Buying Your First Acoustic Guitar

Buying your first acoustic guitar can seem kind of overwhelming. When you start looking you quickly realize that there are so many options to choose from, all of which have varying prices. It can be hard to know what the best deal is. Obviously, if you are just starting out on guitar, you don’t want to drop a ton of money, but you also don’t want to end up with an instrument that is bound to break because it is such poor quality. But rest assured, this doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think!  Here are some things to consider when buying your first acoustic guitar.

Establish a budget

When you start shopping for an acoustic guitar, you quickly find that the sky is the limit for how much you can spend.  You can spend thousands of dollars on a guitar!  This is why it is important to set a budget.  If you can establish a budget, it narrows down your options very quickly.  Remember, there is a reason why more expensive guitars cost more money, so ideally, you want to spend as much as you can afford without breaking the bank.

Consider buying used

The nice thing about buying a guitar used is that you can get a higher quality instrument for much cheaper than if you were to buy a new guitar for that price.  Check your newspaper classifieds for anyone who might be selling their guitar.  Another option is to check out eBay.  If you have the opportunity to buy used, look into it!

Don’t go too cheap

I would consider any acoustic guitar under $200 to be too cheap.  If you are first starting out on acoustic guitar, it may be really tempting to go with an acoustic guitar that is really low priced.  However, I advise highly against that.  In purchasing a cheaply made guitar, you’ll quickly find that it is very uninspiring to play because of the problems you will face.  You’ll find that the guitar will go out of tune very easily.  You’ll also find that it can just be downright harder to play because the strings will be farther away from the fretboard.  These issues are discouraging to face if you are beginning on the guitar.  So stay away from the First Act guitars at Wal Mart!  Plus, say you start learning the guitar you realize it isn’t your thing, if you have a more quality instrument you’ll be able to resell it used and get a fair amount of money back.

Good brands

While I can’t do a bunch of in depth guitar reviews in this post, I can suggest to you some brands that would be worth looking at.  It’s really important that when shopping for a guitar you read reviews online of different types of guitars.  Keep in mind that this is just a starting place and that there are other options out there that would be just as good.  If you are unsure a certain acoustic guitar is a good buy, post your question in a comment and someone will take a look at it for you.

$200 – $300 budget
$300 – $500 budget
$500+ budget

An important thing to note is that while all of the listed acoustic guitars above are great guitars, if you can, play the guitar before you buy it!  Every guitar will feel a little bit different.  How the guitar plays, feels, and sounds to you should be the ultimate determining factor in your purchase.  If you don’t quite know how to play the guitar yet, have someone at the music store play it for you so you can hear it, or bring a friend along with you who is an experienced guitar player. 

Get a tuner!

This is kind of a side note, but you want to make sure that when you buy your first acoustic guitar that you get a tuner with it.  It’s really challenging and uninspiring to a play a guitar that is not in tune.  Save yourself and your listeners the torture of an untuned guitar!

You do have a lot of options before you in buying your first acoustic guitar, but it doesn’t have to be scary.  Ideally, if you are just learning acoustic guitar, see if you can borrow a friend’s guitar to use at first.  This will give you a better idea if you want to commit to investing in a guitar.  However, if and when you do decide you want to get your own acoustic guitar, set your budget and keep the above things in mind!

I hope this helps give you some sense of direction.  I’ve had a lot of confused people come up to me asking about what guitar to buy.  It’s okay to be confused.  I think it’s better to be asking the question than just impulsively going out and buying any ol’ guitar.  

Here’s a question for those who’ve been playing guitar for awhile… what was your first guitar?  Post a comment below!

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.