Welcome reader to my first blog! I know you have made your decision to take up a new hobby in the form of learning to play guitar and congratulations on your first step into the magical world of music, strings, scales, chords, arpeggios… the list goes on.
If you are yet to buy your instrument and are utterly confused, here is where I come to your help. In this blog, I shall discuss all you need to know about guitars and which one you should buy if you are just starting out.
Foreword – is guitar easy to learn?
Playing an instrument is about learning a new skill and with time and practice you slowly develop it. Guitar learning requires a lot of patience, commitment and patience. Thus, it is a skill that will reward you the more you practice and develop over time. In other words, enjoy the journey, the process and focus less on the destination.
Here are the top 5 tips you should consider while buying your first guitar:
Acoustic Guitar vs. Electric Guitar vs. Classical Guitar
Let me cut to the chase, as a beginner guitarist, your fingertips are soft, sensitive and are not used to any fatigue whatsoever. Hence, you need a guitar that does not hurt your fingers, easy to play and has a rich sound that encourages you to pick it up to play every time. Hence here are the 3 types of most common guitars you will find in a guitar shop near you –
- Acoustic guitar: The acoustic or Spanish guitar is the most common breed of guitar you will find in a music shop. It’s usually a hollowed wooden body with steel strings and has a bright sound. The thickness of the body and wood material is an important factor in determining the sound difference from one guitar to another.
That being said, if you choose this as your first guitar, you will face a lot of time finding it extremely difficult to play for long hours and hold the notes. As the steel strings will hurt your fingers and indirectly will discourage you to play.
- Electric guitar: The most preferred instrument of any rockstar, from Eric Clapton to John Mayer, from Toni Iommi to Dave Mustaine – this is widely used in large concerts and in many genres whether it’s blues, country, rock or metal.
This guitar has steel strings like the acoustic one, in addition, the playability is far better. As the strings have lesser tension they are easy to pick and are very comfortable on your fingers.
- Classical guitar: The “original Spanish guitar”. This guitar is one of the first forms of acoustic guitar and is with us since the 18th century. Famous guitar players include – Francesco Tarrega, Paco De Lucia and many more. The strings are made of nylon or sheep gut, the fingerboard is much wider allowing you more spaces between the strings to hold chords properly and are the most comfortable guitars among all three.
Do not invest in cheap guitars
If you are in India or in any Asian country chances are you will encounter a cheap acoustic or electric guitar at your local guitar shop. At first glance, they may seem a perfect value for money buy, but I would highly recommend not to purchase them. Brands like Givson, Hobner, Signature, Yemaha (that’s right, YEMAHA) or even Pluto are poorly made with zero craftsmanship with the cheapest wood materials.
They are cheap knockoffs of famous brands like Gibson, Fender, Yamaha and Ibanez. These are crude, rugged, lacks the sound and comfortability which you need. They start from as cheap as INR 1500 but beware they will hurt your fingers like a torture device.
I would highly recommend buying a guitar in the price range of INR 5000 – 10000 from brands like Cort, Ibanez, Squier from Fender and even Yamaha. Let me list down a few models for you just in case:
Squier Fender SA 135C
Squier Fender SA 150C
Squier MM Stratocaster
Ortega RST5 Student Series
All the above guitars are easily available online for you to buy.
Buying the right guitar accessories
For beginner guitar players, a good clip-on guitar tuner, medium-sized picks (0.70 mm – 0.80mm), a guitar strap, a capo, a sturdy well-padded gig bag and a durable guitar stand are required. Gimmicky items like finger covers, fingerpicks and other gadgets are just a waste of money.
Tag along with a friend
If you have a friend who plays the guitar ensure you tag him along when you go to the shop. Allow him to play and inspect the guitar you will choose so that he can guide you if the instrument will serve its purpose.
In case you do not have any such person in your friend circle, you can pick up any instrument listed previously and check for yourself if the guitar sits right your lap, sounds right (no buzz, quacky sounds or any strange noises) and serves the genre you prefer to play.
Ask for a discount
If you are buying offline, ensure at the payment counter you do plenty of negotiation and ask for a discount or for a free accessory (mentioned earlier) and get the best bang for your buck.
If you are buying online, ensure that you wait till the festive season when the best offers and discounts are revealed.
Overall, which guitar is the best for beginners? The answer is again between classical and electric guitar. It all depends on the genre you love listening to the most and aspire to play. Thus, a rock, blues or country lover should definitely opt for the electric while a person who enjoys classical music, unplugged versions of famous songs and even campfire songs should opt for the classical guitar.
In a nutshell:
a) Classical guitar for comfort, lightweight and playability, or,
b) Electric guitar for comfort, versatility and playability.
Hope I have covered all your queries, doubts and issues in this article. Let me know your thoughts or something I left out in the comment section.
Special mention – Guitar vs. Ukulele
Inspired by Billie Eilish? Ukulele is just a scaled-down form of the classical guitar with 4 nylon strings. Originated from Hawai, this instrument is a portable, easy-to-learn instrument and is perfect for a campfire environment. Likewise, I shall discuss more in a later blog.