How to choose the right guitar
Going to the music shop to pick your first guitar is a thrilling experience, there are so many different shapes, styles and sizes that produce different sounds and are suited to different styles of music.
This can be a bit daunting, but don’t fear we are here to help you, whether you’re choosing to buy a new instrument or second hand, electric or acoustic follow our tips to help you find the guitar that suits you and makes you feel like a true musician.
1. Which Guitar will Suit You?
2. What to look for
3. New V’s Old
4. Size Matters
5. Best Brands
Which Guitar will Suit You?
Often At Pro Music we are asked which guitar should I get for my child? there are a couple of main factors to consider, what style of music your childs wishes to learn i.e Classical, rock, Jazz or pop and what instrument you give to your child is going to inspire them and drive their passion to learn.
Take a look at the bands and musicians your child listens to and the guitars that they are using this is a good place to start looking, you ask any guitarist they will tell you that they day got a guitar like one of their idols it pushed them to practice and raise their game.
Out of all the types of guitars, electric guitars are by far the most popular style used in modern music. Electrics produce only the faintest of sound on their own, but once connected to an amplifier they open up a world of potential for a variety of sounds. These guitars are primarily used in rock, metal, pop, blues, jazz, country, and R&B.
PROS OF AN ELECTRIC GUITAR
• Easier to play
• Sizes to suit all ages
• versatile instrument in terms of different sounds and tones that can be created
• A very popular instrument
CONS OF AN ELECTRIC GUITAR
• Additional equipment needed, such as Amp and cables (headphones …. you will thank us later)
Good acoustic guitars produce rich sounds without the need for electric amplification although can be modified if required. Acoustic Guitars are mainly used in genres like bluegrass, country, singer-songwriter, and Folk, they are also very occasionally used in rock, blues, and R&B too.
Acoustic and electric guitar are effectively the same instrument, if you learn to play a song on an acoustic guitar you can also play the same song on an electric guitar or vice versa, the main difference is the sound you hear back.
The strings, however, are a different story, the strings on an acoustic guitar are thicker and a poorer quality guitar may have the strings sitting too high above the fretboard making them harder to hold down, the strings on an electric guitar are thinner and set a little closer to the fretboard. This is something that should be taken into consideration.
However, an electric guitar may be the best beginner guitar for learning, as it is usually a little easier to play since the neck is narrower and the strings are easier to press down.
PROS OF AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR
• No additional equipment is needed so can spend more the guitar itself
• Can be amplified with a slight modification
• good for playing chords
CONS OF AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR
• Can’t really be heard when playing in a band without modifications to amplify the sound
• The range of sounds and tones can be quite limited
• Requires thicker strings which can be difficult for children to play
• Some smaller/ beginner guitars can be poorly made
Just to mix things up you can also buy an Electro-Acoustic guitar, This brings together the positive aspects of both an Electric and an Acoustic guitar.
This type of guitar is an acoustic guitar with all the pick-ups and plugins required for amplification, useful for gigs.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Unfortunately, buying online won’t give you the full feel for the guitar you want to buy, it is best to visit a music/guitar shop and see the instruments in person.
Please keep in mind that the instruments in-store may not have been fully set up, so here are a few things to ask yourself when you go shopping.
1. IS THAT IN TUNE?
Most sales assistants in a music store will be a musician of some sort, ask an assistant to check it’s tuned and play a few chords for you ( if you can’t play yourself ).
If it sounds awful, it may be that the guitar itself is hard to play.
2. IS THIS NECK STRAIGHT?
You need to look at the neck of the guitar to make sure there are no bends or curves as this will cause the stings to hit the fretboard when playing and distort the sound and make it hard to play.
3. ARE THESE STRINGS TOO HIGH?
How close the strings are to the fretboard is called the action, if the action is too high making it hard to play or the necked is clearly curved you might want to give this one a miss. Point it out to the assistant and ask if they have another available to show you as it may just be that guitar in particular not necessarily all the guitars of that make or model that are affected.
4. DOES THIS FEEL RIGHT?
If it sounds ok and the strings feel nice to play, it’s now time to check that you can reach all the frets comfortably. You can also run a finger down each side of the neck and see if you can feel the ends of the fret sticking out. if any of them aren’t level with the wood again you might want to see if the sales assistant has another that doesn’t have this defect.
5. DOES THIS SOUND RIGHT?
When buying an electric guitar don’t be shy and ask the assistant to plug it in, you need to listen out for any crackling sounds, make sure all the settings are adjusted. If there are any noises it maybe something that can be fixed before you take it home but not what you want to take home unless it’s been sorted.
NEW VS. USED
An older guitar that’s been looked after can be just as good as a new guitar and could be a great guitar for a beginner.
Some entry-level price guitars are usually made with materials that don’t age well – softer wood and thinner bits of metal don’t last as long. It would serve you well to keep in mind whether the guitar you are looking to purchase be new or old.
PROS FOR A NEW GUITAR
If your child can already playing is really passionate about playing and is able to play a full-size guitar, it could be best to go for a new guitar from a reputable guitar manufacturer. Buying new means:
• Up to date technology
• The Satisfying feel of a new guitar
PROS FOR A USED GUITAR
If your child is new to playing the guitar or you’re unsure if they have the drive to continue learning it may be worth buying a 1/2 or 3/4 size guitar that may have previously been used will get you the most value for money. the positives of this are
• The look and sound will be more vintage
• Not too costly
• You may get your hands on a make and model longer available new
Ensuring your childs guitar is the right size is very important, its not just the size but the weight the distance between frets for your childs small fingers. General size guide are ages 5-7 should be using a half size guitar. Ages 7-10 a three-quarter size guitar and a full size guitar for ages over 11.
BEST GUITAR BRANDS?
You will find a wide choice of guitars when walking into a music store/shop, however, it can be overwhelming and confusing at times.
Strat vs Les Paul? Both are great guitars but depending on what genre of music you’d like to practice/play will determine the result.
Your find also loads of copies of the above which isn’t a bad starter if you have a smaller budget. Remember Fender strat type guitars will give you a much more treble sound because of the single coil pickups which are located underneath the strings. The Gibson style Les Paul will be 9/10 always double hum bucklers and will sound meaty and heavy when applied to gain.
BRANDS GREAT FOR STARTERS?
Both types of guitars are great but please remember the Gibson style Les Paul will be a thicker neck whilst the fender strat style will be much thinner and perhaps better for the younger learner. I would always try and look across the idea of the beautiful finishes and go with what feels right for the learner.
OTHERS I SHOULD LOOK AT ?
-Gibson and Fender copies shouldn’t be ruled out.
– Jackson JS22
– Yamaha Pacifica
– Squier (Fender)
– PRS Special
– Cort x100
Best Value for money?
YAMAHA PACIFICA! You can’t really go wrong with a Yamaha and they also have single and double HUMBUCKERS which gives you a massive choice over tone and what you really want to sound like.
There are a few basic accessories you will need to consider when starting out
1. Guitar amp ( Electric Guitar)
2. Guitar Lead ( Electric Guitar)
3. Headphones ( Electric Guitar)
4. Guitar tuner ( Both )
5. Guitar picks ( Both )
6. Guitar straps ( Both )
7. Extra strings for your guitar ( Both )
8. Guitar case ( Both )
THE MAIN ACCESSORY YOU NEED
Lessons, whether a total beginner or a child who has played on and off for a while, structured lessons along with daily practice is what will allow your child achieve their musical dreams.