It is a tricky business buying someone’s first guitar. Music is inherently subjective, and there is no “one size fits all” guitar. Perhaps you’ve heard the colloquial ‘guitarisms’ from your guitar player friends suggesting a “Mexi Strat” as a great beginner guitar, or maybe you’ve heard “starting on an acoustic is the way to go.” While both are great suggestions, they miss the essence of the problem, the player. The guitar is a unique instrument, because of the mythos attached to it. With icons like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan (to name a few,) taste and preference vary from person to person.
No need to worry, Dave’s has you covered! We’ve discussed it here at the shop, and have compiled 4 tips for buying someone’s first guitar. Just in time for the holiday season.
Consider the Age of the Player
People tend to believe that there is some age restriction on when learning the guitar is possible. It is never too late to start playing the guitar, but it can be too early. For example, If a parent is considering a guitar for their 5 year old, they may want to think about how the child might interact with the instrument. Yes, it is fun, and that should always be the main goal, but learning the instrument takes practice and patience. Parents should use their best judgement when making this type of purchase, and try to find a guitar at a low price point to mitigate any financial risk on their end.
It is also important to take into consideration the size of the guitar. For example, a beginner may not play comfortably on a full-size acoustic guitar. This may discourage a beginner from continuing to play the instrument. While mastering the art is challenging, a new guitarist should feel as though it is a surmountable task. Finding a guitar that sits comfortably in their lap, and can be strummed with relative ease is integral to learning the craft.
Consider an Acoustic
Here it is, that conventional wisdom players and non-players alike have all heard. Here is the thing, there is a lot of truth to it. Of course, you have to keep the player in mind, they may not like the way acoustics sound, At the end of the day, it’s personal preference. However, there are advantages to beginning on an acoustic guitar.
Initially, it is a smaller investment. There is less risk involved with purchasing a beginning acoustic guitar, because there is less auxiliary equipment to be purchased along with it. For example, acoustic guitars don’t need to be amplified. Depending on your price-point, that can save you up to 50% of your initial cost.
Additionally, acoustic guitars come in many different varieties, just as every individual has specific needs to acknowledge. For example, a young child may benefit from beginning on a ¾ or ½ sized guitar for comfort purposes. Another idea might be purchasing a nylon stringed guitar, because the strings are easier to fret. There is mild discomfort in the beginning stages of learning, so making the instrument as accessible as possible is key to keeping young players inspired.
Ask Store Associates
Especially this close to the holidays, people come in all the time to purchase beginning guitars for their friends and family. While it is a great gift idea, there is a lot to know. If you are not a guitar player yourself, you may feel overwhelmed at the information that is out there. Whether you visit Dave’s, or another store, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The employees here at Dave’s Guitar Shop, whether you’re in LaCrosse, Milwaukee, or Madison, are all very knowledgeable and passionate about the craft. For us, there are few things we enjoy more than guiding a beginner to their first guitar.
Keep “Them” in Mind
It sounds absurd, but it can be the hardest part of buying someone their first guitar. Imagine this scenario; you’ve played Strat-style guitars your entire life, you started on a Strat, you bought a Fender American Standard Strat at 17 years old, and you still have it to this day. In your eyes, they are unmatched, and nothing comes close in the overall tone and feel you get from your strat. Heck, you may even be right.
You decide to buy your daughter her first guitar, and she’s over the moon. You take her to the shop to look around, and there it is the perfect beginner guitar! Strat-style, just like the one you bought all those years ago. You pick it up, and show it to your daughter, and she is not impressed. She wants to “play a big one, like Taylor Swift!” She points to an unassuming acoustic guitar in the corner of the shop, and implies that this is the style of guitar she wants.
You may not like the choice, and it may not be a guitar you would play, but remember, it’s her guitar journey. We weren’t all born to be shredders, some of us are singer/songwriters. You have to maintain objectivity when buying a guitar for a beginner. However, that doesn’t mean you should hand the reins over to someone who doesn’t know what to look for. Afterall, a guitar player may also not know what to look in their first guitar purchase. We recommend doing research, and talk with an associate at the shop, so they can steer you in the right direction.
It’s a lot to digest, but here are the main points. Age is a factor when determining if the new player is responsible enough to begin playing, but it is never too late to start playing. An acoustic is a great beginner guitar for its accessibility and initial investment. In-store associates are knowledgeable and passionate for the craft, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Finally, remember that the new player’s taste may differ from yours, and while that should be taken into account, don’t go into a purchase like with without doing research.
One of our favorite things to do here at Dave’s is get new players started on their musical journeys. We remember what it was like to start playing, and to guide someone in their first guitar, or even help gift one, is a passion of ours. Stop in and check out one of our three locations in LaCrosse, Milwaukee, and Madison.