Your First Guitar & What You Need to Start

Welcome, everyone to the pilot blog of Glaize Avenue Studios. My name is Jonathan Smith and thanks for tip-toeing in to read about music-related practicing, recording, shop-talk, and the musician's mindset. I, myself, have been a practicing musician (guitar) since 2002 and after taking many private lessons with different pedagogues and attending three different colleges to study classical music, it feels only right to share what I've learned to better educate our world about not only the nuts and bolts but the necessity of music in our lives. And without further ado, let's start with some gear talk for our guitar-fans out there!

In my opinion, the first guitar you learn on should be a nylon string. Not a steel-string or an electric. Many students give up their guitar journey because the fretting hand hurts too much and it takes far too much time and energy to achieve results. really want to strum like James Taylor or wail like Hendrix, right? I thought the same thing when I started. But then I was taught early on that if I can play "classical" guitar, that I could achieve any style - and they were right! Consider it a reward to upgrade to your favorite acoustic or electric after you learn the fundamentals on the "easier" instrument. 

Below are my suggestions for any one starting on the guitar for the first time. My students have been most successful with this kind of package. What do you think? Chime in below!

Here's the most basic beginner's supply list to get you started:

Guitar: Yamaha C40II

This is the most affordable classical/nylon-string guitar on the market. It is easy to play, stays in tune, and has a nice tone. 

Case: Faswin Guitar Gig Bag

Every guitar needs protection. This case has that plus more. Padding, pockets, and straps will keep you mobile and organized.

Tuner: D'Addario Eclipse Headstock Tuner

I trust D'Addario for many of my guitar-related products including strings, tuners, humidification, and instrument cables. This tuner, or a variation of it, is optimized for the student. Compared to the infamous Snark, this one has a better visual in it's relation to "pitch." Notice from the image that the lights indicating sharp and flat are above and below, not left and right.

Foot Rest: Tetra-Teknika Foot Rest

Whether you're pursuing classical or metal, a foot rest is a must. Practicing and playing in the "classical" sitting position helps with posture and easy access to the fretboard. Of course, not all guitarists play in this position. In fact, many players prop the guitar on the right thigh (for right-handed players). This is fine as long as you can navigate the instrument but for starters this tool will help both hands tremendously.

Music Stand: Peak Music Stand SMS-20

Peak Music Stands make some of the best stationary and portable music stands. This stand will present itself well in your practice space and also be ready when you need to take it to the next performance. I always keep this stands ready in my gig bag. As a side note, my flute and guitar ensemble Galestro-Smith Duo is endorsed by Peak. We proudly use the stands and highly respect the company along with the awesome people that work there.

Sheet Music

There are millions of scores and methods out there for guitar, so here are my suggestions on where to start. As you can see, I exclusively recommend methods from the FJH Music Company. I have found that their methods are the most cohesively thought-out and are intelligently designed by experienced pedagogues. Philip Groeber and the gang have my vote for the best beginning methods for guitar. See below to find which one best fits your age and style that you are looking for.

Ages 5-10 years old

Click here to access the list of all four FJH Young Beginner Guitar Method books.

These books are fantastic for the young beginner. Each level has four books that spread amongst three series. It is important that a student not only focuses on "playing" the guitar but is guided through other angles such as note reading, chords, and music theory. These books synchronize together page by page. A student as young as 5 or 6 may opt for just the lesson book but ages 7-10 can easily grasp the entire set.

Ages 11+

Some students have an idea of what direction they want to go - whether its, "I want to play guitar," or, "I want to be a great guitarist." For those who are learning the guitar for fun or as a hobby, Everybody's Guitar Method, Book 1 is a great option. It has a slow and steady climb and does not challenge too quickly. After this level, a Book 2 is available to advance the same school of thought. For the more advanced or driven student, Everybody's Classical Guitar is an excellent book to introduce classical guitar technique through easy pieces. 


Finally, we have the "adult" student. Many adults take on the guitar as a hobby. If the student has never read standard music notation, the learning curve might be a little longer than desired. This all depends on the student, of course. Reading tablature is an easy and fast-learning alternative to reading music notation. Everybody's Guitar Tablature Method quickly teaches how tablature works so you are informed on how to learn your favorite songs from

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