Buying your first acoustic guitar can be an exciting yet daunting time, and often one which leads to a little bit of confusion. My aim is to help you find an acoustic guitar that will live up to your dreams and allow you to play what you want to play, whilst being enjoyable and pleasing to the eye.
As a private guitar tutor I am often taking trips to the local guitar store to help my students choose their first acoustic. Over the years, it seems the most common questions and worries my students have when deciding on their weapon of choice, comes down to the following:
- How much should I spend on my first acoustic guitar?
- What is the best brand for acoustic guitars?
- How do I know if I like the guitar?
- Do I have to get a new guitar or are second hand guitars ok?
- What else do I need to buy along with the guitar?
If you have a private guitar tutor, I would recommend kindly asking him or her to take a trip to the guitar shop with you to try out some acoustic guitars. It can be a bit scary trying out guitars when you don’t actually have any chords down yet, but your tutor will be more than able to give the guitar a good test drive and let you know how it plays.
Deciding how much you (or your parents) are willing to spend on your first guitar is very important. Once you enter the lands of the guitar stores with their endless options and long price tags, you could end up spending a small fortune! The important thing to remember is that leading guitar brands have options for the price conscious amongst us, and you have to remember that many expensive guitars end up gathering cobwebs, so it is worth spending a modest amount for your first time.
If you spend too little you could run the risk of buying a guitar that is going to sound pretty awful, and in turn hold you back from feeling confident about your playing. At the other end of the spectrum, I have seen some of my private students buy guitars for over £1000, and in my opinion end up with a guitar that is not all that great.
A reasonable entry-level price for an acoustic guitar (first hand) could be anything from £150-£200. This would give you a guitar that will stand up to your expectations, have steel strings and likely last you many years before you ‘outgrow’ it.
Choosing a second-hand guitar is a not the worst idea in the world at all. You can benefit from a guitar of a higher quality, at a lower price. For some people this is not a desirable move, mainly due to the fact that a second-hand guitar has been owned and their may be some cosmetic damage. In my personal opinion, it is often a great move, especially when you have conducted research into the acoustic you wish to buy and then purchase it through a site such as Gumtree.com. These sites are kept alive by normal people trying to sell their belongings (usually quickly, and for less money than they are worth). Unfortunately, guitar stores usually sell second-hand guitars at a price much higher than people through Gumtree, due to having to make a profit on the instrument. Having said this, you will be given some guidance on your purchase in store and be able to return the item at a later date should you have issues with it.
Along with your new guitar, there are a few things you need to get at the same time to help you have an enjoyable time. You should get a guitar tuner- my personal favourite is the ‘Snark’ tuner, as it clips onto the headstock of your guitar and allows you to tune your guitar even in noisy environments (great if you have siblings!). You should also get a well-padded guitar case for your new pride and joy, to protect it from the bumps to come and to help you transport it from A to B. You should also get a couple of ‘light’ plectrums. Plectrums allow you to strum the guitar. Light plectrums are easier to strum with and will help you learn to strum easier in your early days.
Recommendations of popular acoustic guitars to try out
Takamine G440C (£150 approx)
Epiphone EL-00 (£200 approx)
And my personal favourite….
Taylor Big Baby (£350 approx)
So this has been my guide to buying your first acoustic guitar. I hope you now feel a bit closer to starting your journey, with the first steps being to get your guitar back home!