Recommended Guitars and Materials for Beginners
Updated: May 6, 2021
As a guitar teacher, one of the most common questions I get is: "What kind of guitar should I start with?" Well I'm here today to answer that and some other questions for you!
The first thing to ask yourself is which instrument you WANT to play: acoustic or electric. If you want to play classic rock, electronic music, metal, guitar riffs, etc. you will want to start with electric guitar. If your goal is to play folk, singer-songwriter stuff, and more chord-based music, then you should start with acoustic guitar. Listen to some songs you'd like to learn, and see if you can tell which type of guitar they are playing.
- A lot of people think you are supposed to start with acoustic guitar and work your way up to electric. This is not the case. Electric guitar strings are actually easier to push down, making it easier on the fingers. I personally started with electric.
- Another common misconception is that electric guitar is "too loud." With electric guitar you have volume knobs on the guitar and the amplifier. These knobs give you control over the sound, and you can actually play at a lower level than you normally would on acoustic. Of course, you CAN turn it up loud if you want, but don't think the neighbors will be complaining when you are on the lowest setting.
There are several sizes of guitars. There are full size guitars, 3/4 size, and sometimes half size. For children under 10, I would recommend 3/4 size guitars. For anyone over 11 or 12 you will want to go for the full size. I don't really ever recommend half size guitars, because they are often cheap/lower quality. Full size acoustic guitars are also bigger than electric guitars because of the body size.
Here is a chart for recommended sizes based on age. Use your best judgement based on how big a child is for their age.
13+ Full size electric or acoustic
11 or 12 Full size electric or 3/4 acoustic
8 to 10 3/4 size electric or 3/4 acoustic
7 or younger Ukulele
Below you can see some of my guitar recommendations for beginners. Disclaimer: I am not endorsed by any of these companies. These are simply my personal recommendations based on years of playing and teaching.
Recommended Electric guitars for Beginners:
My top recommendation for beginner electric guitars is always a Fender Squier. They sell full starter packs that include the guitar, case, amp, cables, picks, strap and tuner. They also have starter packs in full size and 3/4 size. You can buy them in your local store, or on most online stores (Guitar Center, Sweetwater, Amazon, etc.). Another good choice is the brand Epiphone. Epiphones are the more affordable counterparts to Gibson guitars.
Recommended Acoustic Guitars for Beginners:
Some good acoustic guitar brands that won't break the bank are:
Yamaha, Fender, Ibanez, and Gretsch
Avoid fully painted small acoustic guitars, and ones that have weird shapes. These types of guitars are usually more like toys and often have bad tuning issues, intonation, string height, etc.
Important Notes for Buying Guitars:
Although shopping online has become the standard, I highly recommend buying a guitar at a physical store! It is important to try out some guitars before buying. You want to make sure the guitar feels good in your hands, is easy to play and sounds good to your ears. Different guitars (even if they are the same model) can vary drastically. If you order online, you may receive something that you don't like and may need to return it. Whenever I buy a guitar (especially acoustic) I audition a bunch of them to see what I like. The price tags often don't reflect the sound quality.
If you are buying something other than a starter pack, you will want to buy the following items also:
- Guitar Strap
- Amplifier and 1/4 inch cable (for electric)
And that is pretty much all there is! Guitar is an exciting and rewarding instrument to learn. Get rocking!
If you are interested in virtual guitar lessons, please visit: https://www.randymcgraveymusic.com/guitar-lessons
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