The beginner faces a number of challenges in choosing their first guitar.
- The beginner knows very little about guitars and thus has little knowledge about the best brands, types of guitars needed for certain styles, and what will work best in the long run.
- The beginner usually has a self-imposed budget since they are not sure whether they will continue playing long-term. Why spend thousands of dollars on something that you will not need in a couple months?
- The beginner faces a number of bad brands and “beginner packs” that are made with little concern for tone, playability, or longterm usage.
How does the beginner guitarist or the parent searching for a guitar for their children make a wise decision? These decisions of course depend on the particular person looking for a guitar. Buying a guitar for a 7 year old will be much different than buying a guitar for an adult student. But as a general rule, here are some suggestions for the person wanting to purchase at least a semi-decent instrument to use for their first lessons.
- Don’t be cheap! Or at the very least, don’t be too cheap! The lower you go in price, the lower quality instrument you will receive. I suggest that beginners be willing to spend at least $250 to $300 on a basic acoustic or classical guitar.
- Don’t buy off-hand unknown brands. Usually these guitars are on the lowest end, made in China or Japan (not necessarily a bad thing) and are built very poorly with poor materials. Of course this rule requires that one have a basic knowledge of the guitar brands. Do some research online before buying a brand. If in doubt, ask a salesperson at the store about the brand. If they don’t know anything about it, then that is a strong negative indication.
- Know the difference between classical, acoustic, and electric guitars. Think about your goals. What sort of music do you want to play? If you are interested in a certain style, then pick the right guitar.
- Don’t buy the “beginner packs”. Yes, they are cheap and yes they are easy! But the reason they are cheap is because they collect all the basic items you might want (picks, strap, tuner, cable, case, etc.) and give you the cheapest possible version of all of these items. You are best off buying these items separately if you want things to work longer than about 6 months. If you are in bind on price, buy used instead of new and cheap.
Lastly, let me provide some brand recommendations for different styles of guitar. This is not a blanket endorsement of these different companies and their guitars but they are often a good start in choosing a basic guitar.
Classical and Nylon Guitars: La Patrie, Takamine, Yamaha, Prudencio Saez, Cordoba
Acoustic Steel String Guitars: Taylor, Martin, Takamine
Electric Guitars: Fender (not Squier), Gibson