Just starting out with guitar? Here are six reasons why it’s a good idea to start your guitar journey by putting your hands on a classical guitar or Spanish guitar first and foremost.
1. Nylon strings are easier on your fingers.
Imagine you are an 11 years old again; you are about to get your first guitar without the faintest clue how to play one and you are teeming with excitement. When you finally get the guitar in your hands, and it’s an acoustic or electric, that high E string is only a 10th of an inch of solid steel wire and the next string over is only a few hundredths of an inch thicker. If you’re young, or even just someone with delicate fingers, your first experience with an acoustic guitar can probably be uncomfortable after you’re sliding your fingers up and down the strings for longer than 15 minutes.
With a classical guitar (sometimes called a Spanish guitar), the nylon strings are very beneficial for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious is the overall comfortable feel of the strings on your finger tips. Advanced guitar players or people with tough skin (not figuratively speaking) may not consider that beginners and other people with more sensitive skin on their hands will certainly find the sensation of the nylon strings on their fingertips not nearly so taxing after practicing for long periods of time, even the metal-wound strings. The second reason, and probably the most important one, is that if someone who is just beginning to learn to play guitar feels comfortable putting their fingers on the strings the less likely they are going to want to give it up. Learning the guitar when you are first starting out can be very challenging and if the player associates pain or discomfort with the instrument when they’re first starting out, they may decide to never pick it back up again. Check out this article to find out more about Nylon Strings and how to put them on!
2. The fretboard helps you with developing the muscles in your hands.
The fretboard on a classical guitar is unique. The radius of the board is flat and the width of it is wide. Some people may look at a classical guitar and ask “How am I ever going to learn to play guitar when I can’t even get my hand all the way over the fretboard?” This objection is perfectly understandable. Without the training, bar chords on a classical guitar can hurt! But rather than seeing the wide fingerboard as a disadvantage, as a beginner, you cannot get a better advantage for learning where your fingers and hands are supposed to go.
The width of the fingerboard as well as the width of the frets themselves are going to assist you as a player in the long run. The achiness and soreness you get from playing these wide fretboards are just your muscles beginning to stretch and get stronger. With some determination and perseverance, eventually your hand muscles will get accustomed to the size of the neck over time and once you have gotten accustomed to a classical neck, the neck of any other stringed instrument should be easier to handle and your fretting accuracy will undoubtedly improve.
3. Easier to learn to play on
Not to sound like a broken record but having a wide fretboard will make learning the instrument a lot easier. The classical guitar in general can make the first steps of your journey a lot simpler for both of your hands. When we think about your right hand, playing the classical guitar when you begin playing will make plucking the strings easier too. The space between each string should be far enough that you can “walk with your fingers”, resting your striking finger on the string next to it. Although it may feel inconvenient, this is the best way to learn how to play guitar before you start to learn a C Major chord or a Dadd9 chord.
Going easy on yourself is key on your learning journey. Everyone wishes that they could absorb all they need to know about playing guitar when they begin but with a lot of patience and forgiveness for the mistakes you make along the way, you will eventually get to where you want to be. The classical guitar is built so that you can take it as easy as you need to. Even for experienced players, the classical guitar still makes the effort feel easy even when the performance may be extremely difficult. You will get the hang of it eventually and may even get to be as skilled at playing the classical as Estas Tonne!
4. No Big Need for More Equipment or Accessories Right Away
If price is an issue with getting your first guitar, that is yet another great reason why you should start with a classical guitar. Unlike the classical guitar, getting an acoustic guitar will require a mindblowing amount of accessories to go along with it. Capos, cases, polishing cloths, picks, neck straps, tuners, string winders… it almost seems like it never ends! And if that seemed daunting to you, electric guitar is not even more demanding but the equipment you will need to get along with it will cost a lot too. Getting a good amplifier and cable with your electric guitar, not even considering any floor pedals, will get you close to spending just as much if not more than you spent on getting an electric guitar.
This is not to say you don’t need any accessories to go along with a classical guitar. Some of the most common things people can pick up to go along with it would be a case or bag, a foot stool and a tuner for the strings. These are fine to pickup but you will still be ok without them when you first get started. Other accessories like a neck strap or a capo are not really all that necessary and unless you have already been playing for a couple of years, you can worry about getting these things much later.
5. Just pick it up and play!
I’ve been primarily an electric guitar player for many years so I know that it’s not as easy as picking up the instrument and you just begin playing. There is a whole routine all electric players have to follow in order to begin playing which typically means getting your amplifier plugged in or, in my case, warming up the amp tubes, checking every cable connection, tuning the guitar, adjusting volume and gain and tone settings. People, when you are first starting out, you just want to start playing as soon as possible without any obstacles getting in the way of that. With classical guitars, there really is no routine you have to fall into. With the exception of tuning the strings (which I highly recommend you do before you play any instrument), you can pretty much start playing about as soon as you put the guitar in your hands.
- 6. The tone.
Make no mistake, one of the best things about the classical guitar is simply how it sounds; Rich, wispy lows, warm and rich highs with unique dynamics. The nylon strings have a remarkable way of audiating each finger stroke on them and how they move and twist to manipulate the sounds. Unlike its acoustic cousin, there is a certain flightiness to the tone of classicals.
TOP SEVEN Reasons Why Dragon’s Heart Guitar Picks Rule!:
- Their premium guitar picks are made from a highly durable thermoplastic and will only start to show any wear and tear after hundreds of hours of play!
- Their unique design give these guitar picks a remarkably applicable purpose for all playing styles & genres! If you play fast, these picks help make that a whole lot easier.
- Each premium guitar pick type have their distinct strengths and features for different styles and techniques.
- Careful craftsmanship and quality control go into making each and every pick they produce.
- The Wyvern series picks provide a exceptional alternative to their premium picks while keeping their ingenious design.
- The option for personalized laser engraving make these one of the best gifts for the guitar or bass player in your life.
- Dragon’s Heart Picks are all 100% made by a small, veteran-owned startup business right here in the U.S.A.!
After carrying their name for several years and being one of the first businesses to promote the brand, I wanted to dedicate an entire article to the awesome Dragon’s Heart guitar picks. Here at FTW Music Instruments, we are one of the elite few retail stores that C.Whitney Guitars trusts to carry their Dragon’s Heart Picks in house. FTW Music Instruments and Dragon’s Heart Guitar Picks are practically neighbors here in North texas so if you are interested in their products or are interested in getting a personally engraved Dragon’s heart pick after reading this article, please reach out to us.
I used to be just like you; I used to be completely oblivious about Dragon’s Heart picks and their existence. But very quickly, I was converted from a ignorant fool to a loyal promoter and continuous user of the Dragon’s Heart picks! I wanted to share my love about this company and their products but overall, I wanted to get more people interested and excited about these items.
Before they were sold to players in over 70 countries around the globe, its founder Corey Whitney was a business-minded guitar player who wanted to apply his love for music to the world. With a knack for research and development and all of the skills he earned from his 13 years actively serving in the United States Marine Corps, Corey did what only a few entrepreneurs dream of doing: combining his passion and his calling into a unique and trailblazing new product. Hence, the Dragon’s Heart pick was born; an intelligently conceived guitar pick with superior lifespan, grip, variety and feel.
Corey discovered the key ingredient to the endurance of
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quickly became known as the best guitar pick worldwide.
The Dragon’s Heart guitar pick comes in four different styles: the Original, the GT, the Pure Heart and the Hardened Heart, each with their own unique usage and characteristics.The Original style can actually lubricate your strings as you play them due to the infusion of graphite into the material! This also helps with fast picking, similar to the GT.
The GTs are infused with carbon fiber that helps improve the grip of the pick for better control and less chances of the pick falling to the ground during a solo.
The Hardened Hearts are infused with a small percentage of glass fiber that give these picks the endurance a pick will need to have if they are used on a guitar or bass with heavy gauge strings.
And last but not least, the Pure Hearts are 100% Polyamide-imide which give the pick a softer feel, making them ideal for Acoustic players.
And for those that love the design of the pick but may not be ready for the power of the premium Dragon’s Hearts, they have these Faux Hearts available which are the same size and shape of the Dragon’s Hearts but made from a lower-grade plastic and come in a variety of cool colors.
The premium picks are far from the only things that I love from Dragon’s Heart. Enter the Wyvern Series of picks, made from the same materials you’d find most other guitar picks made from but with the same cool, innovative design that Dragon’s Heart guitar picks is known for.
The Wyvern Hearts are shaped the same as the Dragon’s Heart picks
but the Wyvern Scales, while more traditional in shape, still apply a patented design that make these picks super useful to play with. These are the affordable option for fans of the Dragon’s Heart Premium picks but anyone will discover how valuable they are the longer you get to play with them.
Another reason to love these guitar picks are the options to get personal inscriptions on these picks. Using a computer-guided laser engraving machine, customers can get their premium guitar picks inscribed with word, numbers, or symbols. There are also high-quality leather pick holders available to make sure you never lose your Dragon’s Heart! FTW Music Instruments is very proud to continue our tradition of carrying and promoting this company and their fantastic picks. You’ll end up loving them with all of your heart!
3 Quick Facts About Guitar Strings
- There are 3 types of guitar strings: nylon strings for classical guitars, bronze/steel strings for acoustic guitars and nickel/steel strings for electric guitars*.
- There are lots of sizes of guitar strings to choose from but typically, acoustic guitars will be fine with a light gauge (.12 – .53) and electrics will be fine with a regular gauge (.10 – .46). Lighter sized sets are ok too.
- If one string breaks and you don’t remember the last time new strings were installed, it’s time to buy a whole new set for the guitar.
The very first thing that needs to be said about guitar strings is that they break. It happens to every stringed instrument player, regardless of skill. It may not necessarily mean that the strings were a bad quality but even if that isn’t the case, there’s no need to panic if you break one. If a single string breaks and you can’t remember the last time new strings were put on, it’s highly recommended that it’s time to change out all of the strings. But now that you know you need new strings, the next step is to figure out what kinds of strings you are going to need. And this is where things can get confusing
That is why I am writing this guide; to help those of you out there who need help figuring out the right kinds of strings to buy and what some of the terms on the packaging mean. My hopes is that you can use the knowledge I am sharing here to help you make better-informed decisions before you take out your wallet. Knowing about what kinds of strings you need can be equally as important as knowing what kind of instrument you have. With that being said, I want to talk a little bit about the types of instruments you will look into buying strings for.
Probably the most common type of instrument that I see people come in looking for strings. These guitars will have thinner necks and larger bodies with the strings pinned at the bridge and wound around the keys at the headstock. The strings used for these guitar have solid, plain steel treble strings with the bass strings usually wound in another kind of metal like nickel or bronze alloys (I will get to this further into the article). It’s not recommended to put nylon strings on a steel string guitar but that is why the Silk & Steel and flatwound sets were created, to give steel strings that warm nylon string sound.
A popular instrument among beginners and college-level players, these guitars are meant to be string with nylon strings. These guitars usually have wider necks and slotted headstocks with the strings typically tied
on at the bridge. Despite the fact that three of the strings are metal wound, these strings have a fibrous nylon core to them. The characteristics of these strings allow them to stretch easier and they feel much easier on your fingers than steel strings do. Never EVER put steel strings on a classical guitar! Heed these words because putting steel strings on a classical guitar will eventually cause the bridge to crack, split from the top or even break off.
Electric Guitar and Bass
Similar to acoustic guitars, electric instruments have steel-core strings as well. The major difference is electric guitar strings do not need to ring out nearly as much as acoustic strings do. That is why most electric strings are made of nickel-plated steel. The pickups on the guitar will act as tiny microphones to amplify the sounds of these strings. Furthermore, bass strings are made in a similar way but differ not just in string size but in length as well. Some basses, like Paul McCartney’s iconic viola bass, use short scale strings while most other basses use long scale strings.
Now, let’s get into the Frequently Asked Questions
“What size strings should I get?”
This is an excellent question and most definitely one of the more important ones you can ask when you are getting new strings. If someone at the music store asks you “What gauge of strings do you use,” they are asking about the size of your strings. There are plenty of types and sizes of strings to choose from so feel free to experiment with different types of strings that fit your playing style. Just keep in mind, if you want to put thicker strings on a guitar to get a lower tuning or a deeper sound, the guitar will need to be adjusted for these strings. Consult someone at the store if you don’t know how to make these adjustments yourself.
“I don’t know what size/gauge of strings I have on my guitar! What size are they?”
The easiest way to find out is to find a caliper to measure (in inches) how thick the strings are on there. If you have a caliper at home, simply measure just the heaviest and/or the lightest strings to get the best idea of what you’ll need. Most sets of strings will show at least the sizes of these two strings on the packaging. If you don’t own a caliper, just bring your guitar to the music store and let the person working there determine the gauges for you and this should not come with a charge.
Still can’t figure out the right string sizes? A good rule of thumb is that acoustics can handle light gauge strings (.12 – .53) or lighter and electrics can handle “Regular Lights” (.10 – .46) or lighter. Classical strings are gauged on the tension of the strings rather than the size of the strings so there is not a huge need to know the sizes of these strings.
“What causes strings to break, anyways?”
Other than the general abuse that strings endure from the players themselves, there are other factors that can lead to a strings life getting cut short. The main components to the decay of a strings are climate and rust or corrosion. Exposure to humid settings, as well as cold, dry climates, is not only bad for the strings but bad for the instrument as a whole. Humidity is the biggest adversary to the integrity and quality of any instrument. You should also take into the consideration the body chemistry of the player. Everyone’s skin is different and some people’s skin can get sweaty when they play or secrete oils out of their pores. The salts from sweat and the oil from your fingertips can both lead to the deterioration of your strings. The good news is that the fix is simple: wipe off your strings with a cloth, old t-shirt or handkerchief after you play!
“I only broke one string. Can you replace just the broken string?”
Short answer is yes. Most music shops should be able to quickly replace a single broken string and have single string replacements in stock and the process of restringing should only take a few minutes. However, if the strings have not been changed in at least 6 months or if you don’t know the last time the strings were changed, its best to get all of the strings replaced. When one of them breaks, the rest are sure to follow. The only exception to this would be if the strings on the guitar were very recently installed and one accidentally breaks. When you replace a single string with a fresh one and the rest of the strings are older, you will notice that the look, sound and feel of the new string will be brighter and cleaner than the other strings and the tone will be a lot more clear while the other ones will sound dead.
“How often do I need to change my strings?”
The string companies tell you that strings need to be changed every 6 to 8 weeks! Now if this is alarming, you can relax because this is a little too excessive for most players. The string companies aren’t incorrect in claiming this but the only people who need to replace their strings at that rate are people who are playing for an hour or more every single day. But if you are not at the pro level yet or if you only get maybe 5 hours a week or less to shred, you only need to change your strings every few months or so. Some people just put strings on until they break or rust over but the general rule is to change your strings at least every 6 months (1-2 times a year). But to reiterate, depending on how much you play will dictate how often the strings need to be changed.
80/20 vs. Phosphor Bronze: Which acoustic strings should I get?
So let’s say that you know what size of strings you need and you’re ready to buy some strings. You may notice that one set of strings of the same size is made of 80/20 Bronze and the other is made from Phosphor Bronze and now you don’t know what to get all over again! This is not that big of a deal. If you don’t care about the tone of the sound of the strings, either option will be fine. But to be clear, 80/20 Bronze is the traditional acoustic guitar strings that have been sold since the early Twentieth Century. The strings are a steel wire core wound with a mixture of 80% copper and 20% zinc wire. These create a brighter, clearer tone to the strings. As this article explains in great detail, phosphor bronze strings came out several decades later as an alternative for players who did not appreciate the 80/20 strings corroding faster due to their higher levels of copper. Phosphor bronze gives a warmer, softer tone than the 80/20 bronze do but because of the small amounts of phosphor added, these strings shelf-life lasts a little bit longer than the 80/20 bronze strings do.
One question I get asked sometimes is “What are the best strings I can get for my guitar?” I am always quick to answer with coated strings. Not only do these strings feel great on your fingers, they sound great as well and the best part is that they last up to four times longer than non-coated strings. Several different companies make coated strings: DR has their infamous Black Beauties brand as well a couple of other types of coated strings and has lots of different color-coated strings, Martin makes their Lifespan series, D’Addario has the EXP line, Ernie Ball have RPS Titanium strings for electrics and Everlast strings for acoustic and last but certainly not least, there are Elixir Strings who specialize in making high-quality coated strings. Any of these strings are going to deliver high quality coated strings but coated strings are almost always sold at a premium.
*Although this still holds true, there are more varieties of strings that are available. Please contact us if you’re interested in ordering strings outside of the norm.