Choosing the best guitar for beginners can be a hard task. If you’re on your own you most likely don’t know what to look for, and what will best suit your needs. I’m going to explain some important aspects you should look for when choosing the best guitar for a beginner player, and by the end of this you'll hopefully find out what type of guitar will serve you best.
Types of guitars
First you need to decide on whether you want electric, acoustic, or classical guitar. Those are the three main types.
Electric guitars are generally easier to play. They feel softer, strings are usually thinner and easier to bend, holding the chords is easier too. You need an amp to play them (which is an extra cost), but you can practice on them unplugged as well. Whether you want to play lead or rhythm, electric guitar is a great choice for any style and music genre because of their versatility. (it's just that you'll rarely see a classical guitar player who plays on an electric guitar)
If you’re on a tight budget there are some great guitars in the lower price range, like Yamaha Pacifica, or Fender Mexican Stratocaster... Epiphone and Ibanez also make some good budget guitars. I also recommend you to look for a company called Chapman guitars, as they make some awesome guitars.
As for the amp, there are two main types of amps - valve amps and digital amps. Valve amps are more expensive and harder to maintain, but they will always produce better (sometimes barely or not noticeable) sound than digital amps - which try to emulate that sound. Digital amps are a lot cheaper however, and there are some great ones out there. I would always go with the valve's though, even if I'm on a tight budget.
* Important - An amp will have the biggest impact on your sound, and my advice, if you want to buy an electric guitar, would be to buy the best amp that you can, and avoid the really cheap ones. Some good amps to look for (that are not expensive) would be: Fender Blues Junior (valve), Blackstar amps (valve), Vox Valvetronix (both - hybrid), Roland Cube (digital), Line 6 Spider amps are digital and they can model a lot of sounds, they’re good, but only for bedroom practice.
You can also practice on electric guitar without an amp. It's a good way to practice sometimes and work on your dynamics.
Steel string acoustic guitars are harder to play, especially the really cheap ones. Strings are thicker and harder to press down, but that’s about it. What's good is that you can carry them and play them anywhere, and they will always produce that sweet unique sound.
You can play any style with them, but they’re most suitable for styles that have accent on rhythm playing, solo blues, fingerstyle...
If you want to go with an acoustic guitar, don’t buy really cheap ones. My advice is don’t go below $200. The acoustics in that price range will often be really hard to play because of the bad setup, high action, fret buzz etc. and they will not sound as good as the more expensive ones.
With that being said, if you're on a really tight budget and you want to buy an acoustic guitar, there are so many options available today that you can find a really nice instrument in the budget category.
Some good brands to consider would be Maton – absolutely best in my opinion (mid to high-end price range), Taylor, Martin, Takamine, Ashton, Epiphone, Fender, Yamaha, Aria, Washburn.
The only difference between these and steel string acoustic guitars is that these ones have nylon strings, wider neck, and usually smaller bodies. They are used for classical music style, but you can play anything you want on them with fingers or with pick, even metal, it really doesn’t matter.
Nylon strings are much easier to press down, and they too have quite unique sound when strummed. Sometimes I even prefer to play nylon string guitar than the steel string one, just because of that sound and feel.
The only guitar that I can recommend here (from my experience) is Yamaha C40M (on the picture), and Takamine Hirade series (which is high-end). Yamaha is a great guitar for beginners and it’s not expensive, it’s quite cheap actually.
How to try out guitars in a music shop
If you don’t know how to play anything, try to pick each string and get the feel for a guitar. Then press down with your finger on first fret, and play every note on every fret, and make sure you don’t hear any fret buzz. Chances are, if there is one, you’ll have to pay extra for a good setup later (which you're probably end up doing soon anyway, so not a big deal). Also, check out the action. The action is the distance between strings and the neck.
If the guitar has really high action it will be harder to play. On the other hand, if the action is low it will be easier to play, but setup would have to be really good, otherwise you’ll get fret buzz when you play a note. You can always ask someone in the shop to help you with this.
Once you get that perfect guitar for you, the first thing that you need to do is learn the basic guitar chords, then practice the right things, play as much as possible, and you can progress really fast. Though keep in mind that you’ll never get far on guitar unless you learn how to overcome obstacles that will come in your way.
If you're still not sure what guitar is for you, and you're on a tight budget, my advice would be to go for the electric. It doesn't matter really as long as you're satisfied with the guitar you bought.
Keep in mind that in the end, guitar is just the instrument, the music is in you. ;)
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