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Beginner Guitars: Where To Buy Guitars & Other Tips

Updated on May 26, 2014

Buying A Guitar For Beginners

Buying a guitar for beginners can be a daunting task. When you do a search online, you will probably be bombarded with thousands of guitar websites and instrument dealer's advertisements. Where do you go to make your guitar purchase? How do you know it's the right guitar for you? I will help you decide where to buy your guitar and other details that you will want to keep in mind.

I will break down beginner guitars into a few categories to help you target exactly what kind of sound you are looking for. I will also add that all of the guitars that I recommend in this article are for ages 13 and up. These are full body guitars that are probably too large for young children.

There are basically 3 types of guitars: acoustic, electric, and classical.

Electric Guitars

Electric guitars are played in almost every style of music including pop, rock, heavy metal, funk, blues, jazz, and country. They usually have the smallest body of all the three types of guitars, so they are easier to learn how to play. They are less physically demanding than the other guitars. The neck is also more narrow which also increases ease of play.

To get the best sound from your electric guitar, you will also need to purchase a guitar amplifier. It's basically a large speaker that you use a cable to plug into from your guitar. Without an amp, your electric guitar will not be loud enough to enjoy listening to yourself play. That doesn't mean that you have to blast your guitar to deafening levels, but even at low volume levels produced by the amp will give you greater listening enjoyment while you play the guitar.

There are also other cool knobs on the amp that allow you to adjust the sound to your own personal taste such as an equalizer, clean/distortion sounds, and reverb for creating a roomy echo type of sound.

To the right and above you'll see a link to a Fender Starcaster Electric Guitar sold by Amazon. This is my recommendation for a beginner guitar. Fender has been in the business of making electric guitars for decades. In fact, Leo Fender invented the electric guitar! Fender is one of the most popular guitar makers since Leo Fender started and remains at the top even today.

It's been my experience that you can't go wrong when purchasing a guitar from the Fender brand. Many great guitarists played on Fender guitars like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Mayer, and the list never ends. It's a very trusted brand. Even their cheaper guitar models are of higher quality than it's competitor brands.

The electric guitar that I recommend is actually part of a guitar package. For about $160 you get the electric guitar, the amplifier, guitar cable, strap, tuner, and picks. This is an incredible deal. Just to give you a comparison, I bought my first guitar and amplifier in 1993 for $375 and my guitar was used! It also didn't include all the accessories. This goes to show you how much online shopping has changed the world.

I will also tell you that the accessories included in the package are not going to be the highest quality like if you were to buy them separately. This package is designed to get a beginner started with everything he/she needs to learn the guitar in the cheapest way possible. This is how it should be.

After a beginner advances to higher levels on the guitar, then it would be worth upgrading instruments and accessories.

I've also added a gig bag to purchase separately because it doesn't come with the package. (See above). Anytime you are traveling with the guitar, even if it's just a short ride, it's best to put the guitar in a gig bag to protect it from any potential scratches. This particular bag will not protect the guitar if you drop it or it falls on the floor. There are no guarantees. But it will help with the minor scratches of everyday movement.

I personally always keep my guitar in it's bag unless I'm using it because it prevents it from getting dusty which will eventually cause mechanical problems in the guitar.

Here's a demonstration of the Fender Starcaster

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are the large body guitars that have a more natural and “woody” look to them. You tend to find acoustic guitars in folk, country, pop ballad, and rock ballad type of musical settings. Acoustic guitars are more difficult to play because the bodies are larger than the electric guitars. It will take you a little longer to feel more comfortable playing them because you have to learn how to get your arm around the body just right in order to play properly and you will have to build up your finger strength in order to play chords on the fingerboard.

Acoustic guitars don't require an amplifier so there are less accessories to buy at your first guitar purchase. The acoustic guitar doesn't need an amp because it is naturally loud enough by itself.

The guitar package that I recommend is the Fender Squier SA-100 Acoustic guitar pack. If you read what I wrote about Fender guitars in the Electric Guitar recommendation above, then it's the same. Fender guitars are one of the most popular and most trusted guitars in the market. It makes for a great acoustic guitar for a beginner. The pack comes with picks, strings, tuner, and gig bag. Everything you need to get started. For under 100 bucks, you can't beat it.

Foot Stand for Classical Guitar

Watch Guitarist Open the Yamaha C40 Package

Classical Guitars

Classical guitars are also know as nylon string guitars. Nylon strings are primarily used on this type of guitar and produce a softer and smoother type of sound that is very common in classical music. If you're looking to learn music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or any other classical music composer, then you should by a classical guitar.

Like the acoustic guitar, the classical guitar does not need an amplifier for the same reason. The classical guitar is perhaps the most difficult of the three types of guitars because not only is the body larger than the electric guitar, but the neck is also thicker than the acoustic guitar. It will require even more finger strength than the acoustic guitar.

But if you want to learn how to play classical music on the nylon string guitar, it is worth pushing through the initial difficulties. If you're attracted to the sound of classical music, you will be very happy when you learn your first musical piece on your classical guitar.

I'm recommending the Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar Package. Like the previous packages, this will give you everything you need to get started playing guitar. It comes with a gig bag, a guitar tuner, and even a DVD to get you an even better head start before you start taking lessons. I do advise taking lessons, but if you prefer to teach yourself, the DVD will be a great asset to you to help you get started.

Yamaha is also a very trusted brand in the guitar world, especially with classical guitars. Yamaha is know for making reliable classical guitars at an economic price. My first classical guitar was also a Yamaha. I still have it. I paid $300 over 15 years ago and it only came with a case! This is a great deal on Amazon for $140!

The only missing accessory you will need that is not included in the package is a Guitar Foot Stand. This is important for classical guitarist only. If you are right-handed, you will place your left foot on the foot stand and place the arch of the body of guitar on your left leg. This is the proper position that a classical guitarist should be practicing with. It's the best position and you will learn faster and more effectively if you learn this good habit early on.

How To Choose Which Type Of Guitar

I advise you to choose the type of guitar that correlates to the type of music you like to listen to. So for example, you want to learn how play songs by James Taylor, a famous folk singer/songwriter, but you want to buy an electric guitar because I said it's easier to play on. If you really want to learn how to James Taylor songs, you should buy an acoustic guitar. Even though it will be harder to play in the very beginning, you will be so happy with the sound of your guitar. And when you learn your first James Taylor tune, you'll be even more impressed with how much you sound like him!

Buy Your Guitar Online or Local Music Store

Even though I've recommended all the guitars on Amazon, I wanted to talk a little about the difference between buying a guitar online or at a music store.

Growing up, I used to love walking into a music store and checking out all the new guitars that they had on display. There were always people playing guitars, some good and some bad. But it was a thriving place full of other musicians and hobbyists. It was just a cool place.

But as the years went by, I realized that online shopping was so much cheaper than buying in the stores. I wanted to keep as much of my hard-earned money in my pocket as possible. So to this day, I make all of my purchases online.

But there is nothing wrong with going to your local music to buy a guitar. If you go this route, I would advise you to buy a used guitar. We want to keep your initial purchase price as low as possible without buying something that isn't going to work next month.

At a local store, make sure you understand the return policy. If a salesman tells you that you cannot return the guitar, don't buy it! They may tell you the guitar has a 1-year warranty or lifetime warranty. This is a tricky situation because if you have a problem with the guitar, they will fix it for an additional cost. It's possible that the warranty might not cover the particular problem you're having with the guitar. And if it does cover the problem, it could take a long time til they either repair it for you or reimburse if you take it to your local shop for the fix.

The truth is that local music stores are starving because online shopping has destroyed their profit margins. So returning the guitar after it has been used even one time could cause problems with the store.

Amazon Return Policy

I also asked a representative from Amazon about the return policy. You can read it for yourself here:

You can return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. Eligible Baby Store items fulfilled by Amazon may be returned up to 365 days after delivery. Items should be returned in their original product packaging.

Our Online Returns Center guides you through the process and gives you a printable return mailing label:

We'll also pay the return shipping costs if you're returning Clothing, Shoes, some Jewelry and Watches, or Baby items. For other products, we'll pay the return shipping costs if the return is a result of our error.

This is why I recommend Amazon because their policy is that if there is a defect that you discover within 30 days, they will send you another one with free shipping as long as it wasn't your fault that the guitar isn't working. I've even read positive reviews on guitars that people have bought on Amazon and they said that Amazon paid the return shipping and sent them a new one.

If you have any questions about buying your first guitar, feel free to write a comment below and I'll definitely get back to you. Have fun!

"Beginner Guitars: Where To Buy Guitars And Other Tips" COMMENTS

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    • TheMusiconomy profile image

      TheMusiconomy 3 years ago from New York City

      cool! Rock on Lady Guitar!

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, nice hub and so true. I am into acoustic guitars but like to listen to electric ones.

    • TheMusiconomy profile image

      TheMusiconomy 5 years ago from New York City

      It depends on the type of guitar. Does your child already know what he/she wants? Acoustic, Classical or Electric guitar?

    • profile image

      Parker 5 years ago

      Where would I find a real guitar for a child