“I’ve never played guitar before, which guitar should I get?” This question gets thrown around a lot and there’s hardly any consistency in the answers. My opinion is to get an electric guitar to start with. I put links to Amazon here but I’m sure your local music store will have these in stock.
Buying a guitar is fun, it’s the start of a long path of hopefully many more guitars and more importantly many memories and fun. My very first guitar was an imitation of an imitation LesPaul guitar. I do recall a cheapo acoustic at one point but seldom remember playing it. Keep in mind this is more of an opinion piece but I’m not alone.
A cheap electric kit, may be the best bet!
This is the option I prefer to tell my friends! There are many cheap kits out there, one I liked was an Epiphone kit, comes with amp, gig bag, cable, etc… These kits range from 150 to 300 dollars typically, if you prefer the Stratocaster style guitar – Squire makes a kit too. Although personally I’d suggest a guitar with a fixed bridge just to avoid additional parts that can go wrong, or at the very least buy some additional springs for the Squire tremolo to ensure the guitar stays in tune longer. Paying a little extra to get your new guitar professionally setup will make it a little more playable.
I did notice some kits starting at just under $80, these can’t be very good in quality, might fall under the “may get discouraged” category however I’ve never seen one in person.
Why do I prefer an electric kit? Well for one, chances are it will be easier to play with thinner strings, better action (for the most part, I think cheap electrics are easier to play than cheap acoustics). Another GREAT pro for getting such a kit is not to annoy your family, significant other or roommates because you can use a set of earphones (10w solid state amp with headphone jack) and limit the “beginner noises” to yourself.
I guess we can ask “who is your guitar hero”, or what band/songs you like best? If you’re a Tommy Emmanuel fan, maybe have a second look at acoustics. But part of me still says to start with an electric and once you have a feel for it, move on to the guitar that best fits your style.
Why I don’t agree with getting a cheap acoustic.
I hear “start with an acoustic” a lot, in fact I remember playing on an acoustic when I was about 12 for brief periods of time and gave up. The theory is: 1) you will develop finger strength much faster and; 2) you will not invest a lot of money just in case you discover playing guitar is “not your thing”. The latter is maybe a more valid point but there are cheap electric kits in the same price-range.
I think “building finger strength and callouses” is something that happens over time, not by purposely buying a guitar that will have very bad action (strings far away from the fretboard and hard to press). From experience that will just discourage you from playing guitar. But if your set on a cheap acoustic, I saw this one for under $100.
Used could be the best value but the risk is there. If you don’t know how to play, chances are you don’t know how to buy. How do you check for a warped neck, or check the intonation? All very doable, mind you. But I do suggest you go with an experienced player to buy a used guitar.
- If the kit you plan on buying doesn’t come with a tuner. I highly suggest you get that for your sanity. Clip on tuners can be had for under $15 too!
- Get yourself a comfortable guitar stool
- Shoulder strap
- Spare strings (especially if you’re using an electric) I’d suggest some thin “9’s”
- Start your collection of lost pics, you can store them in dryers, pockets, couch cushions, heater vents, car, dishwasher and wherever else they may end up. I’d start with some softer pics and work your way up to harder ones. Or get a bunch of different ones and play with the one that “feels right” at the moment you’re practicing.
- If you can, get some lessons. In person sessions can be helpful and even online tutorials (paid or otherwise) to get you going with the basics.
- Chord book (or download some posters, lots of free resources available)
- Old school song books with accurate chords. No seriously, if you’re just starting out. You may not be aware if the free “Beatles Chords” page you googled is correct. I seriously think you should consider buying one. I actually own “The Beatles Guitar”, very good chord book.
- TIME! A very expensive and hard-to-find thing. But seriously, save some time to learn and practice.
I hope this was helpful. You can contact me with any questions or comments.