Sunday, July 27, 2014

Acoustic Guitar Journal #1: Guitar vs. Piano

It's been about five or six weeks since I started talking acoustic guitar, and it's been a totally fun and rewarding experience. While I shouldn't do it, I can't help but compare piano and guitar and wondering which is better.

I love piano, but what amazes me about the guitar is how intuitive it is to play. Within days of picking it up, I was playing 'songs' and felt very comfortable noodling around. I never had that kind of connection with a keyboard. Of course, this comfort doesn't take into account steel strings biting into my fingertips, building callouses, and some awkward hand positions. Or that during the first couple weeks I often had to stop playing because my fingertips just hurt too much to keep going.

The way songs are played and notated on guitar is much simpler than piano, as well. Often you only need to know the chords of a song and nothing else to jump in and start playing it. Guitar tabs are offered up free of charge on the Internet, making it easy to try new songs in a casual way. Guitar is also much more rewarding with pop, folk, and country songs than piano.

The portability and low-frills of a guitar is also a new experience for me. I could play it anywhere, whereas a piano is pretty much stuck in one spot and portable keyboards are a poor substitute for the real thing. Along with this, I only need a pitch pipe with the low E-string tone working to tune a guitar. Tuning a piano requires calling in an expert. Working with and maintaining a guitar is just a lot easier.

Now I'm sure that a at least some of my ease with this instrument is the result of what I learned from all those piano lessons, but there's no question that guitar is easier to develop a basic skill set on than piano is. And on guitar it feels like a basic skill set gets you a lot more mileage than it would on piano. As one progresses, I wonder if the piano becomes more appealing due to the greater complexity of what you can compose and play. I do sense piano has a lot more nuance, while guitar requires electricity and pedals and weird tunings to get to the same place...not sure if that's true just an impression.

Early days, but right now there is a part of me that wishes I could back into time to eight-year-old me and say: "No!!!!! Don't switch to piano!"

No comments: