Imagine that you are going hiking. Which boots will you need? What sort of terrain will you be walking over? Finding your first guitar is truly easy.
If you follow my few tips and answer the questions honestly to yourself then you won’t have any trouble deciding which guitar will work for you best.
Questions you need to Answer
- What sort of music do I want to play?
- Do I like the look of electric guitars or acoustic?
- Where do I plan to play?
- Do I want to do lessons?
Once you have answered all these questions then you can go searching for your first guitar, unless of course, someone gives you a guitar to play. Let’s dig a little deeper into why you want to play music on a guitar and consider if you are going to sing along as well?
What Sort of Music do I want to Play?
When you imagine all the music in the world it falls into just a few categories. There is Rock, Ballads, Pop, Classical, Folk, Jazz, and Funk. And each of these has many categories that you might be interested in, and that is a personal choice.
You probably already know that Rock is played on an electric guitar, this is because you can get some interesting effects through the amp and gear.
You can be as creative as you like with lead guitar, it’s totally up to you.
If you want to play Ballads, Pop, or Folk, then a steel-string acoustic guitar will give you a lovely bright sound. You can either strum or pick the strings to get different effects.
If Classical or Jazz music pulls at your heartstrings then a nylon string acoustic guitar would be a good choice, picking these lovely guitars can bring tears to the eyes of listeners. And they also have a wonderful warm sound for playing ballads and singing.
Now that you have chosen the type of music you like and want to play, let’s look at the different types of guitars.
Do I like the Look of Electric or Acoustic Guitars?
This is a very personal decision and one that is easy to decide. Go into a guitar shop, glance around, and head towards the guitars that you are visually attracted to. It’s funny but the heart knows before the mind. I’ve always loved the look of acoustic guitars and my first guitar was a Takamine steel string.
But your feet might take you straight to the electric guitars. They are beautiful to see and such a great choice. Now what you want to do is find a shop assistant to play some guitars for you.
Ask to hold the guitar
It will feel strange the first time as some of them are quite heavy. Give it a minute, strum the strings, you don’t have to play something brilliant. Does it feel comfortable? Can you reach your strumming arm easily over the top of the guitar, or is the guitar too big?
You really need to love the sight and feel of your first guitar so that you will enjoy playing it!
If you find yourself in the acoustic section, there are some lovely guitars to look at. Notice the amazing woods, each type of wood gives a different tone, amplified by the size of the guitar.
A few points to keep in mind:
- Look for a guitar that has a cutaway design. This will allow your fretboard hand to move easier up the neck towards the body of the guitar.
- 3/4 size guitars are easier to play, especially for children and women
- Look for a semi-acoustic if you are going to want to plug your guitar into an amp at some time in the future
- The price of a guitar is not a good indication of a quality sound. Some more expensive guitars don’t sound that good. Get someone to play it for you in the shop and really listen to the sound produced.
- Not all guitars have the same width of the neck. You can get nylon string guitars with thin necks so ask as thin necks are easier to play.
I know this is a strange question and you are probably thinking, in my bedroom. Lol. But what I mean is that the type of guitar you choose will lend itself to performing in different ways.
Imagine that you want to go jam with a few friends who like to play rock music. Well, you would need an electric guitar and a small amp that you could take anywhere.
Perhaps you want to go to friends’ places and play in the park? Then you would want an acoustic or nylon string guitar that doesn’t need an amp. Your acoustic guitar with steel strings will be naturally louder than a nylon string, although I get a lot of sound picking my Cardoba guitar. I even use it performing on stage plugged in as it’s semi-acoustic.
Thinking about where you might want to play your guitar in the future will help you choose a perfect first guitar for you.
Do I want to do Lessons?
You don’t have to do lessons at all, but it will help you to learn to play more quickly. Think about how you like to learn. You can choose a live guitarist to teach you locally (about $40 a lesson) or learn at school.
Or if you want more control over what you learn you could go online. There are some great guitar companies that have lessons available for a small monthly fee. (I use GuitarTricks) and they even start you off for free.
You Don’t Have to Learn Theory
You don’t have to learn theory, not unless you want to and you can choose the songs that you want to learn and understand the theory as you go. After all, you wanted to learn to play guitar to be able to play songs and it’s a fun place to begin your playing journey.
There are free video lessons also available online on YouTube, one of my favorite teachers is JustinGuitar, a great teacher from the UK.
Learning to play guitar is all about learning the shapes of the chords, finding out where individual notes are on the guitar, and memorizing shapes and licks. Even if you only practice 10 minutes a day in your room, you will soon be able to play something (I often find a song I like on YouTube and play along with it.) I’ve also put lots of articles on my website to answer your questions and teach you some songs.
Playing an instrument can be a joyful lifelong skill. One that you can enjoy alone or with friends for your whole life. It is totally up to you how far you decide to take your guitar playing. You may decide to play in an orchestra, a rock band, or become the next Orianthi (lead guitarist star). Or even the next pop idol and wow your friends with your playing and singing.
You can be whatever you dream about, so start today.
Please feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions that you may have. I look forward to following your journey in becoming a guitar player.