How to Choose a Guitar (Comments)



Choosing a Guitar 

Ok, so obviously a beginner guitarist needs a guitar to play and there are many keys to consider when choosing your guitar.

Do You Want to Play Acoustic or Electric?

The choice between acoustic or electric depends on what you want to play.  When you play an acoustic guitar, you tend to play chords to accompany vocals, etc.  Do you plan to play classical music?   If so, you will need a specific type of guitar.   When you play electric guitar, you might be playing chords, or you could be playing leads or riffs.  If you purchase an electric guitar you’re going to need an amplifier, and in the future you will probably you want to add other guitar accessories such as pedals.

How Much Should I Pay for a Guitar?

You can buy very cheap guitars, but they are often a source of frustration when they don’t stay in tune, or things fall apart.  Conversely, the most expensive guitar is not necessarily the best choice for a beginner guitarist.  Have a price in mind that your budget supports, and then look for a guitar that fits your plan.

How do I Choose a Guitar?

Probably the best way to choose a guitar is to go to a music store, and test out as many guitars as you can. One of those guitars will speak to you. You might like the way the guitar looks, or you like the wood that it’s made from.  It should feel good in your hands and also sound great.

While you have a guitar in your hands you should check a few things.   For instance, turn all of the tuning heads.   Sometimes you will find tuning heads that don’t adjust the string smoothly or evenly.   Some heads may feel loose.  This is not a good thing.

Guitar necks will vary in thickness so it is important to notice this when you hold the instrument.   Beginner guitarists should choose the thinnest neck because they will find it so much easier to get their hand around it.

Run your hand along both edges of the neck to make sure that there are no sharp fret edges protruding.  Fret edges can be sharp enough to injure you.  Check to make sure that there is no buzzing anywhere along the neck of the guitar.  Hold the guitar up and sight down the neck to make sure that it isn’t twisted.  Fret edges and buzz can be corrected by a luthier but a twisted neck is difficult to correct.

If you’re testing out an electric guitar, turn all of the knobs and flick all of the switches to make sure that the hardware seems solid.  One way that some manufacturers reduce the price of a guitar is by installing inexpensive hardware.

When you are trying out several electric guitars, use the same amplifier so that you can accurately compare one guitar to another.

This approach may or may not take quite a bit of time.   Depending on where you live there may be many stores to visit, or maybe only one.  

Is Buying a Guitar Online a Good Idea?

Buying a guitar online can be a good option for beginner guitarists.  Some areas might not have a music store that is reasonably close, so shopping on a website for a guitar might be the best or only option.

Online, the choices are many.  Guitar sites can supply whatever guitar you want. These stores have access to the latest models of guitars and prices are usually very competitive.  There are lots of videos on You Tube where you can see demonstrations of guitars or comparisons of one guitar to another.  Some of the best videos are by a guy named Darrell Braun.   Darrell does a good job of demonstrating the difference between various models within brands, or comparing one brand to another.  He points out what to listen and look for.  These can give up informative keys for you to use.  In many cases a lot of the legwork of comparing different models of guitars has been done.  They will make good recommendations based on their experience.  If you buy a guitar online and then change your mind, stores have return policies where the customer pays shipping charges only. Check out this video where Squier guitar models are reviewed.

Next Step – The Luthier

When you have purchased a guitar there is a step that is often overlooked.  If there is a professional luthier or guitar tech in your area, take your guitar to him.  A luthier builds and repairs guitars.  He will examine the guitar and make adjustments required to straighten the neck, adjust the bridge, trim the frets and to improve the action.  Many beginners give up playing because their guitar is difficult to play or it just doesn’t sound good.  A luthier will eliminate most problems with one quick session.  They don’t charge a lot, but what they do is worth every penny.

When You Get the Guitar Home (What is Tuning?)                                                                                                          

When you get the guitar home, the first thing that you need to do is to tune it.

When I started playing guitar, the methods to tune a guitar were very crude.  We sometimes tuned to a harmonica or a piano, by ear.  This tuning method was totally dependent on your hearing, so there were times when we just couldn’t get it right.

Now, there are many types of tuners.  They range in price from very cheap to very expensive.

The latest gadget I’ve found is a clip-on chromatic piezo tuner, which you clip to the head stock of the guitar.  The tuner picks up the vibration of the string and indicates whether the string is in tune or not.  These tuners are relatively cheap, around $20.                                                             

If you have a smartphone, there are tuner apps that you can download for free. They work very well too.

Your First Guitar

It’s very exciting to hold and begin playing your first guitar.  If you have done your homework, and found some keys, and then spent some time searching for your guitar you will feel satisfied that you have made a good choice.   If you take your guitar to a professional to have it set up properly, you will feel so good every time you touch and hear your guitar.  These are important steps for a beginner guitar player.

You’ve Got Some Keys in Your Pocket

Now that you have some keys in your pocket it’s time to go and find your guitar!

Please leave comments below so that I know how I’m doing.  Also, please ask questions if there is something that I could explain better.

Click on either the Acoustic Guitars header or the Electric Guitars header, and you will be directed to posts providing more information about guitars for beginner guitarists.

Try the links below.  They will take you to posts where there is more information.

Acoustic Guitars

Electric Guitars


7 thoughts on “How to Choose a Guitar (Comments)

  1. Hi!

    Just wanted to thank you for the post! I remember when I first started playing, I would’ve loved a guide such as this!

    I’m not a pro player by any means, but do enjoy picking up a guitar every once in a while. I’ll definitely be using this guide the next time I decide to purchase my next guitar!

  2. Very good and helpful information when choosing a guitar. I have been playing for years, and I’m still learning stuff.


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