Buying a New Guitar
You may be a beginner looking for your first guitar, or a little more advanced and not sure where to start looking for your upgrade. With the countless types, brands, and models, making the right choice can be overwhelming. You want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. Here are some factors to consider:
Acoustic or Electric?
What kind (or kinds) of music do you want to play? Which type of guitar is dominant in that style? An acoustic is very versatile and portable. An electric can be used in countless styles and multiple venues with the right amplification. It comes down to personal choice.
If you are a beginner, start with a budget model or kit, usually acoustic. If you are a more advanced or professional player, you have already likely decided on a sturdier, more advanced model. With the right research, you can easily figure out the right axe for your budget and skill level.
The type and quality of the components used to make the guitar is a major factor in the price. Let’s start with the acoustic. Acoustics have a hollow body that resonate the vibrations of the strings to make notes. Typically, the front of an acoustic is made out of a soft wood, such as spruce or cedar, to enhance the sound. The back and sides are generally made from harder woods, such as rosewood, for sturdiness. The fingerboards are often made of ebony. The neck is set into the body by glue.
Electric guitars are available in solid, semi-hollow, and hollow types. The vibrations of the strings are routed to a pickup consisting of magnets and electric coils, and then to the amplifier. The neck can be glued on, bolted to, or formed from the same piece of wood as the body.
The feel of the guitar is essential. The length of the neck and the size of the body are determining factors in the sound and playability of the guitar. Take your time and try several sizes before making your choice.
Accessories: Kits vs. a la Carte
For the beginner, a kit can be a great investment. It generally contains everything the new player needs: guitar, strings, an amplifier if the guitar is electric, picks, and usually an instructional DVD to get started. (This is no substitute for an instructor, but gets you started on the basics.) Often, these kits also include a tuner and some sort of carrying case. If these items are not included, you should buy them separately. A tuner ensures that you are able to calibrate your stings correctly. You don’t need an expensive model; a basic one will do for a start. A case will protect your investment against scratches and other damage. Acoustics are more fragile, so a hard case is recommended. Electric guitars should also be treated with care. Your choice of hard or soft case should be based on the guitar’s use. If you are lugging your guitar to various gigs, you may want to consider a hard case. Otherwise, the basic protection of a soft case will do.
If you are purchasing an amp, stick with a base model until you are more advanced. You can always ramp up later on as you become more proficient and have a better grasp on your wants and needs.
And don’t forget extra picks and strings!
With a reasonable amount of research and comparison shopping, you can find the right guitar for you at the right price. Fight the urge to overspend if you are just starting out. Take your time. The search for the right instrument can be almost as much fun as playing it. Enjoy!