Guitar Buying Guide For Beginners

Guitar Buying Guide For Beginners

Making the right choice while shopping for the best guitar will help you to have a great experience for years to come. On the flip side, a poor choice will land you up in quite the opposite situation. This guitar buying guide is aimed to help you avoid just that.

It is surprising how some guitars sound so terrible in comparison to some of the decent ones in the market. Read our post on best guitar brands in India for more.

It is critical for any aspiring guitarist to think hard in regards to the kind of music she or he mostly needs to play, be it hard rock, jazz, pop country, blues or rock.

If country and rock is the type you like to play, then the acoustic guitar is the one to go for. Electric guitars are more suited for hard rock and heavy metal.

Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide

If you plan on buying an acoustic guitar, there are 8 major things you should look for.

1.    Budget

guitar buying guide - budgetThe first step is to decide on a budget and then look for guitars within it. The guitars that you look for must suit your needs and should last you for a long time.

Avoid going for cheap guitars which will neither sound good nor last long. Everybody is looking for the best deal and trying to save as much as they can only to regret later. The guitar will be like a friend, so save up some cash if the guitar you want does not fall in your budget. Also be careful not to go overboard too.

2. Brand

The brand name is also important because with a good brand name comes good reputation. There are many Chinese brands in the market which offer very cheap guitars but of low quality. Read our post about Best Guitar Brands in India.

3. Durability

A typical Acoustic Guitar is made of wood and other delicate parts. You need a guitar with a strong body and good integrity to last really long. This is where brand name has a role to play as reputed brands make highly durable guitars.

4. Type of wood

The design of an acoustic guitar is such that it depends on the sound produced by vibration of the strings and amplified in the hollow of the guitar. Hence, the type of wood affects the quality of sound that comes out of an acoustic guitar.

The most critical is the guitar top, though the type of wood used in the body and neck also plays a huge role.

5. Quality of the Tuners


guitar buying guide


The tuners are used to tune the guitar by adjusting the tension of the guitar strings. The tuners, as a result, should be robust enough to handle this stressful work. Weak tuners may break easily and you may end up spending money frequently to replace them.

6. Action


guitar buying guide - action


Action is the distance of the guitar string from the fingerboard. If the action is too low, the guitar will produce a buzzing sound and if it is too high, it will be uncomfortable to play. To know more about action in guitars, you can read this article.

7. Stringsguitar buying guide - strings

The quality of the strings also matter as low-quality strings will not last long. Replacement of strings on a regular basis will add to the overall cost of the guitar in the long run. It is often rare for guitars of cheap brands to have high-quality strings.

8. Size

Guitars come in several shapes and sizes and choosing the right one which suits your body size is important.

Do watch the video below. It is a helpful acoustic guitar buying guide.

Electric Guitar Buying Guide

The guitar guide for electric type does differ in some aspects owing to the design differences. However, all the points like budget, brand, etc mentioned above are applicable to electric guitars as well.

The 7 additional things to look for while buying an electric guitar are as below:

1. Body Design

Electric guitars come in three basic body designs:

  • Solid body
  • Semi-hollow
  • Hollow bodyEach possesses distinguishing features which make them well-suited to every one of these designs.

Solid body

Solid body electric guitars can be amplified at high volume with few worries regarding feedback problems.

guitar buying guide - Yamaha PAC012

Solid Body Guitar – Yamaha PAC012

For hard rock, metal and other classic rock music genres, solid body guitars are ideal.

Semi-Hollow Body

guitar buying guide - Epiphone ES-339

Epiphone ES-339

Semi-hollow body electric guitars offer an extremely warm tone and great harmonic fullness. With appropriate amp adjustments, they are able to still generate an excellent approximation of the vibrant, punchy sound of a solid body. Semi-hollow body electric guitars are lighter in weight. A few players claim they offer greater versatility of sound than solid body guitars.

Semi-hollow body electric guitars are for those who like jazz and vintage rock and roll.


Hollow body

Of the three, these models generate the acoustic-oriented sound. The disadvantage is that they are the most prone to feedback at mid- to high-volume.

While authentic hollow body electric guitars have a market following, modern day players like to restrict their thought to solid body and semi-hollow body electric guitars.

2. Wood

The option of woods impacts weight and the tone of a guitar, but so do several other variables. Woods that are more costly don’t always mean a better sounding guitar. The key question for you is whether you like the sound of the instrument.

3. Neck

Selecting which kind of neck your guitar should have is dependent on the size of your own hand. Necks come in several contours including C-shaped, thin, broad-thin, etc.

4. Intonation

Intonation is basically the accuracy of pitch or the way a guitar should sound. It ascertains whether the notes play in melody.

In case the space between the frets is incorrect, the guitar will undoubtedly be incapable of playing in tune.

If you have made a decision to buy a particular model, do a research online on its intonation qualities.

5. Amount of Frets

Most electric guitars come with 22 frets. However, for the more advanced types, a 24 fret neck will provide you with the complete octave above the twelfth fret.

6. Bridge

There are just two primary forms of bridges for guitars

  • Stoptail bridge: Fixed to the body, offers more stability.
  • Tremolo bridge: Allows for bending of strings simultaneously but throw strings out of tune.
guitar buying guide - bridges

For more stability and while using single coil pick ups, stoptail bridges are more preferred. For versatility and use with humbuckers, tremolos are preferred.

 7. Pick-ups

The type of pick up, be it single coil or humbuckers, effects the tone. Single coil pickups have brighter and crisp tones. Humbuckers typically have rounder and warmer tones.

The video below nicely brings out the important points to be kept in mind while choosing an electric guitar.

Closing Thoughts

The decision as to which guitar to buy will mostly be governed by your needs and your budget. The guitar will be your companion for days to come, so the decision has to be given adequate thought.

This guitar buying guide was aimed to help you make that decision. At the end of the day, no guide is comprehensive enough and there is no ideal guitar out there. Each will have some compromise or the other but will often be tailor made for different requirements.

Once, you have clearly identified your needs for playing the guitar, it will become easier to make the right choice.