3.3 Choosing Your First Guitar

Andy | August 24, 2015 | 18 Comments

Every guitarist remembers their first guitar. Some look back with horror and disbelief, while others recall their introductory instrument with fondness, regardless of its quality.

Most wish they knew back then what they know now. For this reason, it’s a good idea to seek a bit of expert advice on the subject of your first guitar.

Here are a few important tips:

The main factor for most is price. Consider your budget for a starter guitar. This usually means buying a low-end guitar or perhaps a used, mid-range model. A practical solution is to opt for a beginner’s guitar pack.

Packages include a strap, plectrums, tuner and bag. Well known brands like Fender and Yamaha offer decent beginner packs.

Price differences on acoustic guitars generally reflect the grade or type of wood used to construct the guitar and the fact they can be accurately tuned and stay in tune for longer. Less expensive guitars use layered wood laminate, while pricier models have tops made of solid pieces of wood, which vibrate more easily and therefore have a better sound quality than laminate.
Though solid wood tops provide a nicer, fuller tone and improve with play, these are not the chief concerns for a beginner guitarist.

Most important in terms of pleasure and learning to play are comfort and playability. The size and shape of the guitar and its action (how close the strings are to the fretboard) are the main factors for comfort and playability. These aspects greatly facilitate learning to play the guitar and give far more satisfaction than an expensive guitar of better sound quality that is more difficult to play.

Size – A smaller acoustic guitar may be more comfortable and therefore more playable for a novice guitarist, especially women and those of shorter stature. Try out different sizes, shapes and models to
find what suits you best.

Last but not least, get a friend who is an experienced player to help you choose your first guitar.

Category: Uncategorized

Comments (18)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Alan weaver says:

    I would encourage people to start with a “classical” guitar, first because the nylon strings will hurt less (while fingers develop callouses) and secondly because learning the chord positions on a wider neck will make it easier to place your fingers on a “standard” (narrower neck) guitar later…of course, if your fingers hurt less, you will be able to enjoy playing more…

    If the student already has a “standard” guitar, you can either start with the lightest gauge strings available or (as I did) have a local guitar repair person make you a “nut” cut for nylon strings, and temporarily re-string your guitar with classical strings…you can always put the original nut back in place and apply metal strings after your fingers are toughened up…my local luthier did this for $20…

  2. Ernesto Guerra says:

    Hi. I’m new to guitar. I bought two guitars to start with, a mahogany fender. It’s beautiful. I also bought a les Paul epiphone traditional pro. I wanted to get the feel for both. I’m excited that I found your 6 week lesson. I can’t wait to start to get some lessons under my belt. Thank you

  3. Gary Stout says:

    3.3 Choosing Your First Guitar: Good overview.

  4. Jack Runnels says:

    I bought my first guitar back in 1978. Before the internet, so going to a guitar/music store or pawn shop was all we had. I went to a music store got a very nice acoustic Lotus guitar made in Japan. I got my first electric in the mid 80s a nice peavey T15. This was when I desided to take some guitar lessons from a guitar teacher in a local guitar store. This was still before the internet but made big improvements in my guitar playing. Video tape machines were available back then but video guitar lessons had not been thought of yet.

  5. Jack Runnels says:

    maybe move this video before why learn on an acoustic

  6. Anthony Mucci says:

    Get a friend who is an experienced player to help you choose your first guitar. Don’t rush this process. Play a lot of different instruments until you get a sure sense of what suits you best. Dedicated beginners may advance beyond their first guitar quickly. Music stores often have rental or trade-up options. The selection process is fun! As you progress you WILL grow out of lesser instruments and every step up in quality rewards you with better sound, versatility and the challenge of living up to the quality of your instrument. I have had over 75 different guitars in my life, as many as 40 at one time, down to about 6 now and still looking for the right Jazz box (slang for steel string acoustic/electric) and buy and sell basses frequently. I may design and build my next bass.

  7. Ronnie Holderfield says:

    I think that this presentation was an amazing introduction on buying your first guitar. I know that when I bought my second acoustic guitar that I had a bunch of good friends that have experience with the guitar so my choice was easy.

  8. Ken Hammond says:

    Good content and informative – However, wouldn’t most people have already bought their first guitar before accessing this advice in the package.

    • Andy says:

      Yes possibly, but some may have just been given a cheap rubbish guitar and don’t appreciate the value in getting a decent one – just a thought!

  9. john picker says:

    i thought this was a well rounded out presentation

  10. Richard Darby says:

    You mention plectrums and picks in the next lesson, nut first mention plectrum here.

  11. Richard Darby says:

    This is a good introduction. My concern is that you seem to be endorsing Yamaha and Fender. There are many other great brands that have excellent starter guitars. Also you should mention that nylon string guitars, in general, are easier on the fingers and overall, easier to play because the string tension is not as heavy as a steel string guitar.

    One minor thing. A beginner in the USA would probably not know a “plectrum” is a guitar pick.

  12. Richard McKay says:

    If this new guitar is for a young person, both the parent and the child should watch this video together to get on the same page before going shopping. Also, explain the difference between steel string and classical guitars because that’s an easy mistake to make.

  13. Charles Butler says:

    Excellent primer for the first time guitar purchaser. Shoot, I even learned a couple of good things to consider when I buy my next ax.

  14. JL Brunet says:

    Pawn shops – popular in the US – are worth checking when looking for a cheap first guitar. First guitar SHOULD be cheap – we know most people give up guitar in the first year – yet sound decent. You should try to get with someone who knows guitars a little bit and weigh your choices.

    • Charles Butler says:

      Pawn shops are GREAT! Many musicians decide they need to eat rather than play. I’ve picked up some great bargains on quality equipment.

  15. Anthony Gable says:

    That’s kind of a coincidence , My first guitar was The Fender 60 BLK. I acually like it. I recently did upgrade to used Seagull S6 guitar which I got for a great price. I did a lot of research on it before I bought it. So if you do a little research online about a particular guitar you’re thinking of buying , you may get a great deal !

Leave a Reply