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This Is The transcript Of A Conversation Between Mike Herberts and Jerry Lamberth: Everything You Need To Know
About Buying Your Next Guitar

Mike Herberts:
Here is Mike Herberts speaking to Jerry Lambeth. And the reason for this call is the original idea - Jerry, I think I'm right - was to produce a video or an audio that would advise people who didn't know about guitars how to buy a guitar for say one of their loved ones.
Jerry Lambeth: Yeah.
Mike: But I think, it would be really useful for people that do know about guitars as well, if they're in the market for a new guitar.
Jerry: Absolutely. Yes. I think, hopefully we could chat about what to do if you're buying yourself a guitar, and what to do if you're buying one for your other half.
Mike: Yeah. Now, I know that you'll have given more advice about going buying guitars than I have...
Jerry: Although you're an expert in buying them. I know that.
Mike: Well yes, I certainly spend enough on them. But I get rid of all the problems of what to buy, by just pay a vast amount of money and hope that you get something decent for it. And that, of course, that's not always the case. Is it?
Jerry: You don't always need to. That's for sure.
Mike: But, we're going to talk about the more realistic approach to it. Where you might be buying a first guitar, say for someone as a present.
Jerry: Of course. Yeah. Yeah.
Mike: First of all, Jerry, what sort of general advice would you give?
Jerry: I think when you're buying a first guitar as a present for somebody, I think the first thing you've got to ask yourself is... I mean, lets assume that you know they want to play the guitar. They probably wanted to play it for awhile, and you decided it would be a nice thing to give them. What kind of music do they listen to? What do they love to hear? Let's divide music up very broadly into, sort of folky and rock. Is that a fair enough distinction, do you think?
Mike: Yeah, I think that's a good enough distinction. Because that, more or less determines whether it's going to be an electric or an acoustic.
Jerry: That's exactly right. That's really where we would be going with it, wouldn't we? If they liked the Dillon stuff, Woody Guthrie, the old folk stuff, and Robert Johnson, one of your favorites, that kind of thing, then probably they're going to want an acoustic guitar. And if they're listening to Led Zeppelin and The Who and the Rolling Stones, then maybe an electric is the way to go for them. Yeah. And that sort of leads you into a couple of decisions from there. First, and most important of course is budget, like you were talking about.
Mike: Yeah. And just a note on that, because clearly, although perhaps I haven't given as much advice as you, I have bought a few guitars in my time. And one thing I do know is they're a damn site cheaper now than they were when I first started to play.
Jerry: That's for sure. They really have come down and the quality's got quite good. Even at the budget end of the market.
Mike: The quality now is absolutely amazing. Isn't it? Compared to 30 years ago.
Jerry: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. Do you remember the days when your first guitar had strings that were six inches off the neck and...
Mike: Absolutely. Yeah. Virtually unplayable. It must have put an awful lot of people off.
Jerry: It must have done. At the time when you need the easiest possible guitar to play, you get the hardest possible guitar to play.
Mike: Which kept the numbers down, but probably kept the quality up. So, these days that tends not to be such a problem. But, could you just explain for people who wouldn't know what we're talking about when we mention the word 'action'?
Jerry: Yes, of course. When we were just talking a moment ago about how far the strings are off the neck, guitarists talk about that being the 'action.' Don't they? And we talk about what's the action like on the guitar. Meaning is it high or low? And a high action would be, if you tilted the guitar sideways and looked at the neck of the guitar, sideways on, how far are the strings away from the neck? And we tend to look down. We're up about the 12 frets, sort of, area. In other words, up at the body end of the guitar, not down at the far end.
Mike: Sure, because they're always going to be fairly close at the other end, not like there.
Jerry: Yeah, they're always going to be fairly close at the other end. Exactly. But, as it gets more towards the body of the guitar, do the strings start to go a long way away from the neck? If they do, we'd call that a 'high action.' Wouldn't we? And that would be much harder for a beginner to play. Simply because you've got to press the strings down much further to make them touch the fret board and ring as notes.
Mike: OK. So, just as a rank outsider, why would someone make a guitar with a high action if a low action is more preferable?
Jerry: Well, that's a great question. The guitarists who, very occasionally, there are a few guitarists like a high action sometimes their slide players, we getting a bit kind of esoteric here, but slide players sometimes like a high action, you might deliberately have a guitar with a high action for playing a particular style of music.
Mike: But, generally speaking, the aim of the guitar maker would be to make the action as low as possible but without making any buzzing sounds and....
Jerry: That's absolutely true, but you are going to find that the guitar that comes out of the factory won't pay a huge amount of attention to how that action is.
Mike: And that can be adjusted, can't it, on most guitars?
Jerry: It can be adjusted, that is exactly the point, and as I think and as we talk about the action buying process, we talk about how you might be able to persuade the shop to do that for you.
Mike: Yes, OK. So, let's stick with acoustic guitar then.
Jerry: Yes.
Mike: It really at this stage must be purely then down to budget. What sort of price would someone have to pay and I mean that in some sort of UK pounds and US dollars, what sort of price to pay for something decent?
Jerry: Well, I think you are absolutely right when you said this has gotten so much better over the last year. It used to take quite a lot of money to get something half decent. That's not really true anymore. Although guitars are an expensive item but I say to people I find the cut off in UK standards to be about 150 pounds. If you go below 150, certainly if you go below 100, you start to get into the unplayable end of the market and you are going to buy a guitar if someone is going to get good and interested in it, they are going to want to upgrade that guitar very quickly.
Mike: Let me just clarify that, because it would still be possible, certainly if you are going to buy a used guitar, if you are going on eBay or somewhere, you could find something reasonable for less than under 100 pounds, but we are talking about new purchases here aren't we?
Jerry: Yes, good clarification. Absolutely right. We are talking about new purchases and actually I really, really, strongly recommend second hand, because you can get some fantastic bargains, can't you?
Mike: Yea, there are some dangers. We got to point this out. I want to try and make this as appeal to as many people as possible. Buying second hand is very much buyer beware. Buying from a shop at least you can get some sounds advise and hopefully anyway.
Jerry: That's absolutely right. You can look at the thing you are buying. You can feel it. You can look at the action that we talked about even if you don't know what a guitar is. You can still see the strings. But yes, I mean, but you can get very lucky too. I have had a couple of guys who bought some fantastic second hand guitars and gotten, like you said, for about 120 cut off, and you know for that guitar new would be for over 300, and it's really in beautiful condition.
Mike: So, that would cost about 60 or 70 dollars somewhere around there, wouldn't it, in US dollars; something about that sort of price.
Jerry: Yeah, that's right and I think in general terms, we can say, can't we, what you pay in pounds for a guitar over in the UK would be about the equivalent price in dollars, wouldn't it, in the US?
Mike: Roughly, yes.
Jerry: So, when we are talking about 150 pounds if you are buying new being the cut off for anything above that is going to be quite a nice guitar. It will be about the same sort of figure in dollars. About 150 dollars.
Mike: And OK, a couple of other questions then. There is more than one type of acoustic guitar. The main distinction for someone who is buying for someone else who doesn't know about guitars is that one would be strung with steel strings and one would be strung with nylon strings. So, can you just explain what the differences are in terms of the actual guitar?
Jerry: Absolutely, yeah. Well, steel string guitars tend to be folk or pop instruments [inaudible 07:48]. If you see guys strumming and singing, they're almost certainly playing a steel string guitar acoustic guitar. And nylon string guitars... well nylon string guitars technically are classical guitars. When you see a classical guitarist playing like Segovia or somebody, he is playing nylon string guitar, but it doesn't mean that you can only play classical in that stuff and sometimes I know there are two reasons why somebody might want to play, let's call it folk music and yet buy a nylon string guitar. One is as a beginner, it will softer on your fingers and I know one of your big things, Mike, is that the fingers get sore, don't they?
Mike: They do get sore. It seems to be one of the biggest surprises for anyone new to the guitar, the fact that it hurts; their fingers must be really off putting if you didn't realize that.
Jerry: Absolutely, absolutely. And it really does, it really does. If you're practicing, they get really sore. And nylon strings will be, let's just say, a little bit less sore than steel strings, just because they are not as tense. They're not as tight. So, for comfort's reason, you might want to start with a nylon string. But, there is a better reason than that why someone might want to get a nylon string guitar. And that's because the neck is significantly wider, which means the strings are spaced further apart and a lot of people when they start, find that their fingers are touching strings that they don't want to be touching and stop them from ringing out.
Mike: So, can you tell everyone how many emails we get each week saying, I think my fingers are too fat.
Jerry: [laughs] We do. We get lots of those. And I get a lot of it from students as well. And you're right. The idea is, if your fingers are too fat, you think "I am not going to be able to do this because I've got really short fat fingers." And actually we could rattle off a number of people including szegovia, who had very short, very fat fingers.
Mike: Yeah. Fat fingers, yes. Yeah, yeah.
Jerry: So, it can be done. But of course, I understand, we all understand the frustration in the early days. Actually that's more of a technique thing and you could learn to do it on a steel string. But, some people like the nylon string early on for that reason, because there is a bit more spacing between the strings and fingers can fit in a bit better. But, you pay a price, because if you listening to Lead belly, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, these guys are playing steel string guitars. Your nylon string guitar won't ever sound quite the same.
Mike: OK. Let me just summarize what was said there then. If someone particularly was interested in Spanish guitar or Flamenco, or classical guitar, they probably want a nylon strung guitar. If their fingers were particular fat, they might still favor a nylon strung guitar, but for most people generally main stream, it's going to be what we'd call a folk guitar or a jumbo guitar a steel strung six strings with a standard acoustic guitar.
Jerry: Definitely.
Mike: OK.
Jerry: Absolutely. Yeah. Anyone who's not sure, but wants to play that folk music, start with a steel string.
Mike: Would you recommend that they buy one that comes with a hard case? Or does it matter?
Jerry: I think, almost certainly not. A hard case is quite expensive. They run to about 50 pounds over here and about the same in dollars over there. And later on, when you get really good and you start gigging, you're probably going to want a hard case to keep it safe. But, if you're mainly going to be playing it in the house, you really don't need it.
Mike: It doesn't matter. Excellent, I agree with that wholeheartedly, there's no point in going to the expensive case at this stage. But, as you say, once you've got to move the thing around then, just in case.
Jerry: Yes. Absolutely.
Mike: So, are there any particular things we need to look out for on this acoustic guitar? Is there anything really obvious? A couple of differences I know.
Jerry: I think the only other thing that might be significant at all, is just the size. Because they do come in different sizes, don't they? You mentioned jumbo early on. This is something people can get confused about. The jumbo sounds like it would be the biggest possible acoustic guitar and actually, the jumbo acoustic guitar tends the be a smaller size. It's the very pear shaped one, where the neck kind of comes in. The dreadnaught is the really big one. If you are buying for somebody else and you got any doubt about how big they will feel comfortable with, I would suggest starting with the jumbo. The dreadnaught can be very big.
Mike: Would it true to say that, if someone is particularly large, jumbo or a dreadnaught is not going to be a problem. But if you have someone who is particularly small, they might be better with a small bodied guitar.
Jerry: I agree. You can get, yes we could have got jumbo...
Mike: I know, we call them Pala size.
Jerry: Pala size, exactly. And there are some lovely pala size guitars.
Mike: I know, I have a couple of them. [laughs]
Jerry: I know you do, and I am looking forward to playing them to you.
Mike: And one of the thing that occurred to me. You will see six string steel-strung guitars, where when you look at the neck, you'll find that the 12th fret is right up against the body of the guitar. And they tend to have slots in the machine head. The machine heads tend to be the kind of machine heads you get on a classical or a nylon-strung guitar, but they will be steel-strung.
Jerry: Yeah.
Mike: That's more of a... You say that was a specialist thing. I mean I have a guitar just like that.
Jerry: I think that's pretty much of a specialist thing. Your standard acoustic guitar is going to have - it's going to join the body at the 14th fret. And that would be... Of course we haven't even talked about cutaways yet.
Mike: Why not now then? Why not explain what a cutaway is? I think this would spill over into more than one recording. I think maybe we'll have one on acoustic and one on electric by the sound of things at the moment.
Jerry: That might make sense. But yes. Let's talk about buying a guitar for someone else. Most acoustic guitars you see join the body at the 14th fret. And you're right. There's some that join at the 12th fret, that's a specialist thing. But, on an acoustic, when we talk about a cutaway, when thinking about the body of the guitar, the part that I would say looks like, I hesitate to say a woman's body. You know what I mean. The main body of the guitar.
Mike: I think we can all relate to that Jerry, because that is what it looks like, yeah - with the waist and the hips.
Jerry: Yeah, that's it. Exactly and then sometimes guitarists want to play very very high up on the neck where the body joins the guitar. And it's hard to do that on a guitar that has a full body as it were. So sometimes, guitar makers produce models where they'll cut away, they'll cut a groove sort of out of the body the way you...
Mike: Almost like a bite out of the body at the bottom of the guitar.
Jerry: That's a great description - like a bite out of the guitar, exactly. And when you're beginning, that isn't going to matter. It's going to take a while before you need to worry about playing up that high. But later on, when you want to play the twiddly bits, as I like to describe them, the sort of lead guitar fills, it's very handy to have a guitar that has a cutaway. I would say that having diverted a thing to that area, probably you're buying for someone who is a beginner, don't worry about that too much. Would that be fair to say, you think?
Mike: Yeah, I think so. There's another thing as well about acoustic guitars, is there are quite a few these days, more than they used to be that have a built in pickup of some kind. You know, a method of amplifying the acoustic guitar. Would you suggest that that's the route to go if you were buying for someone else? Is that worth considering or...
Jerry: Actually, I, we call them electro-acoustic don't we? I mean when they're like that. Meaning you can plug them in. Here's my thing on this. The only reason you ever need to plug in an acoustic guitar is if you're going to play live, because that's the purpose. To be able to amplify it to an audience, so it still sounds like an acoustic guitar but allows enough audience to hear them. So, an acoustic guitar - If you're playing in your front room to a bunch of friends, or even if you're playing in a folk club, an acoustic guitar on its own is plenty loud enough. So, I tend to, I can tell you, you only want to worry about having electro-acoustic when you're thinking about playing Wembley Stadium.
Mike: I'll tell you the reason I mentioned it Jerry, is because there are predominantly more and more of even the lead in the very basic models, because prices have come down. They have pickups built in. If it has that, I think it's not detrimental to the sound of the guitar, is it?
Jerry: Well, as long as you don't buy one of the fiberglass back ones. Ovation were the first people to do those, weren't they?
Mike: Yeah, and it's not a beginner's guitar, the ovation.
Jerry: Yeah, but you want to watch out for them, cause you see them in music shops a lot. Because you look very cool, but watch out for that. It's got a fiberglass back. It's really built only to be plugged in. And it won't sound very good acoustically. But, if it's a normal wood guitar, with an electro bit, hey that's fine, because it will sound just as good acoustically.
Mike: Excellent. OK, so we've got the six string guitar. We're going to look out for the right action. Not too high, not too low. Hopefully one that can be adjusted, and presumably we can talk to the man in the music shop, or the lady in the music shop and they'll reassure the new buyer that this is an OK guitar for a beginner. And probably they'll tune and demonstrate as well. And also we don't really need to buy a case with it.
Jerry: No we don't need to buy a case with it.
Mike: And we spend anything... to get something reasonable that would be appreciated and playable for the first few months anyway. We'll spend 100 - 150 pounds.
Jerry: I like the idea I think you'll find difference in 100 and 150 pounds is quite significant. So it's always the case, whatever you spend, you get what you have paid for, is what I'm trying to say. But, it's a lot of money. But, if you can reach 150 pounds, you can get something considerably better than a 100.
Mike: It's one of those situations where it's the law of diminishing returns, isn't it? Where the more you pay, the improvement it gets less. But, up to a level, you get these big improvements.
Jerry: Absolutely and I think that the big improvement actually, is as you said is between 80 to 100 and 150 pounds, the difference is dramatic. And then as you say you can double that price and it doesn't go up that much.
Mike: OK. Well, I think in terms of what we're trying to achieve here, we don't want to go in all the technicalities. But I think, we've covered most things that you look for if you are a first time buyer.
Jerry: I'll add one more thing and remember if you're buying a new guitar from a shop, the mark up is significant so haggle with them, haggle with them. If you can normally knock the price down a little bit and if they won't do that you can certainly get into throw in some things that, what's the person going to need it if they're going to play a guitar? They definitely going to need a couple of picks. The little bits in plastic that you hold...
Mike: Some spare strings probably?
Jerry: And throw in a set of strings. I know we said you don't need a case, but you might be able to throw one of those soft cases that you can just carry it around in. So you can get away with. Remember their mark up is quite significant on a new guitar. They will trough in freebies probably.
Mike: OK fine, so all the music shops are not going to hate us but that's fine I can live with it. So, that's pretty well covered acoustic guitars. Let's move now over to an area, that I must confess, I don't know vast amounts about. And I know you'll know more about this, in the current market than I do. And that's it you buying someone an electric guitar, because you can't just buy an electric guitar.

Remember that this is a true story. About 30 years ago, someone bought an electric guitar, knew I played a bit, and invited me over to his home to show me. And wired in the output onto a three pined and was attempting to plug his guitar into the main electricity.

Jerry: Oh my God!
Mike: Yes, and asking me if I could help him.
Jerry: Yes. Don't you do this at home folks.
Mike: So, he didn't quite understand, he wondered why I was so quite and presumably that if he would plug it into the main electricity it would really get loud. Well, something will get loud anyway.
Jerry: Something would get very loud, probably his scream.
Mike: So, there's been an enormous change over the years in the availability and the quality of electric guitars. So what are we looking for? This could be a mine field presumably. Jerry?
Jerry: Absolutely. I mean, there is so much about that and now it's got to differentiate electric guitars with the type of music you want to play. You get heavy metal type electric guitars, and more sort of pop-rock type electric guitars.
Mike: So, can we start with price then? What sort of price will you need to pay to get something reasonable that a new beginner will really be happy with for a while?
Jerry: Well firstly the good news about it is about the same kind of price that 150 pounds will still get you started. Do you mind if I throw a couple of brands in here?
Mike: Yeah of course. No, no fire away with brands, of course.
Jerry: Of course with electric guitars, you're going to need to take an amp with it as well. That's the difference between it and acoustic you must get something to play it through, other words don't plug it into the main electricity. [laughter]
Mike: What we are saying for people who really don't know is that if you play an electric guitar just as it is, you barely will be able to hear it. It needs to go through an amplifier to get the sound.
Jerry: That's right.
Mike: I know that's obvious, but it may not be obvious to some people.
Jerry: No. Of course, especially, if you are buying it as a present for somebody. The electric guitar basically is a plank of wood. Whereas, the acoustic is built carefully to sound very nice, and the sound, well, comes out of the sound hole in the middle, you know. But, the electric guitars are a plank of wood. And so, it's going to make virtually no noise at all, and you need to plug it into an amplifier, which is like your stereo speakers at home, basically, and the guitar music is going to come out of the speaker. And there are a lot of places doing packages where you can buy a cheap electric guitar and an amp for 100 pounds, probably about 100 dollars too. As you said with the acoustic... they are a little bit beyond that. I would say about a 150 or so. And then you can get... let me throw these couple of brands in there.

There is a very famous guitar brand called Fendor, who make the Stratocaster and the Telecaster, and all fantastic guitars. And they have a budget brand that they call Squier. Which is spelled... how is it spelled? S-Q-U...

Mike: It's a strange spelling.
Jerry: It is. It's got a strange spelling...I-E-R, isn't it? But it is I-R-E.
Mike: Yes, I-E-R, Squier.
Jerry: Yeah. And it's the budget Fendor brand, but they really are nicely playing guitars. And if you close your eyes and put them in the hands of a good player, you would be struggling to tell the difference between that and a full on Fendor, which are very expensive. And, you can get yourself a Squier Stratocaster [laughs] - if you put the term at the end of it - and a little starter amp for about 150 pounds or 150 dollars. And, I think that's a fantastic place to start, because you get yourself a guitar that really can last you for years if you wanted it to.

You would want to upgrade the amp after a while, but then get yourself a brand new....

Mike: And this is a sort of size of amp that would... would it be loud enough to annoy the neighbors? I mean is it...
Jerry: Oh yeah. It will be a 10 watts amp...
Mike: Oh good!
Jerry: And, yes, trust me, if you crank that one up that will be loud enough to annoy the neighbors, which is half the objective of course.
Mike: Of course, yes. Yeah, we are going to start getting emails in saying...
Jerry: From the neighbors.
Mike: Yeah, "How dare you!"
Jerry: "It's your fault."
Mike: Yes, if you happen to be one of the neighbors. But, a 10, 15 watt amp certainly is going to be loud enough to sound great.
Jerry: Definitely. In your front room, it will, definitely. 15 watts! 15 watts will be when it starts to get quite loud.
Mike: It would, yes. I have a little practice on 15 watts, and I can really rattle a house with that.
Jerry: Yeah. [laughs]
Mike: And would you recommend, Jerry... I mean, I know we've mentioned one brand name there, but there are lots and lots of them.
Jerry: There are lots.
Mike: I mean, they are built in China now an awful lot of these guitars. And, the quality is absolutely outstanding.
Jerry: The quality is amazing. For the price they charge, it is unbelievable. Yeah, it really is!
Mike: And, would you recommend at this stage any kind of special effects, you know, like a special effects pedal or a sort of synthesizer type thing? Because they are not too expensive now, either, are they?
Jerry: That's true... and that's a great question. I mean the answer to this is going to be much more fun. We would call it a multi-effects pedal, wouldn't we? It's one of those units that... you have seen guitarist on stage play them. When they tread on something on the floor of the stage...
Mike: They step up to the mike and tread on the button, and suddenly it's transferred there.
Jerry: And you hear the guitar suddenly sound different, yeah. That's the multi-effects unit that will give you all kinds of different sounds. And, yes, absolutely get one... If you got the money and you can afford it... it will run you about another 50 quid to get a sort of starter multi-effects units.
Mike: So that's a about 100 dollars, something like that... 80 dollars, maybe?
Jerry: Yeah. But, I think as you buy them over in the States...
Mike: Then they are cheaper, yeah. Everything is cheaper over in the States folks. So, if you are listening to this in the States, your gas is so much cheaper than ours; I couldn't even begin to tell you.
Jerry: It's true enough, and so are your guitars, which we hate over here. So, when I talk about pound figures, you can pretty well assume in the States that a dollar figure will be the same number.
Mike: Yeah. And, Jerry did mean not that we hate the guitars, but we hate the fact that you get them so cheaply compared with our. [laughs]
Jerry: That's right. Yeah, of course! [laughter]
Mike: OK. So, if we spend about 150 pounds, is there anything in particular we are looking for? I mean you mentioned the Squire Stratocaster there. And I know that there are lots and lots of other makes and all sorts of copies of the fender. But, main to that get copied of the Fender and the Gibson, aren't they?
Jerry: Fender and the Gibson. I tell you what, Yamaha are making wonderful electrics, and acoustics actually for the price of... Yamaha Pacifica will be of the same price as a Stratocaster and will stand much more heavy rock. So, if you like your Led Zeppelin, you might want to think about a Yamaha Pacifica. But, yeah, Fender and Gibson are the two kinds of iconic brands that get copied, you're absolutely right.
Mike: And would you recommend... it's a difficult question, but I was thinking if you would recommend going for something much more expensive, if it's an unknown or it you're not certain the person you're buying for is going to make a career of it, shall we say. You're still going to get that superb quality for 150 pounds aren't you?
Jerry: Yeah, you are the square Stratocasters or the Yamaha or any other guitar for the price range, you've been amazed of the quality. And I'm not talking about a guitar you will grow out of in six months, and need something much more expensive. These guitars, they'll sound great for years to come. That doesn't mean to say that if you get hooked they won't go buy more guitars, because that seems to be something that we all do.
Mike: Seems to be yes, doesn't it? And just relating back to the acoustic thing - In terms of action, generally someone buying who doesn't know these things will see that the action on an electric guitar tends to be a lot lower, and the strings are easier to press because they tend to be lighter gauge strings, don't they?
Jerry: Absolutely. Spot on that's exactly right. They'll be lighter gauged strings and they'll actually lower. And for that reason actually, if you're not sure whether to get something like an electric or acoustic if you like both those types of music. In many ways, electric is a little bit easier to play, at the beginning, for the reason that you just said, Mike, which is that the strings are a bit lighter. Not so hard to push them down. So, that might be a factor that people might to consider. The reason for that is, because we bend string on electric more than we do on acoustic, don't we? So, we need lighter stings to bend them.
Mike: And they tend to get played further up the neck more in the early stages anyway. The acoustic guitar tends, I mean, just as in the aside, just to anyone who is listening to does play, acoustic guitars tend to sound better with the more open strings you have out, the longer the string length. So, fretted up on the first position, chords fretted up there, tend to sound nicer, more full bodied, which kind of negates the question that we asked all the time when people email and we're finding it difficult to learn bar chords at the beginning. People get really bogged down and obsessed with thinking they have to learn bar chords, when in fact on an acoustic guitar, it tends to be sound a lot nicer anyway, when you're playing those first position cords.
Jerry: With open strings absolutely acoustic guitar loves open strings. Yup and you'll probably going to say that on the electric, right? The electric less so. The electric, it doesn't dislike open strings.
Mike: No, but it's just a completely different style, isn't it? Because of the nature of the fact that it is amplifying the sound. It sounds...
Jerry: People think if you watch musicians on TV on acoustic guitars and electric, how often you see a acoustic guitarist coming right to the top of the neck and twitling away like crazy. I mean almost never. Whereas on electric guitar, you have seen that all the time, don't you? And they pull all the faces to go with it, you know. We've got to have another call about how to pull the right guitar faces.
Mike: Yeah, and practice in front of the bedroom mirror with the tennis racket. We've all done that. But, this is not what we tell the people that we do that kind of thing, Jerry. We keep that hidden away, you know? I think, we've given pretty of food for thought for anyone who is buying a guitar. What about other toys? Are there any other gadgets and bits and pieces that might be useful to buy at the same time or get thrown in, if we could?
Jerry: Well, for an acoustic, when we talked about the things that the shop might throw in, see if throw in a capo. Which most people will know about we're talking about when we're talking about a capo. But, if you're buying for somebody who doesn't play yet, a capo is a device that is kind of clamps on the neck of the guitar and helps you to sing it, don't they? That's what they use it for - to help you to sing in the right gig. Anybody who's going to play an acoustic guitar, at some point, will want a capo. So, if you can get the shop to throw in a capo, with the guitar, that's going to be very useful little thing.
Mike: So the capo, sometimes I think it's pronounced Caypo. So capo or caypo, it would be worth buying one or tying to get one thrown in because it will be very useful later on.
Jerry: Eventually, you're going to want one.
Mike: What about something for tuning the guitar, might be useful?
Jerry: Yeah, that's very true, an electronic tuner is really one of the most useful things you can get when you first start playing, because in the early days, you can't tune by ear. Because you got used to how it should sound. So, an electrical tuner is your "get out of jail free" card on how to tune your guitar. Because the guitar - we should say this just in case we have any newbies here - it's not like a piano, where you get it tuned by a professional tuner, and it stays in tune for a year. A guitar is going to go out of tune, what would you say, certainly every couple of times you pick it up. You'll want to do a little tweak here and there, right?
Mike: Yeah it tends to be... with tuning, it tends to change as you put them down and pick them up. The temperature of your fingers on the strings may change the tuning, the temperature of the room between the evening and day time - all of these are a factor, aren't they?
Jerry: Yeah, they'll just take it a little bit out of tune. Not wildly, but just enough that you want to give it a tweak. And in the early days, the electronic tuner is just the thing. Pick that up until you've been playing for a few months. And so I agree with you completely, so I would punch in a great little piece of kit.
Mike: And not expensive. Again, like all electronic things, much much cheaper than they were.
Jerry: Coming down all the time. I think you can get them about from 12 to 15 pounds?
Mike: Yeah.
Jerry: And if you plan to go on eBay, even cheaper than that.
Mike: Sure. Not like the days when we started. When I used to, I either had a tuning fork in the really early days...
Jerry: That's right.
Mike: Also pitch pipes.
Jerry: Pitch pipes! Yeah.
Mike: Yeah, still have some.
Jerry: Yeah. Where you tried to hear that note, related to what the guitar sounded like.
Mike: And one other thing to say, generally, just one last thing, I think, that acoustic guitars tend to play seated, on your lap, on your knee whereas an electric tends to be played strapped on like a weapon of mass destruction.
Jerry: Yeah, I think that's fair to say. I mean, of course, you can pay either standing up or sitting down, but I think the point you're making is a very important one, but the acoustic guitar sits very naturally on your knee, doesn't it? It sort of fits comfortably, whereas an electric, you need to strap it around your neck, because it will feel like it's going to fall over.
Mike: Very heavy as well, aren't they?
Jerry: That's a very good point. We're used to it, and we forget to say these things. Electric guitars are incredibly heavy compared to...
Mike: Some of them are strange shapes that don't actually sit very well, like I'm thinking of the flying "V."
Jerry: And I would strongly recommend, if you're going to start playing, don't get a flying V as your first guitar. Please guys, because you'll find it absolutely impossible to play. Because you're right. The shape's bizarre. It does what it says on the tin, doesn't it? It's a V shape. If you put it on your knee, it's going to slip straight off.
Mike: Excellent! I think you've given food for thought there, Jerry. And I think we'll probably split this down into two separate parts.
Jerry: Yeah, hopefully, this will be helpful to people. Hopefully there're some budding guitarists out there who are going to get one for Christmas. That would be nice.
Mike: Sooner or later, I'm assuming that they do, they can come along to the website, and find us. Either search for "Mike Herberts" or "Jerry Lambeth" or go to or - they'll find us somehow.
Jerry: Absolutely, and maybe that raises a final point, which is the free videos, from when you've just started playing, will work fine for the electric and acoustic. They are the same instrument. And even if Mike's playing an acoustic, in his early lessons, that doesn't mean that it won't work on electric. It will work just fine.
Mike: Yeah, it does. It works just fine. Fantastic! That's great. I hope this has been of real use to any one who's thinking of buying a guitar. We may be just a little late for this Christmas, but I'm sure it will be useful for anyone buying a guitar in the future.
Jerry: Yeah. Good stuff.
Mike: So, thank you very much. That's us signing off. That's Mike Herberts, and Jerry Lambeth from
Jerry: Yeah, take care guys.
Mike: Speak you again soon.

Here are a few resources from the site that
you may not have looked at for quite a while
Some Essential Printable Guitar Chords.
Before you start the online guitar lessons here is a handy little page to print out the four main chords for each of the easiest two keys on guitar. Read More...

Wanna Get Tuned Up Before you start your online guitar lessons? Here is where you want to be....
You need to start somewhere. Nothing fancy....just a simple/basic page to train your ear and get your guitar in perfect tune before you start the lessons. Read More..

Basic Guitar Chords
Close up photographs, Chord Charts and Sound/MP3 button so that you can hear what those chords should sound like. Arranged in the two 'easiest' keys of C Major and G Major. Read More...

Sore Fingers? Let Me Make life a whole lot easier for you.
Mike reveals one of the biggest secrets that you've never been told about how to make your guitar playing progress, well.....progress.

How The Guitar Lessons Are Made:
How to make Your Own Online Guitar Lessons.

Firstly decide on a song to teach. It has to have wide appeal and it can't be too advanced. Advanced guitarists wouldn't need a video would they? Also it has to be something that you enjoy playing yourself........

View Mikes YouTube Guitar Videos:
Besides the 30+ guitar videos that I give away to my subscribers, there are 20+ Acoustic Guitar Lessons Videos that I have posted on YouTube. These are great online lessons and you can view them all here and use as much bandwidth as you want, courtesy of YouTube.

DOWNLOAD VIDEO: Great Guitar Strumming Technique
Most guitarists experience the same problems and challenges.One of the biggest challenges is learning how to strum correctly. You could spend years learning chords and left hand technique without making much music at all. This video shows you the technique that turns dull sounding guitar noise into beautiful one easy lesson
.

How to string a guitar
A new set of guitar strings, especially if those old ones have been on for a long time, will transform your guitar playing. Read More...

How to Read Guitar Tabs

Tabs can be totally mystifying to the beginner but this useful video guide will get you started. Once you can learn how to read guitar tabs you open up a whole new world of guitar playing possibilities. Read More . .

DOWNLOAD VIDEO: The Dreaded 'F' Chord.
Avoid the biggest mistake beginners make when trying to learn the dreaded 'F' Chord on guitar. Watch this video lesson by Mike Herberts and melt away the mystery of the biggest challenge a new guitarist faces. Read More...

DOWNLOAD VIDEO: There's more than one way to skin a cat. or tune a guitar
And there is more than one way to tune an acoustic guitar. Open up a whole world of new playing opportunities as Mike takes you through the basics of this alternative tuning.

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