If you are considering taking guitar lessons, but don’t have a guitar, then keep reading! Ok, so you’re excited about playing guitar, that’s great! Let me walk with you through a few necessary steps to get you ready.
1) First lets find you a guitar. Should you buy an acoustic or an electric? When people ask me which type they should start on, I answer the question with a question – what do you want to play? What made you want to start playing guitar in the first place? For me, when I heard the loud, distorted guitar sounds of Van Halen and Kiss, that made me want to play electric guitar. Some people want to play acoustic guitar like James Taylor. Your guitar should inspire you to want to practice. With that in mind, you should get the best guitar you can afford. My suggested budget at this time is a minimum of $200. That should get you a good playing electric or acoustic guitar. You might even be able to find a good package deal that includes an amp. The guitar should look and feel comfortable to you. I occasionally hear someone saying to me “I’m going to start playing this old guitar I found in the attic.” That’s a recipe for disaster. Compare it to starting to ride a bike. If you started on a junker bike with crooked handlebars and warped wheels you wouldn’t have any fun. You probably wouldn’t be inspired to ride it and would likely stop riding altogether thinking “so that’s what riding a bike is like?” The same applies to starting to play guitar. I frequently tell parents that are buying their kid a first guitar to start by finding a good solid instrument. Then, if their kid wants the one with flames or sparkles on it, let them get it. It will be more fun for them to play. They’ll be inspired to practice and will enjoy it more.
As of this writing, my favorite electric guitar starting pack is the Yamaha Gig Maker EG starter pack and for acoustic, I like the Yamaha Gig Maker Deluxe Acoustic starter pack.
To get more in depth info on upgrading to a midrange or pro level guitar, check out my other articles which talk about these subjects.
2) Now lets talk about an amp and accessories. As I mentioned, you can probably get a decent amp included in a starter pack. Generally speaking, the quality of the amp will most likely be a reflection of the quality of the guitar in the pack. If you want to buy the guitar and amp separate, here’s something to consider. Think about making amp purchases in 3 stages. Stage 1: Beginner or practice amp. Stage 2: Band rehearsal and recording and Stage 3: Playing larger venues and clubs with bigger stages. For now, we’ll be talking about getting a small practice amp. Entry level amplifiers can start around $100 and go up. Consider something with around 15 – 20 watts. Anything more than that and you should consider a Stage 2 type amp (one for band practice and small venue performances). The thing to do here is have someone plug in and demonstrate two or three different amps so you can hear the differences. Important factors are if it sounds good to you and it looks like its built sturdy enough. The last thing I’ll mention when it comes to selecting an entry level amp is the tones and onboard digital effects. The clean and distortion sounds should be pleasing to you. You might also find some fun digital effects built into the amp. Effects such as delay, reverb, chorus, maybe even a flanger or phaser would be nice. Consider extra features like effects a bonus. If you can find an amp that has great distortion and clean sounds you’re looking good, if the amp also comes with some built in effects, even better! It’s a nice way to get acquainted with these effects. When you graduate to a bigger, more powerful amp, you will know more about the features you’d like to have. So remember for now: aim for $100-$200, 15-20 watts, nice clean sound, good distortion sounds, build sturdy, and any extra features like effects are an added bonus.
3) Now that you’ve got your guitar and amp, lets talk about loading up your smartphone with some great resources. With very little investment, you can get some terrific apps to help you with your practicing. Start with a tuner and metronome. I’ve found that the GuitarToolkit is the best one for me. It’s got a very stable and accurate tuner as well as a metronome that’s very user friendly. After you’ve got a tuner and metronome, you can really go crazy with apps on your smartphone! There’s apps for finding tablature notation to your favorite songs, apps for recording, apps for slowing songs down so you can practice with them. There’s apps that have tons of chords or scales. The list of possibilities goes on and on. So make sure you do some searching to find out more about which apps would help you achieve what you want out of your guitar playing.
So now you’re armed and ready to go out and get your first guitar! Have fun with it and good luck!