Want to Learn to Play Guitar? A Guide to Purchasing Your First Guitar

Playing guitar is fun and can be fun to learn. This guide is help you in choosing your first guitar that you will be learning on.

Go to a local music store and look around. You will see many guitars. Electric guitars, solid body, hollow body, acoustic guitars, acoustic/electric guitars, travel guitars, and bass guitars. These instruments can range anywhere from about $50 USD to $5,000 USD. That’s right, you can easily pay in the range of $5,000 for a non-electric, acoustic guitar. Go ahead and look up a “Martin D-45 guitar” for an example.

First, is the instrument going to be for an adult or a child/teen? Is it going to be properly taken care of by who owns it? Is it ever going to be taken anywhere? (Camping, over to a friend’s house, to a hotel room on a weekend getaway.)

Some of the higher priced guitars such as “Gibson”, “Fender”, “Martin”, or “Taylor” will hold their value and may even increase in value later down the road if they are properly taken care of.

Now we all know that children have been known to take on many projects only to never finish them. And this rings true for learning to play a musical instrument as well. I’ve seen young teens take up guitar only to discover the opposite sex 2 months into it and never pick it up again. The last thing you want to do is spend $1500 USD on a “Jackson USA Soloist” electric guitar and another $2,000 USD for a “Marshall” all tube half stack and have your son or daughter ding and scratch up the guitar only to find they loose interest in it in a few months.

So it is my recommendation that a first guitar for a child or teen should be UNDER $200 for the guitar itself. Then if in a year or two, your child is still playing it and has progressed, then you can justify spending about $850 USD for a new “USA Fender Stratocaster” and $500 – $700 for a decent combo amp.

Should I buy an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar for my child?

Most children and teens would rather play the guitars that the bands and artists they are listening to are playing. I’ve been teaching guitar for a number of years and one thing that I’ve noticed is that a student tends to progress faster with an acoustic than the one who has an electric. Here’s why. While the student with the electric guitar and amp is making distorted guitar sounds, squeals that sound like a horse, and siren sounds with the tremolo bar the student with the acoustic guitar is learning chords and working on fingerings. The student with the acoustic guitar is having a far more productive practice session in most cases than the one with the electric and amp.

Another good reason to start your child or teen out with an acoustic guitar is it’s usually a smaller investment. Even some of the electric guitar/amp starter packages cost around $250 USD while these days you can get a respectable, decent sounding acoustic guitar for about $150 USD.

Now if the instrument is for an adult or yourself, you can spend however as much as you wish on an instrument but many of the same things that children and teens may do when learning, many adults do as well.

Weather you buy an acoustic or electric guitar, they are useless if they are not in tune. Most music stores and many guitar teachers will recommend the purchase of an electronic guitar tuner. These work well and you can buy them for as little as $20 USD. They have an input jack on them for electric guitars and a sensitive microphone for acoustic guitars. As you play the open string on the guitar, a needle or a chain of lights will show you if the note is flat (too low) or sharp (too high) and you adjust the string tension until the note is centered and in tune. However, I tend to recommend a tuning FORK. Buy on tuned to an “A” in “440”. It’s a single steel wand that branches out into two prongs. You hit the prongs on your knee (Or anything really) and put the fork near your ear and the fork’s vibration rings a true “A” note that you can reference with the A string on the guitar. After the A string is in tune, the student can use the A string and fret it on a certain area of the guitar neck to hear what the string below it and above it should sound like. Then use every string you tune to tune the next string. This method is a bit more tedious and not as easy but it trains the student’s ear and this will make the student a far better musician in the long run. You can pick up a tuning fork for about $5 USD.

I’ve been playing guitar for over 25 years. I’ve been performing in bands since I was 14. For me, playing guitar has always been a good stress reliever. Over the years, no matter how difficult the circumstances in my life were at the time, NOTHING bothers me when I’m playing guitar. And you’re NEVER too old to learn. Playing guitar can give you and others who listen to you endless pleasure over the years. I hope this guide was helpful to you.

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