The question “which guitar should I buy as a beginner?” is an age-old question that would not go away anytime soon. But it’s one that is not very straightforward in its answer either. There are different types of guitars and certain other factors you need to consider before making that decision.
Getting the right guitar at the start is very important. The right guitar will provide you the motivation you need to practice, which is what will lead you to become a better guitarist.
Things You Need To Consider Before Getting Your First Guitar — Which Guitar Should I Buy?
Before you hand in all your cash to that guitar shop, make sure that you have answers to all the questions we’re going to be asking in this section.
What Are Your Dreams?
The question might seem a little strange but just hear us out. Before you decided to take up the guitar as a hobby or even as a full-time career path, you had certain dreams.
For some, this dream sees you rocking out in front of thousands of fans who are cheering your name. For some others, the same is a lot calmer, featuring them playing in front of as many people but only singing nice, subtle tunes.
While for some others, they don’t even dream to be guitarists per se. They only see themselves writing some of their hit songs with the melody from the guitar.
So we’ll call the people with the first dream the rockers, the second the concert guitarists, and the third singer-songwriters. We asked what your dreams are and not what type of music you want to go into because we realized that as a beginner, that might be difficult for you to pinpoint.
But the mind is a very powerful place. So, most times, those things you imagine about yourself when you close your eyes are the things you unconsciously want the most.
Have you figured out which type of dreams you have about you and the guitar? Good. Let’s move on to the next question.
How Much Are You Willing To Spend?
The reason why most people end up not getting their own guitar is that right off the bat they want to get a $3000 electric guitar because they saw their hero using it at a concert.
One thing they often forget is that many of these guitarists who use expensive gear now started out with something a lot more affordable.
We often advise beginners to not be willing to spend anything above $500 on their first guitar. Yeah, that might not look like a lot, but the truth is, many people don’t end up making a career out of the guitar.
When buying your first guitar, it’s advisable to buy a very affordable one so that if it ends up that you’re not that interested after a few months, it won’t be a big loss. We know how many unhappy musicians we’ve seen who don’t enjoy playing the guitar but have to do because they want to recover the money they spent on gear.
If all you’ve got to spare is $100, we’ll help you find a guitar that would be good enough for you to start with. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Types Of Guitars
Now that we know how much you have to spend and what type of music you dream of playing, it’s time to see the different types of guitars available.
We will look at the different guitar types, what style of music they are best suited for, and the average cost for an entry-level version. Let’s go!
1. Nylon String Acoustic Guitar (Classical Guitar)
We put this first because most beginners opt for this over the two. While nylon-string acoustic guitars are not the most affordable, they are definitely the most friendly for beginners.
The first reason is that they have nylon strings. Traditional acoustic guitars come with steel strings that are more coarse and tough on the fingertips. Nylon strings would still hurt your fingertips, but not as much as steel strings.
Also, they have a wide fretboard design that is great for beginners, especially if you don’t have slim fingers. As a beginner, one major obstacle you would face with other guitars is their slim neck. It would be quite difficult to place a finger on one fret without touching the fret on the side.
The major problem with classical guitars, though, is that unless your dream is to become a famous classical guitar player, you would get tired of them pretty fast. Singer-songwriters and people who want to rock out, often get tired of the “dull” sound produced by the classical guitar.
For a really good entry-level classical guitar, you should be looking at a budget of about $150.
2. Steel String Acoustic Guitar
This is the most popular and most common type of guitar. In most cases, it’s simply referred to as an “acoustic guitar”. In fact, it comes in different kinds of steel constructions, not just steel. Steel is just the most popular kind available.
The acoustic guitar is the most popular because of two major reasons- affordability and versatility. With a budget of just $100 or less, you can get a very good entry-level acoustic guitar. In fact, all you need to do is walk into any guitar shop close to you and ask them for the most affordable acoustic guitar they have. Chances are high that it’ll be good enough.
The second reason is versatility. Unlike classical guitars that are only for classical music, acoustic guitars can play anything from folk, to rock, to jazz, and the list goes on and on.
One thing we must tell you though is the pain that comes with it. Yes, pain. The steel strings would chew on your fingertips the first few months you play. However, after many hours of practice, you develop hard calluses on your fingertips that prevent them from being chewed on.
The pain shouldn’t make you scared, though. Remember, no pain no gain.
For an acoustic guitar, you can keep your budget at $100 and still get a good entry-level guitar.
However, to get the best value for money at this price point, we would suggest you get a used guitar. More about that in a later part of this article.
3. Electric Guitar
This is for the ones who want to absolutely rock out! If you’ve been dreaming about jamming with tight leather pants in front of thousands of fans, this is definitely the guitar you were dreaming of. For most people, however, this is where they get it wrong.
The fact that you want to rock out in the future doesn’t necessarily mean that you must get an electric guitar as your first guitar. For most electric guitarists, starting with the acoustic guitar is a good idea. Then, when you’ve seen some progress on that one, you can then invest in an electric guitar.
Electric guitars are the most expensive of the bunch. However, it’s not the guitars themselves that are expensive. While you can get a decent electric guitar for under $150, you’ll also need some form of amplification to get the sound out.
Also, if you live in an apartment, because those amplifiers get very loud, you’ll have to buy headphones too. Put all of these together and you’re looking at a budget of more than $300 for an entry-level electric guitar setup.
Apart from the price, another reason electric guitars are not advised for beginners is that they have very narrow necks. Remember the benefits we mentioned comes with a wide neck with the classical guitar, the opposite is the case for the electric guitar.
Because the neck is so thin, it’ll be difficult for you to pick out frets without muting the strings beside them. For a beginner, this can be very frustrating.
It’s not all gloom, though, because electric guitars have low action which makes their strings easier to hold down than other guitar types.
Should You Buy A Used Guitar?
If you’re trying to stay on a budget, then you should definitely be looking at used options. There are a lot of musicians who know how to keep their guitars in pristine condition, even after many years of use. If you find a bargain for one of these, you should definitely pick it up.
However, it’s not that simple. Buying used is a lot more tricky than buying new ones because you really can’t trust why the musician is trying to sell the guitar in the first place. It might look right on paper but what if it just has a certain unsettling sound?
The biggest advice we can give for buying used is to get physical. If you’re going to buy a used guitar, it’s much more advisable that you actually get into the guitar shop and play with the guitar strings yourself.
If you don’t think you’ve got the musical ears, then don’t be afraid to ask for help for a more experienced guitarist. You definitely don’t want to get a guitar that looks like a bargain at the store only for you to go home and hate your playing experience.
Another thing you need to consider when getting a used instrument is when the instrument was released. If it’s an old instrument, then it’s possible that the owner simply rose up the ladder and decided it was time to invest in something newer.
However, if it’s an instrument that has only been recently released, then further questioning needs to be done to get to the root of the matter. Why would the guitarist want to sell off a new guitar if it’s in complete working condition?
All in all, you need to keep your eye out and ask a lot of questions when necessary.
3 Common Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make — Which Guitar Should I Buy
Choosing The Wrong Guitar Soundwise
Don’t choose a classical guitar because the nylon strings are less coarse on the fingers, when in fact the guitar of your dreams is an acoustic guitar.
While your fingers might not hurt as much, your mind will. You will get bored by the sound of the classical guitar and not be motivated to practice. In no distant time, you’ll drop the guitar altogether.
Choosing The Wrong Size
This is one thing we didn’t really talk about when looking at the different types of guitars. However, it’s something you must take note of, especially with acoustic guitars.
These guitars have different sizes and you want to pick one according to your size. If you’re trying to get it for a child, then getting a ¾ sized guitar is much better than getting a full-sized acoustic. It’ll be easier for them to handle and play because of its smaller size.
Before you get a guitar for your kid, check out our review on Yamaha JR1 Vs JR2, two of Yamaha’s most popular guitars for children. They are both ¾-sized acoustic guitars.
Picking The Guitar By Brand Name
We must say, though, if you’re buying online, this is probably the safest option. The biggest brands have products that you can easily find reviews on which would help you make your choice. They also have good customer service, as well as, good repairability because they are so popular.
However, if you’re going into a guitar shop to buy the guitar, then you should forget all about the brands. You’re taking your ears into the shop, right? That’s all you need to pick the right guitar. Pick the guitar up, play it. Does it sound right? Forget the brand name and pay for it.
Also, most popular brands have over-priced products so if you’re looking for something affordable, it’s much better to stick to the less popular brands. Importing from China is also a good option if you have a trusted seller.
At the end of the day, the guitar is not as important as the person behind it. No matter how much or how little you’re willing to invest, if you don’t take the time out to learn, practice, and grow, you won’t become a great guitar player.
And with that said, we leave you with 13 Tips That’ll Take You From Beginner To Pro in your guitar playing journey. We wish you all the best. Good luck!