If you are reading this article, you are most likely a beginner looking to buy your first electric guitar or a guitar player looking to purchase a low budget axe. This article is aimed at the beginner guitarist. For a list of recommended low budget guitars, check out Best Electric Guitar for Beginners.
There are five basic things you need to remember. No matter which guitar brand you end up getting, if you want your music journey to last more than a few weeks, you will need an instrument that:
1. Stays In Tune: A guitar that constantly goes out of tune is pretty much useless. You will not be able to practice effectively with an out of tune guitar and will get frustrated very quickly.
2. Is Easy To Play: The closer the strings are to the fretboard (in guitar slang: low action), the easier they are to hold. Guitars can be adjusted by a guitar tech to have low action, but this can be expensive. Ideally, you want a guitar that’s playable out of the box, unless you are willing to pay for a set up.
3. Is of Good Quality: Purchasing your first guitar is similar to buying your first car. You want a solid ride from the start without breaking the bank. If you are on a budget, you also want a guitar you’ll be able to resell once you outgrow it. Brands to look for: Squier, Epiphone, Yamaha, Ibanez, among a few others. Sure, that guitar at Walmart with the funky name looks just like the one Eric Clapton plays, but looks can be deceiving. Not only you will have a hard time playing it, but you will have even a harder time getting rid of it once you realize it’s no good.
4. Sounds and Looks Good: Having a decent tone from the start will put you on the right track. A good sounding, playing and looking guitar that stays in tune will make you want to practice more without a doubt!
5. Ask for Advice: If you don’t know what you are doing, talk to someone that can point you in the right direction. If you have family or a friend that plays the guitar, ask for help. If you are starting lessons, ask your teacher for advice before buying a guitar. If you don’t know anybody, or even if you do, it’s always a good idea to check out some reviews on amazon.com or musiciansfriend.com.
– Buying the guitar, amp and accessories separately is ideal as you can purchase better equipment.
– The amps included in starter packs are usually low quality. I recommend buying a practice amp like the Roland Micro Cube or the Line 6 Spider.
– Visit your local music store and try a few guitars in person to get a better idea of what you’re buying, you can always buy online later.
– The input jack on entry level guitars tends to brake/fall off easily. Replace it with a metal upgrade when or if this happens.
– If a string breaks, it does not mean your guitar is of bad quality. Strings need to be changed every 3 months or so. Consider getting a couple of sets along with your guitar.
– Having your new guitar setup by a professional will cost money but if you can afford it, it’s probably worth it. Some guitars are not playable out of the box and need some adjustment.
– If buying new, buy from a store that has a return policy in case your guitar is defective or you change your mind and want to get a different one.
– For even better deals, buy used from craigslist or eBay, but ask your guitar player friend for advice. You don’t want to get ripped off.
– And last but not least, DO NOT buy guitars from Walmart, Target, Costco or any store where you buy gorceries or clothes. These are just expensive toys!