If you have experience with guitars, that is one thing, but let’s say your kid starting to play is asking for a guitar, and as a parent, you wish to give them the best. So, selecting the perfect guitar can be challenging for someone who knows nothing about guitars. Please read on; here, we’ll outline the most critical aspects of buying a guitar and share the secrets of how to select a guitar for beginner players!
Acoustic or Electric Guitar: The First Thing to Decide!
The first question: is an acoustic or an electric guitar better for a beginner? Well, it comes down to a personal preference. Probably, the best way to go about it is to search for an instrument that will correspond with the type of music you want to play. If your kid goes to a music school to learn classical music, they need a nylon-string guitar, and a steel-string acoustic will do if it is a modern music school. For example, if rock music is the thing, you should buy a nice electric guitar.
Pro Tip: Always look for a guitar that will fit your (or your kid’s) music style!
Technical Aspects of a Good Guitar
Regarding the technical stuff, every guitar should have working tuners and bridge, and it needs to be built to strict specs so everything will work as it should. Always look for an even spacing between the strings.
When you take the guitar in your hands, look at the neck at the last fret: it should have equal space between the edge of the fretboard and the sixth string and the edge of the fretboard and the first string – or about 3mm on each side. If this is off by more than one millimeter (especially on an acoustic guitar), get away from it, as there is no easy fix for this problem.
If the guitar is in working order, it should play immediately. You should check if the truss rod is working (for an old or a very cheap guitar). It may not feel perfect, but it should be in the ballpark – most of the time, it is a question of a good setup. If you know nothing about guitars, don’t hesitate to take the instrument to a guitar tech or a luthier for a checkup before you pay for it!
Buy the Best for your Budget
Setting a budget is the primary factor driving your decision to buy a guitar. Getting caught in the hype of owning a brand-name guitar is easy, but buying an expensive guitar for a beginner is not always a financially viable option.
Rule. No 1: Stay Away from the Bottom Shelf Stuff
No matter who you buy the guitar for, never buy the bottom, cheapest models. Even if they seem appealing budget-wise, there are serious reasons for the low price of such guitars. These are usually made with no consideration for quality and need a lot of extra setups and fixing to bring them into a playable shape.
Look at it like this, if you buy a $100 beginner guitar, you will have to spend at least an extra $100 for a quality setup, and you’ll still have a $100 guitar. Plus, poor-quality guitars only deteriorate over time.
Pro Tip: The guitar you buy should be a good starting step; never go for the cheapest option!
Rule No.2: Consider Longevity & Resale Value
Many kids/teenagers love the idea of playing the guitar, but not many will stick with it. Thus, you may end up buying an instrument that will sit unplayed, collecting dust. It is why considering the resale value of an instrument is vital when selecting a guitar for a beginner.
However, if you want to learn to play the guitar and keep it for years, please consider a well-made quality instrument that can serve you well as you become a better guitar player.
New Or Used Guitar
You can go both ways on this simply because there are 50-year-old guitars that cost as much as a house. If you wish to be the first owner of a guitar, you can go that route, go to a guitar store and pick a new model. Otherwise, buying a used guitar is a great option; a guitar made from quality materials and decent hardware can be a beautiful guitar for less money.
When you decide to buy a used guitar, you should consult with a guitar tech who has a deeper understanding of guitars. They can adequately estimate the condition and quality of the materials the guitar was built from. Also, when buying a guitar, you (or the guitar tech) should check the setup. Trust me, an expensive guitar with a bad setup can make you reluctant to play it.
A guitar should be like a comfortable shirt. Whether acoustic or electric, when you grab it in your hands, you should be as comfortable with it as walking. After you buy your beginner guitar, please take it to a guitar tech and have them set it up to your taste! If you have any questions or need expert advice, please email us!