It’s incredibly important to choose your first guitar well, and can literally be the difference between succeeding and failing to learn the guitar. If you have a guitar that’s too difficult to play, it will put you off and potentially cause you more pain than necessary. Here we have Andy’s tips to help you choose your first guitar.
- Acoustic or electric – there is no strictly correct one to learn on first. A lot of people will choose an electric because they are supposedly easier to play. Electric guitars usually have thinner strings and lower action, so therefore require less pressure from the players fingers, however I don’t think this means it’s easier to play. I’ve had students learn to play on acoustic and electric with minimal difference in time taken. The main consideration is always the style of music you want to play. If you want to play like Jack Johnson or Ed Sheehan and acoustic is probably the way to go. If you want to play metal, then an electric is going to be best. If you’r unsure which you want to go for I’d suggest an acoustic as you then don’t need an amp or cables etc and can take it with you anywhere and play.
- Size – you can get full size guitars and you can get smaller scale (usually 3/4 guitars) which have a shorter neck and the space between frets is smaller, which means that small hands can reach easily. The only time I’d suggest a 3/4 size guitar is for very young children (around age 5). If you’re struggling on a full size guitar because you think your hands are too small, usually spending some time learning melody lines and single note phrases can really help to stretch you fingers and build strength and dexterity which will mean that in not long at all you’ll be coping with the larger scale sizes. For slightly older children the same applies but with the added benefit that their fingers are still growing and therefore making it easier in the future.
- new or used – used guitars can present get value for money, however you could also end up with a bit of a dud if you’re not sure what to look for. For a first guitar, I’d recommend buying new unless you have someone who knows what they’re looking for and has bought second hand guitars before with you. If you’re buying electric you can get some great starter kits that include a small practice amp and cables etc. These can often be got for about £150 – £175 like this epiphany set. Acoustic guitars can be bought for about £50, however I’d recommend spending a little more and getting something that will last a bit longer and feel nicer to play. Fender make some great acoustic guitars for £100 – £150 like this one.
If you want advice or help to choose your first guitar, please feel free to contact me. If you’re taking lessons with me, I can arrange the supply of a guitar for you and will invoice you the cost, depending what you’re looking for and the budget you have this can often work out cheaper than going to a shop yourself!