Guitar Buying Guide

Buying a guitar is a personal experience like buying shoes or clothing. The instrument should sound good, feel easy to play, and some people also like their instrument to have a certain appearance. The first thing to consider when buying a guitar is what kind of guitar do you want? It could be a steel string or nylon string acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. If you buy an electric guitar you will also need an amplifier. 

Some instruments are much more common in certain styles, for instance a steel string acoustic is commonplace in folk, rock, country, blues, etc. whereas a nylon string guitar is the instrument of choice in classical guitar, flamenco and many latin styles. The electric guitar is an instrument that is used in various styles of music also blues, rock, jazz, metal, funk, etc. If you gravitate towards a certain style of music or a guitarist that uses a certain type of instrument then you’ll probably gravitate towards that type of instrument yourself. Having said that, there’s nothing preventing you from playing metal on an acoustic guitar or classical on an electric guitar. It won’t sound stylistically accurate but could still sound nice and be fun to play. 

If you’ve never played guitar before, maybe you could borrow one from a family member or friend so that you can get more familiar with the instrument. This would allow you to get a better idea of what it is you are looking for in a guitar. There are also places that rent guitars such as Long & Mcquade, or Musicare but since beginner guitars are very affordable, you are probably better off just buying one in the long run.

Some of the things that affect how easy the guitar is to play are the action (height of the strings from the neck of the guitar), the scale length (affects how wide the frets are), the size of the guitar (full size, half size or three quarter?), and the string gauge (how thick or thin?).

It is important to note that a smaller person or child should probably get a half size or three quarter size guitar so that it is more comfortable to play.

Testing Out The Instrument

  • Play every fret at the sweet spot to make sure there is no buzzing. 
  • Check the intonation (if it is in tune around the higher frets)
  • Check if it is in tune
  • Check to make sure the bridge of the guitar is properly secured
  • Check electronics for signal disruption (static noise)

If possible, ask a more experienced friend to go shopping with you or hire someone to go with you to advise you. It is important to try a few different guitars so that you can compare them to one another. You can also rent a guitar or borrow one from a friend to get a better idea of what you want from a guitar.

Where To Buy?

  • Kijiji, garage sales, or pawn shops 
  • Steve’s Music Store
  • Long & McQuade
  • Local guitar store
  • Amazon or other box stores
  • Etc

I don’t really like recommending specific brands as some great brands have terrible instruments and some unknown brands sometimes have great instruments. However, I generally find Yamaha guitars are consistently good quality for the price. I would avoid Beaver Creek, Baron, and most lesser known instrument brands but of course, use your own judgement.

Anyways, I hope that helps. Please email me if you have any questions that weren’t covered in this article or if you’re interested in my services.

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