What Guitar For Beginners?
Author: Jamie Page Date Posted:2 February 2016
I want to buy a guitar and learn to play. Which one should I buy?
One of the most frequently asked questions at Kosmic.
Buying a guitar and learning to play can seem quite daunting to a beginner. It also poses a challenge for parents looking at a guitar for their children. So many guitars, so much confusion, what are you to do?
The best way to approach this is to break it down in simple terms.
- STYLE OF MUSIC
A simple question. Age and size are all important. A guitar that is too big or small will have an impact on the player. If you are uncomfortable with the guitar, you are unlikely to want to play it. As a general guide, you would prefer a full-sized model from around the age of twelve or upwards. Younger players can choose from half and three-quarter size. Allow for the younger player to grow into the guitar.
Many beginners are not sure that they will 'go on with it', and buy cheap, low-quality guitars that do not play very well or sound good.
That is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Perhaps, with a better quality guitar that does play and sound good, you are more likely to want to keep playing. Simple! Give yourself a chance.
Of course, if spending the least amount possible on a guitar is the only option there are some reasonable choices though you do tend to get what you pay for. See below for our recommendations.
STYLE OF MUSIC
You have decided that Death Metal is your style of choice, will a classical nylon-string guitar be the one for me? Maybe not.
Classical Nylon-String Guitars
Ideal for school lessons. As the name implies, these guitars have nylon strings, which are easy on the fingers, and have a mellow, gentle tone. Think of the Spanish guitar sound, for example. Many schools will recommend a Yamaha C40 for this purpose, and it does an excellent job for the price.
Bear in mind that some schools will require a solid-top model. The solid-top provides better tone and response. It does cost a little more. The popular choice is the Yamaha CG122MS.
- Mellow tone
- Easy on your fingers
- Suits players aged 13 and over depending on the player
- Think Spanish!
- The Yamaha Gigmaker C40 Classical Guitar Package
- Yamaha CG122MS Solid-Top Classical Guitar
- Yamaha CS40. A 7/8 sized classical guitar for younger, smaller players
- Classmate CG120. Budget priced with half and three-quarter-sized models.
Acoustic Steel-String Guitars
Bold and bright sounding, the steel-string acoustic features steel strings that can be tough on a beginner. The rewards are there regarding volume and tone, though. An acoustic works well for folk, pop, blues and country styles, where volume and brightness are a standard requirement.
Acoustic guitars do have traditionally thinner necks, which can be easier to play, and you can also use lighter strings to make life easier. Most acoustic guitars come standard with 12-53 light gauge strings, which are not exactly light at all. For beginners maybe revert to 10-47 extra-light strings.
- Big, bright, loud tone
- Ideal for folk, rock, pop, blues
- Suits age 13 and over (some smaller models available but more as travel guitars)
- Think Ed Sheeran or Tommy Emmanuel!
The most common thing we hear from beginners is basically should I start on an acoustic first, and then graduate to an electric later.
There is some merit in that argument and starting on an acoustic is an excellent primer. It will build up strength in your fingers for an example.
On the flip side, there is no reason you would not start on an electric guitar.
Obviously, it is the last thing you want to take to school classical guitar lessons. But, if you are doing your own thing, maybe starting with a private teacher or just playing for fun, the electric guitar is an exciting and fun way to go.
The electric guitar has a reputation for being too loud, and that can be true in many cases, but the thing is, you can turn the volume down! That will in effect make the electric guitar the QUIETEST option for long-suffering parents.
Another factor is the amplifier. Most good practice amps will have a headphone output. Encourage the beginner in your household to use this awesome feature. Headphones can be very affordable, and everybody wins.
Many of these guitar amplifiers will also have built-in effects. Like magic, effects will make everything seem to sound better, and that has to be good!
As far as the guitar goes, there are many good, affordable guitars out there. A great place to start is with a simple Squier Stratocaster. We pick the Squier Strat for a variety of reasons.
The original Stratocaster design is a time-proven classic. The reason it works so well is that it is the ergonomic design. It sits perfectly on your body, with just the right curves and contours to make it almost invisible as you play it, perfect if you practice a lot and want to be comfortable.
The classic three-pickup setup gives you a wide variety of popular tones, particularly with the HSS models that have a powerful humbucking pickup in the bridge position. That will have the effect of minimizing buzzing and give you a fatter rock tone.
The standard model (SSS) with a single-coil pickup in the bridge position will sound brighter. That is great if you like crystal clean tones rather than raw power.
Classic blues, rock and pop tones. Think 50's, 60's and beyond. The Shadows, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton.
Raw, powerful tones for heavier rock music. Think 80's and beyond. Metallica, Iron Maiden, anything heavier. You can get many clean tones from the two single-coil pickups also. The most popular choice.
- Skinny neck and smaller, solid body for easy playability
- Modern rock sounds
- Very cool and lots of fun
- Can be turned down!
- Suits players aged 10 or older depending on the player, mini models available for younger players
- Think Jimi Hendrix
And What Amp Should I Buy?
There are many great amplifiers available. To pick the best one is hard! If you had to push us, we would suggest either a Fender Mustang I or a Roland Cube 10GX. The reason for that is that they are both very versatile, well-built and sound excellent. There are smaller, cheaper amps, but these two tick all the boxes.
We do hope that this helps and you can contact us for more info at email@example.com