Buying your first guitar for you or someone else.
†††† Buying a guitar can seem like an overwhelming process.† There are so many styles different prices ranging from around $100 to several thousand dollars.† Here Iím going to try to take the mystery out of buying a guitar for you or buying a guitar for someone as a present.
†††† First, letís look at whether to buy and electric or acoustic (folk) guitar.††† Letís look at the difference.† On the left is an acoustic guitar. On the right is an electric guitar.
For an electric guitar you will need an amplifier.† It doesnít have much sound without one.† An old way of thinking is that you had to start with an acoustic.† Thatís really not true.† You can learn on either one.† I tell people to buy the one that goes with the type of music you listen to.† If youíre listening to folk music like James Taylor or you are looking to play music around the camp fire when youíre camping youíre going to want an acoustic.† If youíre listening to classic rock or metal† youíre going to want an electric from the beginning or soon after.†† Country music can go either way.† Most guitarists own both an electric and acoustic.† So itís not unusual to want both eventually.
†††† The more money you spend the better the guitar is sounding, playing and looking.† If you donít play you can at least judge itís looks and if you get the salesperson to play it for† you, you can judge the sound.
†††† So letís say you decided on an acoustic.† There are advantages.† They donít need an amp. There are 2 basic types of acoustic guitars.† Steel string and nylon string (classical) guitars.† Most of the pop and rock that we listen to is a steel string guitar. Nylon strings are used in classical and jazz. I suggest that unless you are looking to be a classical guitarist, buy a steel string acoustic.† You can always put nylon strings on a steel string guitar.† But you CANíT put steel strings on a nylon string classical guitar.† So buy a steel string guitar.† If the steel strings hurt your fingers you can always put nylon strings on it.
Buying an Acoustic
†††† So now we decided on a steel string acoustic.† Some acoustics can also be plugged into an amp or pa.† This is a nice feature but donít be fooled.† It will never sound like an electric.† It will sound like a loud acoustic.† Often people think they are getting the best of both worlds by buying a so-called acoustic/electric.†† Another point of interest is size.† For most people a full size guitar is best.† I do recommend smaller guitars for a child or sometimes for a smaller size adult.
†††† What about brands?† Ok.† I like the following brands for starter acoustic guitars.† Fender, Yamaha, Epiphone and Ibanez.† These are all pretty decent to start with.† You can get one of these starting at around $130.† Like anything else, the more money you spend, most likely the better guitar you will get. So even with these brands you can go several hundreds of dollars for a nicer looking and sounding guitar.† If you have the cash and want the top of the line acoustic, look at Martin and Tylor brands.† These start at a few hundred and go up to several thousand.
†Buying an Electric
†††† Electric guitars, I think are a little more versatile than acoustics.† The problem with acoustics is that you canít get that real rock sound on it.† But an electric can get both a rock sound and what we call a ďcleanĒ sound.† So they are great for rock, metal country and jazz.† The down side is that you need an amp.† So now† you have two things to buy.† But donít worry.† Music stores like Sam Ash and Guitar Center sell starter packages that are an electric guitar with an amp and sometimes a tuner and a strap.† An example of this is the ďSquier Affinity Strat HSS and Frontman 15G Electric Guitar PackageĒ which costs about $250, shown below.
††††††††††††††††††† Going up in price you can look at amps by Fender and Marshall and guitars by Fender Gibson and Ibanez as well as others.† The problem with buying an expensive guitar for someone else especially a† beginner is you donít know their likes and dislikes in sound and feel but you can get an idea what style they like buy looking at the type of guitar the people they listen to play.† So buying a more expensive guitar takes some detective work but your local music store can usually help.† I recommend Sam Ash or Guitar Center.† Their prices are usually lower than a small music store and they usually have a larger selection.