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What first guitar should I choose?

Updated on March 10, 2014

Well done for making the choice to learn guitar, you will not regret it. There are so many guitar models out there that it is easy to be overwhelmed with the choice. It is important that you pick the guitar most suitable for yourself, the most suitable guitar varies for each person however I aim in this guide to give an outline of the most common beginner guitars and what to look for when purchasing.


What to Avoid

There is one key thing that you should avoid like the plague when purchasing your first guitar. Don't buy a non big brand guitars. As your first guitar you want something that is a known quantity not some unknown Asian brand such as Ridgewood or Rockburn. These guitars can be perfectly reasonable however some of them are not. Often these manufacturers will have little quality control and thus the guitars may have serious flaws that then effect the guitars play-ability and thus your progress when learning. You don't want to take that risk when you are first starting.


What should I pay?

Unlike 20 years ago there is now a large selection of cheap guitars that perform well. Whereas a starter guitar (Without accessories) may have been £300 ($400) 20 years ago now you can buy a good guitar to get you going at a fraction of that. If you are on a tight budget then you don't need to spend more than £150 for acoustic or £200 for electric (I would recommend about £50 more personally). This would get you everything you need to get started including accessories.


What Type of guitar

The next question you are probably pondering is what type of guitar to buy. You don't want to buy something you later regret. The easiest way to come to a conclusion is to think about what type of music you enjoy listening to, and thus most likely the genre of music that you will want to play. Now look at the artists to play that music, what do they play. If you buy a guitar similar to what they play then you will be able to sound closest to them.


Epiphone Dr-100
Epiphone Dr-100

Acoustic Guitars

If you enjoy The Beatles, James Blunt, Plain White Tee's then look at acoustic guitars. These are the most traditional type of guitar and the simplest, no messing around with amps, cables, pickups and power supplies. Typically you want to be looking at dreadnought guitars not classical or parlour guitars. A few good models to look at are

  • Epiphone Dr-100 (£90)
  • Fender CD-60 (£100)
  • Ibanex PF15 (£130)

Squier Bullet Strat in Daphne Blue with Fender Frontman 10G Amp
Squier Bullet Strat in Daphne Blue with Fender Frontman 10G Amp

Light Rock/ Jazz Guitars

If you enjoy Jimi Hendrix, Beach Boys, or other light rock/jazz then a good guitar to look at is Telecasters or Stratocasters. These classic shapes are creations of fender and their sister company Squier produce entry level models off both in their affinity series for £140. Or for slightly cheaper (£90) you can buy Squiers bullet stratocaster.

The two black bars on this guitar are the humbucker pickups with the two coils
The two black bars on this guitar are the humbucker pickups with the two coils

Rock and Punk

If you enjoy music by bands such as Green Day or Guns and Roses then you will want an electric guitar with something called a humbucker pickup (A pickup with two coils in which allows you to play high distortion without buzz or hum, they also tend to sound meatier ). Examples of guitars like this are Les Pauls or Stratocaster HSS'S (Have 1 humbucker and 2 single coils rather then the normal 3 single coils). Some good models to look at of these are.

  • Epiphone Les Paul Special II (£135)
  • Epiphone SG Special (£145)
  • Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS (£140)



Heavy Metal

The Metal genre also has their own style of guitars designed for very high distortion settings, so if you enjoy bands such Slipknot or Rammstein then you could look at guitars such as these.

  • ESP LTD M-10 (£195)
  • Dean Vendetta (£150)



The genre you play isn't set in stone by the guitar you chose, many of the guitars will sound good playing other genres to the ones they were specifically designed for. The guitars I have mentioned above are only a small selection of all available guitars, use the above lists as a guide to get you started in your search.

Also look at guitar starter packs if they are available in the guitar you are looking at, these may include everything you need including an amp at a significantly cheaper price than buying them separately. Which brings us nicely onto amps


Amps

There are lots of cheap amps available for £40-50 (Fender Frontman 10g Review Here), these amps are reasonable and will keep you happy when you are first starting, however as you improve this will be one of the first things you will want to improve. So if you can afford it then I would advice to get a slightly more expensive amp such as the Line 6 Spider IV, this amp is considerably better and will keep you satisfied for far longer.


Where to go and buy your equipment

Once you have done your research into what guitar you want to buy then go into a guitar shop and if you can bring a friend who can play guitar so he or she can "test drive" the guitars you are considering. Speak to an assistant and tell them that you are a beginner, they will be more than pleased to help you and introduce you to the instrument. By going into a store it means that you can ask someone all the questions you have and get all of your worries off your mind, or if you do run into a problem with the guitar you then have experts to go back to who can give advice.

Many people buy their first guitar online or from a store such as argos. Most of the time this won't cause problems, however its another case of its better to invest more time and money now to save you possible larger amounts of effort or money later.


Conclusion

Do your research before you buy anything, look at the type of guitar that suits the music you want to play, go and have a look in a music store and take as long as you need there to make your decision.

What Genre do you listen to?

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