I’m a complete novice when it comes to guitars and guitar playing. I’ve only ever played guitar on friend’s Acoustic and Electric models. Recently I have decided to try and enrich my life with some new hobbies and learning to play guitar is one of them.
Initially I was quite daunted. The guitar market is vast and saturated, with retailers and manufacturers competing to get your business. From the start I was extremely eager to get myself a guitar that wasn’t just suitable for my ‘complete beginner’ level, but one that would also do me as my skills advanced (hopefully!) too.
What Type to Choose?
Deciding what type of guitar you really want is the first hurdle. What your musical tastes are or the kind of musician you long to be will directly influence what type of guitar you will want to buy when you first start out learning. You may find this an easy choice, but if like me you’re not sure what type of musician you want to be or have a wide range of genres that you’re fond of this decision can be a tough one.
If I had to choose one genre over all others I guess that would be Indie-Folk; a type of music usually characterised by the soft melodic tones of an Acoustic guitar. Based on this an Acoustic guitar or Classical guitar were clearly my best options.
Brand & Sound
Without doubt one of the most important things I learnt when shopping for a new guitar was that you really need to go and have a listen before you buy. It’s all very well looking online, and sure if you know what you want then buying online is okay, but I would suggest not buying a model until you’ve heard it.
There seems to be a real trade off for some lower price guitars. On the one hand they provide an affordable means to get involved and learn guitar, on the other hand as knowledge and skills progress they may leave a guitarist frustrated by the quality of the sound. In my personal opinion it was right for me to opt for a guitar that would cater to both my budget, even if at the top end of that, and also a guitar that was likely to keep me satisfied over a longer period of time.
There are plenty of brands out there to choose from including Fender, Martin and Taylor to name but a few. All of these stock a range of guitars suitable for beginners. For me personally I wanted something a little more unique so I opted for an acoustic instrument which usually come from smaller more specialist manufacturers. Although Classical guitars don’t feature steel strings, they do provide that warm soft tone that I longed to replicate.
There are a lot of Classical guitars to choose from but it appears some of the best Classical guitars out there are actually made in Spain. I popped into a local guitar shop in central London to try some out and see what I liked. I noticed one brand in particular, a brand that I actually ended up going with in the end. This brand was Alhambra. I had seen Alhambra guitars recommended here whilst I was doing my own research before buying a guitar and wasn’t disappointed when I finally got one in my hands! Alhambra themselves have a few models to choose from, from beginner models that are really quite affordable to models that are designed for the more proficient player. They’re certainly a brand worth checking out if a Classical guitar is what you’re interested in and many shops have a good variety available.
No matter what type of guitar you want to learn there’s a whole market out there looking for your business. Shop around and don’t just think short term. What if you decide after a short while that guitar isn’t for you and you want to resell your guitar? What if you take to guitar and soon out grow your beginner specific model? Thinking about these things will let you get the best from any purchase you make, right from the start.