It has something to do with the allure of buying a guitar, whether you have an eagerness to play sold out arenas every night or just want to mess around while you while away your time at home. Playing the guitar can be an incredibly enjoyable creative hobby and a great way to decompress after a long day, and it’s something that countless talented musicians have made careers of.
“We all know music makes you smarter,” said Justin Norvell, executive vice president of Fender Products. “It works in areas of the brain that are only beneficial for everyone. And just stress relief, joy, all that stuff. ”
However, some things are more daunting than trying to buy your first guitar. What brand names and models are worth buying? Are you buying an acoustic or an electric one? And can you get something worth less than $ 300? Don’t fret – pun intended – we have answers to these questions.
After speaking to experts from around the music world and reading through serious reviews, we’ve selected some great electric, acoustic, and bass guitars for beginners, as well as some resources to learn to play once you’ve decided on an ax. Here’s what you need to know before you start chopping.
One of the most important decisions you need to make when buying your first guitar is whether you will be acoustic or electric. Acoustic guitars usually have hollow wooden bodies that allow them to produce sound on their own, while electric guitars need to be plugged into an amplifier before anyone can hear the sweet riff you’ve been practicing all day. There are also acoustic-electric hybrids that can be played on their own, but also plugged into an amplifier when you’re on the go.
Because of their self-contained nature, acoustic guitars can be a good value for beginners as you don’t have to jump for an amplifier. As several people we’ve spoken to pointed out, electric guitars can take some of the strain off your hands as they generally contain thinner, less resilient strings that can prove more inviting to beginners.
“One thing that is a misnomer, I think most people think you start acoustically, but in fact an electric guitar usually has the strings lower than the fingerboard, thinner strings [and] You don’t have to push that hard, ”says Norvell. “We usually only recommend this because of its lightness.”
Your choice may also depend on what type of music you want to make. Acoustic guitars are great for solo acts. However, if you’re planning on rocking out with a full band (and potentially pissing off your neighbors in the process), an electric guitar is probably the one for you.
“I think it just depends what you want to play,” says Nashville-based indie rock artist Julien Baker. “Because if you’re a person who wants to accompany your own voice with chords and sing folk music, yes, dude, just get yourself a little 3/4 Martin and then save up for something nice that sounds really clear and spruce and bright is.
“But I just wanted to shred it,” continues Baker. “I learned a handful of chord shapes and then felt so uncomfortable trying to do more complex chord parts and so on on the acoustic guitar. So I got an electric guitar. Then that was the end. ”
According to the experts we spoke to, starting with something simple and affordable is highly recommended – especially if you’re not sure how seriously you want to take your guitar playing.
“You don’t buy a racing car if you learn to drive at the beginning,” says George Phillips, owner of New York guitar store Astoria Music. “You first learn how to drive, then you go out and get a Corvette.”
Phillips notes that big brands aren’t everything, as guitars that can be found for a few hundred dollars are better now than ever before. While getting a good deal is important, getting something you like is just as important – after all, this is one tool that you are likely to be holding and looking at almost every day.
“It’s interesting because the guitar is a very aesthetic and emotionally connected instrument. In order to [people] Kind of go with their eyes first. Says Norvell. “So it’s cosmetics and shape and appearance and the like that is important because you hold the body against you and it becomes part of your identity. But really, when you start it has to be about what feels good. ”
If you are able to purchase a guitar from your local store before purchasing one, it is highly recommended. If you don’t enjoy going to a physical store just yet (and we don’t blame you), most online retailers have fairly generous return policies. For example, at the Guitar Center you can return a guitar for a refund or exchange within 45 days. This gives you plenty of time to decide whether your new ax will suit you or not. Take the time it takes because you will ultimately want something that feels right in your hands.
“Get a guitar that feels good because I think what kept me off the guitar for so long before I really played the electric guitar … was that it was difficult to play,” says Baker, setting one good guitar equals a comfortable pair of shoes.
“When I was a kid I wore crazy rainbow vans and now I think, ‘I need some support for the bow,” says Baker. “So I wear like lame New Balances. It’s the same with me with guitar playing. It is how to get a good solid guitar. You might spend more time or feel just as much as listening.
“But it is like that, damn it, get yourself a guitar that will make you happy. You know what, if playing against BC Rich Warlock makes you happy inside, go for it. I don’t know, I’m a guitar nerd and I’m like a clay brother, but not everyone is. Some people are just trying to have fun and make music with their own hands. That’s what playing the guitar is all about. ”
Squier Affinity Series Telecaster
There’s a good chance you’ve seen one of your favorite rock guitarists with a Fender Telecaster, and this entry-level Squier Affinity version can get your hands on the iconic design for a great value. The folks at Fender recommend their Squier Affinity series to start with, and the Telecaster has been Baker’s guitar of choice for years.
“I love the versatility of them,” says Baker. “I can do [my first Telecaster] sounds moist and crystalline and beautiful, but it hasn’t lost its punch. Plus, they’re just easy to play with. They’re a workhorse guitar for a reason. ”
The Affinity Series Telecaster promises a “slim and comfortable” neck that introduces you to your first chords and riffs, and can be purchased for both right and left handers. It’s also available in a variety of colors to suit your personal style, including Arctic White, Butterscotch Blonde, and Race Green.
Fender CD-60S all-mahogany acoustic
The Fender CD-60S is a constant favorite among the experts and reviews we have consulted. It gets high marks for its balanced sound, ability to stay in tune, and affordability. Reviewers have hailed the CD-60S for its easy playability and the fact that it requires very little adjustment when you remove it from the box. The attractive mahogany finish isn’t a bad thing either.
“These guitars, even in the lower price ranges, I have several Squier guitars and Fender guitars that I have had for more than 20 years,” said Norvell. “And they still play great.”
Ibanez GSRM20 micro
If you prefer to play bass guitar, the Ibanez GSRM20 is one of the most popular and respected beginner basses we’ve found on the internet. This short-scale bass is roughly 3/4 the size of a standard model, making it ideal for younger players or people who travel frequently or just don’t have a lot of space. The GSRM20 has received strong reviews for its ease of playback and impressive overall sound, which is easy to tweak with the built-in tone controls. It also comes in a number of attractive colors, including a bright blue, purple, sunburst brown, and red.
The guitars above are just a few examples of great ways to get started. We also encourage you to do your own research and try a few axles for yourself if you are able. After all, buying a guitar is ultimately about what looks right and feels right to you.
Whichever model you choose, keep in mind that learning this instrument will take time, patience and a lot of practice.
“I think people are used to more instant gratification and that guitar is definitely something to use in your first real beginner stage as a soldier to get pleasure … from the instrument,” says Norvell. “If you can get someone through that initial job to where you have that first level of proficiency and those first quick wins, you have someone who could be with you for a lifetime.”
Fortunately, once you get your hands on a guitar, there are plenty of resources out there for learning how to play. Fender has its own Fender Play platform (starting at $ 44.99 per year with a free trial option) that has video tutorials on desktop and mobile that you can sort by difficulty or song. Fender Play offers multi-cam videos that allow you to see riffs and chord shapes from different angles and keep track of your progress as you finish different lessons.
If you’re looking for a playful approach, we personally had a lot of fun with Rocksmith 2014 Edition Remastered. Rocksmith lets you plug your guitar into a PC, PlayStation or Xbox and play tons of popular songs like Green Day, Outkast and Foo Fighters with detailed lessons and high score challenges. It’s like Guitar Hero, only you’re using a real guitar (and getting pretty good training).
You can also find tons of free guitar tutorials on YouTube and use online learning services like MasterClass and SkillShare for more professional lessons. Just don’t be too hard on yourself and remember to have fun along the way – that is ultimately what making music is all about.
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