How to Choose a Good Beginner Guitar to Buy

Tommaso Zillio, Chief Instructor at Edmonton Guitar Music School

It's not Rocket Science

Choosing your first guitar may seem a daunting task, but it's actually quite easy (once you know how to). If you surf the net in search of information, you wil find a lot of contrasting opinions on topics such as: brands, woods, pickups (if the guitar is electric), etc. You may have read that Mahogany sounds warmer than Alder, you may have encountered people arguing between Martin's and Taylor's... Let me tell you, none of this really matters. There are only TWO things that are important when you choose your guitar, and these are:

  • If you like the sound of the guitar
  • If the neck of the guitar is straight or not

The Sound

It is pretty simple to evaluate the sound of a guitar: play it, or have someone play the guitar for you (the salespeople at any shop will be happy to do it for you). You have listened to guitars all your life, so you are already qualified to decide if you like it or not. If you can't hear any difference, then it's likely too subtle to make a relevant impact in your decision. Remember that different people like different sounds, so it's ok to disagree with a friend or a salesman if you like one guitar better than another.

The Neck

DO NOT BUY GUITARS WITH WARPED NECKS. They can not be fixed, are more difficult to play, an will be a source of frustration. It's pretty easy to check if a guitar has a straight neck, but very difficult to explain it in words. Please watch the video on this page for an explanation on how to do it. Otherwise if you live in this neck of the wood (i.e. near Edmonton, AB, Canada) you can contact me and I'll be happy to meet you and explain how to do it (and answer any question you might have).

What is Not Important

Some things are NOT good indicator if a guitar is good or not:

  • The brand: guitar construction is not exactly a repeatable process. Every single guitar is a different piece of wood, so do not chose by brand. Famous brands especially are very inconsistent in their production lines: two guitars of the same models can sound radically different.
  • The price: for guitars cost does not always correlate with quality. Stay in the price range you are comfortable with, but do not buy the most expensive guitar only because it costs more.

Shop Around

As usual, do not be afraid to shop around until you find a guitar you like for a price you like. Good luck in your search!