this is probably a bad idea, but i’ll ask anyway

Categories: off-topic


Alright, I need some advice from you.

I figure that there’s some musicians out there reading this blog, so I want to pick your brains. I’ve been wanting to play an instrument again, and I’m thinking about learning the guitar. I played the piano up until college, when I just didn’t have time to keep it up anymore… but now, I don’t really want to play something as unwieldy as a piano. As I know as much about guitars as I do about shoujo manga, I’ve been bugging everyone I knew for advice on this topic… like what’s the best way to get started? Is an acoustic easier to learn than an electric? What do I look for when I buy one? If you have any suggestions or advice, it’ll be greatly appreciated. I might even post more Mio fanservice images if I get some help here.

30 Responses to “this is probably a bad idea, but i’ll ask anyway”

  1. I started to learn how to play the guitar a few months ago myself, and from what I’ve picked up it really doesn’t matter whether you learn electric or acoustic, though for price’s sake, it may be better to pick up an acoustic guitar just because you don’t need an amp to get the full effect of practicing. With an acoustic, you can pretty much start right away. If possible try to pick up a chord book as quickly as possible and maybe even a tuner. That’s really the extent I know about guitars though, since I’m actually a drummer. Good Luck in your quest to rock out like Yui and Azu-nyan.

    Now, where’s my Mio fanservice?

  2. The best way to get started, if you’re serious about picking up the guitar, is to get lessons. Your local college – assuming they have offer majors in music performance – is actually a great resource in that regard. Grad students can always use a little more money, and some places rent out practice rooms. Once you’ve taken a few lessons and want to head off on your own, that’s fine, but when you’re starting off, it’s a good idea to get the technical stuff down first. I’ll take my payment in the form of Azu-nyan/ Azu-nyan + Mio images, thanks.

  3. I only got into guitaring at the start of last year (after mostly playing drums and piano since I was 5) and my first guitar was an epiphone acoustic. Acoustics can be a good first guitar and you don’t need an amp like you do an electric. While I do still play my acoustic, ever since I got my first electric (a fender strat MIM) I haven’t been able to put it down. The first thing you notice when you play the two is the difference in neck size. Most of the songs I love listening to are rock so I think I swing more towards my electric but damn is it costly. I’ve been buying a lot of upgrades to the hardware (new pickups, tremolo, strings, machineheads) and it’s easily cost me more on upgrades and accessories than on the guitar itself.

    If you want the most cost-efficient option, I saw go for acoustic since all you need after getting one is pretty much a tuner, a capo and some picks. If you insist on an electric though, you can always get a cheap squire fender option since they are actually very damn good for a first electric guitar, and some configurations even come with a free amp.

    Be warned though, if you really get into guitaring, it’s gonna be one hella expensive hobby, as I am only finding out this year…..

  4. Josh Garrado seems to do very well with a keyboard. When I compare his rendition of My Love Is a Stapler with competing guitar pieces on Youtube, it’s pretty clear that firstly, a synth is not all that unweildy, and secondly, it’s a much superior solo instrument. I would only learn guitar if I firmly decided to join a band.

  5. Btw, what type of songs are you looking to learn? That may not be as important but it can lead you in the right direction.

    I’m self-taught so I refer to the internet and book for learning the basics but getting lessons is a good idea too. They can teach you the chords and the basic terms involved (and finger exercises), if you don’t feel like reading.

    Since you play the piano, your fingers should be pretty nimble so all that’s left really is just practice, practice, practice :D

  6. Hmm, well, I played the guitar for a few years in high school, after playing the flute (yeah yeah laugh all you want) since fifth grade. Transitioning from easy to press flute keys to things like bar chords on the guitar was kind of a pain in the ass. I do remember my friend’s electric guitar being wayy easier to play than my acoustic, though. And it sounded awesome. If I was to start playing again I’d pick up an electric guitar. But I’m probably the wrong person to be listening to.

    Also, like others have said, get lessons (I took mine at the shop I got my guitar). That’s the best way to go about this. Your instructor/teacher will definitely be able to answer all your questions. Oh and obviously practice (being the idiot I was in high school I thought I could get away with half assing it).

  7. I’m a musician (with over 30 geetars and basses) and I used to work at Sam Ash as well. I know everything you could possibly want to know. Haaaaaaaaaa. It honestly depends on what kind of music you’re into. Acoustics are a little tougher to start with since they use a heavier gauge string which requires more hand/finger strength that you’re not likely to have/enjoy right off the bat. A lot of people and kids quit early on because it “hurts” too much to play. Electrics are easier to start with, but you’re in it for the cost of a starter kit (amplifier, ect.). You’re in a tough spot because you’ve played piano and have a background in reading music, so you’re likely to be in a position to upgrade fairly quickly. I don’t know exactly what to recommend you since i’ve not spoken to you and I don’t how much you’re looking to spend, your tastes in music, and style guitar, ect. I learned from tablature, and that might be a good, free way to learn, including the songs you like, depending on the difficulty. Power chord based songs and 90’s rock ect. is a good way to start if you into any of that, weezer, nirvana,et al. If you wanna get into it a little deeper, you can email me or somethin’. I’d be more than glad to help you get goin’ in the right direction.

  8. Acoustic is a good point to start at because they’re slightly cheaper (I recommend Tanglewood or Yamaha…the latter do some good value for money electrics too) – you could promise yourself an electric and a little practice amp as reward for sticking with it and learning the basics. I found teaching myself to be rewarding but very slow…learning songs I like helped a lot too.

    Don’t go for *the* cheapest though because it it’s badly put together and doesn’t feel comfortable, it’ll make the learning process harder and offputting. Don’t be afraid to try out several before finding one that sounds and feels right to you.

    It’s really difficult at first but once you get over learning how to hold the pick right and remembering the basic chords it gradually gets easier and more fun – a lot of people who drop it do so early on before they discover how enjoyable it is. Then you’ll spend the money you saved for manga and DVDs on amps, pedals, more guitars…

  9. –DON’T buy a $2,5000 Gibson Les Paul

    –DO dress your guitar up in a seifuku and sleep with it every night

  10. This is almost irrelevant but Mio completed my interest in taking up the bass.

    Oh, and Mai. (AKA GOD KNOWZ)

  11. If I were in your position, I’d go for a violin.
    Versatile, small, elegant… able to move people to tears, of joy or pain.
    You can also put a tommy gun in the case for those special outings.
    You know you want to rock out like Kotomi, Recruit and Biri-Biri, to name a few.

  12. Electrics are physically easier. Less string tension, thinner strings, thinner necks. Acoustic guitars are like playing on a bed of nails by comparison.

    Cheap is relative. I found a decent electric, used, and it was one heck of a lot more fun to play than the awful acoustic my family had. I put the lightest gauge strings I could find on it, and got a glorified headphone mini amp that runs on a 9v battery as part of the deal. Like 260$, but that was 10 years ago. Electrics typically retain their value pretty well – if bought used.

    Don’t believe the hype – most of an electric’s sound is not in the pickups, but in the preamp section of an amp. And you can now buy pretty cheap amps or effects boxes that have circuits that match all the classic amps. Likewise, you can get headphone amps that run on usb or AA batteries, and practice to your heart’s content without bothering anybody. Just try that with an acoustic! Also, there are a couple usb-guitar interfaces out there nowadays. I don’t know much about them, but they seem really interesting.

    The key thing with guitars is to have fun, dammit. If you want to go to acoustic later, it’s mostly a matter of picking up finger strength. Finger strength does not equal skill, so I said the heck with that. You’ll find lots of b.s. about “differences you can hear” between different amps, strings, pickups, and Kami help you, amp cords. Don’t believe the hype. 90% of your sound is technique. If you have to spend money on one “extra” on a guitar, get one with a tremolo arm. There are some sounds you can’t get otherwise.

  13. First, if you’re learning guitar for the first time, let me say this: Forget everything about what you should look for in a guitar.

    Buy some cheap kit electric guitar with amp(if you want to play electric, otherwise acoustic if that’s what you want), learn to tune it and play it, and if you learn how to play on a POS, you’ll never have any trouble playing any nice ones. (plus it doubles as an excuse for why you’ll probably sound bad when starting out practicing :P )

    Someone like Phil Collins^ seems to be the kind of person you’d ideally want to talk to for specifics afterwards, but like he said, it’s hard to recommend specifics without knowing more information.

    Once you learn how to play, you’ll learn at the same time what to look for in a guitar, such as dual humbuckers and all that jazz. Personally I’d recommend electric over acoustic if only because of the fun filters and stuff you can do with them that you can’t really do with on acoustics…

    But seriously, never ever learn on a nice expensive instrument no matter what kind.

  14. I started with an acoustic and got guitar lessons. I wanted to play guitar because of Blink 182 and that late 90’s stuff. Later on I picked up an electric ($200 used + $100 amp) and stuck with it. Since you have the piano background, start learning how to read tabulature. Go to sites like (…the only site I ever use now, actually) and learn some songs! It will take a while to know how to weed out the bad tabs, though.

    If you really want to play a K-ON! song right off the bat, the most beginner song is probably “Don’t say lazy” (except for the pre-chorus bits and bridge as they require more than just power chords). If you learn basic open chords quick, then you can step straight into Iwasawa’s “My Song” pretty fast; there’s a youtube clip I watched yesterday and the song is easy to pick up.

  15. Three tips that you can take for what it’s worth:

    1) Know (or try to determine) your ideal learning style. There are people that are great with surrounding themselves with resources (e.g. chord books,, etc.) and are able to gradually build up their skill level. There are people that work great with one on one instruction. There are people that would prefer group instruction, to provide a type of peer motivation (well, I better work on the songs and chords that we were assigned to learn, I don’t want to look like a jerk.). Choose appropriately, based on what style has been successful in the past.

    2) Know your motivations, but don’t forget to have some fun along the way. Presumably there are some songs that you want to learn how to play, so always keep those handy and something to strive for. Depending on your budget, you can either go toward an acoustic or an electric, but within reason I think it’s okay to splurge a little bit on your first purchase. Much like Yui was excited to hang out with Guitah, practice is a little bit more fun I think when you are looking forward to using your gear, versus grumbling that you have to get better so that you can “deserve” better gear.

    3) Know your friends. Mention this to friends. You may find others who can give you tips, or fellow friends that are just starting out. Much like many of our favorite anime shows, though it is possible to do it on your own, it’s always better if you have your friends to help you along the way.

    Good luck and keep us posted! (I’ll take my payment in GirlsDeMo / Misaki, if I may. Kthanksbye!)

  16. I may not post much, but I see that a fellow anime fan needs advice, and I can help out! Everyone said the basics, so I’ll try to put in my thoughts as well.

    Acoustic or electric? Acoustics are generally harder to learn on. They require more strength in the hands and it can be quite discouraging to build that strength in the beginning. Electrics are more of a hassle. There is more setup involved and they are expensive to get started. You can do away with an amp, but what you play will probably not sound like any of the songs you wanted to learn. If you don’t have fun with your instrument (not Yui fun, mind you) you will end up putting it down out of frustration. Whatever you decide on, start easy so you feel great about what you’re playing. While this may sound obvious, it is very tempting to go ahead and try to play the opening riff of God Knows. While it is an easy riff to most experienced guitarists, it is not to the beginner since their muscle memory isn’t developed. You can try it occasionally, but you’re better off learning the OP from Ouran (sakura kiss?). Seriously, it’s a fun first song!
    What to look for in a guitar? Playability. How comfortable it feels in your hands. I would tell you to try out every guitar in your price range, but to save you time, go with Yamaha if you decide acoustic. Of all budget guitars I’ve played, I always end up liking the Yamaha’s. They are extremely affordable and they are easy to learn on. The action is set rather low on most of their guitars (the strings are closer to the fretboard), meaning it requires less finger strength, easing the learning process (just watch out for fret buzz!). My first guitar was a Yamaha and I still play it today, although my instrument of choice is my electric guitar. I can tell you that playing the acoustic first is definitely not a bad idea. The transition to me was seamless, until you start leaning scales that is. =)
    I’ve been in a band now for about 2-3 years and I enjoy literally every second of being a part of it. I can honestly say that the thing that accelerated my learning of guitar the most was playing with other people. So look for other people who are learning, who can teach you, and who can JAM with you! I was a self-taught guitarist, but it will probably do you more good to learn from someone, especially if that someone shares the same musical tastes with you.
    So I hope my advice was helpful to you, and may your experience with guitar be a most enjoyable one! Lemme know if you want to jam to some anime tunes!

  17. Wow, you’ve got a lot of suggestions. I’ll admit I didn’t read them all, but here’s my two cents.
    I learned bass first. It’s a blast and if you’re in a band, you can blend in if you don’t like attention. But if you’re just going to play on your own, there’s only so much playing RUSH and Dream Theater in the apartment you can do. I moved up to electric guitar first, learning Pink Floyd solos and Led Zeppelin riffs. But when I wanted my own guitar (I had been borrowing others in my band), I got an acoustic. Which brings me to my point:
    What do you want to play? If you want to play God Knows, hard rock riffs and try your hand at blazing solos you need the electric gear. If, however, you want to play softer stuff, more emotional stuff, and easier to play just on your own without backup, the acoustic is the way to go. You’ve already had people tell you the differences in how they play, but this is about what you WANT to play. And knowing that is half the battle.
    It will all come down to your own desire. I’ve tried to teach people, but if they don’t have the desire to play every day, like Yui, they won’t.

  18. 2 words: Classes, Dedication.

  19. You already have tons of advise here, so I’ll just leave a small (possibly useless) piece of advise I guess!

    I played piano when I was a kid (Suzuki method for a few years), and then played violin regularly from about 5th grade until college when I decided to drop lessons to make more time for other subjects (read: anime club and partying lol), so I can’t tell you much about the guitar. However, since you have piano under your belt I’d say you have an excellent spring board to go off of! I say you should first /rent/ an instrument from a Mill’s Music or equivalent music store in your area, take some lessons, and then decide what you want in an actual purchased guitar.

    TL;DR: Rent first and see how you like playing the guitar, and then go about actually buying one to own.

  20. Just do what Yui does.

  21. As long as you are dedicated to playing, any playable guitar will get you there. I heard over and over again “Nicer guitars are a lot easier (LESS PAINFUL) to play, but if you practice on a cheap guitar you’ll be awesome when you pick up a good one.” It’s actually true–totally backwards from pianos–but it’s a matter of your dedication to the instrument. If you’re just looking for another instrument, maybe that would mean an easier to progress when you get to the finger-bleeding line and realize what a stupid design guitars are in general. It takes either a TRUE LOVE of the guitar or a CRAZY AZN (craisin) dedication to keep playing a cheap guitar with bleeding fingers. And, really, when you’re good you’re going to be playing a good guitar.

    A guitar is pretty simple in concept: There are strings you can wind at one end to make tighter, a board you can press down on to shorten the length of string vibrating, and either a hollow box or an electric pickup used to bring the sound out. Well, you know that, but my point is this: All the details are personal preference. How wide the neck is/far apart the strings are, how high above the fretboard they are (the cheaper the guitar, the higher they are), those are the mechanics you’re worried about that effect the mechanics of playing. Anything else is what suits your fancy.

    Acoustic or electric doesn’t matter much. Get whichever will let you play the music you aspire to play. Yeah, electrics are easier to play than acoustics. If you’re worried about ease of play on an acoustic, just get a *good*. The best deal in high quality, easy to play acoustic guitars is probably a Zager (yeah, Zager & Evans Zager, who does the work personally). Of course, you can get perfectly passable, not-as-nice one a bit cheaper.

    Since you have experience on the piano, you can probably just get a guitar, a book, and sit down and play. Practice your chords. Do your finger exercises. Then play until you get it.

    Disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t play guitar. I’m not going to play an instrument that requires body mutilation to play.

  22. Just start a high school band made of moe, no?

  23. I’ve got my first guitar about 3 years ago but I didn’t start playing seriously enough until a little more than a year ago. I managed to learn the basics from and the sweet thing about it is that it’s free and easy to understand. Another thing about guitar is dedication and practice, you won’t get anywhere unless you have those two. For a starter guitar, i would recommend a Mitchell MD-100 acoustic. I got it as my first guitar and I still play it up to now, plus it sounds amazing considering how cheap it is. I got mine for $130 from guitar center, and I saw that it dropped down to $99 dollars recently. Good luck with guitar, dude!

  24. It’s still the month of Mio. Get a bass guitar.

  25. listen to ragingduck

  26. I have no advice to offer, just a question: Will you be wearing a mask in your Youtube videos, or thigh-highs? Looking forward to the debut of Lulu and the Penetrators (your #1 fan).

  27. Looks like you’ve already got plenty of advice already, but I’ll throw in my spare change:

    Acoustic is going to be cheaper starting out since you won’t need an amp and other gear to begin, but on the other hand it is more difficult to play. The action — the height of the strings relative to the fretboard — is higher, so more force is needed to depress the strings and you can’t play as fast (which is why you’ll sometimes hear the term “fast action” in reference to an electric guitar). It’ll also hurt a lot more until your calluses develop. I started on an electric, and if I were doing it over again I wouldn’t change that. Find a local music shop that sells used equipment and keep your eyes peeled for a deal. You don’t need a Gibson for a first guitar, but I’d run away from a Squier (or god forbid, whatever the Walmart brand is) faster than Mio runs from barnacles. Most any amp will get the job done. Save the tube vs. solid-state snobbery for when you’ve got the skill to justify dropping a grand or two on a Marshall half-stack. And when you do, get the ones that go to eleven!

    Whatever you start on, through, stick with it! All the crap Yui goes through in the first few episodes of K-ON is real, and it isn’t nearly as adorable when it’s your fingers that are cramped and throbbing instead of some animated moe-blob’s. Get lessons from somebody, for guidance and for accountability when you don’t feel like picking up the the guitar for a week. It’ll keep you going if you’ve got somebody to show you the way.

    Good luck! I’ve been playing for close to ten years now and I’m glad I started — hell, it’s how I came by my handle. The guitar is a great instrument, and one that is a lot more portable and accessible than the piano; it’s a great creative and emotional outlet when you can just pick it up and jam.

  28. everyone gave a bunch of advice so i’ll give some random tips

    -sound is your top priority

    -when buying a used guitar, make sure the neck is straight and not leaning forward

    -before doing any actual playing, do finger exercises (and scales!)

    -1st few practices should last only about 15 minutes, then gradually get longer.

    -use your pinky as much as possible.

    -if you feel ANY soreness when practicing, STOP and rest. Especially if you’re playing an acoustic.

    -if you’re really dedicated, buy one of those grip masters to increase your finger strength anywhere you go

    this is from experience. yup.

  29. What type of electric guitar does Iwasawa use?

  30. I started learning guitar in March from my friend who’s been playing for at least 10 years. I’ve tried out both electric and acoustic, but I recommend you buy an acoustic first. Acoustics build up finger strength, and you are more precise when playing. (When it comes to sound, electric guitars are more forgiving than acoustics because of the distortion. And I’m a perfectionist when it comes to playing music right.) Yeah, electric guitars are more comfortable to practice with, but I think getting an acoustic will be better in the end. When you get better, buy yourself an electric.

    As for starting out, I suggest memorizing your basic major chords. And learn to memorize chords from songs that you want to learn to play so it makes practicing not so tedious.

Leave a Reply