What Kind of Guitar Should I Buy?
By: Mike Deiure
This is certainly one of the most common questions that I hear from people who are interested in learning to play the guitar. My answer to this is simple but I will go into detail so that you can make a well-informed decision when it comes time to pick up your first axe.
So the quick and easy answer is……. “Buy a guitar that is going to make you want to Play and Practice!” This sounds simple enough and to be honest, it is as easy as it sounds. Now let me elaborate on this idea and give you some more information.
Some first time buyers are the types of people who will do loads of research before they actually buy anything. I certainly applaud this and think that it is time well spent when you are going to buy something that is going to be important to you. Other buyers will act more on impulse and buy something on the spot because they were attracted to it for some reason. Guitars, especially, are very prone to impulse buying. The typical scenario goes something like this:
A young kid (or adult) walks into a music store to check things out and maybe kill some time. They see a particular guitar hanging on the wall that their favorite musician plays or one that just looks really cool. They pick it up, check it out and play it if they can or has a sales person show them a few riffs and licks on it. They are now completely in love with the thing and will buy it right there if they have the money. If they don’t they will bug, nag, and plead for their parents to buy it for them.
Again, I think that there is nothing wrong with this, especially for someone who is just starting out. The mystery of how cool this thing is and what it is capable of sounding like is the main factor that will get you to play and practice it.
The next big questions is: “Is the quality of the guitar going to be good enough for me to learn on?” My answer to this is: If it’s in a music store, it’s good enough for you to learn on and develop with. I have seen some hand-me-down guitars, K-Mart specials, and Internet pieces of junk that will indeed make learning the guitar a very unpleasant experience. Music stores however will not sell it if it’s only going to come back to them with a bucket of complaints.
Now you can spend thousands of dollars on one guitar or you can spend a couple hundred bucks on a starter package that will give you everything you need to start learning and rocking out. Because this article is geared towards the beginning guitar player, lets take a look at lower line guitars and how you can make a good buying decision.
Here’s the big question: What kind of music do you like and what do you want to learn?
The answer to this will take care of which of the two main types of guitars you should buy, Acoustic or Electric. If you like folk music, singer songwriter, Country, Bluegrass, Classical, or other mellower genres, then I would start you out on an acoustic. If you like Rock, Metal, Blues, Punk, Alternative or anything else with some strong energy to it, then certainly an Electric Guitar is for you. In my opinion, there is one crucial thing that you should consider when buying an electric guitar and that is: what kind of pickups it uses. There are two choices here, single coil and humbucker. If your unsure of what they look like, just ask your sales person. The difference between the two is that single coil pickups have a little bit thinner sound to them. These are generally good for Blues, Country, and anything that uses a clean tone. Humbucking pickups are usually thicker, fuller, and have a higher output. This makes them very good for Rock and Heavy music. Basically anything that is going to be using a lot of distortion. Other than that, make sure the guitar you buy has a body shape that you like and a color that you dig. Appearance is important!
I’m not going to go into detail about amplifiers in this article but if your buying an electric guitar, you are going to need one regardless. Almost all amps have at least two channels, a clean and a distortion. The biggest thing to ask yourself is how much power and volume are you going to need. If you’re just starting out and only need something to practice on, then save yourself some bucks and get a starter package with a small practice amp. If you’re dying to play in a band, you’re going to need something a little bit beefier. Try to get into something with two 12-inch speakers. This will help you to be loud enough to be heard over a drum kit.
As you develop as a guitar player and get better, you will start to realize why you need a higher quality guitar or just a different type of guitar. I don’t recommend buying a high quality guitar just because you have the money. It’s really important for you to learn in steps and understand what makes a guitar sound good. Just so you know, there are probably three main things that lower line guitars skimp out on compared to their higher quality counterparts. They are: The quality of the pickups, the tuning machines, and the type of wood that the guitar is made of. The pickups are probably the biggest factor in the tone of the guitar along with the wood. The cool thing is that the pickups can be upgraded if you choose to keep the rest of the guitar the same. The quality of the tuning machines is the main factor in how well your guitar stays in tune. These can also be upgraded so if you really like your guitar and don’t want to invest in a new one, start by upgrading these two things.
That should give you enough information on how to make a well-informed decision when it comes to buying your first guitar. Above all, learning the guitar should be fun, exciting, and enjoyable. Just make sure that your first guitar is all of those things and you should be well on your way to rocking out all day long!
If you need help learning, check out my series of Guitar Instructional Videos called “Rock Guitar Power”. They are geared toward the beginning guitarist that wants to learn rock music. You can learn more about them at the website: www.rockguitarpower.com.
Have fun and rock out!