How to Choose Your First Acoustic Guitar?

1. Nylon String or Steel String?

For Nylon string acoustic guitar, it is also known as classical guitar.

Nylon strings are easier and softer on the fingertips, and has a wider fret board which is easier to adapt for beginner. Also they’re reasonably priced at beginners level, but please don’t go too cheap. However, classical guitar sound kind of dull, there’s a risk you’ll want something more pretty quickly if your interest is in popular modern songs.

For Steel String acoustic guitar, the “steel” strings (they come in all kinds of construction, not just steel) are louder and brighter, and a much more versatile instrument to play. Great for Folk, rock, jazz, pop, country music.

However, those steel strings also chew the ends off your fingers until eventually you develop hard calluses on the tips.


2. How Much Should You Spend?

There’s always a temptation not to spend too much money on your first guitar in case you change your mind and stop playing. However, budget guitars can be more difficult to play and you’ll begin to think it’s all too hard, when a better instrument will be easier and encouraging. Cheap guitars can have a high “action” (the distance between the string and the fret board) which makes pressing the string down tough work for novice players. The frets can be poorly set, meaning the strings rattle and buzz. The timber used is just standard factory sheeting. It all adds up to a cheap guitar. At the same time, I have to admit that in the crazy lottery of mass production and manufacturing, sometimes you’ll find a good guitar has been built.

A better idea is turning to established brands like Maton, Washburn, Epiphone, Fender… there’re plenty of respected manufacturers with long traditions in making guitars. No matter what type of guitar, all these companies have low-priced models that still benefit from the care and craftsmanship you’d expect from well-known brands. Prices start around $150 for basic types, then for $500-700 you’ll find an enormous choice.


3. Second-hand Guitar?

Unless you really know what you’re doing, buying a used guitar is a risky venture. Definitely, you shouldn’t buy a second-hand guitar without seeing or trying it out. Again, sticking with well-known brands is wise. Look carefully for worn fret boards (pitted holes under frequently-played notes) and grooves in the frets themselves. Check along the neck to see if it’s not too bent— it’s supposed to be slightly curved. Getting problems like these fixed professionally can be expensive and you might as well buy something new in the first place. The bottom line here is that high-quality instruments that have been properly maintained don’t lose any value. A good second-hand guitar should cost you as much as a good new one — but yes, those bargains are out there, too.


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