Guitar Buying Guide

11th March 2015
Guitar Lessons MK

I’ve been asked many times for advice on buying guitars. If you want to come to your “First Free Lesson” without a guitar then that’s fine; you can try out some of my guitars to see what you like…

Types of guitar:

Here are a few options that guitar students usually go with:
A. Acoustic steel string guitar (also electro-acoustic steel string guitar) – the most popular choice – hardest to hold a chord down on but bright sounding without the need for an amp. Tough on your fingertips for the first month of playing.
B. Spanish guitar – nylon strings – easiest to hold a chord down but a duller, quieter sound.
C. Electric – you’ll also need an amplifier and lead. Get one of these if you want to be in a band.

1. If you are spending more than £100 then my advice would be to go to a big guitar shop rather than shop online. If you are thinking of spending that sort of money then you need to play with it first. Guitars are generally made of wood, and so every piece of wood is different, therfore every guitar is going to be different! other things like who finished the guitar (set-up) and when it was made (Friday afternoon?) will also make a difference.
2. If you are buying online then go for a guitar that has had lots of good reviews. This way you are more likely to get a decent guitar. 
3. If you go to the shop then there are a few things to check (that I can cover in my lessons). These are the main things I would look for in a new guitar (this is not an exhaustive list): 
i) Is the neck straight? – check every fret of every string for buzzing
ii) Is the “action” ok? Check the height of the strings from the fret-board – if it’s too high then the guitar will be hard to play, and will hurt your fingers, and end up in the corner of the room gathering dust. If the action is too low then it will buzz on more than one fret. 
iii) Does it sound good? Its down to your ear – every guitar salesman has a killer riff that blows your mind. Try to play at least one chord that you know the sound of. It’s down to your taste. Check it sounds OK when you plug it in (if it does plug in).
iv) Is it comfortable? There’s a good reason that the stratocaster is the most popular guitar; it’s light and comfortable. I play standing up for about 2 hours – some of my guitars make me ache more than others. Your main practice guitar needs to be comfortable.
v) What does it look like?…. you already knew that one.
vi) I’ll make this the last one…intonation; check for the difference between the fingered note on the 12th fret with the harmonic – it should be the same note. This is adjustable on most electrics (string length). If it’s not correct then the guitar will sound more out of tune the further up the neck you go


If you are wondering about acoustic guitar sizes then have a look at this page:

Here’s a guide on cheap guitars for 2015: