On Having The Right Tool For The Job…
by
Randy Stewart,
Campbell's Music Teacher

     Have you ever tried to drive in a phillips head screw when all you had handy was a straight head screwdriver? Come on, admit it. Most of us have been in that kind of situation at one time or another. You might be able to drive the screw in part way…or you might ruin the screw first. In any case, it’s next to impossible to do the job properly.

     It’s a lot like trying to play the intro to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” on an acoustic guitar. It’s also a lot like trying to play the country music classic “Wildwood Flower” on a solid-body electric. It just doesn’t work very well. Why not? Different jobs require different tools.

     While there are some similarities between the various types of guitars, there are also important differences that make the choice between electric and acoustic guitar one of primary importance to the player’s progress and continuing interest in music. These differences, such as the lower action and thinner strings on an electric guitar which facilitate “bending” or “choking” notes, mean that there are certain techniques and applications which do not  easily carry over from one type of guitar to another. Another important - and obvious - difference lies in the tone of the instruments. If you play electric guitar riffs on an acoustic, they simply won’t “sound right,” even if played correctly, note-for-note. In our experience as professional musicians and teachers, there are few things more discouraging to an aspiring guitarist than not being able to approximate the sounds he or she hears on recordings.

     What kind of music do you, or the prospective guitarist, listen to?  Is it classic rock, or acoustic finger-picking? Is it heavy metal, or modern jazz? Is it alternative music, or bluegrass? Let this be your guide in choosing a guitar.

     Get the right tool for the job!