Choosing your guitar can be a very exciting process as it's the first instrument that you will develop a bond with.
This is why it's very important to choose one that you can be happy with for a good few years to come.
This is a guide to help beginners find the right tools and equipment to get them started!
Which Guitar To Choose To Begin With??
There are a few myths that I want to dispel about choosing your first guitar. The biggest one seems to be that you have to learn classical guitar which looks like this:
Or learning on an Acoustic and Acoustic Guitar which looks like this:
I have had a lot of parents and students stuck with the idea that they need to learn to play the guitar on the acoustic/classical before going straight to the electric.
This is simply not true and it is more difficult due to certain factors. I will elaborate on these factors on both the classical and the acoustic guitars to dispel the myth that they should be learnt first.
Firstly the issues with learning on the classical guitar are as follows.
Now to address the issues with learning as a beginner on the Acoustic Guitar:
The combination of the high action and the thick string gauge can really turn off beginners from learning the guitar.
The electric guitar overall is much easier to begin with.
My recommendation is to start to learn on the electric guitar and when you want to transition to the acoustic guitar you can due to the previous experience on the electric.
If you want to attempt to play the acoustic/classical guitar it should be after you have had a few months of taught lessons on the electric in my opinion.
This way when you want to play an acoustic/classical guitar you can transition with ease because you have had an experience without much discomfort on an electric and you will feel more inspired from taking this approach.
What i will say about learning on acoustic or classical as your first instrument, is that these guitars maybe the sound you are searching for.
I wouldn't want to discourage a student from learning how to play acoustic/classical if they really wanted to because certain songs contain these instruments and they have a particular sound that you cant get by playing the electric guitar.
The main disadvantage between electric and acoustic/classical is the start up cost as it costs more to have the essentials for electric than it does for acoustic/classical.
Overall i would recommend learning the electric first as it is generally much easier for beginners to gain new musical experiences with the guitar.
What To Look For In A New Guitar
So we have established which guitar to start with for beginners,the electric guitar, As it has smaller action, thin string gauge, even fret spacing and it looks cool!
But what do we look for in an electric guitar for beginners? whats the most important thing to look for?
In my opinion there are a few important things to look for when it comes to choosing the right guitar and they are as follows:
I believe those are the two main important aspects for beginners to look out for when choosing a guitar.
There are a few more factors to consider when choosing a guitar. But i dont think that these factors are necessary when it comes to choosing a beginner guitar.
Maybe i will write a more in-depth guide for more expensive guitars in the future.
When looking for a new guitar it's very important to go and try them out in your local guitar store. Bring someone with you who has the relevant experience to help you choose the right guitar for you.
This is provided as part of the service here at fretboard strategies when you sign up to our membership.
As always try before you buy.
I will be recommending some guitars and equipment later in the article for purchase that i believe to be of good quality.
Please turn off ad block to see the recommendations as it will make this article look incomplete.
So you've decided to buy your first guitar and that's great congratulations!
But how much should we spend on our first guitar?
Maybe a better question is how long do you see yourself using your first guitar?
Your first guitar is the gateway to your first experiences with music and the guitar in general so getting it right is very important.
Unfortunately budget does have a role to play when looking for quality.
As a guitar teacher myself, I would recommend that the ideal amount of money to spend for a first guitar is in the region of £200 - £300 or $250 -$400.
This is the kind of money to spend if you are looking for a guitar that would last anywhere from 2 to 4 years.
At this price range you should expect the guitar to have great tuning stability, the ability to play well, have great sound and last you a long time.
This is what I would call a decent beginner guitar budget.
Understandably this budget isn't always available to new guitarists and new students of mine.
Often I see students spend a lot less on guitars and the budget being close to £100 - £200 or $150 - $260.
You can get guitars that will be work fine for that smaller budget but in my personal opinion these guitars may come with tuning stability issues.
Sometimes this issue can be fixed with a decent setup with a local guitar luthier (someone who fixes and maintain guitars).
I would always advise having a spare £30 or $50 for this job so that your guitar can stay in tune and play the way it should, just in case quality control isn't very good and you can fix any electronic issues if they arise.
Here is a list of guitars I can recommend for that price range of £200 -£300
Personally I think you can't go wrong with brands like Squire, Yamaha, Ibanez, Epiphone and Esp.
Squire are the entry model level of fender and are associated with fender just in the same way Epiphone are the entry level of Gibson.
These brands can be trusted for good quality when it comes to beginner guitars.
I would still advise caution on the really cheap guitars as the tuning stability can be an issue and, as I mentioned above, I would recommend booking any guitar you purchase into your nearest guitar luthier for a service.
If there are any brands or models of guitar you think I've missed out, please drop a comment below for others to be aware.
Here is a list of guitars for a lower end budget of £100 - £200
Some of these guitars I've recommended come in packages which have a lot of the necessary accessories that you may need such as straps, cables, practice amps, tuners and guitar cases.
This can save a bit of money but generally speaking guitars that come in packages tend to not be as good as the guitars that are bought on their own due to the cost spent on making the guitar versus the cost of providing the other accessories.
I personally think that the guitar packages are good value for a beginner but I can see a beginner getting more enjoyment out of a nicer guitar.
For the guitars I recommended above that dont come in packages, I'm going to recommend the following accessories to go along with the electric guitar of your choice.
These accessories are vital for the beginner as they are needed in day to day applications of practice.
First of all the most important is a practice amp.
The Practice Amplifier
The reason why the practice amp is the most important accessory is because electric guitars are designed to be played amplified, It's pretty simple as to why you need them.
Playing the electric guitar requires you to master your sound through an amplifier and practising without the amp will always lead to your playing sounding uncertain in its direction.
Practice amps are relatively cheap I would spend more than £50 to £100 or $60 to $140.
Here are a few that I recommend:
Next on the list of accessories in order of importance are cables. its pretty simple as to why you need them.
They connect your guitar into the amplifier so you can get your sound!
Luckily cables are not very expensive costing usually anywhere between £5 to £20 or $10 to $30. That's depending on length.
I dont think you need anything longer than 5 meters.
So I advise to look for a 5 meter cable.
I will provide some recommendations below.
Straps are essential so you can practice your guitar in the correct posture and make it comfortable for you to play when standing up.
Finding the right strap can make it feel a lot easier to play and help with the comfortability factor.
Straps can be generally quite cheap I'm going to recommend a few that I know are good in quality.
I highly recommend the Joe Satriani line of planet waves straps as they are very comfortable and not too expensive.
On the higher end of the market, id recommend the mono straps as they are probably the best in comfort you will get.
Strap Locks are very important because you really dont want to do what this guy did .......
Strap locks do exactly as they sound.
They lock the strap so it wont accidentally unbutton from the guitar.
Many accidents have happened due to not having strap locks.
Id recommend whilst getting your first setup (with the your local guitar luthier) to get the strap locks installed as doing it yourself can leave room for error.
Here are a few recommendations for strap locks:
Tuners are needed so you can quickly keep the guitar in tune.
Tuners are relatively inexpensive these days as you can get clip on tuners for less than £10 or $15.
Tuners come in two kinds:
Clip on tuners which measure the vibration through the neck to tell you if you are in tune.
Or a plug in tuner where you plugin in a cable directly into the tuner.
For ease of use clip on tuners are much more quicker to use at home. Conversely in a gig situation where everything is plugged in, A tuner pedal is required as you need something bright when you are on stage and a plugged in tuner tends to be more accurate than a clip on tuner.
I will be recommending my choices on a good clip on tuner and a decent tuning pedal.
For the clip on tuner I recommend the planet waves clip on tuner as its very discrete and doesn't get in the way and you will hardly notice it there.
Its very accurate and not too expensive.
As for the Pedal tuner id recommend the polytune mini as if can tell you which string is out of tune by strumming all of them and you can tune them all at the same time. its a really clever tuner!
The main reason why a metronome is needed is to have the ability to practice lessons or material in time at home by yourself.
It's a vital tool needed to be able to improve your own abilities on the instrument.
These days you can download a metronome to your smart phone for free and it will do the job just fine.
But for some of us who prefer the sound of an actual metronome i will leave a few links here to check out:
Last but not least buying strings! The biggest tip i can give about buying strings is to buy them in bulk if you can afford to, because they tend to workout being much cheaper in the long run.
Usually i would buy strings in a pack of 10 for roughly around £40 or $60 rather than them costing £60 or £70 for 10.
Strings come in different string gauges i recommend buying whats called 9s or 0.009 gauge strings.
As these are the easiest to learn on and they are the standard size gauged strings that are fitted onto most new guitars.
The size of the string gauge is dependant on the smallest string or the highest E string.
So if the size of the highest E string was 0.010 then the String Gauge is refereed to as 10s.
Strings need to be changed regularly to keep their brightness, they get duller over time depending on how much you play and practice.
I tend to change my strings once every month to keep costs low but due to the amount I play, technically I should be changing them every week.
As for string changing for a beginner, string changing should be done once every three months at a minimum or when you notice the sound getting dull and the strings start to die.
I've included a link to purchase a 10 pack below.
That was the complete beginners guide to buying a guitar if you liked this blog post consider subscribing to the mailing list on the side or the link here! to receive new updates on the blog, youtube content and free backing tracks/guitar tab.
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If you feel like you have anything to add drop a comment in the comment box below and lets get this discussion going!
"A Good Teacher Makes Themselves Redundant As Efficiently As Possible"
Finding the right guitar tutor can be daunting when there are so many different teaching styles, YouTube videos and especially if you are looking for your kids to learn.
There are quite a few things to consider, and here is what I would call a checklist of requirements/standards that should be met when finding the right guitar tutor for you.
I would think this is the first step for any parent who wanted to send their children to someone they did not know.
A DBS check looks like this:
This kind of check in America is called a local police check it serves the same purpose and I highly recommend checking this before taking lessons.
Similar checks to these may differ in other countries but there should be an equivalent. its well worth looking into.
In the situation of young children learning, a good teacher should always offer for the parents to sit in with the child to provide an option of extra security.
"A good teacher makes themselves redundant as efficiently as possible"
What this means is that a guitar teacher should be able to teach you what you need to know in the shortest time possible and be able to give you the necessary skills to be able to teach yourself.
I would also like to stress that going for lessons requires you to be patient and absorb what the teacher has to offer. the quicker you have learnt what was given in the previous lesson, the quicker your progress will be.
I feel that it is my job to give you (the student) the bug of being completely immersed in the guitar, because once you start enjoying it it becomes a snowball effect and the enjoyment just gets deeper and deeper. I wish this for all my students.
Simply because if they cant demonstrate the topic or concept they are talking about then they lack understanding of how to play it to the student. which in turn will reflect badly on the student.
Additionally the explanation of topics/concepts should be made easier with a good teacher because of their communication skills to deliver the relevant information.
For example if there is a lick or musical phrase that was worked on in the lesson a written version should be given with explanations of how to read it and practice the phrase at home.
Planned lessons really instil a sense of achievement and accomplishment because its goal orientated.
The best way to achieve this is through having goals planned out by the teacher so that you gain confidence in your ability to be able to not only to just imitate slash but also understand how to use that vocabulary to enhance your own playing.
What do i mean by business transparency?
what i mean by that is the terms and conditions that you agree to when taking guitar lessons. If you want to know about what ts and cs you are signing up for it should be available to you on request and should be explained to you if needs be.
for example in my service I run a monthly direct debit to make it a lot easier for my students and a lot easier for myself but before the direct debit is setup I have terms and conditions that really instil what is expected of the student and what the student should expect of me.
This really helps the teacher student relationship run smoothly and sets the tone from the start.
Not only the terms and conditions but the opening hours, the pricing and anything that you want to know about the transaction process should be available to you on request.
A Quick Recap
This checklist is what I believe you should look for when choosing a guitar teacher.
Here at Fretboard Strategies this checklist is what we aim for in our delivery of service. If this interests you and you want to try out our free 30 minute taster session in person or via Skype dont hesitate to send a message to email@example.com
or click the button below.
I just want to leave you with one question what do you think makes a decent guitar teacher?
leave a comment below and lets get this discussion going!
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Nick Weiland is a professional guitar tutor based in Brighton and Hove.
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