If you’re thinking about learning to play the guitar then choosing which guitar to buy first can be an intimidating task. Even though Eric Clapton now predominantly plays Martin acoustic guitars and Fender Stratocasters he started on a guitar that cost around $4.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying your first guitar, and the task isn’t helped by the fact that you can’t play it yet! This guitar buying guide will take a look at the different types of guitars so you can work out which guitar is right for you.
Electric vs Acoustic?
If you’re lucky enough to know what type of guitarist you want to be then this one is easy. If you want to start by jamming along to your favorite rock guitarists then an electric guitar is probably for you.
If you’re looking to start by learning a few chords, some fingerpicking and maybe even singing along then you might want to consider an acoustic. Take a look at this website for a large choice of different guitar styles.
One of the main benefits of starting on an acoustic guitar is that you don’t need any accessories such as an amplifier. You get it out of the case, tune it up and you’re ready to play.
Acoustic guitars are a great place to start because most people find them easier to play than electric guitars. They’re great for learning chords and developing fingerpicking. Larger dreadnought shaped acoustic guitars can be tricky to play for people with smaller hands. Something like a Spanish-classical guitar or a parlor guitar can be much easier on the hands for new players.
One thing to remember when you’re buying an acoustic guitar is that you’re stuck with how it sounds. You can take an electric guitar and run it through FX processors and dramatically change its sound. With an acoustic guitar that’s not going to happen.
If you’re just looking to learn how to play then that doesn’t matter, but if you’re looking to invest in an acoustic guitar you will be happy with for years to come, then you might need to spend a little more on a better sounding guitar.
How Much Should I Spend?
As a general rule of thumb, don’t spend anything less than $300 on your first acoustic guitar. Anything less and you’re probably going to end up with an instrument that doesn’t sound great and it’s difficult to play.
If you have a bigger budget then an acoustic guitar between $700-$1,000 will get you a well constructed acoustic guitar that will sound great and will last you as long as you need it to. The last decision you need to make is what shape acoustic you want to get:
The dreadnought is the most common acoustic guitar. It’s steel-strung and it’s the biggest guitar to start on. If you’re looking to learn to strum some chords and pick up a little fingerstyle on the way then the dreadnought offers the full sound you’re looking for.
Parlor guitars are much smaller than the dreadnought. Although they still have a good full-sound they don’t pack as much punch as a dreadnought. They have gained increasing popularity with folk players. Parlor guitars are great if you’re looking for something smaller and your primary intention is fingerstyle.
Classical guitars come in a variety of sizes. What sets them apart from other acoustic guitars is that they have nylon strings. They’re designed for more classical playing styles such as flamenco and fingerstyle playing.
If you’re looking at using your guitar for performing, but you specifically want an acoustic guitar then you might want to consider an electro-acoustic. This is just an electric guitar that you can plugin, making it a favorite for potential open mic performers.
Acoustic guitars can be modified with a pick-up, so buying an electro-acoustic outright is not essential if you decide you want to plug your guitar in later on down the line.
If rocking out is your intention then the electric guitar is for you. Electric guitars are better suited to players who are looking to play rock music. They’re essential for a great distortion sound and soloing.
When you buy an electric guitar you need to know what other accessories you’ll need so you can keep an eye on your budget:
- Amplifier – Without an amplifier, your electric guitar will sound like a tin can
- Guitar Lead – to connect your guitar to your amplifier
- FX Pedals – Some amplifiers will have distortion/overdrive settings, but if you’re looking for a specific sound you might need an FX pedal to help create it
Different Types of Electric Guitars
There are hundreds of different types of electric guitars, but when it comes to choosing your first it tends to be a choice between a Fender Stratocaster shaped guitar and a Gibson Les Paul shaped one.
The Stratocaster is thinner and lighter. It has three single-coil pickups which offer a brighter tone. It’s a great choice for people looking to play blues, rock, funk, and country styles.
The Les Paul is much thicker and heavier. It can feel a little harder to play for inexperienced players. However, the instrument has more depth and an overall warmer sound than the Stratocaster. This makes it a great choice for people looking to predominantly play in jazz, blues, or hard rock/metal style
Other Things to Consider When Buying
One important thing to consider when buying your first guitar is the shape of the guitar neck. The thicker the neck the more distance between your thumb and getting your fingers to the strings. If you have smaller hands or you’re just starting then a thinner neck is usually the better option.
Another important factor is the instrument’s intonation. This determines how the notes stay in tune as you play higher up the frets. If your intonation is off then the guitar will sound out of tune as you play higher up the frets making it useless for recording or playing live. Intonation can be adjusted and most guitar shops will set it for you before you get your new guitar.
Our Guitar Buying Guide Takeaway
Buying a guitar for the first time can be intimidating. By taking the points covered in this guitar buying guide into consideration you should be well on your way to choosing the best guitar for you. A good guitar shop will be able to offer you advice if you have a rough idea of what you’re looking for and your budget.
If you found this article useful then be sure to take a look at the rest of our site for more informative guides and advice.