The big step that you need to take! Anyone serious about learning how to play a guitar, should have a guitar. You just can’t learn effectively if you have to keep borrowing a guitar just to practice. And you need lots of practice!
The guitar is made up of a few parts, namely:
Body: Hollow, with a big hole in it
Sound hole: Normally round and centered, it is where the sound comes out from.
Soundboard: The most important piece of the body. This is the wooden piece mounted on the front of the guitar’s body, and it amplifies the guitar’s sound.
Strings: These are what you pluck to make music. Normally 6, but there are 12-string guitars.
Bridge: This is attached to the soundboard, and acts as the anchor for the strings.
Neck: The long thing sticking out of the body, where the strings run on. This part holds the frets as well.
Head: The top of the neck, which houses the six tuning pegs used to tune the strings.
Right, now that you’re a little familiarised with the guitar, you will have to make your first major decision of choosing a steel-string acoustic guitar or a classical guitar.
The more common guitar, a steel-string acoustic guitar have steel strings, which gives you a very nice and rich sound.
If you are a beginner, be aware that steel strings hurt! You will need to stick in there long enough for your fingertips to get calloused enough to stop the pain.
The more beginner-friendly guitar with nylon strings that don’t hurt as much. You will notice that nylon strings die more quickly than their steel cousins when plucked. The sound also isn’t as loud, and you might have a problem with the wider neck if you have small hands. It is more portable however, because of its smaller body.
Once you’ve made your choice, go look for a guitar that’s within your budget and that you like! After all, it’s your hard-earned cash and long-term hobby right? So make sure you find a guitar which has good looks! In your excitement, do remember to also check the guitar for discolorations, dents or scratches.
Some guitars have this part of the body cut away to allow your fingers access to the frets near the sound hole of the guitar. This is called the cutaway, and it makes reaching those high frets a lot easier, which is good if you are planning on doing a lot of solo-ing.
Generally, beginners should not worry too much about the cutaway. In any case, the cutaway affects the loudness and sound of a guitar because there is less space in which the air can resonate.
The top, or face, of the guitar where the sound hole is, acts like a speaker when you play your guitar, so you need to choose a good material for your guitar top. The top of the body is generally built in two different styles:
Laminated veneer top: Built similar to plywood, where thin sheets of wood are glued together. A laminated veneer top is not the the best top for your guitar, but is cheaper.
Solid top: This kind of style is basically a solid piece of wood. It resonates much better than a laminated veneer top, and thus, the overall sound of the guitar is louder, clearer, and better. Of course, you can expect to pay much more for a solid top than a laminated veneer top. You need to decide if sound quality is worth that much to you. Again, if you are a beginner, you can get a nice laminated veneer top first, and then upgrade in the future when you get better.
Solid top and veneer sides: The overall sound quality of a solid top and veneer side constructed guitar is better than that of a pure laminated veneer top guitar. You can consider this if you want to get better sound quality than a pure laminated veneer top guitar, but don’t have the cash for a purely solid top guitar.
For the beginner and the absolutely lost, going to a music store or a guitar shop and having someone explain stuff and show you guitar may be the best option. However, this is also probably the most expensive option as well. Good guitar shops give you good service, a warranty for your guitar, and definitely let you test out guitars before buying them.
Buying a guitar online is not recommended for someone just starting out with the guitar, mainly because you don’t know what you’re buying, and can’t try out the guitar. Buying a guitar online does have its perks though – it’s usually a fair bit cheaper! What you can do if you really want the discount is to go to your local guitar shop, find a good guitar model that you like, and then go online to buy it from a reputable merchant. Sneaky stuff. Musician’s Friend is one online retailer that I frequent.
Alternatively, you can also consider getting a second-hand guitar, which is usually a cheaper option. Try asking around. Your friends or relatives may have a good guitar that they can sell to you cheap. Or visit a pawnshop or second-hand shop. You can usually find guitars there, but do check the guitar thoroughly before purchasing them.
So that’s that. And after you get your guitar, you can play like Slash in no time! Well, maybe a little longer than “no time”. Do pop by my free guitar lessons page where I showcase some of the better free guitar lessons sites on the Internet!
If you’re looking for something better and faster, check out my review on Jamorama, that program helped me a lot on my guitar learning journey!