Confused - I have a nylon strung acoustic and am thinking of buying an electric

Hi I’m a 70 yr oldie newbie from QLD Australia I’m confused I have a Yamaha CS40 which I love, I have a lot of finger pain, have small calluses on my fingers, and have never pickup a guitar in my life, and know nothing about music. But I have danced since early teens disco, rock n roll, line dancing, and old time. I’m looking at getting an electric guitar, I heard it doesn’t take as much pressure to press down on the strings and the neck is thinner for my hands. BUT I keep getting told the metal strings hurt more, and you need a big amp and speakers.
I have been on the World Wide Web they say you can play your electric guitar through your IPad with an adapter or is that just to record in GarageBand. If I went electric which would be a more all rounder electric guitar?. I just want to play at home and when my friends and I get together at a BBQ. And maybe join a group of social players. I know my A D E cords😄 that’s more than I knew six months ago Justin guitars has really helped me.


You can get a headphone adapter or plug into your iPad etc and use an amp sim. No need for a big amp and speakers.

How long have you been playing for? Electric guitars tend to have lighter strings and lower tension/action but can be trickier to play for other reasons ( string spacing is subjective etc).

Also the Yamaha CS40 has a very short scale, this means closer together frets and a lower tension overall, worried if you find it too big or hard on your fingers as its an ‘easy’ beginner friendly guitar

I have only been playing for about 6 months and it is a 3/4 size guitar

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I have had lighter strings put on by the music shop

There’s no question that I find my electric guitar easier to play than my acoustic, but it’s a full-size acoustic, so that doesn’t compare to your parlor-size instrument.

I don’t have a big amp and speakers; just a small practice amp (Fender Champion 20 for the electric, Fender Acoustasonic 40 for the acoustic). And plug headphones into each of them for practice time so I don’t annoy my wife any more than I do anyway.

My husband and I travel around when we can in our caravan and that was another reason I thought electric would work and so I don’t annoy the neighbours where we live.

you can get a quiet guitar if you are worried about noise

wrt an electric can you go to a store and try playing a few? That might be the best option.

Couple it with one of these and some headphones…

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Thank you for that I will check them out :blush:

Hey Ann, welcome to the community, We lived in Queensland for many years. One advantage, in my view, to an acoustic guitar, is there’s a very active social acoustic guitar / folk / roots music in the SE Qld area.

One thing that can help with an acoustic in particular is to get your guitar “set up” by either a guitar tech or a luthier. If your guitar is not set up well, it can make it lots harder to play and lots harder on the fingers.

If you are in the SE Queensland area, or near enough, and want to hear more about the various acoustic groups / gatherings, just let me know.

Ann, your Yamaha is nylon strung, a classical style guitar. It is 3/4 size with a compact body and short-scale neck. Yamaha describe it as designed for younger learners. If you are small in stature you may find it comfortable to play.
People who are causing you anxiety about the pain of metal strings on an electric guitar are over-egging the pudding. You’ve already been playing several months and your fingers will, imperceptibly perhaps, have hardened and accustomed themselves to pressing chords. You will find little issue with an electric and finger pain.
Moving from a small classical acoustic to an electric you may want to consider comfort (and weight) of the guitar and perhaps look at small-bodied hollow or semi-hollow electrics.
Do you have a budget in mind - a total budget, all in for the whole kit and kaboodle?

The comments you have encountered discussing big amps, big speakers etc. are also way off beam. There are some amazing sounding yet small-in-size amplifiers these days. Once we know your budget etc. advice will come along on that too.

You may want to stick to acoustic for BBQ type play and you already have one suitable for the purpose, an electric will allow you to develop and play in other ways should you wish to develop in a wider sense with more sounds and styles.


Thank you Tony I do know of a group in my area.

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can we confirm if…

you are currently experiencing finger pain with your current guitar


you are worried about it with a new electric guitar

Thank you Richard it is a beautiful guitar, the pain and soreness in my fingers after playing yesterday was bad, not too bad this morning but as soon as I start to play today it will really hurt again. I have a plan, I won’t give up, all muted strumming today, no cord work, save the fingers.
I don’t have a budget as such, I know I’m not going to be a rock star, I don’t need any thing extravagant.

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With my currant guitar I have had lighter strings put on but still really hurts and they lowered the bridge also

OK - an electric with steel strings vs a 3/4 parlor with nylon isnt going to be easier to play imo

:slightly_frowning_face: thank you

Hi Ann,

I agree with a couple posts above:
Richard: for a BBQ, the acoustic is probably preferred
Rob: an electric may not be much change

So at this point, it would be personal goals if you wanted to go the electric route. You would want to check out some of the common styles in person. You will find they are generally heavier than your acoustic, and that may not be to your liking.

About your finger pain, most folks seem to find their fingertips tender. In my case, I had the tip knuckle ache until it got warmed up in the morning. Be mindful of only pressing hard enough to get a clean note. This can help a great deal.

For fingertip pain, look at your fingertips. If they are wrinkled, then you may get some relief by making sure you are properly hydrated. Hydration will help keep the tissue pliable and cushion against the pressure of the strings. I noticed my first fingertip tenderness when I started to learn to slide into a note. bumping my finger along the frets gave me tenderness I hadn’t had before. Keeping up on water and not too much caffeine or alcohol helped.

for knuckle aches, I massage the joints lightly and sometimes need to warm them up holding a cup of warm water. Running my hands under water will soften the skin and make it hard to play until they dry out. Justin even complains about this in a couple lessons. :slight_smile:

Another thought on fingers etc.
Some people find that although nylon strings are under less tension, they can be painful as they ‘thicker’ than electric gauge guitar strings.
Also, a classical tens to have a wider and flatter neck making the reach for some chords more awkward.

If you hanker after an electric then, why not. You’ve worked your whole life and you deserve it right!

I do agree I need to check them out properly in person I’m not one for buying over the internet. I believe I do press to hard on the strings I’m ok when I’m practicing but when I play along with a tune I feel I press to hard and holding the neck to tightly not relaxed. Something I will work on.

Thanks Richard I’m working on a few ways to practice and trying not to press to hard on the strings. But I will go and look at some electrics have a feel and hold we only have one music shop where we live I will wait until we go to the city and have a look there but mean time I will continue with old faithful and keep on practicing.

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