Choose A Beginner Guitar

Congratulations 🎉🎉! You’re here because you have the strong passion to start learning how to play a guitar 🎸. So, let’s kick off!

In order to start learning and playing guitar and of cause first of all you’ll have to own a guitar. Choosing a guitar is the first and foremost critical part as the guitar is going to accompany you all the way throughout your entire learning cycle and after. Hence beside choosing a quality guitar, you must also consider whether you really like it or not. That’s right, it is like choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend, you must also love the guitar you have chosen in term of size, color, shape and features.

So,  which type of guitar should I choose as a beginner? 😵😵😵

Well, my opinion is depending on what is the final goal that you want to achieve, either you want to be a classical guitar player or acoustic guitar player or an electric guitarist. And this also come to what genre of music that interest you. Like for instance, if you’re a country songs lover then acoustic guitar would be a better choice and if you’re interested in Bach and Spanish, then a classical guitar is good. Or if rock and heavy metal are what you crazy about,  then obviously electric guitar is the choice.

As for my case, I have started with acoustic guitar. Because my preferred genre of music is folk, pop and country songs and after getting my guitar teacher’s advice, I’ve bought my very own first acoustic guitar from his shop. However, no matter which type you choose, this doesn’t mean you can’t play other genres with the guitar that you have chosen. In fact you can, once you have mastered the skills and techniques.

The reason why I have chosen an acoustic guitar is that as a beginner, classical and acoustic guitars are much more cheaper and simple to begin with than electric guitar, as they do not need an amplifier with speaker 🔊  to work. Hence the volume is not too loud when strumming at home and they’re easy to carry around too.

So now we have just filtered and left with classical and acoustic guitars✌. Again, which one to choose among these two? 😵😵

Let’s look at these two siblings, what are their differences.

 

A Typical Classical (Flamenco) Guitar

Classical Guitar
Classical Guitar

Physical Characteristics :-

  • 3 nylon steel-strings and 3 nylon wound with wire strings.
  • normally no fret dot marker on frets.
  • tuning pegs facing down the head-stock (as depicted on picture).

 

A Typical Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic Guitar

Physical Characteristics :-

  • all 6 strings are steel (Sound sharper and higher tone).
  • with fret dot markers on fret and side of the neck.
  • tuning pegs facing side of the head-stock (as depicted on picture).

Oops! If you haven’t known what I’m referring to, please refer to below anatomy of a guitar;

Guitar Anatomy
Guitar Anatomy

Now that you roughly know what’re the differences between acoustic and classical guitars. Let’s carry on with the size. My opinion is regardless whether you’re adult or a child, the important thing is to get a right size guitar that fit your height, not by age.  As long as when your right hand rests on the middle of the sound-hole and your left hand can easily reach the first fret at the far end, and comfortably moving along the neck until the last fret (the one toward your body), then this should be the right size guitar for you or your child (this is for Right-handed guitar, if you’re testing a Left-handed guitar then it’s opposite. Your right hand should be holding the neck and left hand rests on sound-hole).

Here is a guideline to help you determine which size of guitar that fit you.

Guitar Size Reference

Guitar Size (inch) Your Height (cm) Remark
30" 90 ~ 105
34"106 ~ 119
36"120 ~ 129
40"130 ~ above Standard / Concert size
41"130 ~ aboveDreadnought in acoustic guitar

So,  have you make up your mind which guitar to choose for?

Actually both acoustic and classical guitars are good for beginner. There is no rule that said you can’t have both if affordable 😁. Else choose one according to your genre. Still can’t decide? Then choose acoustic guitar, just like me. Why? Because of better tone, and this is important which I’ll explain further on the following step.

 

The Quality 

Color doesn’t really affecting the quality of a guitar’s sound, so you can choose any color that you like, as long as you are comfortable with it. But the material and craftsmanship are really play a critical part here. A good quality material guitar (usually branded) definitely will produce supreme quality sound and relatively it’s going to cost you more money, but this is not always true if the craftsmanship or production is poor which will lead to “OUT OF TONE AND PITCH “. When this happened, we as the consumer cannot do anything because of manufacturing defective or sometimes it can be shipping problem. Hence we can either return it for money back guarantee or request for a new replacement.

So there are a few things that you need to inspect when you are buying a guitar from a shop. Or if you are buying from an online store, then make sure that they’re a reliable store. Now after you have chosen your type of guitar, color and size, it is time to start checking the quality one by one as stated below;

  • The Top or sounding board. It must be as flat as possible and free from dents and scratches. The easiest way to check the fatness is to use a straight wooden or plastic ruler as a gauge. As illustrated below; Inspect Sounding Board
  • The neck of the guitar. It must be parallel and seated tight on top of the Sound Board. The neck shall not move or shake from the body in any cases. Check the connection or contact between the neck and body, make sure there is no crack and flaw line in between. Use the ruler again and now position as shown below to check the parallelism;  Inspect Neck
  • The tuning machines. Check all tuning pegs, make sure they’re mounted tight on the Head-stock and all tuners are working fine.
  • The strings. Make sure that all strings are brand new and in good condition. For steel-strings, they must be free from corrosion or oxidation. Else request the seller to change it if the guitar itself is fined and also ask them to fine-tune for you. Tuning the pitch of the strings can now be done easily by using an Electronic Tuner.

Last but not least,  do a test drive. Try to strum on it and listen to the sound, it must be CLEAR, no buzzing sound. Then pluck on every individual string one by one and make sure it’s producing the correct tone and pitch (if you don’t know how then get someone that know about guitar or music to accompany you or get help from the seller or refer to next page ” It’s Fun To Learn Guitar “).

A correct tone and pitch of a guitar or any musical instruments is very important during your path of learning, especially when you’ve started young. Because beside learning the skills and techniques, at the same time we are also training our hearing sense. This is even more critical when you wanted to be a musician or intent to have a career in the musical niche.

So if you are planning of getting a guitar for yourself or your child, please get it from a proper music or guitar store as they are more specialized, professional and they could give you advice. A quality tone and pitch will not only motivate yourself or your child to continue learning, and importantly you’re not making noisy sounds that disturbing your surrounding people 😇. In fact you may want them to be your audience one day. Trust me,  I had been through all of these and you knew it if you’ve read About Me.

So now you have got your guitar and let’s “Rock N ….”. Hey..hey! hold on and be patient!

Beside your guitar, there are some other things that fairly important as well, the accessories. Some accessories are better to have it together when you purchase your guitar and some can be bought later.

The first one is the guitar Carrying-Case. A  Case is not only let you transport your guitar easily, it’s also protecting your guitar. Some guitar come together with a Carrying-Case, usually fabric and some without. If the offered is a soft fabric Case, I’d suggest you to pay a little more to upgrade to a Hard-Case as it is more protective. Acoustic and Classical guitar are made of soft wood, the body of a guitar can be easily cracked or dented with just some minor hit or collision (mine have got a flaw line after I had accidentally collided with a door frame. It was just a very minor collision and my guitar was still in a soft-case during the collision 🙁 . So I changed to a better case after that incident).

The second piece of thing that you’d like to have is the Guitar Tuner. When the guitar is strum for a period of time, the pitch of the strings may tend to run out or it’ll slightly vary under different temperature. So, it is a good habit to regularly fine tune the pitch by your self before you start any practicing or jamming. Thanks to the electronic technology today, an electronic tuner is now available in small size, ease of use, accurate and more importantly, cheap.

Auto Guitar Tuner
Auto Guitar Tuner

 

The third piece of thing to have is a Pick. You use it to strum the strings with different chords. Typically there are three types of pick; thin, medium and heavy which denote different thickness. As a beginner, it’s easier to start with a thin pick.

A Pick
A Pick

Type Of Pick

Type Of PickThickness (mm)
Thin0.46 ~ 0.58
Medium 0.58 ~ 0.72
Heavy0.72 ~ 1.2

 

The last piece of device is good to have but not necessary for beginner is a Capo. A Capo is barred and clamped across the neck (on fret) of a stringed instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch. There are different type of Capo in the market, but a good one usually based on the criteria of ease of use, small size, degree of interference with the player’s hands and must be able to hold down all strings evenly and uniformly without affecting the tuning.

A Capo
A Capo Clamped on A Fret

And finally, you could have your FUN now by proceeding to the next page ” It’s Fun to Play Guitar “.