So you’ve finally decided that you want to start playing guitar, but you walked into a guitar store and realized you know absolutely nothing about the instruments here, here are some basic things to follow in you journey for your first axe.
Ask yourself how much your willing to spend, and keep in mind that price does make a difference on the playability and sound of the guitar. A guitar that is too cheap will be more difficult to play than a pricier one as a result of poor construction, which can result in frustration to the player. That being said, your first guitar probably doesn’t need to cost thousands of dollars. The sweet spot you should be aiming for is about $200 - $300 dollars. That amount of money in the used section of a store will get you the most bang for your buck as far as beginner’s guitars go.
Now is the time to decide do you want an acoustic or an electric? Electric guitars are very tempting to a new guitarist who wants to rock out as loud as possible, but the end bill before you leave the store can be much higher than an acoustic due to the fact you must buy an amp and cables too which are not always cheap. If you are extremely interested in an electric guitars by all means move in that direction, but save up a little more money so that you don’t draw from the actual guitar budget to pay for the other necessities.
Why buy used? There seems to be a stigma about buying used items such as cars and technology. A used guitar is different, dings and scratches in the finish shouldn’t scare you away, they should draw you in. These types of superficial damages signal markdown prices on guitars that are usually more expensive. At its core job, a guitar is used to produce sound, so any visual imperfections can be overlooked in the ideals of achieving the best sound.
There are several things to keep in mind when looking for a new guitar that even someone who has never held one before can look for. A big indicator to the quality of a guitar can sometimes be how used it actually looks! If a guitar looks like its been beat up by the previous owner you could assume that, if there are not major damages, it was likely played often. Other details to look for are things such as the action on the guitar, or the distance the strings are from the fretboard. Too high and the guitar becomes significantly more difficult to play and signals poor construction, which can be frustrating to someone who is just trying to learn.
When you find a guitar you think might be a good fit, test every single fret on the neck. Simply push down the string before each of the frets with the tip of your finger and pluck the respective string. The note should ring out clearly for the most part. If the note doesn’t ring out clearly try again or with a less aggressive pluck. Some inexpensive guitars suffer from what is called fret buzz, and if you don’t seem to be able to get the guitar to have a note ring out properly it might be worth moving onto another guitar.
Once you’ve found the right guitar ask the store owner to put on a fresh pair of strings for you, and once you get home get ready to start playing!
Ken K lives in Denver, Colorado where he is a professional guitar teacher helping students enjoy learning and playing guitar. If you are looking for guitar lessons in Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Lone Tree or other southwest suburbs of Denver, CO get in touch with Ken.