If you are a first-time guitar buyer, navigating your way through the purchase of a beginner guitar can be intimidating. Most parents or first-time buyers want to make sure they end up with a quality instrument for a reasonable price, but often times don’t even know what questions to ask or where to start. A great resource to determine what type of guitar to purchase – size, electric, or acoustic – is an article I wrote a few years ago for MusicAndRockSchool.com, which is available here. As for where to purchase that first guitar, I highly recommend visiting a local music store, and avoid purchasing a guitar from a department store or online retailer.
Local Music Store: YES!
Your local music shop will have a variety of guitars to hold, examine, and try out before you decide to make your purchase. Even beginners who haven’t yet learned to play guitar can still gain some insight by the way a guitar feels. Is it too big? Are the strings too difficult to press down? Trust your instincts! Your local shop will also have a knowledgeable staff of experts to answer questions and steer you in the right direction. Additionally, since most local music stores offer repair services, should something go wrong with your guitar in the future you’ll have a place to take it to make things right.
Department Store: NO
Avoid purchasing a guitar from a department store (Target, Walmart, etc.). While the price may seem right, and it may seem convenient to grab a guitar while you’re stocking up on other household supplies, it may very likely cost you in the long run. The guitars sold at these retailers are simply not “built to last.” A poorly crafted guitar can be more difficult to play, which is often frustrating to beginner guitar players. Additionally, on multiple occasions I’ve even seen guitars such as these that require $50-100 worth of repair work right out of the box, just to make them playable.
Online Retailer: NO
While nearly everything a person could want or need is available for purchase online these days, I don’t recommend buying your first guitar from an online retailer. If you’re not able to actually hold and play the guitar, and compare it to others available, you might not end up with the guitar that’s right for you. There can be variations in guitars even of the same brand and model. Because guitars are made out of wood, which is largely responsible for the tone, two seemingly identical Fender DG-60s, for example, might sound and play differently. Finally, purchasing a guitar from an online retailer means that it has to be shipped to you. Aside from the potential damage it could incur from being bounced around during shipping, because guitars are made from wood it means they are also vulnerable to changes in climate. Extreme cold and extreme heat can both warp the wood, and these are things out of anyone’s control once the guitar is on its journey to your doorstep.
We are always happy to help first-timers get the right instrument to begin making music. If you have any questions about buying a guitar prior to starting lessons, feel free to send us an e-mail or give us a call.