How to choose and buy your first guitar

What’s up, my friend Lee friends? Mr. Tyler Preston here back coming at you with another lesson in today’s lesson. We’re going to be answering the question for the ask Tyler series. And today’s question is

Hey Tyler, how do I choose and buy my first guitar? So let’s get into it for starters when it comes to choosing and buying your first guitar. The number one decision that you have to make is electric or acoustic. So let’s talk about pros and cons there personally. I always recommend that folks go with an acoustic guitar. The reason is because an acoustic guitar can be played anywhere. It doesn’t require any additional equipment except for the guitar itself, and I believe that learning on acoustic guitar.

Forces you to focus on the fundamentals of good cording good strumming and helps you develop sufficient hand strength to create good tone, whether you continue to play acoustic or eventually transition to Electric. I also think acoustic guitars are better for songwriters because again, they kind of force you to stick to the fundamentals they force you to you know, play in a more rudimentary fashion. It’s not say you can’t play complex things on an acoustic guitar, but

they’re a little bit they’re a little harder to play than an electric. So that’s the pros and also that last little bit is the con for acoustic guitars electric guitars on the other hand much easier to play the strings are thinner and softer easier to press down. It’s going to be easier to master your bar chords on electric. Some folks are really interested in learning how to play rock styles and blue Styles Jazz the things that are played typically on an electric guitar.

And in those cases, like if you’re looking for an easier guitar to play or you specifically want to pursue an electric guitar style. I say go for it launched off with an electric guitar. If you’re sure that you want to learn electric go do that and start with that cons to learning electric are that it’s going to make changing to an acoustic a little bit of an uncomfortable experience. You’re going to have to add more hand strength and you can develop some sloppy techniques as a player when you start learning on electric and then you transition.

Shinto acoustic because electric is a lot more forgiving with sloppy technique. So there’s the acoustic-electric divide. But again, I don’t think that either is specifically better for a beginner. I I push people to play Acoustics because that’s what I believe in but if you put a gun to my head and said tell me which one’s better for beginner. I would probably say electric because it’s easier to learn so that’s me answering the acoustic-electric question without actually answering it.

The next question that you have when you’re going to buy your first guitar is new or used. I started on Used Guitars. I didn’t have any problem with that. You know, they weren’t in bad shape. I didn’t really know whether they were good or bad shape when I started playing them. My folks just had a couple of guitars laying around that they hadn’t played in years. They just lived behind the couch. And so I picked those guitars up and started learning on those. I learned on the instrument that was around me and that’s what I typically encourage.

Urge people to do if you’ve got a friend or a family member who has a guitar that you can borrow try that one first. Why invest a couple hundred dollars that you don’t need to something that you’re not necessarily a hundred percent sure that you’re going to stick with, you know, I mean, I love to think that beginning guitar players like say I want to learn guitar and then they know when they’re committed all the way and stuff but there’s a process of exploration and experimentation that has to go along with guitar. You got to try it out and see whether it’s something you like, you know.

If you can get in for free with a friend’s guitar or with family members guitar, that’s totally cool. Try that out. If you find that that guitar is impacting your ability to play you’ll know. Okay, you’ll know if the guitar is hard to play then it might be time like in that that would be like if the string action is too high. Okay, the strings are too high off the Frets and very uncomfortable press down or if the guitar is just in bad shape you’ll know and you’ll know that you should probably go get a slightly better quality guitar.

To learn on K. So assuming that you don’t have access to a guitar through a friend or family member. The next question is used or new I think used is totally fine. And you can get a better instrument for the money with a used guitar. You can get something that’s higher quality and going to last you longer. If you go used the questions are always when you come to talk about use guitars. Like is it quality? How do I determine the quality? So a couple things to look for in a used guitar number one?

The string action. Okay, you see the strings over here. The strings are pretty close to the Fret board. That’s the would part with the metal strips. Those are fret wires between you want your strings to be pretty close to the Fret board in the front wires without touching anywhere. Okay, if they’re too high if there’s a bow in the neck, like if the neck curves like this, that’s a bad guitar. It’s not going to play correctly. When you get up to this section of the neck where the bow will typically be the guitars in

Bad shape it’s going to be very uncomfortable play and it’s going to be tough to get a good sound out of that guitar. So you want a nice consistent string action the the distance between the string and the fretboard should be roughly the same up here as down here. It’ll be a little it’ll be a little wider but not much up by the 12th fret okay, the next thing that you do to make sure that it’s a quality guitar is you test every fret

on every string

That’s every fret on the high E string you do the same thing on the be.

So on and so forth you do every fret on every string. It’s important that you do this. Here’s why you got a test putting fretting the strings so that you can hear if the strings bottom out higher up on the neck when you play if they bottom out what will happen is you’ll hear kind of like a dead. I’m going to simulate it because my my strings won’t bottom out, but it’ll sound like this. It’ll

Hear that. Okay, you’re gonna get like a muted note that ends short and you’ll be fretting down here. It’ll probably happen somewhere between the 7th fret and the 14th fret okay this region right here is where bottomed out notes come from typically what you got to test all the Frets and you’re listening to make sure that every single fret Rings true if the string like, you know goes dead or sounds muted or

As when you pluck it on a given fret that’s a wolf note. We called a wall like wolf, you know like oh oh and if it plays a wolf know you don’t want that guitar. Okay, because that means that you’re not going to be able to ever play that note. It would be like buying a piano with a bumkey same thing. So test all of the Frets and then the last thing to check out on the guitar is like if it’s an acoustic electric guitar, you should have the folks at the pawn shop or wherever.

Ryan from plug it in and play it through an amplifier and show you that it works make sure that the electronics work and also check the tuners make sure that twisting the tuners is easy to do that. None of them are sticky or in bad shape. You won’t necessarily be able to tell by looking at them. What you need to do is loosen the strings and then tighten the tutor a cup and you’ll hear and feel if the tuner is sticky if it pops.

If it cracks anything like that, like anything that isn’t is anything less than smooth Easy Action on the tuners would be a no-go situation. Okay, so in recap buying a used guitar chip the string action, that’s the height of the string above the Fret board you want to pretty low, but you don’t want it. So low that when you check all the Frets that you get any wolf notes any muted or buzzing tones, check the electronics make sure there’s no holes.

A body a little bit of where is okay, but you know holes or cracks in the body cracks in the neck. You want to look in this region see if the guitar has been glued or repaired here if it has been that’s a no-go don’t buy a guitar. That’s had a broken neck. It also happens up here broken headstock. Okay, you’ll see crack up there. So check for cracks check the tuners make sure that the tuners move easily and check the electronics make sure that everything on the guitar, you know, it works the way

Way that they intended to and if you have a guitar playing friend, it’s good to bring a guitar playing friend along with you have them play the guitar let you know like this one plays pretty good or this one doesn’t play pretty good. It’s typically a binary thing. And anybody who plays guitar even a little bit can tell whether an instrument is a solid one or not when they buy it. So that’s how to buy a used guitar as far as new guitars go, you know, the the trick with that is to figure out what kind you want electric or acoustic browser.

take a look at what brands are out there that are good and then, you know find something that works within your price point anything less than probably a hundred and fifty dollars new is not likely to be a great instrument, but the hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollar range is perfect for beginners and most instruments that you get within that range from reputable companies Yamaha Fender Squier Epiphone Gibson Gretch

Those are kind of big Ibanez. Those are the big ones that I would call out and say, you know, check out those guitars Dean is not bad Jackson’s not bad. But yeah hundred fifty to two hundred fifty bucks for an acoustic or an electric starter pack that comes with like an amplifier and stuff solid. That’s a great deal. You probably going to be really happy with that instrument if you got more money to blow blow as much money as you want the more money that you spend on the guitar the better estimate that you’re going to get not gonna lie the best instruments out there like true-blue professionals instruments are going to cost upwards of

And realistically if you want the really high quality stuff, you’re going to pay 2 3 4 5 K. Okay, but you don’t need that. You don’t need to have a professional quality instrument to get a great sound and have an amazing time. This is the most expensive guitar that I’ve ever owned Takamine New Yorker $1,200 new before this every other guitar that I’ve ever owned cost me three or four hundred bucks and they all sounded great. My records were all recorded with 300 $400 guitars. I’ve always taken three or four.

Dog guitars on stage. Yeah, you know, you don’t need an expensive guitar to sound great. That’s a that’s definitely a fallacy. But so I hope that kind of gives you an idea of what to be looking for. When you get ready to go find your first guitar. If you got additional questions, feel free to hit me up. I love to talk about buying new guitars. I love to live vicariously through you because you know, buying guitars is one of the best things of being a guitarist. So if you got questions about that, hit me up on Twitter at

Mr. Tyler Preston, or you can shoot me an email at Tyler at Tyler and be sure to subscribe to this channel. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter at Tyler press and until next time my friendly friends. Good luck. Have fun and happy strumming.

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.