Buying Your First Guitar

A guide on what to look out for

It can be difficult to know what to look out for when you’re just starting out, so I’ve created this short guide which will lead you in the right direction. With prices ranging from $100 to $10,000 and beyond, choices between electric or acoustic, full size or 3/4 length, there is no shortage of choice.

Initially you will want something inexpensive and basic that will be easy to learn on, and will get you ready for when you want to move on to better options. If you’re trying to budget, you should be able to find something for less than $200, or even $100 if you buy used. If your budget is less strict and you want to buy something that will last, then you shouldn’t really need to spend anymore than $500. In this guide I will share with you some key points to consider and look out for when buying your first guitar…

ELECTRIC OR ACOUSTIC?

Electric guitar suits more rock, pop, and jazz music, whereas acoustic guitar suits more singer songwriter, pop, fingerstyle, and folk music.

NOTE: don’t mix up a Classical guitar for an Acoustic guitar. They are both guitars, but are tailored for two completely different genres of music. Many people will make the mistake of buying these for their children because they’re often very cheap, but they can also be more difficult to play.

Most people already know which they’d prefer to play but if you’re not sure then I would definitely suggest an electric. Electric guitars are more versatile as you can create a large variety of sounds using amps and pedals and you can still practice quietly with it unplugged. They are also much easier to play due to their thinner body, neck, and strings.

Some companies sell starter packs (particularly electric guitars where they’ll bundle in an amp, cable & strap). I don’t recommend buying these because the bundled in gear is usually terrible. I’d recommend buying the guitar on its own for now, and then buying any additional accessories separately when you’ve picked up the basics. If you’re planning on having lessons with me, you’ll be able to try out some of my gear before you commit to buying anything.

Action

‘Action’ is a very important feature to look out for when you are a beginner. The action is the distance between the stings and the fretboard. You will want to buy a guitar with a low action. If you’re going to a store, theres no need to bring a ruler with you. Just press down the strings on a few guitars and observe the action and how much force is required to sound a note. Try and choose a guitar that doesn’t require too much force on the strings to sound a note.

Try Before you buy

Most music shops let you play the instrument before you buy it. If you cant play anything yet then just sit and hold it, pluck a few strings, see how it feels, is it comfortable? too big? And don’t forget to feel the action.

Are you a lefty?

Being a lefty isn’t as troublesome as you’d expect. However, most guitars are made right handed so the options for left handed instruments are less broad and more than often unfortunately slightly more expensive.

On a side note, left handed players are not taught any differently than right handed players. Neither left or right is more difficult or different to teach.

Buy something you like

You have to buy something that you actually think looks good! You’ll enjoy playing it more if you think it looks cool – trust me on this one.

Age

If you’re buying a guitar for a child, look out for child sized guitars. They’re commonly known as “3/4 length” guitars. This means that they are 3/4 the size of a typically sized guitar. 3/4 length guitars are often ideal for children between the ages of 6-9. For children younger than 6, look out for a 1/2 sized instrument. Children that are 10+ should be fine with a full sized electric guitar, but if they are more into acoustic then it’s probably best to hold on to that 3/4 length for a year or two more. Remember that acoustic guitars are always bulkier than electric guitars. If you can, try the different sizes in a guitar store to see which is most appropriate for your child.

These guidelines are aimed towards the average child, but in some cases there are very tall or very short children. Use your own wisdom to figure out what’s most appropriate if this is the case 🙂

Ask me for my opinion

If ever you’re in doubt or you just can’t decide between a few different options that you’ve seen around, don’t hesitate to drop me a message and I’ll do my best to help out! The best way to get in touch with me is via my facebook fan page, or fill out the contact form linked on the menu bar at the top of this page.

Hopefully this guide has answered some of your questions and will help you to choosing your first guitar! Enjoy your searching.