Buying your first guitar can be overwhelming. Most marketplaces offer a wide selection of guitars and appliances to go with it; from electric to acoustic, to the thickness and make of the guitar string, to the tone and size of each instrument. As music experts, our buying guide will attempt to bridge the gap between making a choice and acting on it, all while ensuring you find the perfect pick for your playing pleasure.
Buying the right guitar is a much easier process if you can figure out a few things first:
What style of music are you looking to play?
What is your budget?
What is your musical taste?
Is this guitar for a specific purpose - a backup guitar for gigging, or a guitar for your pastime?
Arriving at answers to these questions will significantly help narrow the potential options you have.
Three Main Types of Guitar
Depending on the type of music you want to play, you’ll be looking for a specific kind of guitar that will embed perfectly with your chosen genre. We’ll give you a quick rundown of the two main classifications: acoustic (steel-string/nylon-string) and electric guitars.
Acoustic guitars are further broken down into - the steel-string guitar (modern acoustic) and nylon string guitar (classical). Each has unique tonal characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks.
Classical Guitars are designed for playing melodic pieces. This is achievable due to the wide necks and large frets that allow maximum space for fingerstyle guitar music. Classical guitars are more challenging to play than acoustic or electric guitars as the neck width makes it difficult for new players to form chord shapes. Besides, the distance between the notes and strings is higher and requires more of a stretch to play. These particular guitars use nylon strings which are easy to press down and don’t dent fingers as much. Unfortunately, classical guitars don’t appeal to all visually, especially for players looking for an iconic guitar shape.
Classical guitars are a great choice if you want to play music by any classical composer such as Vivaldi or Bach. They are also the best choice to play music of the flamenco, folk, and fingerstyle traditions. For a beginner, a great classical guitar would be the Oscar Schmidt OC11, with a step up to the Yamaha CGX101 Electric-Acoustic for an intermediate or advanced player.
Acoustic Guitars are similar to classical guitars in construction but use steel wound strings and tend to have a slimmer neck which is easy to play. Acoustic guitars come in many sizes, from the small parlour and folk sized guitars, through to auditorium sized, and the crazier, dreadnought-sized guitars. Acoustic guitars are louder than classical and electric and are built for maximum resonance and projection. This means you’ll be able to hear someone playing an acoustic guitar from afar. Consider this if you are buying a guitar for someone living in close quarters.
Depending on the style of music you want to play, you’d want to look at different sizes and wood types that acoustic guitars are made from. For softer styles, folk music and classical pieces, like Mason William’s Classical Gas or acoustic jazz songs like All of Me, a folk or parlour sized guitar would be perfect. These guitars feature restrained bass response and a tight and even sounding mid-range and treble. They would sound at-home as a solo instrument or as part of a small ensemble.
Some acoustic guitars also come with an electric pickup, which allows them to be amplified. This is great when gigging in a band or wanting the guitar to busk with, as the amplification can be used to help you stand out.
The parlor-sized Martin LX1E would be a great starter instrument to grow with you on your acoustic guitar journey. If you are looking for something a little more upmarket, Taylor, Martin, Lariveé and Gibson make some fantastic guitars.
If pop, acoustic rock, country, or blues is more your style, buying a bigger acoustic guitar, a guitar with a dreadnought sized body would serve you very well. These loud and proud instruments sound fantastic with an energetic singer accompanying them and have a strong bass response, even allowing the guitar to compete with the accompanying drums.
Electric Guitars are subjectively the easiest to play (and even learn). Their necks are specially designed for fast movements. Electric guitars generally have strings closer to the fretboard than a classical or acoustic guitar, will hold tuning better, and have thinner necks. Electric guitars are made from solid wood, so they are less fragile. This is also an option to consider if noise is a factor since headphones are compatible with most electric guitars.
Aside from the different shapes and aesthetics of the guitars, different guitars use different materials and construction, which can have a marked effect on the sound of the instrument. Guitars with a maple fretboard, for example, will have a snappier and brighter response to playing than those with a darker fretboard (like Ebony or Rosewood).
Once you’ve decided that you want an electric guitar, picking the right guitar for the style of music that you want to play is important. If you are trying to learn jazz, selecting a ‘‘metal” guitar like a Jackson wouldn’t give you the right sound for the genre.
The most important fact to consider on an electric guitar are the pickups. These are magnets that feed the amplifier and have a considerable effect on the sound of the instrument. There are two main types of pickups: Single Coils and Humbuckers.
Single coil pickups are suitable for pop, rock, country, and jazz as they are bright, responsive and clear sounding. Fender offers options in this sector.
Humbuckers are deeper sounding, more aggressive and ‘heavier’ in comparison to a single-coil, and in general, give you a ‘rockier’ sound. These are great for rock, heavier blues, metal, and most of the heavier genres of music. If you lean towards this category, might we suggest guitars by Gibson, PRS, Ibanez and Jackson.
Budget and aesthetics play a part in instrument purchases. Many are unsure about investing in an expensive model and opt for a cheaper option. Unfortunately, this choice affects playing pleasure and increases the difficulty of playability. Owing to this, beginners fall out of love with the process and give up entirely. In addition, the lower-priced option will have little to no resale value. As experts in the field, we urge you to take a thought-out decision and opt for the higher quality guitar.
What Accessories Should I Buy?
There are a variety of accessories to aid both beginners and experts with the guitar. The following are list of items to consider based on need and budget constraints:
As you make progress, you’ll also want to consider a metronome, music books and the relevant exams to improve your skills. Buying your first guitar should be an exciting venture that should not overwhelm your mind or your wallet. By taking the time to consider options and investing time and energy in picking up the skill required, anyone can seek enjoyment in the simple act of being a guitarist. Check out out massive collection of Guitars and accessories.
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