Shopping For Your First Guitar

I’ve been teaching and in music sales for nearly 20 years. One of the biggest questions I’ve gotten is “What kind of guitar should I start on out. Acoustic? Electric? Brand? Style?” etc.

My answer is always that you need to start on the instrument you want to end up playing. The instrument you imagine yourself playing. If you aspire to play electric start on an electric. If you aspire to play acoustic choose that.

Choose a brand and model that fits the style you want to learn. It may be a Strat built for blues. Perhaps a Tele for country. Acoustic for folk, souped-up for rock or seven stringed for death metal.

Whatever you choose make sure it is a guitar that your style is meant to be played on. Every type of a guitar has a different sound. For example, you can make a seven string sound like a telecaster. You can’t make a Les Paul sound like a Strat.

There is this terrible myth out there that most people should start on an acoustic guitar.

I don’t know who started the myth but it they make no sense and it seems they just perpetuate with time. Imagine a parent who believes this stuff and goes out and buys a gift for their kids. Those poor kids, having an image of what they want to do in thier mind and ending up with something else.

So whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else begin with the end in mind and choose the appropriate instrument based on that. You’ll be happy that you did.

Of course choosing how much you want to spend is always a concern. After all, you never know if you’re going to stick with it until you’ve tried it for a while. Some people take to it immediately and be great in a short period of time. Others might not be naturals but with practice become very good. Maybe you won’t have the time, dedication or passion to play that you thought you had. Either way the outcome for everyone is different.

Those are the most common reasons why most first time buyers don’t want to invest too much. This presents the dilemma of choosing a budget for your purchase. Make your budget reasonable. You’re going to have to spend a little more money than “bottom dollar” for the cheapest guitar out there. But be relieved that you won’t need to spend lavishly on a new instrument either. Lets call about $200.00 a good ballpark estimate. If you can’t spend that, don’t go shopping.

It just makes sense that the cheapest guitar you find out there will not be of suitable quality. Not even to learn on the most basic level. Take it from me, that guitar you see at the toy store or discount warehouse will not get you very far. In fact, those instruments are often times barely playable and make learning nearly impossible. This is the reason many beginners find it very difficult to play and end up quitting.

I don’t know how many times a new student has come to me with one of those instruments. Then when they have a really hard time learning I need to break the news to them that it is the instrument not their lack of skill. Then they have the revelation that they should have spent an extra 50 bucks and have something playable but are stuck with something that is worthless…not even as a trade up towards a new instrument at most stores.

In summary, consider these three things before purchasing your instrument.

1. Style you want to play.
2. Price suitable to your budget.
3. Your motivation and skill to play.

(Not necessarily in any order.)

Happy shopping!

-Bob