So you've decided you are going to learn to play guitar. If you don't already have a guitar, the first step will be to purchase one, which of course leads us to the next question: how do you pick a guitar that's right for you?
There are three important factors to consider in picking your guitar:
Let's take a look at all of these factors in detail:
If money were no object, then we would all have the best guitars money could buy. And that would be an amazing world. But that, of course, is not the world we live in. The reality is, money is a limiting factor. And, indeed, it is often THE limiting factor in the guitar picking process.
So what is the least amount of money you should spend? It depends on what your goals are. If, for example, you plan on doing some recording with your guitar, then you will want to buy a guitar that will not limit the quality of sound that is produced during your recordings. Recordings have a way of immortalizing every decision you make - especially gear purchase decisions. As a general rule of thumb, if you want to use the guitar you are going to buy for recording, you should probably plan on spending at least $250.00. This general rule of thumb applies for both acoustic and electric guitars. A $500 to $1000 budget should be able to get you a guitar that will never disappoint you, and anything above and beyond that is personal taste. Importantly, this is general advice, and there are exceptions to almost every rule. You may be able to find a real 'steal' from a friend or at a local pawn shop. But if you are walking into a Guitar Center, the chances are the rules of thumb above definitely apply.
Now if you are a beginner and are NOT planning on doing any masterful recordings any time soon, it is ok to spend less than $250.00, but make sure you don't fall into the trap of buying the cheapest guitar you can find. The quality of your guitar will have a direct effect on how you feel about playing it. And if you spend $39.00 on a real cheapo guitar, the chances are you will never want to pick it up. Obviously, that is not going to have a positive impact on your learning process.
As a beginner, plan on spending at least $100. But if you are a beginner, don't spend more than $1000.00, because you don't know enough yet to pick the right sound, and everything over $500.00 is about personal taste, in most cases - not quality - which leads us to the next important factor.
The next factor in determining how to pick a guitar is fairly straight-forward: personal taste. Make sure you actually like any instrument you purchase. Ordering instruments from a catalog or online store is generally not ideal because the most important aspect of any instrument is how it actually sounds - something you can't determine from seeing a picture of it.
Don't just listen to what other people are saying about a specific type of guitar, although this is good important feedback. Listen to the sound for yourself. The ideal guitar should match your expectations of what a good guitar should sound. Also, it should sound similar to guitars that you've heard played in the particular genre you are going to be focusing on (folk, country, rock, etc.)
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