Minor existential crisis

About this time last year, I decided I wanted to focus on classical guitar. I had wanted to learn classical before I started my journey, but opted to start with steel string when I got going instead. I sent 1.5 years with steel string and electric, then abandoned electric.

I finally decided I would get a classical, started lessons and also obtained a better steel string for finger style playing, which I wanted to learn along with classical as they do seem to complement each other.

So I dig into classical, which is fun, slow, hard and technique driven while also learning a few finger style techniques on the steel string, which is also fun, slow and (at least for me) difficult technique.

Here is the conundrum, though. As the year has gone on, I started to realize I need a lot of basics rhythm and timing work, and have found myself picking up the steel string more and more, practicing strumming, songs with strumming as well as continued finger style practice. I find myself just wanting to do that and am stalling on the classical, as my inner desire is to pick up the steel string.

Sigh. Back and forth I go.

I guess I will just go with it and see where I end up. Lately I have been wondering if I should sell my nicer classical. I have a second perfectly good one (beat up but still plays great).

First world problems as we say…

I suppose the real problem is that by not focusing on one of them, I am impeding my progress overall.


I am in a similar place. Fingerstyle and classical took up a lot of my time the last few months, so my progress from BG2 to BG3 slowed down, and my steel string skills atrophied a little bit, since I wasn’t disciplined enough about my practice routines. I am experimenting with (1) rotation (between styles and guitars) and (2) randomizing what I practice - Justin’s idea of a jar full of slips of paper with techniques, strumming patterns etc. to practice.

I wonder if it’s better to go linearly down the JG course, at least through all intermediate levels before exploring other things. Interested in other views on this.

I played classical guitar reading music etc… and have found it difficult moving to steel string due to the thinner fretboard and harder strings.
I’ve decided to start from scratch with the steelbstring but continue with fingerstyle rather than using a pick. It was a difficult process to move mindset. But i think its quite tricky to master both methods.


Go with what you enjoy and want to do. You seem to have answered your own dilemma…?

Welcome to the forum @TAFFERY and thank you for commenting.

I agree, finger style and classical are similar, yet different enough. There is some overlap of skills and your history of classical playing will probably help.

The strings are harder and nuts narrower, but there are ways to minimize the difference. My guitar is an 00 (smaller than my classical) has a 46mm nut (1.81 inches) wider string spacing at the saddle, a 16” fretboard radius and is short scale to lower tension. Then I use low tension strings (Straight up strings, Newtone Heritage, and others). You can always tune a half or whole step down, as well, but at some point the strings get too loose and rattle.

Thanks @skinnyt, you are right and I am sliding in that direction. I guess the point is not to fret about it and just do what works for me. I can always drift back if that is what happens.

The nylon strings are nice for evening practice when kid is in bed though. To sell and buy a silent steel string, or to keep…? Sigh…

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Thank you.
I probably need better strings on my steel string. Any suggestions for a better sound and easier play?
Whats a silent steel string?
I have an lectro acoustic (hollow body) which is probably better for eve practice. Maybe its time to think about a permanent move.
Selling the classical seems drastic…however. means to an end…

Strings are extremely subjective and sometimes a guitar will sound better with certain strings than others.

Strings usually run in the 165lbs for 12s range, plus or minus a bunch. If you are looking for lower tension, there are several. Straight up Strings 12s run 146 lbs, Newtone Heritage 12s are 131 lbs, Curt Mangan round core 12s are about 148 lbs. generally round core and silk and steel or silk and bronze are lower tension or feel softer anyway. For me the Curt Mangan are to bright, the Newtone Heritage too loose on a short scale guitar, but sound great, SUSs are phosphors bronze and sound like that, a good even tone.

I would recommend starting with the Straight up Stings, they aren’t too expensive, unless you are out of the US, then bets are off. The Newtones are made in the UK if that helps.


I have really wanted to get an classical guitar myself Joshua. I Also wanted to play electrical guitar.
The classical never happened. I came to the conclusion that i have enough on my plate :rofl:

I have not touched the electrical for a long time, and i dont feel any particular urge to pick it up either.
I go for the acoustic every time, before the electrical…

maybe further down the road i might get an itch for electrical. But i am fine with playing just one type of instrument. As much as i would love to rip the coolest solos on electrical. Im also a little bit realistic on what i am able to do :rofl:

It sounds to me that it is the acoustic is your path… if that is the one you pick up every time…. Seems like you have your answer right there?

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When I started, I didn’t know the difference between a classical and steel string acoustic.
I bought a classical from amazon based on reviews and price and hey ho, I thought it was great! There I was, playing pop songs on ‘guitar’ :rofl:
You’re a smart guy, with an interest for how things work. Sure, your interest in different styles of music playing will change with time, and you will probably swap out different instruments.
Learning to play what you enjoy (at the time) is the whole point in my opinion. It’s ok to switch and change your mind.
I’d keep an acoustic, a classical, and yes, an electric to cater for all my future moods and desires :smiley:


I wanted to play classical music and was thinking getting a Classical Guitar at start. After reading about pros and cons of both, I finally decided to buy the steel string, mostly due to sound and slimmer fret board.

Not sure if I read/understand correct, but it somehow seem, that there is a reason you pick up the steel string more, due to want be better at rhythm, more than due to sound or other reasons.

If I was in your shoes, I would keep the classical guitar for now. Maybe another year (or five :joy:) before finally deciding.
Personally I see them as two completely different instruments. As you are getting better and better, you might actually want to alter between them. Hard to know what the future brings, but maybe best to just pick the guitar you feel like practicing for now and not put thought into it or feel you slowing you progress or doing something “naughty” :joy:

Since I only have one steel string and just luv the sound and calluses have grown, my next guitar will most likely be another steel string and not a classical as initially was the plan.

Also, what is our goal? Should we have a goal? Is discipline sticking to a thing even we don’t fancy it that much, or is discipline more about being sure to have fun and enjoyment with what ever instrument we pick up at any given time? :wink:

It is such a personal and individual choice IMHO. I wouldn’t actually know what to do, to be honest, if I was in a similar situation. I would have to be in such situation before being able to know, what I would do. :joy: :joy:

Or if really want to decide on something and can’t, put numbers on, make many notes with numbers, put in a hat, shuffle around and pick a note and see what comes up :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy:

Just please don’t do anything drastic you might regret few month further into the journey. Maybe just grab any guitar you fancy and have fun and things will get solved further down the line. All the very best wishes, not making a choice now and just have fun and enjoy the journey :wink: :partying_face: :rofl: :pray:

PS, you are actually able to play very soft and silent on a normal acoustic guitar. No need something special or fancy. I do here when not able to sleep, and noise from kettle when making a cup of tea is far louder than the guitar. No problem playing/training silent on the acoustic.

IMHO, it is individual. I could not go linear, nor stick to one type guitar or the like. I am to wild for that. I do what I find best and most fun at any given moment. Some need the structure and schedule. Some are in between kind of. You are the one to know yourself best.


I do have all three.

But two classical.

I sold the second electric, since it was the one I could actually sell for something.

I may do that with the classical. One is worth something, maybe a little more than I bought it for. The other has ugly repaired cracks and couldn’t sell for much at all, but is a very nice guitar, so really it would be fine.

I actually also have another pretty nice steel string, but I lent it to a friend to encourage him to play, rather than sell it. Maybe I should get it back soon :thinking:

My advice would be to keep the nicer classical, unless you absolutely need the money. Chances are you will want it, sooner or later.

Also, FWIW, there’s nothing wrong with having a foot in the classical guitar world and another foot in the steel string guitar world. Follow where the muse leads you.


Hello Joshua…where do I to start from? I’m in a very similar situation but the way around. When I started my classical guitar journey last July it became soon crystal clear that it would have a priority in my heart.

This was exactly what happened to me but I was stalling on strumming as I prefered to pick up my classical. At the same time I didn’t want to give up the acoustic. Justin came to the aid and launched his Strumming S.O.S.Course. What I did basically is to have the main focus on Classical and re-work my strumming fundamentals - just 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Progress is very slow this way and I can only accept it…but it’s very valuable to fix some things, get more confident with other things and also positevely acknowledge “oh I can already do this!” The sos course kept me structured, and structure was what I needed.

Re-working your Classical guitar fundamentals, while following your present inclination for the steel strings might be an option for you - progress will be slow but very valuable. Keep the two focuses distinguished and give your self the time to aknowledge the little steps and enjoy your small progress.

:pray::pray::pray: thanks for this…it reassures me…the doubt arises everynow and then, especially when one feels tired, as it’s also quite commiting, not only to find the time in the day for two different practice sessions, but above all for the brain…given that the training is consistent going slowier in one of the two is essential I think, to give our brains the chance to properly digest the things we’re working on.

That feeling is somewhat familiar to me, although not in relation to classical guitars. When I started out, I made a conscious decision to learn techniques first on the acoustic, then on the electric (or simultaneously, but the acoustic came first). Then, when I dipped into transcribing and started to get better at figuring out melodies, my focus shifted to my electric guitars, so much so that my acoustic guitars have spent the better part of the past 6 months hanging on the wall.

Sometimes I get a sort of sense of guilt for neglecting them, but my mood/interests may change any time, so there’s really no need to worry about these things. It’s like listening to different kinds of music from time to time or changing your diet every once in a while.

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That’s true. I’d love to be as diligent as my complete beginner self used to be, but during the past few years Justin’s lessons helped me to get a sense of purpose in my learning, made me trust my interests (e.g. learn skills that are necessary for the particular music I’m working on) and gradually made me more independent from the lesson-by-lesson curriculum.


Follow your muse. If you want to play the steel string, do it.

I find it takes very little maintenance to keep skills fresh. I focused on electric mainly for a while but still pulled out my acoustic a couple of times a week, and when it came time to go back to Greensleeves I found it didn’t take me much to match and then surpass the level I’d got to originally because overall I’d continued my playing. I’d imagine you would much go backwards on classical if you put it into “maintenance mode” so to speak, and focused on steel string.

I read this and think: why not a bit of everything? Perhaps it’s too early to specialise. Focus on that steel string for a while, and maybe at some stage you’ll get the inclination to pick up the electric again. Who knows.

Just this last week I sold one of my two electrics, a Squier - because I wasn’t playing it. Which one do you play more? Is the nicer classical nicer because of the brand or because you prefer playing it? Or do you prefer the other one… keep the one you play IMHO.

I think, a lot of us discovered the unlimited possibilities of playing guitar only after starting the whole project. Don’t we all need a certain time and experience with different instruments, styles and techniques to get aware of all those possibilities? Individual abilities and preferences affect our individual perception too. I always saw the beginner years as a period of orientation and a time to build up basic techniques and skills. Having obtained classical knowledge on top of all those numerous techniques of Grade 1-3, does’t make the decision easier. I tend to follow my gut instinct on those questions…there must be a reason for you prefering the steel string at the moment. So give it a chance!
Does dancing on different weddings slow your progress down? Maybe…but I think, working on rhythm skills and finger picking, as you say, is never lost time. Fortunately you don’t have to choose for one or the other, apart from time available. Maybe you can keep your level on classical guitar for the moment with some reservated consolidating time and try out where the steell string takes you?

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Thanks for all the thoughtful replies! It helps to feel comfortable with my process, whatever direction it takes.

Good thought. Thanks. No need to abandons anything, just to keep it smoldering. I am not doing that with electric. I haven’t touched it in over a year, now.

I like the analogy. Helpful. It is ok to go back and forth between things to some extent.

My impression is that Justin designed his course in this way specifically. The more advanced you get, the more you can and probably should individualize your path. So, I think you have it right.

Interesting. Really I play the Kremona because I got it first and it is the newer and less beat up guitar. So really I have just developed the habit. It also looks nicer, and I keep them out in a common area. The Yiari is probably almost an equal in term of playability and sound. But I haven’t played it as much, since it isn’t out. Maybe a swap is a good idea for a bit, test it out.

OMG this is the truth! It is almost overwhelming and I think part of succeeding with guitar is being able to see the tree for the forest.

I have not heard this expression before…:thinking: