Which Guitar should I buy?
One of the most common questions I am asked by budding new guitarists is "which guitar should I buy?" Some more experienced guitarists also ask for advice when pondering a new guitar.
The first question to ask yourself is - What type of music do you wish to play?
There are basically three types of guitar - electric, acoustic and classical. So, the type of music will determine which of these you need. This is generally the easiest question as most people know if they want an electric guitar. However, there is often some confusion as to the difference between classical and acoustic. Classical guitars are nylon string and are principally for classical music. They have a wide neck so can sometime be harder for small hands to play. Acoustic are generally steel strung.
One thing to say, if you are considering doing A-Level music and guitar is your instrument of choice, I would strongly recommend you go classical. While some schools accept electric or acoustic, I have found that people going down this route find it much harder to get the marks they need. You can always play the other guitars for fun.
Having chosen they type of guitar, there is then much choice within each.
If you are a budding new guitarist, I would set your budget around £150-£200 and go for one of the starter packs - a Squier Stratocaster is quite a good buy. I have two of them and they are surprisingly good. The starter pack generally comes with a small amp, guitar bag and guitar strap. Stratocasters are probably the most versatile guitar, it was my favourite stage instrument for many years. Famous players include Jimi Hendrix, Dave Gilmour, Eric Clapton and others. I have three stratocasters and they are great. The one pictured to the right is a Squier Strat deluxe that I use for teaching and it''s really good.
Also worth considering are some of the Epiphones (these are the budget Les Pauls). If your thing is Guns and Roses or Oasis, these might be the guitars for you.
That said, as you progress and become a skilled player, it is likely you will buy a guitar to suit your style, so the best advise is to buy the one that you find most comfortable to play. And for this reason I generally recommend you buy it from a shop (where you can try it) rather than online.
There are a huge number of budget acoustic guitars around and so it would be hard to pick a particular make here. The one pictured to the left is a mid range Ibanez that cost around £400, but I have tried a number that are much cheaper and they are all pretty good.
The most important thing is comfort. Go to a shop, try them and find they one that you find most comfortable. Don't worry, they (shop staff) won't expect you to play it!
Things to consider are the size and the type. The size is important. The bigger the guitar, the louder it can play, but the more uncomfortable it can become. I am over 6 feet tall, but I find some of the fully bodied acoustic guitars dig into my arms in awkward places.
And the volume of the guitar need not be an issue as you can get electro-acoustic guitars, i.e. acoustic guitars that can be plugged into an amplifier. The Ibanez on the left is an electro acoustic guitar, though I find it generally loud enough without having to plug it in.
Finally, I'd recommend getting a "cutaway". This is the curvy bit that enables you to reach those higher frets more easily. The Ibanez on the left has a cutaway.
So, again and for the above reasons, I would recommend you buy it from a shop (where you can try it) rather than online.
This is the hardest area in which to post a recommendation. That said, the shops are full of quite decent budget classical guitars. I recently bought such a guitar in a shop in Edinburgh so I could perform the Rodrigo Guitar Concerto at my friend's dad's 80th birthday. We bought the guitar on the way to the party! (It lives in Edinburgh now and is there for me to play when I am up there.)
So, the best thing to do is to go to a shop and try a few for comfort. Slide your hands up and down the neck to check for sharp protruding frets (this is the most common fault with budget classical guitars and is really annoying).