How To Buy Your First Guitar

Here are a few guidelines to follow while making a guitar purchase.  Whether you are a seasoned pro or a hobbyist/beginner, it pays to make your guitar buying decision with your eyes open and with a good plan.

Acoustic or Electric?

The first thing to decide is whether you want an acoustic or electric guitar.  If you are a beginner, most guitar instructors will advice going with an acoustic, then moving on to an electric later.  The acoustic guitar strings are a little harder to press down on the fretboard which makes for strong guitar playing hands.  The electrics use a much lighter gauge string which is easy to press down and might not help strengthen the hands in the early part of a beginner’s guitar journey.

Another thing to consider is ear training.  While the mad howls of an electric guitar might sound cool to the girls next door, it won’t help train a new guitarist’s ear as well as the melodic tone of a quality acoustic.

Buy online or at the local guitar store?

And here we come to the next critical decision in our guitar buying plan.  Do we buy online?  It seems that these days everything is bought online, and usually quite cheaper than in our local store.  Buying online can save you some money when buying a guitar.  But in the end, it’s usually wiser to buy at a local guitar shop.

At the local guitar store you can actually sit down and hold the guitars and find out if this guitar feels better than that one.  Finding a good guitar that you like is a very personal thing.  Even if you are a beginner, or can’t even play a single chord, I imagine if you were handed a few different guitars, you’d find one that you liked–that just felt good.  There’s no scientific analysis here, just your personal, subjective ideas about what makes a good guitar for you.

Further analysis…

Before you take the plunge and plunk down your hard-earned cash on the guitar that you’ve chosen, take a moment to check for a few problems.

1. Do the strings make a buzzing sound when you play a chord? (If you can’t play yet, have a friend come along with you or ask the clerk in the store.)

2. Is the neck straight?  Stare down the edge of the neck, holding the headstock where the tuners are.  A very slight bow is ok. A significant bow is no good.

3. Are there any loose parts, switches, etc.?  This is especially important on an electric.

Now you are ready

I hope this brief guitar-buying how-to has you a little more prepared for your guitar purchase.  One final note: you might want to shop around a little instead of buying the first thing you see.  Take your time, visit a few different shops and enjoy the process.

Rand writes articles about guitars, great recipes, and GNU/Linux computers, among others.  His sheet metal site, aluminum sheet metal brake is chock full of metal fab knowhow, including aluminum metal brakes, and more.

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