One of the most common questions that I am asked, when students sign up for our adult beginner guitar classes is:
‘What type of guitar should I buy?’
A lot of people find this problem very overwhelming. There are so many brands available, so many qualities and price points, as well as different styles of guitar. To top it all off I have had many students that were stuck with junk equipment due to the bad advice of one of the music stores in our neighborhood, preying on the ignorance of beginners to make a sale. (Won’t tell you which store, but I wish I could!)
There are the 3 important things to think about before choosing a guitar.
- How much money should I spend on my first guitar?
- Are you buying this guitar for a beginner?
- What style of guitar should I choose? (electric, acoustic, classical)
I will help you answer each of these 3 questions and then I can make recommendations for you.
How much money should I spend on my first guitar?
Keep a few things in mind when deciding how much money you want to spend on your first guitar. You need a good quality instrument to learn on and a cheap guitar will only make it harder for you to learn.
Cheap guitar = more frustration and pain = lower chance of success!
You will most likely want to upgrade your guitar after 2-4 years (this is a hobby that often becomes an obsession). A difference of as little as $50 can make the difference between the guitar becoming firewood and that second guitar you are happy to bring to the lake, while your more expensive guitar is safe at home.
Are you buying this guitar for a beginner?
A beginner needs an instrument that is properly built and easy to play but will not be getting the full sound and potential of the instrument anyways for at least one to two years. Therefore you should consider $300 to be the absolute most you want to spend on a beginner guitar.
What style of guitar should I choose?
This is completely up to your personal preference. Acoustic or classical guitars are often chosen because of their portability. Electric guitars are often chosen because of the heroes that popularized them. If you are looking for something that will be easy on your fingers you should choose a nylon string classical guitar or an electric guitar. Steel string acoustic guitars will hurt your finger tips a little more in the beginning but may produce the sound you like. Don’t worry the pain will go away!
Once you have read this through and answered these questions yourself, here are my recommendations:
Steel String Acoustic: For beginner level guitars, Yamaha makes the highest quality and most reliable instruments in my experience. The Yamaha F310 starts at $150 is great to start out. It is well built and easy to play. If you want to spend a little extra money the models just above this are extremely nice as well for $200-$300. I’m sure your local Yamaha dealer would be more than happy to show you these!
Nylon String Classical: Again Yamaha is our go to for reliabilitity and craftsmanship. Any of their beginner models will do the job for you. Starting around $140 for a full size guitar. Model number to look for Yamaha C40 and CGS104A. Of course the models just above these offer some very attractive features that are worth the money, but are not 100 percent necessary for you yet.
Electric: In beginner electric guitars there are so many names out there that is hard to say what will be available at your local guitar store, but here are some pointers.
Be careful when buying bigger names (Gibson, Epiphone, Fender, Washburn) since these companies don’t even make these guitars themselves. Beginner guitars by these companies are often made cheaply in contracted factories with their name stamped on it and you pay for the name. Just a tip from experience, avoid the Epiphone Special II.
One that I recommend is the Squier Stratocaster. It is a good buy if you can get it for $150 or less. If you are dealing with a reputable store any electric between $110-$150 should do the trick.
With an electric you also need to buy an amplifier and your options are quite limited at this level. Once again, if shopping at reputable retailer anything between $50-$100 will meet your needs for now. Keep an eye out for starter packs that include everything you need.
Read This Before You Buy a Beginner Guitar
Please do not buy your guitar at Wal-Mart, Zellers, Canadian Tire, Target or any other large discount department stores. What they sell are toys, not quality instruments. In most cases the prices are very similar but quality is complete garbage.
If you have any other questions please leave a comment and I will be sure to answer it as soon as possible.