How to Buy a Guitar Part II

How to buy a Guitar Part II:

As we continue in our conversation of, “How to buy a guitar”, make sure that you read Part I, featured in last week’s blog. As I mentioned last week, there is a wrong way to buy a guitar. Hopefully, this information helps or at least brings to light some questions you should have answered before making that first purchase. Enjoy.

You have options, but choose the right one.

We’ve already discussed acoustic vs. electric, but as you go on your mission to buy a guitar you will quickly find there are a ton of varieties in those two categories. We as humans all come in different shapes and sizes and guitar manufactures know this. So, they produce tons of body sizes, scale sizes, neck sizes etc. If you are picking out a guitar for a 6-10 year old chances are you will want to look for a 1/2 or 3/4 size guitar. If you have large hands then perhaps you want to look for a guitar that has a wider nut/neck to accommodate your hand size. Smaller framed players may want to look at a guitar such as the Yamaha FS800, which is a full size model but offers a smaller neck and body than a standard dreadnought guitar. Watch out for those labels too, just because a guitar is labeled “student model” doesn’t mean it's a good option. It doesn't mean it’s a bad option either.

Left Hand Models:

It is an important step to identify whether you need a left handed guitar. If you are left

hand dominate then chances are you will need a left handed guitar. However, the prices 

of left hand models are slightly higher and the selection is very limited. I personally   

encourage left handers to try and experiment with a right handed guitar first. Finding 

your first left hand guitar is hard enough but, then looking for your next one can be even 

more frustrating as you are limited on your choices. Most likely, if you are left handed 

you’ll end up going that direction, but if you can manage to play a right handed guitar it 

would be better in the long run. Remember though, the main goal is to play guitar, so if 

you are left handed and will have the best chance of success using a left handed guitar 

then embrace it.

Experience Trumps Reviews:

Nothing beats a personal experience. You can search online all day long, reading reviews, looking at pictures, and listening to Youtube sound demos. However, nothing beats seeing the guitar in person. In fact, even guitars that are the same model can differ. I just had a conversation with a customer this week who shopped at 9 different stores in Nashville. He played two different Gibson J45 acoustic guitars back to back; (they retail for $2,849.00). One model he played and it was terrible, a horrible experience. The other model that he played he fell in love with. Couldn’t pass it up and brought it home. He didn’t intend to buy a guitar that day. Goes to show every guitar is different, no matter the price. If at all possible put the guitar in your hands before you make your purchase. If this is not possible at least confirm with the buyer/company that you can return it without hassles.

Don’t buy From Amazon, please.

Amazon is notorious for selling direct from China instruments at super low prices. Please avoid this temptation to buy a direct from China instrument. Looks matter but there is more to a guitar than that. The quality of the components and craftsmanship are important as well. Remember the ultimate goal is to learn how to play the guitar. The instrument you choose will determine how successful you are. If a guitar can’t stay in tune or if the frets stick out of the fretboard and cut your hand, it’s not going to be a good experience. Ultimately, that experience will have a negative impression on you and maybe even deter you from trying any further.

Please choose from brands that have built a reputation of perfecting the guitar such as: Yamaha, Ibanez, Fender, or Epiphone. These are great brands that offer affordable quality guitars perfect for beginners. Of course, these brands are also offered on Amazon but I strongly recommend supporting music stores whose expertise is selling guitars. Web based stores like; Sweetwater, Musicians Friend, and Sam Ash are excellent options too. 

Avoid a Floating Bridge

For your first electric guitar I would never buy a guitar with a Floyd Rose style tremolo bridge. Basically, anything that has a locking nut.  Even if you come walking into JAMS with flowing 80’s glamor, a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge should never be your first purchase. The process to restring and even tune is more cumbersome and will cause tons of frustration. You can have them serviced at a guitar shop but they tend to cost 2-3x more than a guitar with a fixed tail bridge. Strat style guitars are a lot better option but their spring loaded bridge can get off too in some cases. Fixed bridge style guitars, such as a Les Paul or Telecaster are the easiest to set up and maintain. Strat styles tend to be the most popular choice and are good options overall, but for the least amount of trouble choose a fixed bridge. 

Visit you Local Guitar Shop

This may seem self-serving, and it is, but not why you think. The motivating factor is that I’m a lazy, lazy, man. If you buy a cheap guitar on Amazon and it comes to you unplayable then chances are you will bring it to me here at JAMS. Honestly, I don’t want to work on cheap guitars all day long that make me feel as if I’m going to lose a limb or eye trying to tune a string. I also don’t want to tell you that your $80 guitar needs $100 worth of work. JAMS is here for you to make the right choice. Please ask us questions. Even if we can’t make the sale in our store we are happy to point you in the right direction. We never want to make a quick sell but to make you a lifelong musician. If your experience purchasing a guitar is miserable and you have instant regret then nobody wins. Every person at JAMS has fond memories of our first guitar purchase and we want everyone to have that same experience. We are here for you, please take advantage of our expertise and service. 

Thanks for reading. These topics are all based on personal experiences I have had with owning and operating a music store.  If you have further questions or just want to make a comment please feel free to email me at Of course you can visit our store at 127 W. Main St in Jackson. Follow us on Facebook and check out our Youtube channel. 

-Chad Daniels

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