Which Guitar Should I Buy?
Hi chaps! In this article I am going give a comprehensive guide to buying that first guitar. Whether it's for you, your child, a loved one or a great grandma, I will shed some light on which guitars I recommend if you are just starting out.
Let's begin with the differnt types of guitar...
We get asked often from parents as to which guitar is best for their child. Size, style, shape, colour, etc. In a nutshell, it is okay to learn on either a classical style guitar, a standard acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. The main difference (apart from the appearance) is the type of stings and feel of the neck and body. I will list the pro's of each type of guitar:
- Nylon strings make it more comfortable on soft fingertips
- Lightweight and can be carried around easy
- 3/4 size recommended which are available in most guitar shops and also on amazon and eBay (see links below)
- Prices can be inexpensive, from £30 up to £65
- Skinny necks, easy to reach the bass strings for little hands
- Better for learning techniques such as string bending
- They look so cool!
- Can be amplified to make louder which also have the ability to add FX
- Steel strings, like an electric, but a hollow body... No amp required (unless it's electro-acoustic)
- Transportable and lightweight when carried in a bag
- Many colours available across some makes
- Different sizes and shapes also available
"Ed Sheeran uses almost exclusively 3/4-sized acoustic guitars"
Classical guitars are the most popular choice for beginners. They are called that (or "Spanish guitars") because they were developed to play classical or spanish-style flamenco music, but can be used for any style. These guitars have distinctive features such as 6-nylon strings (rather than steel strings) and a smaller acoustic sound hole to amplify vibrations. They are lightweight, small and easier to play, with a mellower sound than traditional acoustic guitars.
They are also available in even smaller sizes (1/2 and 1/4) which are perfect for the little ones. They're usually cheaper, so perfect for those who just want a casual instrument to play and are perhaps unsure how seriously they'll dedicate themselves to it. Having said that, the more high-end models can be very expensive and are suited for professional musicians
Acoustic guitars are very similar to classical guitars, yet their steel strings make the sound much louder and therefore are of a bulkier build to hold the sound. They come in a variety of slightly different shapes such as dreadnought, grand concert, jumbo etc, and are the most popular type of acoustic guitar, as used on most acoustic songs you've heard, from Beatles and Bob Dylan to Oasis and Ed Sheeran. Electro-acoustic guitars look exactly like an acoustic, and really they are. So what's the added benefit of an electro-acoustic? Electro-Acoustic guitars can be played as any acoustic, but also allow you to plug them into an amplifier, effects pedal and other recording equipment. They're just more versatile - fitted with pickups, a microphone or transducers, it makes them more convenient for live performances.
Electric guitars do not include a sound hole for acoustic amplification, but produce their sound solely from electricity, converting the string vibrations into electrical audio signals. Which means you can't just buy an electric guitar to strum it like an acoustic, because you'll need to also buy at least a cable and a guitar amplifier!
Now you have a better idea of what is available, the links below will lead you to popular stores where you can view the guitars on offer.
"there's no one size fits all when it comes to choosing the right one, and it always comes down to personal tastes"
Which size should I get?
A good question. Classical guitars come in many sizes, three popular sizes are 1/2, 3/4 and full sized. I guess it depends on the height of the guitarist. As a rough guide, the chart below may be a useful size chart.
HALF SIZE 4-8 yr olds 3/4 SIZE 8-12 yr olds FULL SIZE 12 - 101 yr olds
Even though 3/4-sized guitars are recommended for 8-12 year olds, this doesn't mean they are not suitable for adults. It's not uncommon that adult players have been opting for playing 3/4 size guitars too, due to the convenient size (especially when travelling) and the more punchy sound. Ed Sheeran uses almost exclusively 3/4-sized acoustic guitars. Remember, there's no one size fits all when it comes to choosing the right one, and it always comes down to personal tastes. But you can follow these suggestions:
-Buying for a child: follow the guitar sizes as advised before, according to child's age.
-Common starters are classical guitars. Cheap & easy to play
- Electrics do need an amp and a lead too but are great for those wannabe rockers.
I hope this blog has given you a clearer insight into the guitar world and that you make a good choice with the purchase of your instrument. I guess it might be useful for you to know what type of guitars I owned at various stages of my playing career? I began at the age of 12 with a 3/4 size nylon stringed guitar - Classical style. That did me well with the first 6-9 months during my guitar lessons as I learned a few open chords and riffs. Then at age 13, I had my first show coming up in assembly at school, my folks upgraded me to an electric guitar! I bought a Yamaha guitar and good second hand Squier amp from a music shop (at around £40) to go with it. 2 years later I bought a semi acoustic steel string and soon after another electric.. And another.. And another.. Think now I'm up to 15 guitars in the collection the last time I checked!!!