One of the more popular questions I’ve heard over the years is “what do I look for in a new guitar?” If you are shopping for your first guitar, is may seem that the options are overwhelming. You don’t want to get something that’s so cheaply made that it’s unusable but you don’t want to spend a fortune either. So what do you look for in your first guitar, let’s talk about that, today.
So the main thing you want to look for is play-ability, how comfortably the guitar can be played. There are two main areas that affect this. The first is size. Is the guitar, too big or too small? A young child, let’s say age 6-10 yrs old is going to find it difficult to play on a full size guitar. The length of the neck on a full sized guitar will make it almost impossible for them to comfortably reach. In the opposite situation, an adult with big hand won’t be able to play a smaller guitar too easily. For younger kids, there is a half-scale guitar that would work great as they begin to learn. If the half-scale feels a little too small, or if your child is approaching the preteen years and beyond, then the three quarter-scale size would be ideal. The teen years are really when they would grow comfortably into a full sized guitar. Your initial concern with buying a small guitar may be “what about when my child outgrows it?” If you child really gets into playing and learning long enough to require a larger guitar, you won’t think much of replacing that small guitar for a bigger one years down the road. So pick a comfortable size to start with.
Once you’ve figured out which size to look for, the next thing you want to look at is how well the guitar will stay in tune. There is nothing more frustrating than having to constantly re-tune your guitar due to the tuners not holding. Feel the movement of a tuner on a higher end guitar then compare that to the one you are looking at. Does it move smoothly? Does it feel a little sloppy? Is it easy to turn? You want a smooth turning tuner that doesn’t have any play in the movement.
At this point, you may consider brand if you like. Almost every major brand has a beginner line of guitars. Brand isn’t as important as the other factors I mentioned before. If you have a brand you prefer, see what they have available that meets the play-ability requirements and go from there. Online shopping will always give you more options to choose from and can also be a great way to do your research, but it can’t beat checking out your local music store to try the guitar out in person. Don’t forget to check with your local pawn shops and see what they have to offer as well. One final note, shoot for a price range between $100(for a really good used deal) and $500 (new from a brand know for quality).