It’s rare that any guitarist starts to practice on a brand new instrument that they picked out. It’s more likely that your origin story had its start with begging your dad if you could borrow his guitar. Or maybe it was your friend. Or maybe, you trawled the classifieds for a used (and cheap) guitar you could cut your teeth on. But now that you’ve got a handle on the instrument, things have changed. You aren’t a novice musician testing the waters; you’re a guitarist through and through. It’s time that you get a guitar that reflects that.
Buying your very first guitar is an exciting step in your musical career – even if it’s just a hobby. It can also be a little stressful. You want to get it right, and you have a lot of details to consider. The very first one, however, will be your budget. How much you can (or how much you’re willing) to pay will directly affect what kind of guitar that you can buy.
Few of us have the kind of budget that allows us to buy the legendary 68 Fender Strat that Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock. Luckily, few Strats share its price tag, so those with modest budgets can still find a great guitar. In fact, you can find a well-made guitar without spending more than $750, from well-known brands like Epiphone, Ibanez, and Squier.
Whatever your budget is, your primary concern will be the guitar’s sound quality, and you won’t know what that’s like until you hear it for yourself. You need to spend some time exploring what kind of sounds each model can produce and see how they suit your playing style. While there are some guitars that are multi-purpose, there are those that are better suited for jazz over punk rock. Think the Gibson ES-175 versus the simple Fender Strat. Whether you play jazz, classical, or pop, the best way to make sure a guitar is right for you is by visiting a national chain of music stores. Here you’ll have the opportunity to play any number of guitars from their large collection, so you can test one after another. When you shop at any of the many Long & McQuade music store locations in the country, you have a huge selection of guitars to choose from. You can spend a few afternoons or evenings going from guitar to guitar, to get the feel for each one, until you get a better understanding of what each make can offer.
It’s a good idea to spend some quality time with the guitar. This doesn’t mean you should hog the guitar for 30 minutes, but it should be long enough so you can work the entire neck. While doing so, you can keep an ear out for any tone inconsistencies and any unintentional distortions, humming, or crackling. As you pick your way through a few songs on each guitar, be sure to pay attention to its size and weight. Choose one that doesn’t put pressure on your back, shoulders, or wrists when you play.
Drawing out your decision making can seem tedious, but in the end it’s well worth the wait. Once you find a guitar that’s sounds and looks great within your budget, you’ll have no regrets on your purchase. Your first guitar could very well be your best guitar, so make sure you spend some time finding the right one!