The Right Type Of Guitar For Beginners

Which is the right kind of guitar to get started?

I get asked this question many times by aspiring guitar players… and understandably so…

There are different types of guitars, broadly classified into Steel String Acoustic, Nylon String Guitars, Electro-Acoustic Guitars (Steel & Nylon String), Electric Guitars and furthermore you have different models under each category, with different features....

As a beginner it becomes very challenging to decide what kind of guitar should you be purchasing. I’ve been through this confusion, and made a lot of mistakes due to the Myths around there about beginners and the right kind of guitar they should get started with....

Here are a few of those myths:

  1. Beginners should get started with a steel string acoustic guitar

  2. Beginners should upgrade to an Electric guitar only once they have basic skills on the instrument

  3. Nylon string guitar is for classical musicians etc.

The fact is that, none of these Myths have any truth to them, and I’m going to explain to you why below. This will also act as a guideline for you to buy the right kind of guitar suited to your needs...

I wish there was a short and perfect answer to this question! But then, I wouldn’t have had the privilege to guide you through the process of choosing the right type of guitar for you to get started on your guitar playing journey...Because as an experienced teacher, I understand the importance of having the right instrument especially at the beginning stages for a guitar player...

So the type of guitar you should buy depends on:

  1. Your Aspirations/Preferences:This should be the first criteria for you to make the choice in terms of what is the type of guitar you would require to ensure you reach your individual musical aspirations in the shortest possible time. This is completely contrary to Myth no 1 listed above, and for good reason. If you aspire to be a Pop acoustic guitarist who wants to use the guitar as an accompaniment to singing, it does make sense to get started with an acoustic. But, Why would you want to start your guitar learning with a steel string acoustic guitar, if all you aspire to do is play Rock and Metal music. Moreover, there are different types of techniques required to master each of these types of guitar, and the skills you learn on one can be translated to the next type easily, so it would make more sense to start with the type that’s your primary goal and preference in terms of the music you see yourself playing more.

  2. Your Usage: This may sound similar to the previous criteria, but it's really not. Here I want to shift your focus towards, the usability and the life that you are expecting your first guitar to have. E.g. If you want a guitar that you can use a lot and carry around places, without having to worry about damaging it, then it would make sense to go for a guitar that's known for durability and toughness. But ensure that you don't compromise of the quality of sound, parts and workmanship. If you are very careful with the instrument, and don't play it very often (which you don't want to do) then you can go for more expensive guitars right at the beginning.

  3. Your Learning Style: This should probably be your main criteria for buying the first guitar. Your progress completely depends on how much and how well you would be able to use your guitar. If you are not having a good guitar teacher, then you are the best judge of what is your personal learning style. Learning guitar does involve a bit of physical work, and this causes some pain in the fingers, which goes away after a while. But if you are someone who gets discouraged by the slight bit of discomfort, then an Electric guitar, or a nylon string guitar would be the best bet for you. On the other hand, if you are the kind who does whatever it takes to get what you want, then you can choose any type of guitar to get started.

  4. Your Comfort Level: Another one of those easily overlooked aspects of buying a guitar, and this probably hurts most beginner guitar players in the early days. Despite all the advise or research you have done about your first guitar, you should always try out the instrument yourself and find out how comfortable you feel with it. Try different types and models of guitar and gauge them in terms of, Seating comfort, Fretting comfort, Reach, Quality of parts, Finish, Sound and Tone etc. Ask for help from a good guitar teacher to understand how you can judge the guitar for these elements.

  5. Your Budget: Last on this list, but probably the factor that drives most guitar purchases by beginners is how much can you afford to spend on your first guitar. With guitars, it's almost always "You Get What You Pay For". But in some cases, it also involves paying extra money for the brand value, or the aesthetics of the instrument, like design, color, inlays etc. Design is certainly a factor that should be important, but none of the other things like how it looks, what's the color, type of inlays etc should drive your decision to buy the instrument. There are many good guitar brands that make quality instruments, at an affordable price, my personal favorites are Yamaha, Fender, Epiphone and Ibanez.

Your first guitar plays a very important role in how fast you can progress in your playing, and hence it's crucial that you make a well informed decision. Keep in mind these guiding principles, or schedule a trial session to get more free guidance on making the right decision on your first guitar purchase.