Before you get started there are a few things that you might want to think about:
- Acoustic or Electric?
- How much money do you want to spend?
- Do I need an amp?
- What Accessories do I need?
- Acoustic or Electric
This first question you need to ask yourself is what kind of music do you want to play? If you are more into singer/songwriter material, pop, classical, bluegrass, or country, an acoustic guitar might be something you want to look for. But if you are more into rock, metal, hard rock, punk, or anything with a “heavier” sound, electric guitars are the way to go!
If you do decide to go with an acoustic guitar there are a few things you need to consider. The first thing you need to think about is the size of the instrument. There are a wide range of sizes for an acoustic guitar. The most common sizes, from smallest to largest are, Parlor, Auditorium, Grand Auditorium, Dreadnought, and Jumbo. If you are a smaller person, we would recommend playing either a Parlor or an Auditorium, so you don’t have to strain your arm over the body when you strum. The most common acoustic body used today is a dreadnought, but find the right body size for you, all of them sound awesome!
One last thing to think about with an acoustic guitar is if you want a cut in the body. The cut in the body toward the bottom of the neck is there to give you easier access to the high frets. If you don’t have that cut, it makes playing those high frets extremely difficult. The only drawback about having that body cut is that it does affect the tone and resonance a bit. Don’t worry the guitar will still sound amazing! If you don’t plan on playing high up on the guitar, then I wouldn’t worry about getting a guitar with the cut, but if you do want to play higher than I would strongly recommend getting a guitar with a body cut.
If you decide to go with an electric guitar, you also need to consider the size and shape of the instrument as well! There is also a wide range of shapes, styles, and sizes. The first thing you want to think about is what genre of music you want to play. If you like a hard rock or metal aesthetic, you might be interested in a V shape. Maybe you like a more classic look and sound, you should look into the Stratocaster, Telecaster, or Les Paul shape. There is no right or wrong answer here, pick a shape that inspires you and makes you want to play guitar!
As a guitar teacher, I recommend starting out on an electric guitar. Contrary to what most people believe, it is easier to learn on an electric guitar because of the neck size, body size, and string material. While it is doable to learn on an acoustic, it is just a little bit easier to start out on an electric. Either way I recommend picking a guitar that inspires you to play!
- How much money do I want to spend?
The next thing you are doing to want to think about is how much money do you want to spend on your guitar? When you start looking at guitar you quickly realize that there is quite a range in prices of guitars. You can find some for less than $100 and find some for over $5000. I would recommend setting a budget for around $300. That price point has a huge selection of guitars in many styles, sizes, and colors. Just know that you if you already have an idea of a guitar that you really want in a specific shape and color, you may be spending a little bit more. I would recommend setting that budget before you start looking so you don’t get your heart set on a guitar only to find out later that it is out of your budget.
While a lot of people say that having nice gear doesn’t make you a better guitarist, that isn’t entirely true. While yes having an expensive instrument doesn’t automatically make you a better musician, I know from my own personal experience that if I spend a lot of money on a guitar, I am going to make sure I get my money out of it and play to everyday! At the end of the day, it really comes down to how much time and money are you willing to invest into playing guitar?
- Do I need an amp?
Amps go hand in hand with guitars, so most people know that after buying a guitar, they need to purchase an amp. While you don’t necessarily need to purchase an amp, I definitely recommend it, even if you have an acoustic guitar. Now obviously if you have an acoustic guitar that doesn’t have any electronics in it, you don’t need an amp because you can’t plug it in. If you have an acoustic with electronics in it, I do recommend getting one, so you have some experience using the controls, and finding your sound. It is also good to have one because if you want to perform live you will definitely need one!
If you decide to go with an electric guitar, you absolutely need one! If you do not have an amp, you will not be able to hear the guitar. When you are starting out, I recommend getting a small amp that goes up to only about 15 watts. These are perfect amps for practicing in your room. Anything louder is starting to get into practicing with a band territory. If you are just practicing in your room or basement, a small 15 watt or desktop amp will be perfect! A nice feature I recommend looking out for is if they have a headphone jack in the amp. This allows you to put headphones in the amp so only you can hear yourself practicing. This is a nice feature so you can practice later at night and not have to worry about waking anyone up, and when you are starting out it is nice to know that only you can hear your playing! One more thing I recommend, but is not necessary, is trying to find an amp that has presets on it. This just makes it a lot easier when you are starting out to figure out what sounds like and switching between sounds.
- What Accessories do I need?
The last thing to think about is what accessories do I need? This is going to includes all the supplementary items you are going to use along with the guitar. There are somethings that most people already know they need such as picks and maybe an extra set of strings for when they break. But there are a few more things that most people forget about. The most important it a headstock tuner! This small item is probably the most important tool for any musician. All you do is clip it on the headstock, turn it on, and tune the strings. If you have perfect pitch and can tune by ear (I’m jealous) than you might not need this, but for most people this is an invaluable tool. It doesn’t matter how good your playing is, but if the guitar is out of tune, it won’t sound good!
Another accessory that is needed is a strap. Most people already know they need one, but don’t know exactly why. Yes, you need one in order to play standing up, but what most people don’t realize is how different playing standing up feels. When you play standing up, depending on how high you set the strap, the guitar hangs a little bit lower causing your hand to flex a little bit differently. You can fix this by setting the strap so that the guitar sits on the exact same spot as when you are sitting down, or you can practice standing up so your hand will become used to it. Either way, you need a strap to try either of these. It also completes the rockstar look!
If you want to protect your instrument from any sort of cosmetic damage, there are two things you should get. If you are going to be transporting the guitar at all, I recommend getting a gig bag for it. While gig bags don’t offer as much protection as a hard-shell case, they still offer a lot of protection, and they are much easier to carry around since most have backpack straps. If you plan on keeping your guitar in the gig bag even while you are home then you might not need this next one; but if you are like me and like to admire your guitars while you are home, or you want to display your axe for everyone to see, or maybe you just want quick access to your guitar, then you should definitely get a guitar stand. Nothing too crazy, just one that supports the body and cradles the neck is perfect. The neck support is nice because it adds a significant amount of stability and peace of mind that the guitar isn’t going to tip over.
And finally, one last accessory that you should get is only for people that have an amp, and that is an input cable. If you don’t have an input cable, then you can’t use your amp. If you are going to be practicing in your room or basement, a 10–15-foot cable is perfect. I know the allure of getting a huge cable is there because you wouldn’t have to worry about running out of room but trust me having too much cable just means it is going to get tangled around everything! Unless you are performing at MSG or Red Rocks, you don’t need to have a 100-foot cable.
That just about sums up what you need to think about when you are purchasing your first guitar. I know that there is a lot to think about, and honestly there is even more that I didn’t include here because it would be far too long! The best way to get all of your questions answered is to visit out showroom! Our incredible and friendly staff will make sure to answer everyone of your questions and make sure you are getting the exact guitar you need!