So, where do you start when buying a guitar? It can be a difficult task, but if you know what you want, the options are narrowed down.
What to look for when buying a guitar
You need to think about what you want out of a guitar when buying. The first step is knowing what type of guitar you want. The main types are Classical, Acoustic and Electric.
Classical guitars have a couple of main “markets”. They are ideal for new players as the strings are low-tension, and are therefore perfect for fingers which aren’t yet hardened from playing. Otherwise, these guitars are, of course, great for classical players. They are also used a lot in genres like Bossa Nova, Jazz and even pop.
Acoustic guitars are similar to classical models, though they have metal strings. These strings are a bit harder to play, but are louder and brighter sounding. They are great for lots of modern music, folk music, and to accompany vocals.
Electric guitars are the last of the common types. These also have metal strings, but tend to be thinner and closer to the fretboard than on acoustics. This is because of the popularity of lead guitar playing which favours fast playing and bends. These techniques are much easier with thinner strings. Electric guitars have the downfall of requiring an amp to get any real volume. Electric guitars are great for a lot of different styles, from rock to pop, blues, jazz, metal and more.
If just starting out, a beginner model is just fine. The good thing about the nylon strings on a classical guitar is that any quality will hold its tune quite well once the strings are broken in. There are many options in this area from brands like Rocket, 3rd Avenue and Valencia.
If you’re looking to play classical music or to have a higher quality guitar, there are some great choices. As with any instrument, Yamaha offer some great value models. Another brand that is great for high quality classical guitars is Admira.
Looking at the materials used is always a good way to judge quality in these guitars. Spruce or Cedar tops are very popular. With Mahogany or Rosewood being popular for back and side woods. Of course, other combinations are out there with different tonal properties.
Similarly to the classical guitars, you want to look at wood choice. There is often more variance in acoustic guitars however. You see more maple, mahogany, and exotic woods like Walnut and Cocobolo on acoustic guitars. These fancier woods can make the guitar look good as well as sound good.
As the acoustic guitar has more tension than its classical counterpart, you also have to look into the tuners. Most acoustic guitars will hold their tune just fine, but seeing good quality tuners gives peace of mind. Seeing a brand like Grover or Schaller on a guitar means that attention has been put into the tuning heads.
Following this, if you are looking at Electro-Acoustic models, it’s worth looking into the pre-amp included. Some are simple and just require plugging in. Though, some models have an equaliser, and some have built-in tuning. There are lots of features that can be put into these models. So it’s worth looking into what you need out of one of these guitars before going ahead.
There is a lot to take in with the electric guitar. When starting, I would say that about 80% of people end up with a Stratocaster style guitar. These are very popular, versatile, and will do what you need. There are also plenty of affordable models in this style. But if you have specific requirements, you have a lot to go through!
There are two main things I would suggest looking into. The first being the neck shape. There are guitars with very thick necks and ones with necks that are incredibly thin. Some will be comfortable on one rather than the other. So, finding out what you like, and what the guitar you want has is important.
The next thing is the pickups. The two main types are singlecoils and humbuckers. If you want a bright, sparkly tone, singlecoils are perfect. If you want something more full and thick sounding, then humbuckers are great. With this, some singlecoils are susceptible to buzzing and hum, where humbuckers (hence the name!) don’t have this.