I’d be intrigued to know what the actual figures are but I’d have a guess that a large percent of first guitar purchases happen around this time of year; whether it’s a Christmas present for someone who has always said they wanted to take it up or a New Years resolution.
Either way buying a first guitar can be a daunting task and you may find yourself asking ‘What guitar should I buy?’ With prices from £50 to £9,999 and beyond, choices of electric or acoustic, steel strings or nylon, full size or 3/4 there is a mass of choice.
I found that along with your playing development you will start to know more about what you want from a guitar and what tone you like. So initially you will want an inexpensive basic guitar that will be easy to learn on and get you ready for when you want to move on to better things.
So, here’s a few suggestions that should help you on your way to choosing the perfect guitar:
Electric or acoustic?
Electric guitar suits more rock, pop and jazz music whereas acoustic guitar suits more singer songwriter, folk type of music.
Most people already have an idea on which they’d prefer to play but if you’re not sure then I would suggest electric. It is a bit more versatile as you can create a wide variety of sounds using amps and pedals and you can still practice quietly with it unplugged. In addition to this, they are a lot easier to play.
Lights, camera, ACTION
‘Action’ is an important feature when you are a beginner. The action is the distance between the strings to the fretboard. The closer the strings are to the guitar the easier it will be to play until you build up the strength in your hand.
If you’re going into a store ask the sales rep to show you a guitar with a low action. Just make sure it’s not too low that it buzzes when you play a note.
You may know someone who already has a guitar that’s not in use, stashed in the attic or on display in an office somewhere. It’s always handy to borrow a guitar initially if you’re just trying it out, then, when you’re happy you want to continue you can start looking and also have a clearer idea of the styles you want to play and what is best suited for you.
p.s I can provide a guitar in lessons, dependant on availability, but it does mean you wont be able to practice at home. It can be a great way to try out lessons though!
Try before you buy
Most music shops let you play the instrument before you buy it. If you cant play anything yet then just sit and hold it, pluck a few strings, see how it feels, is it comfortable? too big? digs in anywhere?
Are you a lefty?
Being a lefty isn’t as troublesome as you’d expect. First of all you can buy left handed guitars (unfortunately they are usually more expensive than their right handed counterparts) or I have had a few students who have chosen to play right handed anyway, my wife being one of them! Because your fingers don’t know any other way it is easy to train them to play right handed. Its also worth noting that a lot of visual material like chord sheets and fretboard diagrams are orientated for a right handed player.
Buy what you like
I’m not going to lie I’m a sucker for a good looking guitar! There maybe a lot to consider but you have to like the guitar itself, if your guitar is pleasing to your eye you will pick it up more… Trust me
If you’re buying a guitar for a child many brands create 3/4 sizes to choose from. Again try it in store so see if it fits better than a full size.
Even if you’re not looking for lessons, I always enjoy talking about guitars so feel free to give me a call and I can hopefully talk you through what you should be looking for.
Hopefully that will help you on the way to finding your first guitar. Some companies also do starter packs so you can get started straight away (especially with electric guitars as you’ll need an amp, cables etc). Here are a few respected brands that do starter packs that are worth looking into…
Don’t forget to hunt around for the best deals, especially in January when the sales are on!