Purchasing a guitar for the first time can be very exciting, so congratulations are in order! There are some things to consider as you hunt for your first guitar. Do you want to play an acoustic or an electric guitar? What shape and style do you want? Do you know what size you need? Are you confused yet? There are so many styles and sizes available that it can seem overwhelming trying to find the right guitar. Not to worry, because this guide will help you get on the right track and choose a guitar that is best for you!
How Do I Choose the Right Guitar for Me?
Choosing the right guitar doesn’t have to be a challenge but it is not as easy as running to the nearest store and grabbing the first one you see. Deciding some general things in advance can make the process go along much more smoothly and successfully.
Choosing the Right Guitar: Acoustic vs. Electric Guitars
One of the biggest decisions to make is what kind of guitar you genuinely want to play. A big mistake that people make is purchasing a guitar that is inexpensive and not really liking the sound it makes or the way it plays because it is not the right type. Do you want to play an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar? An easy way to decide is to go by the kind of music you enjoy. If you like heavy metal, go for the electric. If you like country, an acoustic is a safe way to go.
Acoustic guitars give off a bright, loud sound without the help of added sound equipment, which means you can play anywhere and anytime you like. They are strung with steel strings, which can be a bit sharp on beginners’ fingers, although your body will adapt over time. They can be played with fingertips or picks and are considerably less expensive, making them a good option for those on a limited budget.
Electric guitars require extra sound equipment, such as an amplifier, to adequately produce music. The sound of an electric guitar can be controlled for a variety of tones and pitches, which can be a lot of fun. String tension and the size of the neck on electric guitars can make them a bit easier for playing. They do cost more than acoustic guitars but have a much larger selection of colors and shapes to choose from.
What Size Guitar Should I Get?
A guitar that is too large or too small will result in difficulty learning and playing. When holding the guitar for playing, your arm should not be as high as your shoulder. You should also not have to overextend the muscles in your hand to reach the first frets. Physical discomfort should not be a part of playing the guitar.
Pick a Style You Like
While acoustic guitars have considerably fewer style variations than electric guitars, there are still some nice options to choose from. Dreadnought style acoustics have thick bodies, loud sounds, and a bigger size while Parlor style acoustics have thinner bodies and can be played best while seated. Acoustics also have the option of body cutaways, which can affect the sound they make. Electric guitars come in so many shapes and colors that the sky is the limit. If you have a favorite color, you can bet it can be found on an electric guitar. If you like pointed edges as opposed to round, you can have that, too.
Settle On a Price
Decide the top dollar amount you are willing to spend and stick to that budget. It can be tempting to spend extra when you go out shopping, but a good budget will help you stay true to what you want and can afford. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from a sales associate when finding exactly what you want, but don’t get caught up in being upsold above and beyond your price point.
What Are the Qualities of a Good Guitar?
Now that you have decided which type of guitar is best for you, there is one final step. It is important to understand what makes a guitar a “good” one worthy of investing time and money. First things first: always check the quality of the guitar. While a guitar may have a well-known brand name, gorgeous finish, and a fantastic price point that is hard to refuse, that does not mean it is the best guitar on the market. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when determining the qualities of a guitar to see if it is worth buying or if you should keep shopping around.
1. Tuning gears should be properly wound with string and should tune smoothly and accurately. A guitar of good quality will have tuning machines that do not take an awful lot of time or difficulty to properly tune.
2. Guitars with set-in necks should have stable and secure necks and heels. The neck should not feel as though it could have any chance of breaking off. Make sure it is properly secured and that there are no cracks where the neck meets the body.
3. Acoustic guitars should NOT have a bridge with open gaps or an extremely unleveled neck. With the exception of children’s guitars, the wood on the neck should be properly secured to the bridge with glue. It should not be held together with nuts and bolts. The level of the neck is also important to note, as a neck with too much of an angle forward or backward can have adjustment issues. A properly angled neck should sit relatively level with the body of the guitar.
4. Electric guitars should have secured bridge hardware. An electric guitar that has loose bridge hardware is an indicator to move on to something else. Loosely fitting adjustment screws can become easily stripped over time.
5. The string height should be low at the first fret. Test out the proper adjustment of the strings by pressing down with your smallest finger one string at a time on the first fret. If the strings bend an excessive amount, the guitar will most likely be difficult to play.
Ask Questions Before Buying
A guitar that is not well-made will prove to be disappointing and difficult to play, which could ultimately lead to a complete loss of interest and wasted money. Always keep in mind the importance of buying a guitar that has been properly inspected and adjusted. Ask questions about the playability of the guitar and get the pros and cons of the overall make and design before making the final purchase decision.