There are many important factors to consider when buying a guitar. Whether you are a beginner or a regular virtuoso, without the proper planning and thought it is entirely possible to buy a guitar that is not suitable to your musical needs.
The first thing to consider when buying a guitar is, naturally, your skill level. Many instructors agree that, for the beginner, it is best to learn on an acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars usually require more pressure to hold the string in place on the fret when playing a note or chord. By starting with an acoustic guitar you will be able to build the required hand strength to play a variety of songs. Many companies offer excellent choices for the beginner who is planning on buying a guitar that won't break the bank or disappoint with poor sound quality.
The style of music you plan to play most is of huge importance when buying a guitar. The average six-string guitar will fall into one of three broad categories. The previously mentioned acoustic guitar will be perfect for playing country, folk, or blues music. The solid body electric guitar is an extremely versatile instrument, capable of playing a variety of musical styles ranging from country to heavy metal. A semi-hollow body guitar offers a thick, crunchy sound that is perfect for some styles of rock music, and a preferred choice of blues guitarists worldwide.
When buying a guitar to play your favorite style of music, consider researching bands and musicians that you enjoy. Many bands will list the brand of instruments that they prefer on their website or inside the album booklet, and if you wish to emulate their sound, purchase a similar guitar. For example, if AC/DC is a favorite band, a Gibson SG or Les Paul would be an excellent choice.
An often overlooked aspect when buying a guitar is its speed. In laymen terms, the speed of a guitar is the thickness of its neck. A guitar with a thin neck will allow for easier chord transitions. A thicker neck will usually have higher strings, requiring more force to play a chord or note, but enhancing the sound of any maneuvers such as a hammer-on or slide.
Though the brand name on a guitar works both as a testament to quality and, to some extent, the value, many companies offer lower-end models of their more expensive instruments. For example, Squier® (a branch of Fender®) offers the Stratocaster® — one of the most versatile and widely used models of guitar. Though not quite up to par with the Fender® Stratocaster®, for the musician with a small budget, the Squier® model should perform just fine and will save the buyer several hundred dollars.
Many music stores have highly knowledgeable sales associates that can assist you when buying a guitar. If you are prepared with the proper knowledge of your skill level, your budget, and the style of music you wish to play, these individuals should be able to answer many of your questions and set you up with a guitar that will meet all of your needs.