I often get new guitar students asking my advice on buying a guitar. So I thought I’d jot down a few thought about it in this blog! GUITAR BUYING TIPS: For your first guitar From the Voice and Guitar Studio of Julie Kinscheck
WHERE to Buy: Go to Guitar Center in Nashua or University Music in Lowell or some other real music store.. Always get a guitar from somewhere you can go back to for service in the future with a warrantee. What to Spend: You should be able to get a package of the guitar and accessories with a case for under $200. If you have a bigger budget, cap it at $500 for your first guitar. BRANDS: Yamaha, Epiphone, Martin, Fender all have some starter guitars that are good. If you ( or your son or daughter) are just starting out, you may not know if you will stick with it… so don’t get a high end Taylor now…
SIZE: Make sure they fit it to her- The size matters. You want to easily be able to reach the sound hole with your right hand with your elbow resting on the body of the guitar. Larger guitars have fuller sound. But if it is too big it can cause muscle strain or awkwardness while playing. If it is too small it may also cause hunching of shoulders, bad posture etc.
Acoustic/ Semi Acoustic/ Electric? There are trade offs. You can go acoustic or electric, but I think acoustic is more versatile to start. A folk guitar with steel strings should be good. Classical guitars with gut or nylon strings are softer on the fingers but are not as well suited for most styles using a pick; they are meant for finger picking. You don’t need to buy one with an internal pick up or microphone (Semi-Acoustic or acoustic/ electric) unless you are sure you are going to stick with playing… they are more expensive. But if you want to perform in the near future, the pick up is very handy so you can plug the guitar directly into and amp or sound system and don’t have to put a microphone in front of it on stage. But be aware that cheaper guitars also have cheaper pick ups and don’t always sound as good as the guitar does in the room. The trade off is the volume, may be inconsistent if you mic the guitar unless you stay still in a good spot while playing. The mic can also get in the way of your fingers of music. That drives me crazy since I always stand when I perform, first of all to get better breath support while singing and playing and second because I am short- so I don’t get lost! One comment about electric guitars- If you know your life dream is to be a blazing lead guitarist and rock out- go ahead, you can start on an electric… just get a small enough amp to carry around to practice but big enough to have some good crunch and a decent clean sound. There’s a lot to say about amps- for another day!
The Action: Make sure you get a guitar on which the “action can be adjusted.” Many starter guitars have the strings way too high off the neck that make it hard to press down leading to more sore fingers and frustration for the beginner. Some cheaper guitars are not easily adjustable. Ask the sales person about that. I have had some students just have to buy another guitar because once they started playing up the neck it was just too hard to press down and their guitar was not adjustable. Accessories: You will need a strap, some thin or medium picks, a battery powered tuner (less than $15)- you can use a smartphone App called “Clear Tune” (or others), too- but they are less effective if there is background noise than a real tuner, a case and a capo will be handy to have down the road. Instruction Books: I stock the guitar book I use. It will cost you $12 on the first lesson from me unless you are a Skype student with me- in which case I recommend getting your book from Amazon.com. I like the Hal Leonard series, Start with “Guitar Method Book 1” We will also use other songs I have in my files and charts from Ultimate Guitar Chords off the internet and more. Let me know how it goes. Happy Playing!!!! Julie