Purchasing a Guitar: 101

Purchasing a Guitar: 101

You may have walked into a music-retailer and thought, “I am ready to buy a guitar.” Or, maybe you’re shopping for someone else who has expressed interest in starting up on the 6-string (if it’s a surprise you’ll have to hone in on your investigative skills). Be sure you're working with a music-retailer whose employees have integrity! (Like these guys). 

Note: This shouldn’t be an overwhelming process, feel free to comment below with questions and we’ll work together!

Establish Your Desired Sound: Despite how interesting this would be, Bob Dylan didn’t buy an electric guitar, tune it into “Drop-D” and become a metal god. Conversely, Kirk Hammett of Metallica didn’t invest in a folk guitar and serenade the masses with flowers in his hair. On a more serious note (see what I did there?), take the time getting to know yourself musically. What music do you love? If you could play anything, what would you want to play? What musicians, past or present, inspire you? You may not find your passion right away, but you’ll at least start to eliminate what you wouldn’t want to play!

Decide Acoustic vs. Electric: This can be the hard part, but anything worth doing is worth doing right. Once you’ve decided what music you will be shredding or finger-picking, it’s time to decide if you want to start with acoustic or electric. Typically, especially for young’ins, electric guitars just seem “cooler.” This isn’t entirely true or false, but there are advantages and disadvantages to starting with an electric guitar, just as there are for beginning with an acoustic.

Benefits of Electric:

1) Typically, lighter gauge strings – easier to barre chords and more forgiving on the fingers
2) Versatility of sound – Electronics allow for more effects through the guitar and/or amp 
3) Volume – Control the output of the guitar through volume knobs or headphones (your family may thank you!)

With an electric guitar, you will need an amp, a cable, and headphones (if desired). But, if you purchase gear that is made with quality in mind, this should be an infrequent purchase. Disclaimer: you may become an effects pedal addict (I’ll assist your future habit by including an easy access link below).

Make sure to check out one of our pedal articles article: HERE

Create Your Budget: Very rarely do people shell out loads of moo-lah for their first guitar. However, guitars do follow the old saying “you get what you pay for.” A $100.00 guitar may be ok, but will most likely lack the quality in build, tone, and overall performance than a $300.00 guitar. Anymore, the guitar industry has prices ranging from $100 to $15,000+. To eliminate any buyer’s remorse (or an irresponsible purchase), research the guitar’s ability to stay in tune, the playability of the neck; how it feels in your hand as you play up and down the fretboard, and the electronics of the guitar (if you’re buying electric or acoustic/electric). This is a good time to consult someone with experience. Asking questions is the best way to gain information and, trust me, guitarists love to talk guitar.

Bonus Tip: There is no shame in having a smaller budget! Don’t let that stop you. If you’re struggling to find what you want in your budget, consider saving some more to get what you truly want. Some music-retailers also offer financing!

Everyone has their opinions about what you should start with and you’ll find an infinite amount of information on the internet; some good, some bad (research, research, research!). Ultimately, the decision is yours. One of the great things about participating in music is the ability to upgrade in the future, or, take a different path entirely. Best of luck as you begin your journey as a guitarist!

Previous article Best Preamps for the Home Studio (Under $1000)