Purchasing Your First Guitar

Beginner Guitarist When shopping for your first guitar, the choices can be overwhelming. With so many options, styles and sounds, beginners can get lost searching for a guitar that is right for them. This post offers advice to all inexperienced guitar players to help navigate their search for the best first guitar!

Deciding on a Budget

The first and most important step to take in choosing your first guitar is to decide on a budget. Your dedication to your guitar and lessons will help determine your price range. If you’re going to be dedicated, purchase a more high-end guitar that will stand the test of time. If you’re taking up the guitar as more of a hobby, consider purchasing a more affordable guitar.

Once you have decided on a budget, make the salesperson aware of how much you intend to spend. Leave space in your budget for accessories as well. Many brands have a range of guitars, from inexpensive starter guitars to pricy, professional styles. $200-$300 should will get you a beginner guitar. Stores often offer deals, so you may be able to find a starter guitar on sale.

Electric or Acoustic?

It is important to determine whether you are going to play an electric or an acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar is the most common for beginners, as it is more difficult to make a sound with an acoustic guitar, forcing you to strengthen their fingers and hands. If your  ultimate aim is to play an electric guitar, starting with an acoustic guitar helps to build strength and dexterity so that you can switch to an electric guitar with ease. Another benefit of an acoustic guitar is that they are portable and less expensive, as they are a self-contained unit.

Conversely, you can also start with an electric guitar. It is easier to make a pleasing sound on the electric guitar, which may inspire you to stay committed to lessons. The electric guitar can be played with or without the amp, but are often more of an expense than acoustic guitars.

There is also the choice of an electric-acoustic guitar – an acoustic guitar that can also be amplified. This is a good choice if you plan on doing stage performances of any kind.

The most important consideration when choosing between an acoustic or electric guitar is your musical and stylistic interests. If the ultimate goal is to back up vocals as a singer-songwriter, to play folk, jazz, or classical guitar, the acoustic guitar is the best starting choice. If you’re more into rock, punk or metal, or enjoy soloing and learning riffs, the electric guitar is the best choice. As you progress in your lessons, you will learn more about what type of guitar best suits your needs.

Choosing A Brand & Store

It is best to choose a well-known and respected guitar brand like Fender, Ibanez, Martin, Taylor or Gibson. These brands have been trusted in the industry for years. The Fender Squier or the Fender Standard Stratocaster are some of the top rated electric guitars for beginners.  Epiphone also make excellent starter guitars, modeled after the famous Gibson Les Paul. Yamaha is another well-rated brand, and offer lower-priced beginner electric and acoustic guitars.

For acoustic guitars, the Martin and Taylor Brands are highly recommended, along with Yamaha and Epiphone. The Seagull S6, in a slightly higher price bracket, is often top-rated in online listings of beginner acoustic guitars. Sam Ash and Guitar Center are two of the best places to go to buy a beginning guitar. They have a wide selection, helpful and knowledgeable staff who are also trained musicians, as well as deals and discounts.  Visit their websites to find the most convenient location for you.

You can also purchase a beginner guitar from local music shops, pawn shops or individuals looking to sell a used instrument. You may find a better price from a pawn shop or an individual selling their guitar, but remember to inspect and play the guitar before purchase. If possible, bring someone experienced who can confirm the instrument is not damaged.


Sizing Guitars

For younger children, half-size and ¾ size guitars are available. The child should be present, and the staff will be able to tell you which size is most appropriate.  For very young children, some teachers recommend starting on a ukulele, which is similar to a guitar.

If you are a young teen or adult, ask the salesperson to show you a few different sized models within your budget. Keep in mind the look of the guitar as well. Hold the guitar standing up and sitting down. Make sure your arms and fingers can comfortably reach along the neck and in between the frets, that your other hand feels comfortable strumming, and that the body of the guitar doesn’t feel to heavy or unwieldy.

After finding a guitar that is comfortable, consult with the sales staff about the guitar’s tuning. Test the strings and listen for buzzes, pops or other noises that seem strange. Repeat this process for each string, and listen for any sounds that seem “non-musical”. With electric guitars, there are different pickups, effects, and pedals included with the guitar. Consult with a sales representative about how what type of amplifier will work best with the electric guitar of your choice.


Leave some room in your budget to purchase accessories for your guitar. Guitar picks, an extra set of strings, a tuner, a strap and a case are the most important accessories for beginners.

Follow these tips when purchasing your first guitar to get the most out of the instrument and your lessons.