What to look for when buying a new guitar for a beginner like me?

Posted by Guitar Pro on 19th June 2012 in Beginners

I’m going to learn to play the guitar this summer. Anything I should know before spending money on one? Obviously, I don’t need a fancy guitar, I just want a genuine one (I’ve had this cheap guitar that was made of very fragile wood and all nylon strings). Any tips?
Guitar I had seemed more like a toy one. Lol.

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3 Responses to “What to look for when buying a new guitar for a beginner like me?”

  1. Your Guide says:

    So did your earlier guitar broke?

    I mean most beginner guitars would be made of ok quality wood with a laminated top. If you don’t like nylon string you may go for steel strings, but nylon are easier to play, so preferred by most beginners.


  2. jcr says:

    Well, you need to decide whether you want a classical guitar, a steel-string acoustic, or an electric guitar. You can learn on any of them, depending on what kind of music you want to play. There used to be a common belief that nylon strings were easier to learn on, but a properly set-up steel string is about as easy really, and it’s what most people want to play (which is why there are so many used cheap classicals in yard sales – people realize that isn’t really what they wanted).

    Some things to remember are:
    1) only buy from a music store after playing the guitar – there are a LOT of junk guitars online and at non-music stores,
    2) buy a full size guitar (which means a scale length of 24.5 – 25.5″) if you are over the age of 9 or 10,
    3) select a body size that is comfortable to play (this applies to steel-string acoustics, which come in a wide range of body sizes),
    4) plan to spend about $150-300 for a decent beginner instrument,
    5) choose a guitar with good action, meaning that the strings are not too high to press down easily nor are they so low that they buzz against the frets in normal playing, and
    6) choose a solid wood top in preference to a laminated (plywood) top, all other things being equal – it’ll sound better, although playability is more important than sound for a beginner.

    It’s a good idea to take a guitar-playing friend along to help you pick out your guitar, too. Good luck!

  3. Torbjorn says:

    Take the advice of jcr here and ignore the “nylon strings are easier to play”. This is simply not true at all. In fact a nylon string guitar is harder to play than a well adjusted steel string acoustic.

    The classical/nylon strings have wider necks than the steel string ones. Also the action (string height above the fretboard) is higher on the nylon string guitars.

    The main difference is the scale though. The longer scales on the nylon string guitars increases the string tension and also the distance between the frets.

    The sum of all this makes a well adjusted steel string guitar way easier to play!

    You may want to avoid the larger Jumbo and Dreadnought body-sizes. The smaller ones are called Grand Concert and Grand Auditorium. These have somewhat less bass response and volume, but are easier to play.

    Also, be aware that there are a vast difference in necks and how they can be more or less bulky. A guitar with a slender/less bulky neck is typically easier to play. Ibanez is one brand known for their player friendly necks.

    The main point though is to have your guitar properly adjusted to the string gauge you want to use. Thinner strings are easier to handle. Heavier gauges have more volume, but are tougher to play.

    In sum: A well-adjusted, small bodied steel string acoustic with light strings and a player friendly neck, is a dream to play. Avoid a nylon string guitar unless you plan on playing classical types of music!

    Like jcr says, try to go for a solid top/all wood instrument (rather than a laminate) if you can afford it.

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