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Beginners Guide To Buying A Guitar


So the guitar bug has bitten (what’s taken you soooo long???) and it’s time to buy your first guitar…but where do you start? Simple…you start by reading and absorbing our concise (but very helpful) Beginners Guide To Buying A Guitar.

When figuring out where to start with guitars one of these probably won’t help…

It’s important to remember that even though it might be slightly stressful and annoying at times…learning to play guitar is supposed to be fun…and so should the guitar buying process (after all who doesn’t like wandering in and out of music stores). Many of you reading this will already be fully fledged guitar nuts with an ever expanding collection but we all had to start somewhere so please bear with us.

The Budget
There are guitars out there to suit all budgets (from tiny to humungous) and they can be found in many places (music stores, pawn shops, eBay…they’re everywhere!). If this is your first purchase of this kind then keep the budget realistic…hopefully you’ll become another disciple of the six string religion but you might not and may wish you’d kept your losses to a minimum. Besides this bit of advice you should also keep the following in mind; just because a guitar is cheap does not mean it’s a piece of rubbish. Similarly just because a guitar is expensive doesn’t mean that it’s any good. The price of a guitar is a good indicator of quality and construction but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Don’t forget when thinking about budget that you may need some other bits and pieces to go with your guitar e.g. an amp, a case etc…they all cost money!

Not all of us have one of these growing in the garden so be sensible…

Do Your Homework
Do as much research on guitars and the manufacturers involved as you can…after all you want to make as informed a decision as possible. If you know someone who plays talk to them, if you visit music stores speak to the staff and if you use the internet there are loads of sites and forums dedicated to guitars (this one’s pretty good!)…they can all be helpful and informative so use them.

Magazines, internet sites and even books; there’s loads of info out there…

The invention of the internet has been a wonderful thing (we can now get our gear fix at the touch of a button) but it also means that a lot of people now make purchases without seeing what they’re buying in the flesh and guitars is no different. However unlike a fridge, a guitar is supposed to be played, and held and is about feeling so before you take the plunge you should if possible try a guitar. There’s nothing wrong with visiting several stores and trying several guitars in each one. If you know someone who plays see if they’re able to go along with you to help and offer some support (no one who plays is going to turn down a visit to a music store). One thing to consider is that you’ll probably be standing up most of the time when playing guitar so don’t be afraid to ask the staff if you can borrow a strap (but be prepared for them to say no as some stores would rather you be sat down when you’re handling the goods). It’s also important to give any guitar you’re thinking of purchasing a good ‘once over’. Just because it’s been sat in the shop doesn’t mean it might not have the odd scratch or ‘ding’ (technical term). It also gives you an opportunity to get up close and personal with a guitar…it’s all about learning.

It’s all supposed to be played…

The Right Tool For The Job
Make sure whatever guitar you pick, whether it’s a Gibson, Fender, Ibanez or Yamaha, it’s able to do what you want it to do.
Guitars don’t just look different…they’re also designed to do different things i.e. make different sounds. Every part of a guitar, from the body material to the strings, has an effect on the sound but the main differential will be the type of pickup fitted. Undoubtedly you’ll have a guitar hero or musical influences that will impact on the type of guitar you gravitate towards and your heroes play the type of guitar they play for reason. Hank Marvin, for example, uses a Strat type guitar to get a crisp, clean, ringing tone courtesy of the single coil pickups so if you’re trying to sound like him a Les Paul fitted with humbuckers isn’t really the best choice. Likewise if you’re after a metal tone like Killswitch Engage, a standard Telecaster probably won’t get you quite there so opt for something with humbuckers for a thicker sound with more Grrrrr!!!

Whatever guitar you choose it’s got to look right, feel right and sound right to you otherwise you’ll never be 100% happy when you’re playing it.

This is probably overkill for a first guitar…

Added Extras
Music stores are a bit of a haven for wheelers & dealers. Anytime you purchase something it’s always worthwhile seeing if it’s possible to sweeten the deal. This could be a reduction in the price of the guitar itself, some freebies (strings, picks, a strap etc.) or a discount on another item if you buy it at the same time (e.g. an amp or guitar case). Don’t be cheeky but don’t be afraid to ask either. Many stores (both physical and on-line) have bundle deals that are specifically aimed at those just starting out so take advantage of these if it suits.

There’s an endless amount of stuff to add to the deal…

Although we’ve tailored this to the first time guitar buyer we’d like to think that the advice we’ve given can be applied to just about anything you’re trying to buy and may even come in handy for those already well versed in guitars. The absolute best piece of advice we can offer is to try as many different guitars as you’re able to…we don’t care what anyone says, nothing beats getting your hands on the actual hardware and letting your ears and hands sample what a piece of kit actually sounds and feels like. Hopefully as time goes by you’ll strike up a good relationship with your local music store so they’ll become accustomed to what you’re looking for and will be able to offer as much advice and guidance as possible. And don’t forget about the internet!!! It’s an endless resource of information about everything…and gear is no different. Check out manufacturers’ websites for specs and details, visit as many retailers’ sites as possible for independent reviews from people who have already bought something that you’re considering and tune into You Tube as it offers countless videos demoing gear. Good Luck!