How to buy your first guitar

When buying a new (or even their first) guitar, most of my students ask “what should I buy”. They want me to recommend a specific brand and model to buy. Sadly, I don’t do that for two main reasons. Firstly, every individual is unique. We have different sizes and shapes and we have different preferences when it comes to what we like in a guitar. So the perfect guitar for me might be a horrible choice for me. Secondly, even if a guitar maker has a good reputation and makes a lot of great guitars, the specific guitar that you are buying can still be riddled with flaws. So me recommending a specific guitar has no value to my student and I can’t even be sure, that the guitar the student ends up buying on my recommendation won’t be crap. Instead, I always teach my students how to assess a guitar and how to know which guitar is the right one for them. That has true value for my students and in this article, I will teach you the main points as well.

Objective factors and subjective factors

In my experience, there are two main sets of criteria, that one should be aware of when buying a guitar. The objective factors and subjective factors. The objective factor is simply knowing what to check on a specific guitar to make sure, you are not buying a guitar that has flaws or is purely produced. This is not dependent on whether or not you like the guitar or not, even though I do recommend buying a guitar you love :). The second of the equation is the subjective factors I.E. whether or not you like the guitar or not. The problem here is, that beginning guitar students doesn’t feel like they possess the tools and knowledge to make this judgment. That is why they want me to recommend a specific guitar for them to buy. 

Objective factors. 

Basically, I will leave you to research this as this is the “easy” part. When you know what kind of guitar (Spanish, western or electric) you are interested in, go to YouTube and search for terms like “how to buy a (insert the kind of guitar here”. There you will find a lot of great knowledge and you simply have to practice reproducing what you are shown. Look at some videos and go to your local guitar shop and practice assessing guitar without buying anything. You are still learning at this stage.

The subjective factors. 

Basically, these can be divided into three categories. Look, sound and playability. It can seem a daunting task for a beginner to assess a guitar using these three criteria. The interesting thing is, that when people get more experience on the guitar, their preferences about look, sound, and playability don’t really change. Their confidence level does though, and that is the key here. You need to learn to trust whatever you think about how a specific guitar looks, sounds, and feels to play. After all, it is YOU who is buying it, so what does it really matter what other people think about how the guitar looks for example? It doesn’t. It only matters what you think about it. So go down to your local guitar shop, pick a guitar down from the wall and rate it on a scale from 1-5 on three different categories. Look, sound and playability. By practicing this you will become confident in your own abilities and you will be able to pick the right guitar for you.

About the author: Besides being a full-time guitar teacher, Janus is also the founder of Bredballe Guitarskole located near Horsens in Denmark. At Bredballe Guitarskole he has been helping people improve their guitar playing faster and with less frustration than they might have thought possible. If you are native to the area and stuck in a rut with your guitar playing seek out the best value for money guitar lessons in Horsens and get your progress on track once and for all.