View Full Version : Please convince me against picking up classical guitar at this stage

03-22-2016, 06:44 PM
First, some background. Sorry this is a bit long: I love the sound of the classical guitar and had always wanted to learn how to play it but didn't make the leap because I thought I would have difficulty in growing out my thumbnail, plus I wasn't sure if I would like playing stringed instruments.

A couple of months ago I found an ukulele shop a few minutes from my place and became fascinated with the instrument. I mean, it's so cute! I bought a beginner concert and got hooked on strumming. I also love how it takes up very little space in our cramped apartment. I've taken a few uke lessons as well.

Although I do like strumming chords while singing with friends, my ultimate goal is to learn solos and fingerpicking, with a sound quality approaching that of classical guitar. But then...it occurred to me why not just pick up classical guitar?

The idea has taken hold of my brain and it's making me want to compulsively go out there and buy one. However, there are a few things stopping me:

1) It's not even 2 months since I started ukulele, and since I want to get good at it wouldn't it be better if I focused on it first? (I also take piano lessons once a week so I have another instrument that I need to practice).

2) I'm going to Japan this weekend and I'm planning to buy a high quality Japan-made ukulele there. Buying a classical guitar would take from my uke budget.

3) After my experience with my current cheap-ish ukulele, I've decided that if I'm buying guitar, I'd be going for a higher quality one from the get-go, probably in the $800 range. Not the kind of money I want to be putting out right now. As to why $800, although this kind of guitar is still in the beginner range, it will hopefully stave off GAS until much later.

4) Guitars are huge compared to ukulele and would take up space. I want my instruments to be pick up and play (like I do with my ukulele) so I can practice at odd times when I feel like it. The guitar doesn't seem quite as pick-up-and-play friendly like the uke.

I would probably see a ton of nice guitars :drool: when I go uke shopping this weekend, so the temptation would be doubly strong.

TL;DR: I objectively know that I probably shouldn't get a classical guitar at this moment but I can't get the idea out of my head. But I'm a compulsive buyer and tend to get what I want in the end. Please knock some sense into me and convince me that a guitar isn't what I need or want in my life right now.

03-22-2016, 07:07 PM
i just bought a cordoba mini with the intent of trying my hand at classical.

before you do that, go ahead and pick up the first tony mizen book and start practicing. at the very least the tony mizen books will keep you busy for many months to come with your ukulele. the arrangements are very nice.

if you do classical guitar be ready...doing it right will push you into reading directly from score and probably will take a lot more concentrated effort than building some skills on the ukulele side.

in september i may consider taking the classes they offer on the classical guitar forums. that's when their next yearly cycle starts.

Jim Hanks
03-22-2016, 07:23 PM
Although I do like strumming chords while singing with friends, my ultimate goal is to learn solos and fingerpicking, with a sound quality approaching that of classical guitar. But then...it occurred to me why not just pick up classical guitar?

You can do that on uke, more commonly with tenor or baritone, but probably doable on concert as well. Listen to Jake S. or James Hill or Abe Lagrimas.

Your four reasons are good. To expand on #3, you can get nicer ukes for less money than you can with guitars.

03-22-2016, 07:59 PM
Guitar always seemed like driving a boat compared to a uke. You get used to that smaller size. It's got to be difficult to go bigger.... BUT if that's what you really truly want and desire, then who are we to stop you? Life is short.

03-23-2016, 12:11 AM
I come the other way, i played classical guitar for years and moved to uke and started having fun. Classical guitar needs a ton more theory and IME there is a lot more work involved in getting something that remotely sounds like music. If the uke is your hobby then i would get a tenor uke with a really clear and well separated tone and 1 1/2" nut. The Cordoba line and Romero Creations grand tenor are two that jump to mind. With that setup, the right strings and Tony's Mizen's books and you are good to go, mini classical guitar / uke...

03-23-2016, 02:50 AM
If the uke is your hobby then i would get a tenor uke with a really clear and well separated tone and 1 1/2" nut. The Cordoba line and Romero Creations grand tenor are two that jump to mind.

islander also has the 1/2 nut. or kanilea.

03-23-2016, 02:53 AM
I feel that you should get whatever makes you feel happy. :) I like the ukulele because it's small and portable, original, and it allows you to play pieces that can't be played with the same technique or stretches on a guitar (that's true the other way around also). Affordability isn't much of an issue to me now, though it was one when I set out, because a quality ukulele isn't really that much cheaper than a quality guitar. I do like the culture and community surrounding the ukulele, and that (as Jake said too) people don't have particularly high expectations. If you want to stand out (I don't), picking expertly on a ukulele will achieve that much more easily than picking a guitar. Also, guitars just strike me as too serious, somehow.

03-23-2016, 08:04 AM
I started with classical guitar, but now I am very happy playing the ukulele. The string tension is lighter, so it is easier on your fingers. I found that a classical guitar was too big and awkward to carry around for casual playing, so I never did it, even though I used to think about it. With a uke, I was able to bring it to work with me, and sit in my car at lunch and play. I like to play concert size, and often play with low G tuning. To satisfy your interest, I would suggest getting a guitalele. That way you can get the best part of both worlds. They range in cost and size. Some are baritone size, and others are tenor size. Playing a guitalele is very much like playing a mini guitar.

03-23-2016, 08:36 AM
To me, playing guitar is more work and less fun than ukulele, and classical guitar can be quite demanding. However, guitar has its rewards and I've started playing guitar again after a few years of ukulele only. To more easily play both, I've tended to prefer Tenor ukuleles and short-scale guitars. That way there's not such a large difference in scale length.

03-23-2016, 10:38 AM
I was in Japan last month. Don't count on finding any cheap uke just because it's made in Japan. Their price is outrageous! There is a street in Tokyo that sells only string instruments but mostly guitars.
Have you tried travel guitar? It's smaller in size.
I played classical guitar too but tenor uke can deliver just as good classical quality and it's so much easier.

03-23-2016, 10:11 PM
I started out decades ago with classical guitar as well, and never learned much beyond some simple etudes, a few melodies, some chords and arpeggio patterns. There were few books available to a beginner and no tabs, you had to read music so I learned the treble clef. There was no YouTube like today where you can find a lot of good lessons.

I love tenor and baritone ukes for the extra frets and more room on the fretboard and for carrying a low G. Eventually I did miss the two extra bass strings of the guitar for what I wanted to learn to play, so I started out with looking for travel guitars. I got a Tacoma Papoose a few years back but it's a steel string tuned A to A. More recently I picked up a few short scale steel strings, then looked for nylon so I could practice longer. I picked up a sweet Cordoba Cadete 3/4 size 24" scale classical for $92 off eBay. They retail somewhere around $300+. It's a beaut! Cheap because it had a few dings and needed a setup. Solid Canadian cedar top and laminate mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard and faceplate. It's very easy to play with the short scale, smaller Torres style body and has a nice sound. A little darker because of the cedar but a nice voice. Satisfied the short scale nylon itch very well, and eventually led to two more classical styles. It's my go to nylon string since it's a laminate and I let it sit out on a stand. Normal tension strings on the short scale make for a comfortable very comfortable easy yet buzz free tension, it feels less than on my Collings tenor. I didn't want it for classical, though I enjoy playing some easy etudes on it. I'm using it for learning Blues guitar. I have a number of short scales and just picked up a full scale circa late '60s Goya solid flamed maple spruce topped flamenco. Before that I got hold of a Favilla 25" scale all one piece mahogany back and sides, spruce topped classical for cheap. Rings like a bell, it is an ugly thing but lovely sound. If Willie Nelson can play a classical style Martin for country why the heck not get a classical? Go check out the flamenco guitar players who are doing flamenco blues! :)

I still play my tenor ukes but I can't play the etudes for 6 strings on a tenor uke. I love that bass thump of the E &A strings for the Blues too. When I get something down on my nylon I switch to a steel string, but the nylons let me play longer. Guitaleles are fun and always an option. Go to a guitar store and pick up some classicals and see how they feel. They are also all over Craigslist really cheap, usually around $100-$150 for a nice quality Japanese made vintage solid cedar or spruce top classical. You just need to make sure the necks are straight and solid. Check Craigslist Japan when you are there. Scratch the itch, pick it up when you feel like it, and still play the snot out of whatever great new uke you buy. Life is too short.

04-13-2016, 05:23 AM
I highly recommend the Cordoba guitars! My tastes run from pop, jazz and a little classical music. While I do use a leg support, you'd never confuse me for a classical player... But I love my Cordoba GK pro.

04-17-2016, 02:17 PM
I don't want to talk anyone out of anything that they want to do, but I have a couple of good friends who play classical guitar. So several year ago they were trying to talk me into playing classical guitar too, so I started hanging round with them to see what it was all about. That's why I play the ukulele. :)

07-23-2016, 02:09 AM
I was in Japan last month. Don't count on finding any cheap uke just because it's made in Japan. Their price is outrageous! There is a street in Tokyo that sells only string instruments but mostly guitars.
Have you tried travel guitar? It's smaller in size.
I played classical guitar too but tenor uke can deliver just as good classical quality and it's so much easier.

I have a 3/4 Cordoba C100M (http://amzn.to/2a13jWW) When strung with good high tension strings, it's pretty nice and not much bigger in feel than a baritone uke, and you get the base strings. I may see if the guys at Southcoast have any better strings than the Savarez it's strung with but it sounds great and not much more difficult than the uke--took me a few weeks of practice but then it started to come easier.

07-24-2016, 04:26 AM
a classical guitar is just a big baritone uke with 2 extra strings. but boy, do they have fat necks. If I was in Japan I'd be looking for a tenor Kiwaya. they make some really nice ukes.

07-24-2016, 06:00 AM
Well, I've been playing again for a month and I thought I'd never regain the ability I had as a teen. (I played uke as a kid, mom had three bored kids one summer and put us all in ukulele lessons with an old WWII Airline uke we had at home. Wonderful!) Picked up the uke five years ago for something to do after husband passed away (music is very healing) I had his old guitar but couldn't manage it until now. Even with arthritis in thumb, I'm managing after some refurb of the guitar and new strings and dogged practice every morning.

It just takes time to limber up. I'm surprised how it goes. It was absolutely useless the first three weeks, then suddenly I'm back to fairly good. Now, some good video lessons and I'll have fun.

Meanwhile, I'm amazed at how playable tenor ukes are. I love my Mainland to bits. It's so sweet and you can really fly up the fretboard.

Dan Gleibitz
08-18-2016, 04:31 AM
Nope. Whatever keeps you excited and motivated to keep playing.

I decided to learn to play the electric guitar when I turned 40 (4 long months ago). It seemed like a good choice for a midlife crisis, all things considered. And I love it. But this love rekindled an interest in acoustic guitar, which led to travel guitars, which led to the ukulele. Not as a process of replacement, but of addition.

The important thing is that I keep playing, keep learning, keep training my fingers. Technical skills, agility, strength, finger independence, all translate from one instrument to another. So does the musical side, training the ear for intonation, dynamics, expression, timing, improvisation, etcetera.

What I will say is that the ukulele is a great platform for learning fingerstyle and other non-strumming techniques. Buying a classical guitar doesn't open up these opportunities - they're already there. Having two extra strings won't fix the 'sick of strumming' dilemma. Only expanding to new styles will. And you can expand to new styles with the ukulele just as well as you can with a classical guitar. It's different but neither is substantially easier.

Heck, (I realise this may be sacrilege around here) I actually don't like the sound of a simple strummed uke. It takes more than any DDUDUDUDDDUUUD pattern to interest me, no matter the strings and no matter whether it's a $30 or a $3000 ukulele. And yet, I'm captivated by it, addicted to the sounds, techniques and arrangements that are possible to produce once one looks beyond simple strumming patterns.

Whatever you decide, relish the decision, give it everything, and don't let anything hold you back, be it choice of instrument or mindset.

Croaky Keith
08-18-2016, 05:03 AM
You obviously need a baritone! :)

08-18-2016, 06:40 AM
I think you know what you want to do and that is not buy a guitar just yet. I would support this idea for the reason that its difficult to learn both guitar and uke at hte same time. I made the mistake of buying a guitar just before i started with the uke. My first priority was to learn guitar but i bought the uke for travelling and as soon as i realised how confusing it was to learn even just chords for both instruments because they are differnet, then i stopped with the guitar to focus on the one that i needed to learn first.

You've also said you don't have a lot of space in your flat, unless you want to hang your guitar on the wall, that is another good reason not to buy it now.

But you should go with what you really want. When i want something that know is not good for me at that time, eg becuase i know finances are limited, or I know i already have enough clothes, or I can get hte book from the library and those sorts of reasons, then i just block the idea of want right out of my head and don't go browsing. So if you really want to avoid buying a guitar now, forget that you want until you are properly read to do it. IN forgetting you want one, don't look at them in the shops or online and if you start thinking about it, just drop the thought.

I think with only one instrument ot focus on, you will make much better progress.

08-18-2016, 07:49 AM
How about a Guitarlele, which seems to fit your desire for a six string instrument yet smaller in size?

I'm not about to say that ukulele isn't difficult (millions of examples on YouTube show the opposite). But I will say that guitar has additional challenges based simply upon the addition of two extra strings. I don't actually think the difference in pitches for each string matters, because they are all relative to each other--but you do need to learn new chord names for the existing shapes you know, as well as to remember to use the two additional strings.

That said, you don't always play all six strings on a guitar, either (Think F [Bb on a ukulele] or D [G on a ukulele]). And I can't think much in terms of technique that you learn on a ukulele that isn't applicable to guitar, although picks are used on guitar (less so with classical guitar).

In the end, go buy what makes you happy, as long as the purchase itself doesn't make you unhappy (debt load you cannot bear, etc). Life is too short. And in the end, if you don't use it, you can keep it on a wall (storage should't be an issue) or sell it (although you are guaranteed to sell at a loss).

08-18-2016, 09:34 AM
If you can play the ukulele you are actually technically two thirds of the way to playing the guitar. A ukulele is tuned the same as a guitar in that it is in 4 ths and it starts at the equivalent of the 6th fret on guitar. The fifth fret being GCEA on the guit box.....the chord shapes are the same except on the git box you add the two bass strings as well. So a full chord would like the ukulele chord + 2 . There is no huge mystery once you can get your head round the two bass strings and that you are starting lower down the scale....in fact just thing of it as a low tuned uke with extra bassy strings. In actual fact ...SMH ...DGBE the open strings higher up are exactly the same as baritone ukulele tuning......and you have the EA bass strings too.....If you go classical or Spanish with nylon strings then that at least reduces the pain of developing steel string callouses.Which you probably will on the round wounds anyway...

A C chord on the uke is this 0003 or the full fat version is 5433......the same shape on the guitar at the third fret is G except it would be 320003..and you can play it as XX5433 or 335433..same shapes...

Just to square the circle.If you try a guilele you will find that C is ...320003...and etc.

Thing is it's up to you, your itch. Do you scratch or leave it alone......?

08-25-2016, 03:41 AM
I wonder what she ended up doing, and where she went with it?

Michael N.
09-17-2016, 12:21 PM
Don't know but I'm not sure what the difficulty is with playing both, many people do. You don't have to read standard notation to play the classical guitar. I don't even though I can read music.

09-27-2016, 01:21 AM
No good. I just took the plunge at age 64 (months from 65.) Someone wanted me to review a new Cordoba guitar for beginners and I agreed and took the plunge.

The old Zen proverb: When the student is ready, the teacher appears" seems to hold true for me. I struck out finding teachers and suddenly ran across a guy in our largest city, about 35 minutes from my house. Unfortunately he only teaches at night, but he's so AMAZING a teacher, it's worth it. He's also a luthier and runs the local classical guitar society.

I'm REALLY enjoying it. It's vastly different than the ukulele except that I always loved fingerstyle. He's a bug for good hand position and how to move on the fretboard with maximum efficiency. The uke doesn't require such rigor because you aren't stretching over 2 inches of board.

The Cordoba Protege (http://amzn.to/2do7jlx) is fairly nice, has a truss rod which even my old Yamaha didn't have and it's not going to break the bank. One probably should restring it. It comes with Savarez, but I prefer D'Addarios.

I can't dissuade you. Because I'm enjoying it myself. Just find a good teacher. I was blessed. My guy is amazing.

09-27-2016, 01:25 AM
I forgot to add something important.

You need to read music to truly play classical guitar. Frankly, reading music is good for any instrument, but really good teacher will want you to read music, not tabs.

I'm very lucky in that I've read music since I was 8 years old and I'm fluent in sightreading both clefs. (Piano player.) It's a skill that I'm sorry to say is being dropped by our government schools. Like languages, it's best learned young, but it can be learned. If you do not read music, find a tutorial that will get you at ease with it. This opens a world of riches to you.

11-10-2016, 08:07 AM
I played guitar for years before playing ukulele. The conversion from guitar to ukulele was easy, but I think going from ukulele to guitar is a lot harder.

As far as instrumental solos and fingerpicking, I do both on guitar and ukulele. I have reached a much higher level of proficiency on ukulele than I ever did on guitar. Classical guitar requires more discipline and time than I was ever willing to give to it.

11-10-2016, 06:31 PM
Time is certainly the problem. I have a cordoba mini that calls out to me sometimes but I know it's going to need serious time. I also have piano, voice and strings background and I was very proficient sight reading 5 or so different clefs in college. Attaching notes to guitar frets and strings is the effort part (esp since I'm used to seeing notes at ukulele pitch), and of course my whimsical nature regarding instruments I want to learn.

11-14-2016, 01:02 PM
Picking up classical guitar was the best things I've done for my playing. I started last year and finished this book https://www.amazon.com/Classical-Guitar-inline-Leonard-Method/dp/0634093290 , which is an excellent book to get you up and running on classical guitar. I supplemented the book with classical guitar courses on www.udemy.com .

Classical guitar developed finger independence on both hands, taught me to sight read, and gave me the technical skill to play other types of music using finger style.

I took up Jazz guitar and the classical guitar techniques helped with making chords and finger style Jazz.

I've noticed that I can play blues guitar, rock guitar, or finger style guitar much easier. These would be much more difficult without learning classical guitar.

Not to mention that ukulele is much easier now.

Classical guitar can be a fun instrument and not at all stuffy. I have fun with and it's just one of the guitar styles that I'm learning.

02-08-2017, 02:08 AM
Absolutely agree with you that guitar-uke is easy, uke-guitar is NOT. But guitar is a totally different animal. I love the sound of those bass strings. You really do accompany yourself, the way you do with piano. I do love the uke, but guitar is well worth learning and it's added so much to my life. But challenging? Oh my. I think it's almost as bad as a violin. No one tells you this. But there is so much to learn in subtle, tiny things. Hand position across the strings, your FINGERNAILS (my teacher files my nails if they aren't angled correctly), the left hand--how to move around the fretboard. Fingering both hands, important. And how to fool the ear--holding one note to keep a sustain going, even if it's a different note to give the ear something to listen to as you move to new notes on the fretboard (as my instructor says, "Smoke and mirrors.")

The uke is great but the addition of those deep notes brings such a dimension to music.

12-04-2017, 06:08 AM
Classical guitar has a steep learning curve in the beginning because of demands for precision in fingering unlike any other guitar style or uke discipline. Also you really need to learn to read standard notation.
It takes a while but if youre persistent, the reading ability comes eventually (like typing /instant reaction) but it comes w persistence and patience.

12-06-2017, 11:55 AM
I started at aged 12 to play guitar - it was what is now called classical but then it was simply affordable. It was for playing chords and singing - those days it was Buddy Holly etc., and we knew no better. Eventually I graduated to a dreadnought and steel strings. I still keep a couple of classical guitars around - never got to play classical music but as a parlor guitar for singalongs they are terrific. I now play mostly ukulele (and banjo) and love its size, portability and happy sound. For we strummers the nylon strung guitar is a joy.

A note of caution - there variety of neck shapes/profiles out there mean that you have to choose carefully.

In the for what it's worth arena - I play a lot in South America with friends and they all strum classical guitars.

12-12-2017, 04:31 AM
It is interesting how many people who commented on this thread when it first came out are no where to be seen now. I wonder if they just got tired of posting but are still here, or if they moved on? Anyway, I don't want to play classical guitar. I tried it for a month before I discovered the ukulele, and I didn't think it was fun. However, over the last several years I have become interested in bluegrass and I have been thinking about taking up the guitar so that I can play guitar with bluegrass players. Now before anyone posts links to bluegrass books for ukulele, that's fine if you are entertaining yourself, but when it comes to actually playing bluegrass with other bluegrass players, there isn't really a ukulele part. So my wife has a guitar in the basement that no one has played for years, except for my brief classical guitar attempt, and I'm trying to decide if it is worth the time that it would take out of my ukulele playing to learn to play it.

Croaky Keith
12-12-2017, 05:38 AM
I still think that four strings are more than enough, so I won't be trying to play any guitars any time soon. ;)

(If I really wanted to have a ginormous uke, I'd maybe get a tenor guitar. :) )

How much do you want to play bluegrass, I reckon that will be the deciding factor. :cool:

12-12-2017, 08:34 AM
I still think that four strings are more than enough, so I won't be trying to play any guitars any time soon. ;)

(If I really wanted to have a ginormous uke, I'd maybe get a tenor guitar. :) )

How much do you want to play bluegrass, I reckon that will be the deciding factor. :cool:

I have a lot of things going on in my life right now, and I don't want to abandon my ukulele playing for playing bluegrass, so you are right, that is the deciding factor. There is a lot of bluegrass and bluegrass players around here though, and not so much for ukulele players. I don't really like playing by myself all the time. So that is probably what is the draw with bluegrass. But I don't know if I want to put the effort into it or not.