How to Buy Your First Guitar: Complete Buying Guide

guitar buying guide

Picture this, you’ve seen John Mayer play for the first time, and you want to take up learning the guitar.

But you have no clue which type of guitar you should pick?  Are you looking to buy an electric guitar as well, but confused between Fender and Gibson? And that’s completely normal.

The shape and size of guitars have gone through major R&D since its origin from the Lute.

This guitar buying guide will help you choose one that is just down your alley.

There are many types of guitar out there.

There’s regular, short, mini, light, dense, electric, semi-electric, and even imaginary air guitars you play jamming out on your favourite Guns and Roses song.

So, let’s start off by making a decision between electric and acoustic types and embark on an adventure into the realm of guitar wonderland.

Electric or Acoustic?: Which One’s For You

Electric and Acoustic are the two widely popular categories of guitar. Each produces very different sound, tone, and have distinct playability characteristics.

Knowing what type of music you enjoy listening to will help you narrow down your choices.

Acoustic Guitars

 

Acoustic guitars come without any electric amplification. They are made of wood and have hollow body used in various genres like folk, country, and bluegrass.

They are occasionally used in rock, blues, and R&B as well.

As an inbuilt bonus capability, they don’t need any external amplification. They produce a bright sound which is great for playing chords and practicing.

They also happen to be the most popular choice for beginners who want to practice everything from holding a guitar to practicing chords, getting used to the fretboard.

Why should you choose the Acoustic Guitar?

Acoustic guitars have been the all time favourite choice of beginners for a long time.

If you dabble in folk music, country, jazz or pop, then acoustic guitars are the way to go.

All you need is a guitar and a pick, and you are good to go.

They are slightly harder to get used to than the electric guitar, but much easier to master.

You really don’t have to worry about running into any complications, other than lacking arm strength.

Electric Guitars

Out of all available guitars, Electric guitars are the most popularly used in modern music.

Electric guitars produce a faint sound on their own, almost like whispering in the wind, but when connected to an amplifier, they can make various sounds.

They are primarily used in rock, pop, blues, country, metal R&B, and jazz guitar songs.

And are easier to play than the acoustic or classical guitar because they are less painful on your fingertips.

They are available in many sizes, making them perfect for young players. With an amplifier, they can be as loud or as soft as you want them to be.

Why Should you Choose an Electric Guitar?

If you play genres like rock, blues, metal, country rock or any other that have loud and pronounced notes, then the electric guitar might be your cup of tea.

They are a great choice for beginners as electric guitars  have thinner strings and require less hand strength.

Electric guitars are smaller and comfortable but need equipment and are harder to master.

Choosing easiest instruments is up to you. But nothing is easy unless you practice.

How Much Should You Spend?

Even if you’re just a beginner and playing guitar is just a habit you want to develop, you’ll still have to spend quite a lot, somewhere close to $300, for a guitar.

You get to add another feature to your instrument for every extra buck you spend.

There are budget-friendly options for people who are price conscious, but there are hyper-specialized handcrafted, costly options.

A reasonable amount to pay for your first guitar is between $200 and $500. Expensive guitars are more durable, have a better tone, and are easier to maintain.

But unfortunately, lots of people quit their guitar journey, and we’re sincerely hoping you won’t be one of them.

After talking about the pricing, most beginners will think of getting a used guitar for their first instrument.

It takes a lot of experience to tell whether a used guitar is good.

So, unless you have knowledgeable and experienced friends in using instruments, stay away from used guitars.

Accessories You Need as a Beginner

As a beginner, you won’t need many accessories, except for 4 essential items.

  • Picks
    • Guitar picks are used to strum chords or individual notes on a guitar.
    • Sometimes referred to as plectrum in parts of the world.
  • Capo
    • Capo is Italian for “head”.
    • It is a small device that clamps onto the neck of the guitar, which shortens the strings and increases the pitch.
  • Electric tuner
    • A tuner is a device that detects and displays the pitch of musical notes played by an instrument.
    • You can find some that can be attached to the guitar and some that are full-size consoles that you can keep on top of a table while you tune your guitars.
  • Guitar strap
    • Guitar straps consist of a closed loop that is worn around the opposing shoulder.
    • At the end of this strap is a hook that’s attached to the guitar at its waist, and backup in front to the sound-hole.

These are the only things that you will need as a beginner.

You’ll find a lot, and we mean a lot more fancy gizmos you can get for your guitar. But none of them will do you any good unless you are damn good at playing guitar.

Check out EnthuZiastic Guitar Classes for a personalized Guitar learning experience.

How Do You Pick Your Guitar?

Whatever type of guitar you ultimately choose must be comfortable to play.

There’s an overwhelming number of guitars when you search for your guitar in a store.

So, when you step into the store, head over to the guitar section, find yourself a sales rep and let them know what you are looking for.

If any guitar stands out in your eyes, ask the sales rep to take it out and show it to you.

Look for one with pretty bindings that you find aesthetically pleasing to your eyes because the more you fall in love with the guitar, the more you will be tempted to play it.

Ask the salesman to tell you about the guitar, play it and get a feel for its sound. Make sure it’s in tune.

Once all your desired criteria are met, you can buy the guitar.

Common Mistakes Beginners Should Avoid

There are some frequent beginner mistakes you should avoid while buying a guitar. Let’s have a look at them.guitar buying guide - common mistakes to avoid

Mistake #1: Getting the wrong size

You will not find “starter guitars” when you search for beginner friendly guitar sizes.

If you’ve been thinking of getting an electric guitars because they seem to be smaller than acoustic you maybe right.

But be sure to consider the added 5-6 kg or 11-13 pounds, which can be quite difficult for children.

But then again, many professionals say that 6-7 years is the best age to start learning guitar.

Even with this age estimation, choosing the size of guitar that is “just the right size” for you is a hit-and-miss.

You may even think of buying a full size guitar thinking that you’ll grow into it, but that may not be the case in some situations.

Students or learners who belong to the younger category might come in contact with “frustration” and quit learning because they can’t adjust to the size of the guitar.

Generally, experts recommend a half size guitar for children between 5-7 years of age, a 3/4 guitar sizes for ages between 7-10 years, and full size guitars for ages 11 and above.

This estimate is based off of average population height so you will still need to hold the guitar and make sense of its size being explicitly right for you.

Mistake #2: Getting a guitar that is too high and hard to play

As a beginner, your fingers won’t have the required strength that is needed to push down on the strings to form a chord on the fret.

So, it is important to pay attention to the height of the strings from the fretboard.

Mistake #3: Bad Tuning Pegs that won’t stay in tune

It is important that your tuning pegs keep the strings in tune.

If they don’t provide the required tension to the strings chances are, you strings will come off, or you’ll get a very bad and dull tone.

The tuning pegs that were used in vintage guitar were mad using gears and pressed metal. This often made them had to adjust and sty in tune.

However, now there is a modern method that is used to manufacture better guitar heads – The die-cast tuning peg.

These tuning pegs are much smoother, more accurate, and made from a mould . They do a really good job at maintaining the Action of strings on the fretboard.

Mistake #4: Choosing a famous brand name

Popular brand names offer premium & superior quality guitars, but their entry-level guitars are not such a great deal.

However, entry-level guitars made by popular brand names are usually made with cheaper quality materials.

Because, if they made entry level guitars with premium material and sold them at “peanut” prices, the suppliers and manufacturers would lose out on the profit.

Which means, they would be out of business in no time.

Mistake #5: Paying for features you don’t need

It would help if you focused more on the main dish than the accouterment as a beginner. You don’t  need any fancy equipment, stands, pickups, amplifiers, etc.

Just look for an instrument that produces a good or decent sound quality.

FAQs

What are the best guitars for beginners?

There are some great options to look at for both acoustic and electric guitars.

For acoustics:

  1. Fender CD-60S All-Mahogany Acoustic Guitar
  2. Yamaha LL6 ARE
  3. Epiphone Hummingbird Studio
  4. Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
  5. Martin LX1E Little Martin

For Electric:

  1. Yamaha Pacifica 112V
  2. Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster
  3. Epiphone Les Paul Studio
  4. Gretsch G2420 Streamliner
  5. Ibanez Gio GRGR120EX

How much should I spend on my first guitar?

If you consider an acoustic guitar, you will need  spend somewhere between $150 and shouldn’t spend more than $250.

And for electric guitars, you will need to spend around $200 and shouldn’t spend more than $400 .

Which type of guitar strings is best to start with?

As a beginner, you should choose guitar strings keeping in mind that you are building strength in the fingertips, and it will affect how your instruments sound.

It would be best to use lighter gauge strings because they require less effort to press down on the fret. You will still have sore fingers though.

Conclusion

Learning about how to get your first guitar is null and void if you buy one and don’t learn to play the guitar and keep at it.

Getting yourself a Fender and setting it as a decorative piece would be a waste of such a wonderful instrument. So be sure to invest time in learning the guitar as well.

You can self-learn the guitar, which is fantastic if you can, but the recent surge in online courses has changed the landscape of learning and knowledge acquisition.

You can learn the guitar much faster under someone’s tutelage.

Learn to talk without saying a word, because music speaks to people.

After all, “Music is life. That’s why our Heart Beats.” – Cecily Morgan

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