Buying your first guitar can be a confusing and intimidating undertaking. With so many different manufacturers, styles, and price points to choose from, how do you know what the best option is for you?
There is lots of information available online that can help you pick a good acoustic or electric guitar, or recommend some good options, but we have yet to find a guide that answers the questions that we hear day in and day out from people in our store.
This is why we decided to create the Ultimate Guide to Buying Your First Guitar! In this guide, we will address some of the questions that we get asked every time someone comes in to buy a new guitar (including some that don’t get asked but should!).
If you find this process and the amount of information overwhelming at first don’t worry, the Ultimate Guide to Buying Your First Guitar is here to help you!
1. How Much Should I Spend?
Expect to spend about $200-$400 for an acoustic or $300-$500 for an electric
The very first thing we typically ask people when they come in to find a new guitar is whether they have a budget or price point in mind. From our perspective as retailers, this serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, it helps us to narrow down our stock to a range of guitars that might not suit you. You may not realize this, but the price range of guitars can be pretty huge, from entry-level guitars for under $200 to more ornate or rare models in the $5000 range and while we generally don’t start at the top, it can help narrow things down if we have a price range to work within.
The second thing your answer to this question tells us is a little bit less obvious: it tells us how well educated you are about the product you’re looking for. We often hear, “I have no idea, how much does a good guitar cost?”
While we will talk about what makes a good guitar in chapter 3, for now we will say that for a good quality acoustic guitar, you should expect to pay anywhere between $200-$400. You can find quality guitars in this price range from Yamaha, Norman, Seagull and Epiphone.
For an electric guitar, you can expect to pay a little more overall because in addition to the guitar, you will have to get an amplifier as well. For an electric guitar, you can expect to spend about $300-$500 for the guitar and amplifier. Companies like Yamaha, Godin, Squier, and Epiphone all make some great guitars that fit within this price range. If you are considering an electric guitar, you will want to spend 60-70% of your budget on the guitar and the remainder on the amplifier. While the amplifier is a very important piece of the puzzle, at this stage the guitar is more important and the bulk of the investment should be placed there.
Now your first reaction might be, “Whoa, I have no idea whether I’m going to stick with this. I don’t want to spend that much money on something that might end up collecting dust,” which is a completely fair response! There are some decent guitars available for under $200, like the Yamaha F325, which retails for about $170. There are, however, a couple of other reasons that recommend some slightly more expensive instruments.
The first reason has to do with resale value. Simply put, the resale value on a more expensive guitar is generally going to be higher than that of a cheaper guitar. If the guitar ends up collecting dust, you’ll get more money back in your pocket for a $300 guitar than a $170 guitar.
We have also found that people who spend more money on their first guitar tend to be more likely to stick with it. This may be because they feel that they need to justify the purchase and end up practicing more, but it could also be because the better guitar is easier and more inspiring to play than its less expensive counterparts. If the sound, look or feel is uninspiring, you’re probably less likely to want to play the guitar. If the guitar sounds great, looks great and feels comfortable in your hands you’re going to want to play it! Typically, these are traits of a better quality and therefore more expensive guitar.
Don’t forget to leave some room in your budget for extras though, which we will talk about in chapter 6.