Whether you’re buying your first guitar or your tenth, shopping for your next electric or acoustic guitar is always a super exciting thing. Just as you research cars before you buy one, the same due diligence should be applied to musical instruments. From browsing online reviews to asking your friends for their opinion, you can never put too much research into the buying process. Here are a few things to consider before buying a new guitar, including knowing your price range and deciding between acoustic and electric.
Play the Guitar Before Buying
Sure, that guitar may look really cool online, but aesthetics are only part of the package. Some of the most beautiful guitars are also the most difficult to handle, meaning you should try your hardest to handle a guitar in person before you purchase. Plus, just because you saw a guitar online doesn’t mean you can’t buy it online–just head to a store first to play around with it. If you’re shopping for a new guitar because you don’t like something about your current guitar, make sure to keep a list of what you want (and what you don’t want) in your next guitar.
Finalize a Price Range
The first thing you should do before setting foot in a store or browsing online is think hard about your finances and decide on a price range that works for you. Guitars can be very expensive, depending on the brand and features, so keeping a price range in mind will keep you from overspending and regretting it later. A starter guitar can go for as low as $50-60, while professional guitars with all the bells and whistles can be in the thousands. Think about what you need, and what would just be nice to have, and don’t forget to set some cash aside for your guitar case and accessories.
Decide on Acoustic vs. Electric
If you don’t already know whether you want an acoustic or electric guitar, now is the time to decide. If you can’t quite decide, start with asking yourself what style of music you want to play; country and folk music tends to favor the acoustic guitar, while metal or rock and roll is better played on an electric guitar. The truth is, you can’t go wrong–whether you choose an acoustic or electric guitar, you’re sure to find a good quality guitar that you’ll enjoy for years to come. But making this decision up front can save you a lot of back and forth at the shop.
Don’t Live and Die by Brands
Many guitarists, especially brand new ones, feel like they need to buy a Fender or a Gibson in order to succeed at learning and playing the guitar. While brand does have an impact on things like quality and longevity, the only thing you should really focus on is how the guitar feels in your hands. If this is your first purchase, don’t worry so much about names–you’ll be upgrading to a bigger and better guitar in no time, so you don’t necessarily need to spend the big bucks on a name brand guitar this time around. For more advice on things to look out for when buying a new guitar, check out our Guitar Buying Guide.
Choose New or Used
It’s always a great idea to buy used when you know exactly what you’re getting into. Like buying a used car, you should only buy a used guitar if you know what to look for and aren’t too worried about making repairs. If you do decide to purchase a used guitar, take someone who has been playing the guitar for years with you–they’ll know what to look for and will play the guitar to see if there’s anything obviously wrong with it. If you’re a first-timer, or don’t want to waste money on surprise repairs, it’s in your best interest to purchase a new guitar. If you’re concerned about price, keep an eye out for online sales or consider renting until you can afford a guitar instead.
Stock Up On Accessories
Last but not least, there are a variety of things you’ll need to pick up in addition to your guitar. You’ll probably need a small amp (if you chose electric), a fresh set of strings, a guitar strap, and a metronome…which you’ll definitely need handy when you start taking lessons. Some guitars come with accessory packs or bundles, while in other situations you’ll need to purchase everything separately. If you choose to pick up some accessories later, that’s perfectly acceptable, but one accessory you’ll need right away is a guitar case. Without it, your guitar could break or become damaged, and the last thing you want is to spend hundreds getting a guitar fixed before even being able to play it.
For more essential guitar accessories, check out Beyond the Guitar: Strings, Cases, and Other Accessories.