So you’ve decided it’s time to trade your air guitar in for a real one. Tired of posing in front of the bedroom mirror, you’re going to learn how to play for real. Obviously, the next step for you is to figure out what kind of guitar you need and where to get it. Below you will find a few hints to get you headed in the right direction.
Acoustic or Electric?
This is the decision you’ll need to make right off the bat. Do you want to plug in or go au naturale? There are many reasons to consider each direction. The important thing is to remember that you aren’t locked into a choice for life. Pick what will serve you best in the immediate future. You can always purchase the other type of guitar later.
First consider an acoustic. The great thing about acoustic guitars is that they can be played almost anywhere. Trust me, after you learn to play a little bit you will want to do some pickin’ outside your bedroom, and an acoustic is the easiest way to do this. No need to carry amps, pedals, and cords. Just the guitar, a few picks, and you’re on your way.
In addition, as far as your technique goes, starting on an acoustic may be best for you in the long run. Typically they are harder to fret than an electric, forcing you to build calluses and strength in your hands and fingers. Once you get used to fretting an acoustic, an electric will be a breeze. Acoustics are also great if you plan on singing; they are much better for producing backing rhythms for your voice.
If your goal is to be a gunslinger, then an electric axe is the way to go. The array of sounds you can get out of this type of guitar far surpasses an acoustic. With a huge amount of effects and stomp boxes out there to add to your sound, you are only limited by your creativity. Due to their slimmer necks and lower action, electrics are perfect for learning scales and leads.
New or Used?
Now that you’ve decided between plugged or unplugged, the next step is actually finding a guitar. The inclination for most of us is to run out immediately to the local retailer and buy whatever we think looks good. Large department stores such as Wal-Mart and Target carry entry-level guitars. However, you will typically find a much better selection and better prices at a specialty store. You’ll also find the staff at specialty stores are often musicians who can offer great advice for the beginner. Large instrument retailers such as Musician’s Friend and Sam Ash even have online stores with free shipping on many orders.
If you are looking to minimize start up costs, then it may be wise to start with something used. Why pay retail for something you aren’t sure you’ll like? Attics across America are filled with guitars that were purchased with the best of intentions, only to be tossed aside. You may be able to pick up someone else’s impulse buy for a fraction of what it would cost you new. Consider looking at unusual places such as pawnshops and garage sales. Also, there are tons of places to find a deal online such as Craigslist, and eBay. The national retailer Music Go Round specializes in used instruments. From their website, you can search the inventory at their brick and mortar stores and then have your choice shipped to you. Remember, when shopping for used equipment online, shipping charges do apply. Make sure you factor this in to insure you are getting the best deal possible.
After you decide what kind of guitar you want and where to get it, your hardest choice will be picking which song you want to learn first.