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Top Five Myths About Learning Guitar—and What You Can Do About Them

(Image credit: Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr Creative Commons (cropped))

We’ve all heard time-worn advice about the dos and don’ts of learning to play guitar.

How much of what we’ve been told is valid, and how much is pure bunk?

The answers might depend on your personal experience. For example, some guitarists will swear that they would be inferior players had they not started out on acoustic rather than electric guitar. Others will tell you they weren’t able to excel until they switched from acoustic to electric.

U.K. guitar instructor Rob Chapman has walked his way around this and other pieces of guitaristic advice for some time now, and he has some pretty solid ideas about what it takes to succeed on the instrument.

In the video below, he’s assembled a list of the top five myths he’s heard about learning to play guitar. Rob walks you through each of his points and offers his rationale for why this advice is, in his view, a load of rubbish.

The myths he dissects are:

1. You should always start out learning on an acoustic guitar, preferably a classical. (0:32)

2. To practice electric guitar, you need an amp. (1:46)

3. You should always start out playing an affordable guitar. (2:44)

4. You should start out playing on thin strings because they’re much easier to play. (5:12)

5. You should learn to read and write music if you want to play guitar. (6:29)

Check out his complete comments for each in the video below, using the time code indications we’ve provided to locate the section.

When you’re done, head over to Rob’s YouTube channel to watch more of his videos.

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.