When you’ve decided that you want to start learning how to play guitar, you obviously need a guitar on which to learn how to play.
Choosing your first guitar is one of the most important decisions you can make. After all – Not all entry-level guitars are created equal! Some guitars better than others, and some aren’t even worth comparing!
While introductory types of guitars can get a bad rap, that shouldn’t stop you. If you buy a low-quality instrument, does that mean you won’t be able to learn how to play? Not necessarily. However, if you end up not liking the guitar you’re trying to learn to play on, you might be likely to lose motivation to continue playing and your dreams of being a guitar god will just be a memory.
Playing guitar is a great way to express your creativity, so you owe it to yourself to learn how to play on a quality instrument – even if you are working on a budget.
Since you obviously can’t go out and buy the most expensive top-of-the-line instrument out there, we’ll help you make the right decisions to choose a guitar that will be more affordable.
Here are three tips on how to choose a guitar that you won’t regret:
Depends on the Music You Listen to:
Your first step in choosing a guitar is to decide what type of guitar you want to play. This will largely depend on what type of music you enjoy the most and what type of sound you’ll want to be associated with.
For example: If you want to play high-speed death metal or sound like Stone Sour, then a classical guitar isn’t going to do you much good. You’ll want a great electric guitar.
If you want to sound like Jack Johnson or Dave Matthews, an acoustic guitar should be your obvious choice.
Another consideration if you decide to go with an electric guitar is how you plan to amplify the sound of your instrument. Many beginning electric guitars are sold packaged with a beginners guitar amp. If you want to sound like your favorite rock bands, you’re going to want to have an amp with an overdrive channel or buy a separate distortion pedal to create crunchy rhythm sounds or sustained lead guitar lines.
Pay Attention to the Quality of Construction
The next thing you’ll want to do to choose the right guitar is to inspect the instrument very carefully for quality. Pay attention to the type of wood that is used to construct the guitar because it affects both the durability of the guitar and the sound produced.
For acoustic guitars, you’ll want a guitar made from mahogany or curly maple with either a spruce or cedar top. Make sure you solid wood and not plywood.
For electric guitars, you’ll want a guitar made from a solid hard wood, such as maple, ash, or walnut. Again, make sure you have solid wood over plywood because the sound of your guitar will be much better.
There are other construction considerations you’ll want to take into account when choosing a guitar.
- Is the neck securely fastened to the body?
- Does the guitar have a double action truss rod?
- Speaking of the neck and truss rod, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the guitar neck isn’t warped.
- Do the tuning machines function properly and do they appear to be of a good quality?
- What about the electronics?
If you’re playing an electric guitar or an acoustic or classical guitar that has electronics, be sure to play it through a guitar amp to see how well the electronics sound.
When you’re considering how to choose a guitar, you don’t want to choose a guitar based on brand name alone, but do realize that the more established the brand name of a guitar is, the more likely it is to be a quality instrument. If you find a guitar that you think looks good, but you’ve never heard of the brand, do some research before purchasing the guitar. Find out if you’ll be getting a quality instrument.
Finding a Design You’re Excited About:
Though not as important as the construction, most guitar players want a guitar that “looks cool”. After all, who wants to be embarrassed when they go on stage?
Flying VS Guitar
When you like the guitar you’re playing, you’re more likely to be motivated to keep playing it. What kind of color scheme do you want? If you’re playing an electric guitar, what body style do you want to play? Les Paul-style? Stratocaster style? There are a number of body styles to choose from, but make sure you pick on that you could see yourself playing for years. That Flying V might look cool to you when you’re first starting out, but what happens when it loses it’s an appeal? What kind of finish do you want in an acoustic or classical guitar?
Learning how to play the guitar is exciting, but the feeling of purchasing your first guitar is incredible. For a guitar player, it’s like a rite of passage. You owe it to yourself to find a quality instrument by following these tips on how to choose a guitar
Whether you’ve been playing the guitar for several years or even just a few days, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of buying a new guitar.
So rather than let the thrill of experience get the best of you, instead follow these tips in our guitar buying guide to help you avoid the heartache and enjoy the experience much more.
7 Step Guitar Buying Guide
1. Electric or Acoustic?
Do you want to buy an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar? The answer to this question will largely depend on what type of music you want to play on the guitar you buy.
If you want to play rock music and be the next Jimmy page, then you’ll need the distortion-driven sound of an electric guitar.
If you want to play music in the style of Jack Johnson or Dave Matthews, then you know you’re going to want to buy a quality acoustic guitar.
2. How Much Can You Spend?
Guitars can run from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and if money were no object, there’s no telling how many of the world’s most high end guitars would be sitting in your home.
Unfortunately, money is an object, and many guitar players face the temptation to spend more on a guitar than they can really afford. Don’t make that mistake. Sit down and figure out how much you can spend on a guitar, and stick to that budget. Your family will appreciate it.
Right off the bat I tell you that if you’re just starting out a bundle package like the Fender Squier “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing” set is the way to go. You’ll get a quality electric guitar, amp, strap, cord, and just about everything else you need to start playing right away.
3. New or Used?
New guitars are great, but serious guitar players tend to take really good care of their instruments, which makes buying a used guitar often a really good buying experience. Remember that budget we just talked about? Here’s where you can make that work in your favor.
If there’s a guitar you want that is out of your price range brand new, but you can find it within your price range used, then you might want to go with the used instrument rather than deciding on a different new guitar. Of course, you want to make sure the used instrument is in great condition.
4. Where Will You Buy It?
There are many great options for where to buy your guitar. There are many places online, such as MusiciansFriend.com and GuitarCenter.com.
My personal favorite is Amazon.com when it comes to shopping for guitars or just about any musical instrument period. They pretty much price match any of the big retailers and always offer free shipping on large items. Plus if you are ever unhappy for any reason whatsoever, they are hassle-free when it comes to returns.
If you want to do things the old school way, you can also check out local music instrument stores. The benefit of going this route is that you can actually take a look at the guitar and really test it out before you buy.
5. Does it Pass Inspection?
Before buying a guitar, you should give it a close inspection to make sure that you’re really buying a quality instrument. This means checking the overall condition of the guitar.
If it’s a new guitar, it should be in perfect condition, but if it’s used, there might be some wear and tear. If it’s just a nick or ding here and there but doesn’t affect the play ability of the instrument, that’s okay, but consider how much you should be willing to pay based on the amount of wear and tear on the instrument.
Check the neck to make sure it’s straight and not warped at all. Check the intonation of the strings. Make sure the neck is securely fastened to the guitar. If it’s an electric instrument, make sure to inspect the electronics by plugging it in and playing.
Even though you don’t get to hold it in your hand, buying a guitar through an online dealer is no problem either when it comes to inspection. You can use the online reviews to help you’re your feelings towards the instrument you’re about to buy. Believe me – if someone was unhappy, they’ll write something nasty and we’ll all know about it!
6. Does it Feel Right?
Once you’ve gone through the first five steps, you now just have to decide if the guitar you’re looking at feels right. When you play it, does it feel like the guitar you’re looking for. You want to make sure you’re buying a guitar that you’re really going to enjoy playing.
By following the steps in this guitar buying guide, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of potential disappointment. Buying a guitar is meant to be a fun and rewarding experience, and you deserve to do it right.
7. Inspection and Adjustment
Speaking of looking closely at what you’re buying, an important step in how to buy a guitar is a solid inspection of the instrument both inside and out. You’ll want to look for things in your guitar like:
- Any blemishes that may affect the value of the instrument.
- Look closely for any defects.
- Is the neck securely connected to the body of the instrument?
- Make sure to sight down the neck to make sure it’s straight and doesn’t have any sign of being warped.
- Check the action and playability of the guitar by tuning it to pitch.
- Use a chromatic tuner to make sure the correct notes read out at each fret on each string.
- Check to make sure the tuning pegs are functioning properly.
- Pay attention to any unwanted buzzing when plucking the strings.
- Plug in to make sure the electronics work properly on the instrument.
If the action needs to be adjusted, ask if it can be adjusted before purchase. If the playability of the instrument is still nearly nonexistent after proper setup, you want to move on to a different guitar. A thorough inspection can make all the difference between getting a quality instrument and a piece of junk.
How NOT to Get Ripped Off When Buying Discount Guitars
Although guitar players love playing guitar, many would probably agree that there is no better feeling like a guitar player than buying a new guitar.
In fact, many guitar players would describe the feeling of buying a new guitar as a high. It can be easy to get caught in buying several things you don’t’ actually need. Whether or not you actually need a new guitar is up to you, but if you’re going to buy a new guitar, there are few things to keep in mind before making that purchase.
Affordability is one concern, and with that in mind, you should know that many musical instrument dealers and online musical instrument retailers carry a wide selection of discount guitars. You have to be careful, though, because discount can often mean poor quality in the mind of many guitar players.
Nothing can dampen the high of buying a new instrument like discovering that you bought a subpar piece of junk at what you thought was a great price at the time. Make sure before you buy a discount guitar that you take these factors into consideration.
Find Out Why the Guitar is Discounted:
There are lots of things to look for in a discounted guitar that could indicate why it is on sale.
Some instrument dealers will discount a guitar because it has a minor factory blemish that doesn’t at all affect the sound or playability of the guitar. Another reason a store might discount a guitar is because they need to clear out their inventory for newer instruments.
If you’re okay with a slight blemish, these types of discount guitars are a great option because you get a great guitar at a lower cost than you would pay if that slight blemish wasn’t there. If the discount is because the store needs to clear out their inventory, it may be harder to get a hold of one of these instruments before someone else does. If you’re looking for a new guitar, it might be a good idea to be on the lookout for some time for a great discount.
With online stores, you may not be able to get a detailed reason for why a guitar has been discounted, so make sure you check their return policy and any warranty that might come with the guitar in case you end up with a poorly crafted guitar.
Inspect the Guitar Thoroughly:
What you don’t want to end up with when buying a discounted guitar is a guitar that actually ends up being worth less than even the discount price because it’s just not a good guitar.
Unfortunately, some stores may not be entirely forthright about the reason for the instruments’s discount. So you need to inspect the guitar thoroughly before you buy.
- Check the guitar’s construction and make sure it’s solid.
- Check the intonation of the guitar.
- Check the electronics if it’s an electric guitar.
Look over everything to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth from the guitar.
Negotiate Discount Guitars Even Lower:
If a guitar dealer has discounted the price of a guitar already you might get lucky to find a dealer who is willing to discount the price even more. You won’t be able to do this with online instrument dealers, but certainly you can try to negotiate with a store you walk into. You might just end with an even better deal than was advertised.
The feeling a buying a new guitar is unmatched, so make sure the guitar you buy is the one you want at the price you can afford. If you decide to look at discount guitars, follow these tips to make sure you end up with a quality instrument.
Browse Amazon Before You Buy:
If you’re willing to pay more than $100 for a new guitar, ask yourself if you’re really getting a good bargain. Amazon is full of great brand-new entry level guitars as well as guitar packages.
For example the Squier by Fender “Stop Dreaming Start Playing” package is more than worth the price. It comes with literally everything a new guitarist needs to get playing and start rocking.
If nothing else, make sure you at least browse our list of the best of the best entry-level guitars before you turn your hard-earned money over to some second-hand shop buying random no-name discount guitars. Get yourself a good one!
Purchasing a guitar is exciting, but if you don’t do it carefully, you can end up being really disappointed. Make sure to follow these vital steps for how to buy a guitar, and make the best purchasing for your taste and your budget.