There are a lot of different types of guitars and ukuleles available, making it easier than ever to find an instrument that’s a good fit. That being said, it can seem overwhelming to find the best guitar or ukulele for your student or for yourself so in this page I’ll go over some of the options.
Acoustic guitars refer to guitars that make sound all by themselves, with no need for electricity or an amplifier. I agree with many other guitar teachers that an acoustic guitar is best for learning. Acoustic guitars are easier to find in different sizes, such as 1/2 ans 3/4 size and when you play an acoustic guitar you get an immediate feedback (not the loud kind of feedback that you get from an amplifier) from the sound and you can feel the vibrations. Playing an acoustic guitar makes it easier for the student to learn proper technique and how to play clear notes in a relaxed way.
A great next step for guitarists is an electric guitar. As the name suggests, the guitar relies on electricity to make sound, so you will need an amplifier and instrument cable as well as a nearby outlet to play. The strings of an electric guitar are thinner, but the strings are made of steel. The combination of steel strings and more thinness means that your fingers will have to develop calluses, where the skin on the fingertip gets a little tougher.
There are two main types of electric guitars, hollow-body and solid-body. Solid-body electric guitars are a lot more common, especially with players who are starting out. Solid-body guitars are available in smaller sizes, while hollow-body guitars are hard to find in sizes other than full-size. People are often surprised at how heavy electric guitars are. The paint finish on electric guitars is often slippery, and a solid-body guitar is pretty thin, so the guitar can be difficult to sit still with at first. This is one reason it’s often a good idea for a new beginner to start with an acoustic guitar.
Ukuleles are much smaller and lighter than guitars, and the strings are easier to push down. The are several types of ukuleles in the ukulele family, and the most common is the soprano ukulele. The soprano ukulele is the smallest and highest-sounding ukulele and is a great choice for a young beginner under age 7. For older students, the concert ukulele is a good choice, but people of all ages enjoy playing the soprano ukulele.
Right-handed vs. Left-Handed
A really good question I often get is if it matters if a person is right handed or left handed, or if it’s possible to get an instrument for a left handed person. While it is possible to buy a left-handed guitar, I highly recommend using the standard “right-handed” guitar or ukulele.
I put “right-handed” in quotes because all stringed-instruments (violins, cellos, etc.) are held as the same angle as the guitar, and the advent of left-handed instruments is a pretty recent thing. All of the resources for learning guitar, such as the chord diagrams and sheet music that guitar players play from, are designed for right-hand players, and playing left handed is going to entail going against the current.
The good news is that guitar playing requires coordination between the hands, and someone who performs everyday tasks left-handed is not at a disadvantage when learning to play the standard “right-hand” way.