

8-string traditional A-Style mandolin in glossy Sunburst finish. Built with a maple top, back, sides and neck. A Walnut fingerboard and adjustable compensated rosewood bridge. Beautifully crafted chrome plated tailpiece. A very popular choice at a reasonable price. I can’t see a better-sounding instrument at this price.

I really love the Hola designed. It looks so traditional. With a crisp vintage sound, the Hola HM-3TS is already a favorite of mine. Just by looking at it, it makes me want to play. 

Check out the video below and you’ll love the tone.

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Listen to the calming tones of the Hola HM-3TS:

Stagg M40S 8-String Bluegrass Mandolin with Solid Spruce Top – Goldburst

Best Lower Price Mandolin

  • Pros: Holds Tuning, Easy To Play, Good Enough To Gig With, Solid Wood Build, Value For Money, Child Friendly, Solid Maple Build
  • Cons: Nut Sits A Bit High

Stagg M40S is a solid performer at a friendly price. A surprisingly loud mandolin that can be used in gig scenarios. It certainly has a bark.

Built from solid spruce wood, solid maple back and sides, a rosewood fingerboard, and an adjustable bridge. Another beautiful nickel engraved tailpiece. A traditional bluegrass style mandolin which gives you a bright tone and lots of volume. Perfect starter instrument, even for children as it’s light and very pretty. At a totally insane affordable price, the Stagg M40S is very popular, a good beginner mandolin. So be quick, as you’ve found your new toy!!

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This girl really can play! Here’s some very clean Irish Traditional music : Stagg M40 S

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Loar LM-310F-BRB Honey Creek F-Style Mandolin

Best Medium Priced Mandolin (F Style)

  • Pros: Hand Crafted, Smart Buy, Deeper Tones, Perfect For Guitarists, Minimum F Style Mandolin Price
  • Cons: May Need Setting Up

Straight from your first strum, you’ll get a 1920s authentic tone. The Loar Mandolin is a cut above the rest in build and tone. The price does reflect this. It’s certainly head and shoulders above the rest if you have a higher starter budget. 

The thin “V” profile of the maple neck fits comfortably in the player’s hand, easy to strum without getting hung up on the extended upper frets. The action is set up lower, which makes a big difference. The strings are closer to the frets and so much more comfortable. This makes it easier to learn in comparison to the cheaper instruments.

The Loar LM-310 gives you a surprisingly lower, deeper tone. I actually prefer this sound on a mandolin. The Loar has a professional dark look about it, in fact, it looks much more expensive than it really is. If you have a higher budget, it’s worth the stretch in the price difference. If you’re after an F Style mandolin, this would be the best mandolin for beginners at the ‘lowest price’.

>>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<

Get a look look at this quality mandolin. Beautiful deeper tones showed right here, wow: Loar LM-310 F Mandolin

Rayzm Traditional Bluegrass Mandolin in Shinny Sunburst Color with Padded Gig Bag, A-Style 8-String Acoustic Mandolin, Linden Body, Walnut Fingerboard, Mahogany Neck

Best Entry Mandolin

  • Pros: Comes With Soft Bag, Budget Price, Child Friendly, Perfect Entry Mandolin, Stays In Tune Well. The Price!
  • Cons: Cheap Wood, Tone on the Tinny Side

Rayzm has produced a starter mandolin for those looking to dip their toe in. A Solid walnut fingerboard & bridge, solid mahogany neck. A beautiful shiny look, with quality ABS binding on the body and fingerboard. Comes with an adjustable walnut bridge. A very well constructed instrument considering the price. A little on the tinny and thin side of tone for my liking.

A really popular instrument worldwide, which tells me a lot. You’re not going to be gigging with this. It’s a small, durable, good-looking style mandolin, so inexpensive. The Rayzm is my choice for a lower-budget player wanting to get into music from home. 

A beautiful option if you’re into traditional folk music. 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Donner Mandolin Instrument Mahogany Black A Style with Tuner, String, Gig Bag, Guitar Picks (DML-100B)

Best Budget Starter Pack

  • Pros: Accessories, Well Balanced Volume, Brighter Sound, Adjustable Neck, Adjustable Truss Rod
  • Cons: Short Sustain, High Action

Donner produces all sorts of instrument accessories, guitars, and ukuleles. This starter pack comes with a tuner, four picks, spare mandolin strings, a digital clip-on tuner, and polishing cloths. Now, I like this. They are covering a lot of requirements complete beginners may need. Most beginners may break a string, then what do they do? They have to find out the string size and a local shop that sells one string. Once that string has broken a lot of beginners give up. I really like the thought they’ve put into the pack.

A mahogany body gives you a richer and brighter sound. Chrome-plated open-gear tuners and tailpiece, adjustable truss rod inside the neck. The tuner is a 100% must buy for every new musician, and Donner has added one into the mix. This will have the beginner musician in your house strumming away in no time.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Here’s a great video of the unpacking and playing of the Donner DML series mandolin:

Don’t Forget Your Mandolin Essentials:

Overall Winner: Best Beginner Mandolin

Stagg M40S 8-String

After considering all the options carefully, I decided the Stagg M40S 8-String is the best beginner mandolin. After all, we are looking for a mandolin that is suitable for the complete beginner (or a child). At a friendly price that won’t break the bank, but is good enough to assist you with learning and having fun.

As the Stagg M40S is a solid-bodied instrument, I’ve gone for this. Not only does it last the bumps and scrapes better, but the overall sound is also much superior to a laminated mandolin. It’s very pretty in looks ( and comes in in slightly different models: Black and a Redburst). The Stagg holds it tuning well, it’s easy to play and can be gigged with due to the superb resonance.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

How To Choose A Beginner Mandolin: 

What’s Best For Me & How Much Should I Spend?

It’s a good idea to start with a cheaper mandolin, especially if you are a complete beginner. That’s not to say if you have a higher budget, aim at a better quality of the instrument. Just because a mandolin is cheap, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and learn properly. In fact, it’s a great practice to get a luthier or technician to set up your mandolin when you first receive it. This makes so much difference, this will see you through the learning period without any tuning aggravation.

After 25 years of playing guitar, I still take my instruments to a local guitar doctor to be set up and maintained.

Electric Mandolin Or Acoustic Style?

This all depends on your situation. An acoustic electric mandolin can amplify sound, this gives you total control in a band scenario. You can mix your sound up and down with the other instruments in the band. It’s also handy if you’re playing a gig outside or in a small quiet setting. In fact, they sound amazing through an amp. If you’re looking to learn or play the mandolin from home, then an acoustic mandolin is fine. 

Essential Tips To Consider For Before Buying

Firstly, decide on a budget. If you have 300, then try not to go too far below this amount. Get the best mandolin pound for pound your budget allows.

What Will My Budget Get Me?

Let’s look at what you can expect for your budget:

  • Low Cost (up to 300): ‘A-Style’ mandolins are made from laminate wood. Most likely built in Japan. With a lesser construction reliability comes a lesser quality of tone, compared to the higher-level products. This isn’t to say these are bad, far from it. You can still grab a good starter mandolin around this budget. 

  • Mid Range (500-1000): A step up in the quality of wood used. A much prettier instrument. Most of the time the wood used in the build is solid wood, rather than the laminate pressed construction. Solid wood makes a big difference in tone and will handle dings and bumps much better. If you want to gig with your mandolin, then I would suggest starting at around 600.

  • Top End (2000+): Hand carved instruments, using finer top notch woods, outstanding tones to be had. The finest F Style instruments come within this price bracket. Ideal for live and studio use. Beautiful instruments with the scroll feature on top for the pro player.

Wood

Mandolins are built from a variety of woods. As different parts of the instrument are put under different stresses, certain woods are required in certain places. Now, I could write a whole article about the different types of wood, there are… a lot.  It’s a wealth of information that isn’t important at this particular time, so let’s look at the basics:

Mandolins use different woods for different parts, as mentioned above.

The ‘soundboard’ (top) is the most important piece. Spruce wood is commonly used here. There are also cedar soundboards but are not as common. Before buying a mandolin, look for the wood type of the ‘top’. Be aware, some retailers use the term ‘Select Spruce Top’. This is a bit naughty in my eyes, it’s basically laminate, they just don’t want to write that. 

A simple rule of thumb would be to follow this:

  • Spruce (Laminate: made from various pieces of wood glued together. Vibrates less)

  • Select Spruce Top (Laminate)

  • Solid Spruce (Solid spruce wood, made from one piece of wood. Vibrates better)

  • Maple (Generally back and sides)

  • Rosewood or Ebony (Fretboard)

My last tip is probably the most important but gets overlooked so many times. Buy a hard case with your beautiful new instrument. It’s incredible the number of times I’ve seen musicians turn up to a gig with a soft case and an expensive instrument inside!!

A soft case is 100% necessary for home storage, but not much else. Protect your instrument. The hard case for my guitar costs quite a bit, it’s worth every penny. You’ll also need a good clip-on tuner. This should be your second purchase. Click here for Authority Guitar Best Tuners.

Mandolin Seperator

 

This isn’t for sale, unfortunately!

Mandolin Terminology Made Easy

If you’re reading through a few details regarding mandolins, you might see it advertised as A Style or F Style. Again, it’s important to know what you’re buying. Let’s have a look at the meanings behind the terminology:

  • A-Style Mandolin : A tear-shaped and oval-bodied mandolin

  • F-Style Mandolin : A tear-shaped mandolin with added scroll and points (also known as Florentine). Both A style and F are available with oval or F soundholes

  • Carved Top : The top is carved into the classic arched shape rather than pressed

  • Pressed Top : Pressed by a machine using heat and pressure. Inferior to ‘carved’

  • Arched Back : As opposed to a straight back. The arched back makes the mandolin louder, the sound is pushed outward rather than bouncing around a straight back body.

  • Scroll : You may find it at the top of the mandolin. It serves no acoustic function at all to the scroll, it is purely aesthetic. Hides the strap button, that’s it. 

Is Mandolin Easy To Learn?

Yes! You can play almost any song with three chords.

With all this free time at the moment, now would be the best time to try your hand at learning an instrument. Due to the small size, you have the benefit of taking it everywhere. A mandolin is easier to learn than a guitar or piano. Bear in mind, the best instrument to start with is the one you’re most interested in. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s very true

Ukuleles are probably as easy to learn, but some people find them too small. Mandolins have a far superior overall sound than a uke. 

Mandolins generally come with four courses of doubled metal strings (8 strings). There are five (10 strings) and six (12 strings) stringed mandolins too. Don’t let this put you off, a decent tuner is your best friend. The sound you get from learning a couple of chords will have you hooked within minutes. Get yourself a mandolin chord chart and you’re away.

Mandolins are perfect for a complete beginner and very affordable.

Did You Know?

Ludwig Van Beethoven loved playing the mandolin. That’s right, although better known as a Pianist, Beethoven would hang his favorite mandolin beside his piano. 

 

This was Beethoven’s Milanese mandolin

Beethoven composed at least six works for mandolin, only four of which survived. None were published during his lifetime. It shows the rich history of the mandolin dating back to Italy in the 18th century.  

Other players to rock the mandolin were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Vivaldi. 

 

Best Tablet For Musicians 2021. A Complete Guide To The Best 5

Best Tablet Header

After spending years squinting at my smartphone screen, trying to read what chord comes next in Wonderwall while finding my laptop awkwardly bulky and outdated, I decided to dive into the technological marvel that is, the tablet. After a thorough search, I feel I’ve found the best tablet for musicians! 

Why Choose A Tablet?

Tablets have been around for years now. Combining some of the performance perks of your laptop, with the user friendliness and portability of your smartphone. But, we’re not just interested in browsing Facebook or Netflix on a swanky slab of tech. Tablets offer musicians a portable device that delivers on microphone quality, for those moments of inspiration. A great camera to show off those skills, a screen big enough to read sheet music (or tabs) from. Of course, we require the ability to record and edit demo’s of our latest symphonies wherever we are. All this as well as fitting snugly into an instrument case.

Since the release of the first generation iPad in 2010, tablets have become immensely popular. Partly due to how easy they are to use! No need to download heaps of applications and fumble about with settings. They’re usually ready to go straight out of the box! As we have a specific use in mind for our ‘musical tablets’, there are applications we will need to download. Compared to having to buy extra hardware for a laptop, or having to delete a load of photos on our phones to free up enough storage space. This is hardly a burden.

SIDE NOTE: If you’re after a portable device to plug a whole bunch of recording studio tech into, then a laptop is about as portable as you’re going to get. Tablets are built for capturing spur of the moment ideas, browsing any form of media musicians need. Not for producing professional quality records!

Quick Glance: 5 Best Tablets For Musicians:

Apple, Android, Or Windows!?

The age old question that has been bugging us for… well, only a few years, but which is going to be more effective for musicians? Apple is definitely made with musicians (and all creative types for that matter) in mind. An impressive library of high quality apps designed for any music enthusiast. From the bedroom guitarist to the professional studio musician. The ipad comes with an impressive microphone and camera quality, which all comes at a cost. Android on the other hand offers a wider range of tablets with far more screen size and customization options. Let’s not forget being able to easily swap out batteries! Android tablets also have an impressive amount of apps specifically for musicians. The guts of these devices pack all the necessary punches to run them efficiently. Windows tablets are essentially laptops, with more portability, running on Windows 10. This allows for seamless multitasking, with little to no performance issues. Apple binds you to one app store! With Windows tablets, you can download software just like you would on your laptop or computer, and many devices have USB ports built in.

10 Advantages Of Using A Tablet For Music 

  • Light and portable, just slip it in your guitar bag
  • More affordable than a laptop
  • More and more places have WiFi these days, so jump on
  • Lots of apps support the needs of the musician
  • Record your live gig and post it straight after on social media
  • The perfect traveling musician’s friend. Read, write, call home, watch a movie
  • Mix your bands tracks whilst on the move
  • Record and listen back. Get the band to perfect that song in rehearsals before the show
  • Write ideas and produce on the spot with sheet music apps
  • Tablets are generally becoming as powerful and useful as your laptop. Endless possibilities

Getting The Best Out Of Your Tablet: 3 Essential Tips For Musicians

  1. Can you remember the days of writing down lyrics on paper? Or scribbling out the notes for your bass player? Well, not anymore. Apps now possess the power, discard all that time wasting looking for a pen and paper. Sheet music apps are now available, you can compose as you go, or simply email your rhythm guitarist the chord charts. Lyrics are just a ‘copy and paste’ away. I’ve seen live singers using the automatic scroll technique on a tablet to look at the lyrics coming up. Save trees, buy a tablet, get some apps. 

  1. Make use of the recording functions on today’s apps. Multi tracking, mixing, using a synthesizer on a song (even though you don’t have a keyboard player). Use a metronome to quickly throw in a guitar solo. You can even use a 2k tweed fender amp tone from the 50s, simply by using an app amp modeler.   

  1. As you know, to be the best you can be on your instrument, you need to rehearse every day. Quickly, stick on the song you’re learning via a music app, and study your parts. One push of a button and you’re on Youtube. You need to finish that Slash solo before Saturday’s show, let’s get that lesson up, (good luck with that btw!)

Best Tablet For Musicians: Review

Fire 7 Tablet (7″ display, 16 GB)

Outrageously Inexpensive Android/Best Budget Tablet For Music

  • Pros: Hugely Popular, Low Price, Suitably Adequate, Rugged (Child Proof), One Of The Cheapest On The Market, Old But Gold
  • Cons: Spec Is Older

 

Now, you may look at the price of this and think…err what’s the catch? but wait. We are reviewing tablets that are suitable for musicians, at various budgets.

Although the specifications are old, if you’re working on a tight budget, then this is suitable for us musicians to get out of it what we need. You can access the app store and find your way to guitar chord apps. Jam along and learn your scales or access tons of complete beginner apps. If you’re looking to record live band footage for your website or take professional pics for your album cover, then this isn’t for you. The Fire 7 does the basics very well at a price which is unimaginable in today’s market.

Comes in 16GB and 32GB and four subtle colors. It’s built like a tank and is compact enough to be carried around and survive the bumps of a guitar case. We’re really impressed with the Fire 7. If you’re looking to catch those songwriting ideas and use various apps to assist playing, then the Fire 7 is a perfect match for you.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Here a really thorough video of the Fire 7

SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab A (2019,Wi-Fi) SM-T510 32GB 10.1″ Wi-Fi

Solid Android

  • Pros: Superb Budget Deal, Accessories Can Be Added, Most Frequent Updated Tablet, Large Screen, Major Player in the Tablet World
  • Cons: 2GB Ram Pretty Low, Not Ideal For Multitasking

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A is a great alternative to the iPad (and cheaper). As its an android, you’ll be spoilt for choice for apps that are very helpful for music. The processing efficiency is rather good considering the price, easily good enough for what musicians will need it for.

The camera supports 5 Mpx front-facing and 8 Mpx rear. A Full HD resolution 1920×1200 pixel screen. 32GB storage may not be enough over time, maybe consider an SD card. The 2GB of ram is fine for what musicians require, not so good if you’re looking to multitask between 3 or so different apps. This is standard around these priced tablets.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A, can take on the competition around this price and hold its own. The Major plus points are the 10.1″ screen, the ability to access 100s of useful apps on Google Play, and of course, the very friendly price. I’ve had Samsung phones for the last 5 years. I love them. They just make so much more (common) sense than Apple.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Here’s an in depth video of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Fire HD 10 Tablet (32 GB, Black, With Special Offers) + Amazon Standing Case (Charcoal Black) + Nupro Screen Protector (2-pack) + 15W USB-C Charger

Best Mid Price Android

 

  • Pros: Family Friendly, Robust, Value For Money, Faster Charging, Frequent Updates,
  • Cons: 2GB Ram Pretty Low, Not Ideal For Multitasking

Another Fire Tablet i hear you say. Well, they are huge sellers at such good prices. They need to be considered for what we can do with our musical needs. With 10.1″ 1080p full HD display and 30% quicker due to the new 2.0 GHz octa-core processor update. This alone will see you through most activities. Slim design with built-in stand for hands-free viewing in landscape or portrait orientation, handy for reading chords or recording a video. Fast and smooth, image and sound quality updated from the older spec. Amazon updates are more frequent on the mid range tablets than any other brand (fact). This keeps the apps up to date and the system running to full potential. A large clear screen, dependable battery life, and practical design. This particular review is the tablet with accessories, i thought having a proper stand is essential for the musician. You can take the accessories off and it’s even cheaper. Without a doubt the best tablet for music in the mid-price range. A colossal seller for a reason!

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Check out this clip to see what you’re getting with the Fire HD

Apple iPad (10.2-inch, Wi-Fi, 128GB) – Space Gray (Latest Model)

Best IOS

  • Pros: Wifi & Cellular Options, Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor, Adequate Starter Tablet for Cubasis Type Mixing Apps, Able To Multitask At Speed, Affordable, Stereo
  • Cons: Slightly Older Model Accessories Won’t Work With It

The first Apple product on my list. As they sit on the more expensive side of tablets, i haven’t put many in. I think in today’s world, a musician needs a tablet simply for when they’re out and about or recording in your bedroom/studio. In this case, i wouldn’t suggest an all-conquering top of the range iPad. I personally don’t think you need to spend a fortune on an iPad, although a lot of the cost is down to the brand name.

This Apple ipad (128GB) on the contrary, is more suited to the songwriting/mixing/producing musician. If you’re looking to record an album for a management company etc, you wouldn’t do it on a tablet. If you’re looking to use the tablet for songwriting, mixing your ideas with a Cubasis type app, then you would definitely require an iPad like this. Superb facetime (cellular function required) and camera capabilities, if you’re away from home. It’s definitely a step up from the previous tablets but only as it covers more requirements. If you like the idea of adding the smart keyboard, i would definitely recommend it. It’s slick and really useful. A professional tool in all areas. If you have a higher starter budget, and you require a tablet for mixing music, then look no further than the iPad.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Get a better look at the iPad with this helpful video

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 10.5″,  128GB Wifi Tablet Cloud Blue – SM-T860NZBAXAR

High End Android/Best Samsung Tablet

  • Pros: Brutally Efficient, HDR Resolution, Stand Is Far More Usable Than Ipad, Most Powerful Tab On The Market
  • Cons: Keyboard On The Small Side

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 sits at the very top of the tablet league. Its efficient way to multitask is outstanding; Thanks to the speed of the fast mobile processor, rapidly switch between apps and tasks or immerse yourself in mixing your band’s music on some pretty high powered music apps. A 6GB of ram and 128GB internal memory makes this a tool that can easily store music videos, album pictures, and demo mixing.

The S6 is also available with 256GB/8GB of Ram, just in case you want to record the next 25 years of touring! I’ve added the keyboard version of the S6, as it’s handy if you’re going to be mixing down tracks. The keyboard is easily attached or detached. Click the link attached below to remove the keyboard off/change the color or add more internal memory etc etc.

All in all, this is the crème de la crème tablet. And in my opinion, is better than the Ipad Air. If you are looking for a tablet that can do everything, this is it.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Check this review out of the Samsung S6

Winner

I’ve based my decision on ‘the best value for money’ vs ‘the requirements of a musician’. Obviously, everybody’s situation is different, so i hope you can now choose the best tablet that suits your musical requirements and budget.

My clear winner for the Best Tablet For Musicians Is:

Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet

(32 GB, Black, With Special Offers) + Amazon Standing Case (Charcoal Black) + Nupro Screen Protector (2-pack) + 15W USB-C Charger

It’s not the most expensive, nor does it work as efficiently in all areas as the competition. Yet, it’s perfect for what a musician needs it for: YouTube, Chord Apps, Video Recording, Audio, Pictures, Performance, Storage, Mixing, Sheet Music Apps, and Songwriting. A major plus is the huge range of Google Play apps.

All at an affordable price.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

Author: Jimmy Embleton-Smith

 

The Guitars That Shaped The Best Selling Albums Of All Time

Close Up of Black Strat

Throughout the decades, the sound of guitar music has evolved. Each decade a number of guitarists have had a huge amount of influence on the direction of music. Here are some of the guitars that shaped the best selling albums by decade:

 

1950s

The most popular guitars at the beginning of the 50s were heavy, hollow-bodied, and resembled a cello. The tone was clean with a distinctive bright echo. The slapback echo rhythm was prevalent in this era. The sound would bounce and slap off the recording studio walls. This unique characteristic we now recognize as the rockabilly sound.

Bill Haley & The Comets, “Rock Around The Clock”, 1955

The highest selling single of the 50s was ‘Rock Around The Clock’ (40 million copies sold worldwide). Bill Haley’s guitars around 1955 were the Gibson L7-C and the Gibson Super 400. Danny Cedrone, Haley’s guitarist, used a Gibson ES-300 on the record.

Elvis Presley “Jailhouse Rock,” 1957

Scotty Moore was Elvis Presley’s main man between 1954-1968. Some say he was the one who invented the power chord. A Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer. Keith Richards once said: “When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I knew what I wanted to do in life. All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like the way Scotty Moore did. Everyone wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty”

Moore used his Gibson Super 400 CES around the 1957 period to record ‘Jailhouse Rock’ (4 million records in the US & UK)

1960s

The 1960s were by far the most creative and influential.

Surf music was born in the early 60s with Dick Dale, The Del-Tones, and of course The Beach Boys leading the way. Californian made Fender guitars took over the surf scene. The clear slap back echo from the 50s wasn’t as dominant now, it was all about the spring reverb. Around the early 1960 Fender Jazzmaster, Jaguar, and Stratocaster was the guitar of choice. Oh, and The Beatles arrived!.

The Beatles “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, 1967

In 1964 the music scene was completely dominated by The Beatles. In 1967 the highest selling album was ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (30 million copies sold worldwide).

George, John, and Paul, all used an Epiphone Casino for most of the album. The Epiphone Casino has a completely hollow body and would tend to feedback very easily. Feedback was an experimental sound around this time, it was soon to become an ingredient of the late 60s.

It’s also worth mentioning, those vintage acoustic tones on the album were made by Gibson J160 Guitars. I can hear them now on the intro to ‘A Day in the Life’. George and John used the Gibson J160s throughout The Beatles.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Are You Experienced”, 1967

It’s difficult to write any guitar article without mentioning this man. In 1967, Jimi Hendrix released ‘Are You Experienced?’. I think it’s safe to say he changed the direction of the electric guitar forever. Jimi exploded onto the scene with his right-handed guitar strung upside down. He created a dive-bombing wave of feedback, screaming over the heads of his audience like a fighter jet. Jimi was an exciting guitarist to watch live, but in the studio, he crafted a beautiful rhythmic style. This kind of guitar playing had never been witnessed before.

Jimi brought a whole new methodology to the art of playing the electric guitar. Hendrix would stretch his thumb over the top of the neck barring the bass notes, this would free up his fingers to do much more with a basic bar chord. He used experimental chord shapes, his use of the whammy bar was mind blowing, he later added the wah wah.

The Olympic White 1968 Fender Stratocaster was Jimi’s most famous guitar. Known as ‘The Woodstock Strat’. Hendrix and Eric Clapton certainly helped to make the Fender Stratocaster the most famous guitar ever.

Led Zeppelin, “Led Zeppelin II”, (1969)

Although ‘Led Zeppelin II’ isn’t the band’s highest selling album of all time, (12 million US), most fans will tell you, it’s the most influential. At the time was one of the best selling albums in the U.S

When you picture Jimmy Page, the guitar you probably see is his 1959 Sunburst Les Paul Standard. This was the guitar he bought from Joe Walsh and can be heard on most of Led Zep II.

Jimmy’s unmistakable overdriven sound made people sit up and listen. Big fat riffs and power chords played through small to medium amps. In the studio, Page would push these smaller amps hard, they would break up at high volumes, this gave Jimmy the legendary Led Zeppelin sound.

Did you know Jimmy Page played a telecaster in the early days?. Most of ‘Led Zeppelin I’ was recorded with a Blonde 1959 Telecaster named ‘The Dragon’. The Tele was also responsible for the greatest solo in the history of rock music, ‘Stairway To Heaven’.

1970s

Guitars produced in the 70s were extremely well built, durable, and made to last. You can still shop around today for gear from this decade. There are some fantastic tube amps and compressors made in the 70s.

Distortion and overdrive were now in full effect. The volume button on amplifiers went all the way up to 11. Heavy Rock was born. Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC were amongst those who changed rock music forever. Now, these guys lived the guitar life.

Here are some of the best selling albums in the 1970s:

The Eagles, “The Eagles ‘Greatest Hits 1971-75”

With a whopping 41 million+ worldwide album sales, ‘The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-75’ went 38x Platinum in 2018. One of the best selling albums of all time.

I’ve picked out some guitars from their huge hit ‘Hotel California’.

In the studio, Don Felder played the intro to ‘Hotel California’ on a Takamine F400S 12-string acoustic. For live shows, he had a bit of a problem. He couldn’t decide how he would play the intro with one guitar, then swap over to another guitar for the solo. So, he decided on using a guitar that has ended up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck provided Felder with the means to do both. The album will go down in history as one of the top selling albums of all time.

Joe Walsh was the more creative of the Eagles guitarists, gritty and bluesy. Don Felder was the more technically skilled, together you can see why The Eagles were so big.

Joe Walsh’s favorite guitars were his 1958 Les Paul Gold Top and a 1956 Fender Stratocaster.

Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970

Paul Simon shows what a great guitarist he is on their 1970 ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ album (25 million Worldwide).

The acoustic tone on this album is literally perfect. A beautiful warm, chunky, relaxing acoustic sound from a classic American Brand.

The Guild F-30-NT Special was Paul Simon’s trusty guitar that had seen him through the 60s. Somewhere in 1970, he started using a series of Black Yamaha LS400 guitars. These were custom made for him by Japanese master luthier Terumi Nakamoto.

Here’s some footage of Paul Simon playing ‘Homeward Bound’ in 1975. No amps or effects, Just listen to that Guild tone!

Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of The Moon”, 1973

Dave Gilmour’s ‘Black Strat’ was the most expensive guitar in history. Only to be surpassed by Kurt Cobain’s MTV acoustic. In 2019, Gilmour sold the guitar for a little under 4 million and donated the proceeds to charity.

The Legendary ‘Black Strat’ was responsible for Dark Side of The Moon in 1973 (35 million copies sold worldwide). A truly unique album with huge string bending solos and an iconic Stratocaster tone. Gilmour used Fuzz Face tones on his screaming lead parts and a Univox Vibe pedal for chords. That shimmering pulsing vibe effect is mesmerizing on the intro to ‘Breathe’.

The Black Strat was his go-to guitar for almost all his career, with the amount of success he’s had with it, you can see why.

The ‘Black Strat’

Gilmour in 2006. (Pic by Joep Vullings)

1980s

Music in the 80s experimented with lots of effects, Good and bad. Yet this decade was an absolute goldmine for quality songwriting. The 70s brought about distortion and crunch tones in rock guitar music. The 80s relied on heavily produced reverb, chorus, compression, and synthesizers. This didn’t get in the way of some of the best guitar bands and greatest albums ever produced. Here’s just a few from one of my favorite eras:

Michael Jackson, “Thriller”, 1982 (65 million copies sold worldwide)

You might not put ‘Thriller’ in the guitar album category, but Michael Jackson used many superb guitarists throughout his time. Among those were: Steve Stevens, Jennifer Batten, Slash, Carlos Santana, Steve Lukather, and the virtually unknown guitarist: David Williams. David Williams is the man behind the funky rhythms from the ‘Off The Wall’ Album.

Thriller was home to some pretty unique and brilliant songwriting. Jacksons musicians have always been top draw. The guitar i’m going to refer to is the one that created the ‘Beat It’ solo. That’s down to Eddie Van Halen and ‘Frankenstrat’. Frankenstrat was the name of Van Halen’s guitar he used to play that legendary solo.

The idea behind Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Frankenstrat’ was taken from the fictional doctor who combined body parts to create the monster ‘Frankenstein’.

The Fender Stratocaster body and maple neck were factory rejects. Van Halen painted the body black, and when it was dry, added strips of gaffer tape and painted it white, then he’d repeat the process with red paint.

The main modifications were the pickups. They were wired to fit a Gibson humbucking bridge, a floyd rose tremolo was added, then he cut a vinyl record and shaped it into his pickguard. A strip of double sided masking tape was stuck near the pickguard so Van Halen could attach his picks to the guitar. He later attached truck reflectors to the rear of the body, he would flip the guitar over and reflect the stage lights onto the crowd. What a guitar!

Dire Straits, “Brothers In Arms”, 1985

Mark Knopfler is undoubtedly one of the finest guitar players around. His attention to detail and memorable melodies place him right at the top of the guitar heroes list.

The ‘Brothers In Arms’ Album (30 Million copies worldwide). At a time when guitar solos were flashy and over the top, Knopfler’s precise clean fingerpicking approach was refreshing.

Kopfler is well known for playing both a Gibson Les Paul 1983 Reissue, a number of Red Stratocasters, and Schecters.

One of his most iconic guitars was the 1936 National Style-0 Steel Guitar. The guitar is found on the cover of ‘Brothers In Arms’. The distinct tone you hear on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ 1980 and ‘The Mans Too Strong’ 1985 is Knopfler playing the steel guitar.

U2 The Joshua Tree, 1987

The Edge is a guitarist who’s taken 80s technology by the scruff of the neck and created his own unique style. With the use of delay and reverb, he could produce a superb layer of sound. This whilst only playing a few rhythmic notes and phrases. He has stated this approach was out of necessity, due to the band only being a 3 piece.

The Edge played many guitars throughout the years with U2. This was the guitar he used for The Joshua Tree Album was the 1980s Washburn EA20 Woodstock Acoustic. With its rich, warm tones he saturated the album with this guitar.

The classic delay guitar effect on; ‘Where The Streets Have no name’ and ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, is from the 1973 Black Stratocaster. Yet The Edge later said The Washburn Acoustic is one of his favorite guitars.

It’s safe to say The Edge’s guitar style is unmistakable. The clean, delayed, cutting edge tone is the trademark U2 sound.

1990s

The 90s was the rebirth of creativity and Inspiration. New musical genres were created; Hip Hop, Grunge, Alternative Rock, Britpop, Country Pop, Eurodance, Nu Metal, R&B, SkaPunk, Rap Rock, the list goes on. Musicians were mixing styles of all sorts. A new, younger generation was powering through with some incredible bands. The reverb guitar sound was replaced with heavy, angry grunge guitar.

Nirvana, “Nevermind”, 1991

One of the pioneers of 90s music was Kurt Cobain. “Nevermind” sold 30 million copies worldwide and seem to dial in with the younger generation. The birth of grunge may have been credited to Neil Young, but Nirvana distributed it globally.

Nirvana seemed to be the band everyone was waiting for. Melodic intros, huge distorted chords, screaming vocals, this resonated with the youth of the time.

‘Nevermind’ is still one of the key elements in guitar music history.

When you picture Kurt playing guitar, maybe you see him with his 1965 Fender Jaguar? but according to some sources, Kurt recorded ‘Nevermind’ with his Black “Vandalism” Strat. He’s seen playing it on the ‘Nevermind’ tour 1991.

Kurts Modified 1965 Fender Jaguar was purchased around late 1991. Kurt used this jaguar at the start of the ‘In Utero’ tour 1994. Kurts ‘other’ famous guitar was the MTV Unplugged 1959 Martin D-18E Acoustic. This Sold in 2020 for $6 million. In 2011 Fender brought out the ‘Kurt Cobain’ Jaguar model, based on his 1965 guitar with the added modifications.

Metallica, “Metallica” (The Black Album), 1991

With 28 million albums sold globally, Metallica spearheaded their own sub-genre within hard rock, heavy metal.

‘Kill Em All’ was Metallica’s first explosive album in 1983. This was brutal, aggressive, and gritty, some similarities between punk and metal. By the time The Black Album was released in 91, the band had changed significantly. There wasn’t a muddy, hard thrash band anymore, that was replaced with polished hard rock.

1991 was the turning point for the band.  They reached a new audience with hits like ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters.

With a total of 121 million album sales, you can only admire what these guys have done for guitar music.

James Hetfields original guitar for ‘Kill em All’ was a cheap Gibson Flying V Copy ($200). Maybe his most iconic guitars were the ESP MX220 Flying V guitars. It looks like he used the white 1987 ESP MX220 (the one with stickers on) for his studio work on The Black Album. Although Hetfield recorded with the white guitar, he was known to use a lot of black versions of the guitar from 1989 to the mid 90s.

To achieve the beasty tone of Metallica, you’re gonna need a ESP or a Flying V, simple as that.

2000s

Since the creation of ‘Napster‘, and other illegal download sites, record sales took a dip and changed the music business forever.

In the 2000s the influential guitarists were; John Mayer, Matthew Bellamy (Muse), John Frusciante (80s & 90s too!) RHCP, Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), Daron Malakian (System of a Down), Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack White (White Stripes).

It was a difficult decade to be recognized as a guitar hero, the Nu-Metal genre probably had the most success in terms of sales. 

Linkin Park, “Hybrid Theory” 2000

When Linkin Park debuted with ‘Hybrid Theory’, nobody could see what was coming. A huge 27 million copies sold worldwide. They brought their own mix of rock, hip hop, and electronica to the world’s stage.

Brad Delson is the main man behind the six strings. He’s been reported to have played over 90 guitars within his time with Linkin Park. Among his favorites were a variety of Ibanez guitars. ‘Hybrid Theory’ was down to Brad’s Royal Blue Paul Reed Smith (PRS) CE-24. The thick, low end, heavily distorted guitar tone was perfect in the early days, giving the raw power that the band needed.  

Green Day, ‘American Idiot’ 2004

To date, Green Day has sold over 85 million records worldwide. Green Day’s biggest album was in 1994 with ‘Dookie’.

In 2000, Green Day record sales had been on the decline since ‘Dookie’. ‘American Idiot’ brought rock guitar back into the forefront of music. In a decade where guitar music was dying, Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day got back to what they were best at. Catchy, foot-tapping 1970s style Punk Rock.

Billie Joe’s Gibson Les Paul Junior 1956 Sunburst was his favorite guitar around this time. As fans will know he named it ‘Floyd’. In the early days, Billie-Joe was a Strat man with ‘Blue’. These days he seems to favor the Gibson Les Paul Junior collection.

Here are: 20 Interesting Facts You Might Not Have Known about Green Day

2010s

Rock music or guitar-based bands were in decline after the 2000s. Hard rock and heavy metal had moved away from the mainstream. The 2010s saw band music becoming softer in the form of indie rock.

The 2010s still had its fair share of Alternative Rock bands. Bands such as Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Fall Out Boy, Nickelback and The Arctic Monkeys.

Ed Sheeran, X, 2014

Ed Sheeran cannot be ignored as a major player in today’s market. He seems to appeal to pretty much every demographic. He mixes genres that you wouldn’t think would work. Sheeran mixes catchy pop with folk music and modern hip hop. People can relate to Sheeran’s song topics. With massive album sales, he’s really got the golden touch.

During his ‘X’ album (8million copies sold worldwide), Sheeran used a mixture of the ¾ size ‘Little Martin X Series’ acoustic guitars. He was also given a Lowden acoustic guitar from Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. He supposedly played and wrote a few of the X album on the Lowden WL-35 acoustic.

Ed Sheeran has his own selection of trademark Martin acoustics. You know you’re a big deal when you own a signature range.

Summary

I hope you’ve enjoyed ‘The guitars that shaped the best selling albums of all time”.

As you can see by my list, we’re a bit short on huge selling guitar bands today. What does the future hold for the six-string?

I’m hoping a band comes along and gets today’s youngsters learning to play guitar again.

Having outstanding musical technology under our fingertips is beneficial in some ways. But is it affecting the art of learning an instrument properly? The benefits of learning a guitar can give you a lifetime of enjoyment. But is technology taking over.?

Is the guitar slowly fading into the background? Is it cool anymore?

If you love music and what you’ve read today, here’s a really good guide to the 50 Best Selling Studio Albums, likewise with the 50 Greatest Guitar Albums

I’ve had to miss out sooo many guitarists and major influences over the years. I’m sure you’re about to tell me? Please feel free to add your favorite’s in the comments and explain why.