Picking out the perfect guitar can be difficult for beginner students. We are often asked questions like, “What type of guitar should I purchase?” or “What should I look for in a good guitar?” Here are some important steps to consider when choosing your first guitar.
- Set a Budget: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on your first guitar, something around $200 through $400 would be ideal. Try to avoid new guitars that are valued less than $200 because they are usually poorly manufactured, have bad sound qualities, and may not last long because of the inexpensive materials used to make them. Purchasing a used guitar may be a good idea as well. For example, a brand new Gibson electric guitar could cost on average nearly $1000. Buying a used Gibson electric guitar can save you about half the cost. You don’t need to invest a lot into your first guitar because you should make sure you enjoy learning and playing it before spending a fortune.
- Select a Style: Decide on whether you’d like to play an acoustic, classical or electric guitar. Acoustic and classical guitars sound very different from electric guitars and it is important to select which style you would prefer to begin learning due to the different styles of guitars. There are also physical differences you should consider. Each guitar has its own sound and aesthetic. Electric guitars require amplifiers, in which you can control the volume of the music that plays. With an acoustic and classical guitar, you can buy an electric one that uses an amplifier, or you can buy one that can’t be plugged in, so you’re a little more limited with volume control. Size is also important. For example, an acoustic guitar is bigger in size to support the heavier gauge strings that require firmer picking/fingering. Classical guitars have nylon strings, whereas acoustic guitars have steel strings, and electric guitars have bronze and brass strings. There are many physical factors to consider. Really do your research to learn about the differences.
- Inquire: If you have a friend who is experienced in playing guitar, ask them which brands are most popular and which brands to avoid. Also, ask them what type of guitar they play and why they chose that type.
- Go Shopping: It’s good to test out any instrument you’re interested in before making a big purchase. Try to bring a friend who is experienced in playing guitars. Have your friend listen to the different sounds and tones that your beginner ear may not be able to recognize. See the different types of guitars and their price ranges. You can even ask the salesman to help you around the store. They are typically very knowledgeable. Guitar Center in Los Angeles is a great place to start looking! Their staff knows everything about the different types of guitars.
- Feel the Differences: Try holding and strumming a few different types of guitars while sitting and while standing. Find one that feels the most comfortable and natural to your hands and body.
- Test the Sound: Place your index finger right behind the first “fret” (raised metal line) and pluck the string. Try this behind each fret. If anything sounds off or ”non-musical” to you or your experienced friend, ask the salesman to re-tune the guitar. Try this test again, and if the sounds occur again, don’t purchase the guitar.
Once you are able to find a guitar that you feel good about, you’re set! Just be persistent with your guitar lessons and practicing, and you’ll be rocking out in no time!