Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Creative Approch to Choosing Your First Guitar

Whenever you first walk into the guitar you are immediately overwhelmed and disoriented by the many rows of floor-to-ceiling guitars, mangled versions of Deep Purples "Smoke on the Water" and customers who appear to be speaking in some sort of Klingon dialect about Wah Wah's and Whammys. I know this because I have spent a lot of time in guitar stores both shopping and working.

Once you walk in and seek out a salesmen you might ask them something along these lines, "I'm thinking about getting a guitar but don't know anything about them..." but actualy what you do know is, what you don't like and also what made you go to the guitar store. This is all you will need to know to get started!


Take a look at these basic guitar shapes numbered one through six...

I chose these six very different guitars to help break things down and instead of looking at hundreds of guitars you are now looking at only six common styles.

1 is an acoustic guitar - no amplifier needed
2 is an electric guitar - needs to be amplified
3 is an electric guitar - needs to be amplified
4 is a semi hollow guitar - needs  to be amplified
5 is a hollow electric guitar - loud enough without amp but you decide whats right for you

Now by looking at these six guitars, I'm sure you already have a better idea of what you don't want. Keep in mind that guitars come in different colors and styles but for the most part, a lot of the styles are based around one of the six above.


Think about what kind of music you like to listen to, even if its embarrassing, it is important to share this information with with your salesmen. It will help them understand what your all about. For some reason people always hear from a friend they must start with an acoustic guitar. This is simply untrue! I always ask what inspires you? If you saw an AC/DC concert on VH1 Classics and that's what made you drive to the local guitar store, then you should probably not leave there with an acoustic guitar. Chances are your salesmen is a complete "music nerd" and he'll know what kind of instruments the bands you like play.


Now that you have an idea of what you like and don't like  lets look at some prices. You might think this should be the first step but again, you want to buy a guitar that you think is so cool, so beautiful and so inspiring that you are going to want to curl up with it in bed and never put it down so why not see them all! As I'm sure you can imagine guitar price ranges start at about $100.00 and go up from there. Almost every one of these body styles in the list above come in prices starting at $100.00 - $200.00 and some of the more intricate guitars are going to run $200.00 to $300.00. Keep in mind that when buying an electric guitar you are going to need an amplifier to make the guitar more audible and may require more accessories. Guitar amplifiers usually start for about 50-60 dollars.                                                                                                                                                 
This is an example of of an affordable amp that will be plenty loud enough for at home practice.


Now that you have narrowed your search down from 100+ guitars to a handful of guitars you that you have some sort of attraction too. Lets see if the shoe fits! Keep in mind that you may not be used to handling a guitar. It is a good idea to try it sitting down and standing up (you may have to ask the salesmen for a strap) to see that it fits your body well.

You are probably used to seeing a guitar with this shape (picture to the right). This shape is typically referred to as a "Strat-Style"body because of the Fender Stratocaster guitar designed by Leo Fender. The Fender Stratocaster has been the same since the 1950's and many companies use this style because it is very ergonomic. Every cut and curve has a function I would say that as far as electric guitars go, this is by far the most practical and accessible in the lower price range.

**Now, if you are left-handed PLEASE keep in mind,  you may not be used to handling a guitar at all so don't think you need a left handed guitar. Left-handed guitars exist however the down sides are they cost more, and as you get better at guitar and are looking to upgrade in the future you will have a very small selection. I can't speak for everyone but most of my customers would say they wish they had started right handed...


 By now your visit to the guitar store has calmed down and your salesmen has you strumming a little "Smoke on the Water" on a guitar that you feel comfortable with. Chances are your head is filled with some of the terms you once heard as gibberish when you walked in and now you should have the guitar you want in your hands. You'll know you have the right one because you won't be able to put it down and won't want to leave with out it (even if you can't play it yet). I would say unless you have found your self holding a guitar in the $300.00 - $500.00 price range you shouldn't have to worry about haggling the price. The mark up isn't that big on the entry level guitars and they are about the same price everywhere you go, however bringing in a competitors price from online will almost always get you at least 5% off. The store you are at will rather have you shop there then at an online competitor. There are many benefits to this. For starters they can look over the guitar (and i recommend they do) before you leave to make sure that it is playng its best. also you have to feel a guitar before you buy it. Think about how it felt was it too heavy when you were holding it standing up? are the strings too hard to push down? These things you simply just can gather from a picture. While your checking out at the register buy a guitar electronic tuner depending on your salesmen you may feel they are just adding things to the order but this is a necessary gadget that you really can't live without as a guitar player. They are only bout $15 dollars for a good one so grab one! most guitars need tuning every time you play it.

In closing I would like to say I hope you find exactly what you are looking for! Feel free to email me with any questions ( ). I have worked in music sales for years and would love to share my knowledge with you. My approach to guitar sales was always very simple i asked the customer "What is the coolest guitar in here?" I let them look around, and followed these steps to guide them to what they need. I would consider all my customers good friends and have never sold anyone anything they didn't need. Some of the images on this site will link you to trustworthy retailers and products that may be right for you so feel free to explore and research! Knowledge is you best tool in finding what you need.

Here are a few links to great beginner guitars worth checking out.

Stay tuned for "The First STEP in Choosing Guitar Pedals" coming soon!

by, Scotty David