Many people have a hard time choosing their first guitar, once they’ve decided they will learn the instrument. To give a bit of help, here are the basic guidelines on how to buy your first guitar:
Type of Guitar – There are several different types, each one more suited to play a given style of music. The details will be the subject of another article, for now just know the 3 main types.
Classical guitar – wider neck, smaller body, nylon strings
Acoustic – narrower neck, larger body, steel strings (can be electro-acoustic as well)
Electric – used with an amplifier for all types of music
Determine Your Budget – You won’t need a $ 2,000 instrument right in the beginning (but if you can afford it, than why not?), but you’ll want to stay clear of very cheap guitars, as they will sound, well, cheap… So how much should you spend? You can get acceptable beginner acoustic guitars in the $ 200-$ 300 range, the same for electric guitars. You need to know that if you buy an electric guitar, you’ll also need an amplifier and cables.
Go Shopping – Visit your local music shops, and have a look at the guitars they offer. 99% of music shops let you sit down and try out the instrument before you buy it, so don’t be shy just because you can’t play yet. Ask for a couple of guitars in your genre and price range, than just sit down and put them on your lap on-by-one and see how they feel. If any of them feel unnatural or uncomfortable, you’ll know they’re not right for you.
Guitar Tip # 1: You won’t recognize tonal differences yet, so if you have a friend who plays the guitar, ask him/her to come along. You can also ask the store clerk for help and advice. Also, verify that the instrument comes ready to play, and is in tune.
Guitar Tip # 2: Once you narrow your choices to 2-3 guitars, ask the store clerk to play something on them. If there is a huge difference in sound, you’ll hear it even as a beginner.
Guitar Tip #3: Appearance and looks are important. You will be much more motivated to pick up your new instrument and practice, if you find it “beautiful”.
Purchase – Buy the guitar you like most and has the best sound. Don’t forget to ask for the letter of warranty as well. You might also ask for it to be restrung right away, since the factory strings on beginner guitars are usually not of the best quality, and good strings can make a huge difference in sound. Also consider buying a gig bag, to make transporting the guitar easy and safe, and an electric tuner as well, which makes tuning your new instrument very easy.
After you buy your first guitar guitar, make sure it’s always out in the open in your home (on a stand preferably). Having it where you can see it is motivating, and will make you want to pick it up and practice more often.
Tom Fontana is a guitar instructor at TheGuitarLesson.com, where you can find many video guitar lessons, including free beginner guitar lessons to learn the guitar quickly and easily.