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Buying your first electric guitar

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Have fun buying your first electric guitar with these tips for shopping smart

Have fun buying your first electric guitar with these tips for shopping smart

If you?re anything like many fans itching to make music, you?re ready to rock and any guitar within the budget will do. You?re off to the music shop armed with lots of ambition and zero knowledge. Don?t be nervous. Every rock star has to start somewhere.

Whether you?re shopping for yourself or someone else, it may be tempting to choose with your eyes ? they are pretty instruments. But there are a few more factors to consider when buying your first electric guitar.

Where to begin

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Do research before you fall in love with the look of a sleek red dream guitar. Save those dreams for later. Beginners typically start out with beginner guitars, sometimes referred to as child models. These are affordable because they?re made from a lightweight wood and constructed to get you started, not to last forever.

A child model is for learning how to play. It?s not what you?ll be holding when you blow the room away with your skills in a few years. The sound is squeaky and much thinner than that of standard ones, and when you finally hook it up to an amp it sounds like noise. Stick with the lessons and you?ll grow to love this scrappy Charlie Brown guitar.


As you improve, start saving for the real deal. Buying your first electric guitar will help you stay motivated to keep getting better. Since you?re still in the beginning of this musical journey, it?s a good idea to stick with one that will stay in tune and be relatively easy to practice on.

A note on style

While not the most important factor in how your playing sounds, choosing one that suits your style will help you come into your own. If you love country, check out classics rather than the pointy models sporting skulls and spikes. If you’re out to help your child choose an instrument, consider who their musical heroes are. A model similar to what their favorite rock star plays is bound to make them happy.

For now, cover your bases by checking the following:

The first thing to look for is that it?s playable and it works. Playability is more about the condition it?s in and how the weight and shape feel in your hands. Beyond that, personal preference and budget will guide your decision. The more you play, the more you?ll know what you like and are willing to invest for a higher quality sound. 

If you?re buying a used model to save money, run your fingers gently up and down the neck to check if the frets are worn down. The frets affect the playability and tone. Having them repaired can be costly so make sure they?re raised slightly ? you?ll feel small bumps on the fingerboard. 

Always inspect for cracks, holes and missing wood on the body. To check the mechanics, plug it into an amp and listen. There should be only a little if any buzz or hum. While you?re testing, move a bit to see if the cord crackles, goes silent or falls out of the instrument.

There are several accessories that you?ll need to play an electric guitar ? cord, picks, case, strap and strings. The model you buy should at least have all of its tuning pegs and strings. Guitars have six strings while a base needs four.

Strum it a few times. Strings should move without hitting the frets or neck and the sound should be clear.

Buying your first electric guitar is a big step so congratulations. Why not take advantage of being a newbie by asking about beginner packages? Many places will include the accessories and instrument in one flat price. Take your time to decide and be choosy because there are so many incredible models to consider.


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