Choosing your first guitar can be confusing, especially with the wealth of information bombarding you from the internet as well as enthusiastic friends.  For that reason, I’m going to provide some simple and brief guidelines for purchasing your first guitar.  This is the same advice I give to my beginner students.

Choosing Your First Guitar

Acoustic or Electric?

The conventional wisdom I often hear is that you should start out on acoustic, build your skills, and then move on to electric.  I’m going to disagree with conventional wisdom here.  Electric guitars are just easier to play.  Why make it harder than it needs to be?  Unless you’re really into classical music, bluegrass or James Taylor and absolutely can’t stand the thought of it, I recommend starting out on the electric.  Build up your fundamental skills and those callouses on your fingertips.  After that, a steel string acoustic is fantastic for really building up your overall chops and hand strength.  That said, if you have your heart set on an acoustic, it’s good to know what you want!  Below are a couple brands I recommend to get started.  I’ll provide specific models in a future article:

Starter Electric Guitars
Fender Squier

Starter Acoustic Guitars:

How Much to Spend

Modern technology has been very kind to guitar building.  Your average baseline model instrument is so much better than 15 or 20 years ago.  I’ve played some of the starter guitars I recommended for students and, in some cases, couldn’t think of a good reason why I wouldn’t own one myself.  For a new instrument I recommend spending anywhere between $250 and $300.  I’d also budget about $50 to $80 for a basic amplifier.  Stay tuned for suggestions on specific guitar and amp models.

The Bottom Line

  • Consider starting out on an electric guitar and move to acoustic later on
  • Plan to spend $250-$300 for the guitar and an additional $50-$80 for an amp
  • Epiphone and Squier both have solid starter models
  • For acoustic, consider Alvarez and Fender models

Look for additional information on specific guitar and amp models in future articles.