How To Choose A Guitar For Beginners (Step-by-Step)

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Any person who wants to take up the guitar will quickly find that the world of guitars is truly vast, and there are thousands of different guitars to choose from – regardless of style or budget.

This leaves many beginners wondering how to choose their first guitar? Well, the process is easier than you may imagine; you just need to know where to start.

To choose your first guitar, begin by deciding on the type of guitar, whether it be acoustic, electric, or classical, based on your musical interests. Do your research, visit guitar stores, explore various guitar types, and ultimately choose something that excites you and inspires you to practice. 

animated acoustic guitar beside dark confused head beside red electric guitar on grey music themed background.

Buying your first guitar is an exhilarating experience, and no one can make the decision of which guitar to buy for you.

This is a decision that individuals must make on their own, but there are some steps and ways that can make the process of choosing your first guitar significantly smoother. 

How to Choose Your First Guitar

If you want to buy your very first guitar, you are sure to have been confronted with the sea of guitars that are available on the market right now. For the uninitiated, this endless sea of instruments can be incredibly daunting. 

Do you choose a guitar based on budget? How do you know if a guitar is good and worthwhile buying? How do you know if a particular guitar sounds good? Where do you even buy a good guitar? Is buying online safe? How much capital is too much to invest in a first guitar? 

These are only some of the questions that a person faces when buying a first guitar, and if you have found yourself wondering any of these things, you have come to the right place!

Let’s take the time to go through the right steps for buying a first guitar to ensure that you come away with the best guitar for you, for the type of music that you like, and a guitar that will not blow your life savings either. 

There is a right way and a wrong way to buy the first guitar. So, let’s learn the right way before you accidentally learn the wrong way, the hard way. 

1. Save

This may seem somewhat anticlimactic, but the truth is that the first step to buying your first guitar should be saving up some money. 

It is worthwhile to buy a better quality guitar than the absolute cheapest instrument you can find, as better quality guitars are easier to play, they sound better, are generally built better, and they are more inspiring – which will help motivate you to practice more. 

Good quality guitars can be expensive, and it may not seem necessary to spend money on a first guitar, but it is always best to buy the best guitar that you can afford when you start playing, as this will make the learning process far easier. 

You can be reassured that guitars retain their value quite well. This means that if you look after the guitar that you buy and end up not wanting to continue with the instrument, you are likely to be able to sell it for almost as much as you paid for it. 

This means that there is no real reason not to buy a nicer guitar than the cheapest option, because buying something nicer will serve you better in the long run.

2. Decide What Type Of Guitar You Want To Play

Once you have settled on the idea of saving for your guitar, then it is time to begin thinking about the type of guitar that you want to buy. 

The type of guitar that you buy should be a guitar that excites you, a guitar that suits the style of music that you enjoy and the music that you want to play, and a guitar that fits your general style. 

Think about the music that you listen to and the music that you want to play, and this will help you to determine what type of guitar you should buy. 

If you enjoy listening to classical music and this music has inspired you to play, then a classical guitar is well-suited for you.

However, if you enjoy rock music and your favorite band shreds on electric guitars, then your first guitar should be an electric guitar that can play this type of music. 

There are also steel-string acoustic guitars that are ideal for blues, folk, country, and pop music, so it is important to understand what type of guitar you want to buy based on the music that has inspired you to start playing. 

Also, don’t forget about bass guitar – but remember that it’s role in making music and the way you play it are quite different than the above three guitar options.

Once you have determined the type of guitar you want to play, it is time to move on in the process. 

3. Visit a Guitar Shop

The next step here should be to visit a guitar shop. There are dozens of instrument stores that have extensive guitar selections, and there are even dedicated guitar stores that sell nothing but guitars and guitar-related equipment. 

Take a trip to a store like this to get your hands on a guitar and find out more about what you want to play. 

For example, if you have decided that you want to play an electric guitar, then go to a guitar store and ask a staff member to show you the electric guitars that they have in stock.

This will help you narrow in on the type of electric guitar that you like and help you find a style that excites you. 

Ask the staff to tell you about the guitars, or even play them for you, so that you can hear what the instruments sound like.

This will also show you more about the guitars that you like. Ask to hold the guitars, and look for something that feels good in your hands. 

At this point, begin to discuss the price ranges of these guitars with the staff, which will also give you a decent indication of what you will have to pay to get the type of guitar that you enjoy the most. 

Write down what you learn and get ready for the next step. 

4. Decide On a Budget

The next step is crucial. Now that you have learned and experienced more about the guitars that you like and how much they cost, you must decide on a budget for your guitar and stick to it. 

Guitars can be expensive, and it is easy to spend more than you want to, while it is simultaneously important to spend more than the most basic guitars demand. 

Decide on a budget based on what you learned at the guitar store, and take steps to build up the money that you need to buy the type of guitar that you want. 

5. Do Your Research

While you are saving for your dream guitar, do some research. The guitar store that you visit is sure not to have every type of guitar out there, regardless of how big it is. 

Watch some good YouTube videos and read some articles, reviews, and comparisons of the guitars that you like.

Look at their features, listen to what they sound like, compare their prices, and look for guitars that have the most versatility in the style that you like. 

It is important to buy a first guitar that is as versatile as possible, as the guitar that you buy first will be the guitar that determines your playing style and playing interests.

Buying a guitar that can play anything will enable you to learn anything, so be sure to find something that is as versatile as you can get. 

Doing this research is a critical step in the process of buying your first guitar, and it cannot be overlooked. 

6. Take Your Time

While doing research and saving for your guitar, take your time. Explore the internet looking for guitars, visit music stores, find a guitar teacher near you, and explore some of the culture and the world around guitars and guitar playing. 

This will help get you started on the right foot as you learn your instrument because even before you start playing, you might find someone to teach you and somewhere to find guitar sheet music.

You will also understand what to look for in good guitar tone along with understand what good guitar playing should sound and look like. 

This step may seem unimportant, but it helps to be in the right mindset when you are entering the world of playing the guitar rather than plunging in blind. 

7. Remember The Peripherals

At this point, you must consider the peripherals that you will need along with your guitar. This is true for every guitar, and it is something that many beginners forget to consider. 

Every guitar needs a case or a bag, every guitar needs to be cleaned and oiled, every guitar needs a stand, and every guitar must be tuned.

This means that regardless of the type of guitar you get, you will need to buy a bag or a case, a guitar tuner, some form of a guitar stand, and some equipment for cleaning and oiling your guitar.

Some guitars require specific peripherals on top of these. For example, if you buy an electric guitar, you will also need to buy an amplifier and a good instrument cable to connect the guitar to the amplifier. 

Playing guitar also usually means learning to play with a plectrum, so you will need some of those as well. 

Always remember the peripherals and do some looking around for this equipment as well while you are building up to buying your first guitar. 

8. Speak To Guitarists

Along the way, and while you are exploring the world of guitars, try to speak to as many guitar plays as you can.

On your travels to music stores or on online guitar forums, take opportunities to speak to people who have experience with the instrument. 

Guitar players are always excited to talk about guitars, and every guitar player has their own opinions and experiences that you can learn from. 

However, be careful to take everything lightly, as most guitar players have conflicting experiences regarding specific brands and types of guitars. 

Still, every guitarist will have some valuable knowledge and experience to impart to you, so hear what they have to say, and you will have a better understanding of it. 

9. Check For Specials

At this point in the process, you should be close to buying your first guitar!

Now is the time to look online and at your local instrument stores for specials on the guitars that you want to buy. This is especially pertinent during holiday seasons, the end of the year, the beginning of the year, and during major sales such as Black Friday. 

If you can save some money on the guitar that you really want to buy, it will make the process all the more sweet!

Look for specials before you buy anything, and you may be surprised by what you find. This is true for buying guitars as well as buying guitar gear and peripherals.

The musical instrument industry is constantly shifting, which means that every store is sure to have a sale sooner or later to make space for new stock. 

Take advantage of these sales when buying anything music-related – the money that you save could be substantial!

10. Take The Plunge!

The time has come!

You have done your important research, you have spent the time, you have explored the guitars, you have found the model that you want to buy, found the inspiration, saved up the money, watched for specials, and now it is time to buy your first guitar!

There is very little that truly compares to the excitement and exhilaration of buying a new guitar, especially your very first guitar.

Enjoy the moment, go to the store, pick up the instrument, put your money down, and take some pride in what has just happened. Eric still remembers the day he got his first Seagull acoustic – it really does stick with you.

Now that you have your dream guitar that you have worked so hard for, be sure to do it justice by working hard and practicing as much as you can to get as good as you can.

Enjoy your new guitar, play it well, and remember to always take the time to learn something new when you can, and you will be playing like a pro sooner than you think.

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At the end of it, this process of buying your first guitar does not have to be long and drawn out. The entire journey may take only a week or two if you are sure about wanting to begin learning this instrument. 

That said, just be sure to take the time to find the right guitar for you, and the rest of the process will be easy. There is no better time than right now to begin learning, so take the plunge, start the process, and go out and get your first guitar!

As always, Happy Playing,


About Matt P.

Matt has been playing instruments since he was 11 years old and has done nothing but work in the music industry for his whole life. Matt studied music and sound engineering at The South African Music Institute and has played for numerous bands over the years.