Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Guitar for a Beginner

VD November 11 2021

If you're just about to buy a new guitar and you can set up to go to a store to do it, today we have some tips for buying a guitar in-store. There are a few things you should keep in mind so that you will be happy with your new treasure for a long time.  

There are several ways you can buy a guitar. In addition to shipping over the Internet or buying a used musical instrument, there is the good old-fashioned way to go to a musical instrument store - preferably one that has a spacious guitar department - and take your time to look around. But what is it about? What things do you have to consider if you want to buy a classical acoustic guitar, western guitar, concert guitar, or electric guitar in the store? Yep, the tips in the following article apply to everyone, so it's worth going through the checklist for all guitarists. 

1. Quality of workmanship 

With musical instruments and thus also the guitar, the quality of workmanship is important, after all, it is constantly mechanically stressed during play. Don't be a shame to calmly test every potentiometer, every switch, all pickups and mechanics for their functionality, good handling, and robustness. Regarding the latter, it is best to compare many guitars with one another. If necessary, be persistent and hole up the seller with all your questions. If you are at the store on your own, try to take along someone who understands guitars.

2. Playing the guitar 

This point is crucial - playing the guitar, even a cheap electric guitar, must be very comfortable for you and it must not prevent you from bringing your best performance and speed to the fingerboard. Play the guitar in all positions and frets and make sure nothing stands in your way. It must also fit in your lap, but not to the detriment of mobility. It's all about balance and ergonomics!

3. Appearance vs. playability

Very often, the design of the electric guitar has a significant influence on the purchase decision - after all, Gibson and Fender are so popular for a reason. Nevertheless, try not to be too impressed by the look. Because the most beautiful electric guitar is useless if you are not able to play your best solo on it.  Instead of letting yourself be blinded by beauty, go with ergonomics and playability.

4. The right strings for beginners 

If you want to buy a cheap electric guitar as a beginner, you should think carefully about which strings you want to learn to play the guitar on. It is very likely that you will find it easier, especially as a beginner, to play a classical concert guitar with nylon strings. But if you start with a steel-string acoustic guitar, for example, you will have fewer problems playing other guitars and stringed instruments afterward. Every beginning is difficult. And yes your fingers will hurt at first. But once the ear skin forms on your fingers, it will stop hurting. Once you have learned to play on steel strings, nylon strings will be easy for you. 

5. Brand vs. lifestyle 

Okay, everyone has their own taste, but it is best to decide whether you are getting a guitar for its brand or for the lifestyle it allows you to live. If you are thinking of buying your first electric guitar because it's cool to have an Ibanez RG350DX on your wall at home, think again! It makes no sense that the expensive Gibson Les Paul Standard sits in your closet because you don't want to risk scratching it with your everyday life ... Get a cheap one as a beginner - even if it begs style points on Facebook later ;)

6. The right guitar for your musical style 

If you play metal or rock, it makes sense to buy an electric guitar with humbuckers. If you want to play blues and jazz, look out for single-coil pickups. However, the most important thing is that the neck feels comfortable in your hand, but also that the sound of the guitar allows you to bring out all your creativity - regardless if it's a classical acoustic guitar or an electric one with lots of switches and knobs. In other words: Listen to what you want to play!

7. Durability vs. price

In terms of quality, especially lower-priced guitars are not as durable as more expensive ones from well-known manufacturers such as Gibson or Fender. That's why you should pay attention that the guitar is not too expensive and does not have a brand name in order to survive wear and tear during your first years of playing the electric guitar. If possible, learn to take good care of it yourself - or have someone do it for you ;)

8. Do I want a solid body or an acoustic guitar?

In fact, beginners' guitars are mainly divided into two categories: Solidbody guitars and Acoustic / Classical guitars. In terms of sound, they are worlds apart from each other, which affects the way how we play them and what music we play on them (and what we cannot play). The difference between solid-bodied and acoustic classical guitars can be summarized in the following points:

  • Solidbody guitars are characterized by a very powerful sound, which is often preferred for rock music. However, single-coil pickups produce humming sounds in combination with high volume levels. This can be very annoying.
  • The sound of an acoustic guitar is more mellow, which makes it ideal for blues or folk music - but also for playing quietly at home or on buses and trains (which does not work so well with solid bodies). Often, they are equipped with "hum-canceling" pickups (in other words, humbuckers), which reduces unwanted noise during quiet passages. However, these pickups do not sound as good as real single coils when played at full volume ...

9. What about an amplifier?

When buying an electric guitar you should also pay close attention to what kind of amplifier you want to play with. What is your desired sound? According to that, you can choose between tube amplifiers or transistor amps. Tube amps are usually the more expensive ones, but they also deliver a warmer and rounder tone, which is especially suitable for jazz music. However, transistor amps are preferred by guitarists who love steel string guitars because they have a crisp treble sound with lots of sustain - which makes it easier to play melodies.

10. Finally: What do I want? 

The last question may sound banal but also very important! Do not buy anything because it has to be cool, but make sure you get something that allows your creativity to flow. And if you are not sure what you want - try out different things, or ask someone who already plays the guitar for advice.

To sump up

In the end, of course, it depends on which sound you want to create. The acoustics play the greatest role. With thinner strings, such as an electric guitar or concert guitar, you can play faster and produce a harder sound. With thicker strings, for example on the western guitar, you have a fuller and more pleasant sound.