Choosing your Guitar

Choosing your Guitar

Congratulations! You’ve signed up for guitar lessons and are dedicated to getting the most out of your experience. But, How to pick your first guitar?

Choosing your first guitar might be a difficult choice. After all, buying an expensive musical instrument isn’t an everyday errand. It’s a long term investment, and it isn’t cheap. Luckily for you, Cardon Studios has assembled valuable teacher input to give you some insight so you can make your decision-making process easier!

First thing’s first: Are you a righty or a lefty?
Before committing to buying an instrument, you should make sure you feel comfortable with it. The chances are that if you are left-handed, you feel more comfortable holding a guitar with its neck pointing out to your right. If this is the case, make sure you get a left handed instrument. This decision could make a big impact in the learning process of the student. (In other words, just because Hendrix played a righty strung backwards, doesn’t mean it’s a suitable option for all lefties!)

Is a full-size Guitar the right fit for you?
Just like violins, guitars come in different sizes to accommodate every kind of player. 1⁄4 size and 1⁄2 size guitars are recommendable for kids. Less commonly used, 3⁄4 size guitars and 7⁄8 size guitars come in handy for tall kiddos or smaller-bodied teenagers; some adults of shorter statures occasionally prefer these sizes, and even frequent travelers who want an instrument that’s easier to transport. Even if you feel confident about playing a full-size guitar, it can be helpful to try out a variety of instrument sizes before you commit to it.

Individual feel and comfort are paramount, but here are some rough guidelines for choosing the best feeling guitar for you:

  • 4-6 years or roughly 3’9′′ tall: 1/4 size, or a guitar not more than 30″ long
  • 5-8 years or roughly 4’3′′ tall: 1/2 size, or a guitar not more than 34′′ long
  • 8-11 years or roughly 4’8′′ tall: 3/4 size, or a guitar not more than 36′′ long
  • 10+ years or roughly 5’1′′ tall: 7/8 size, or a guitar not more than 39′′ long
  • 12+ years or at least 5’3′′ tall: Full size guitar

Is it a well-known brand?
The popularity of the brand you’re choosing matters for a few reasons:

  • Usually larger, well-established manufacturers have solid warranties and customer service in case the instrument fail for any given reason.
  • If your instrument breaks, it will be much easier to find the replacement part, and probably cheaper to buy, too.
  • If you choose to upgrade your instrument in the future, selling a popular-brand guitar is easier: There will be more buyers interested and you’ll have a higher chance to recover a portion of your investment in your starter guitar.

Do you have some experience playing guitar?
If you do, chances are that you are able to tell when a guitar feels comfortable for your personal needs. If you have experienced playing guitar in the past, and you are thinking about getting one, by all means, you should physically go to a music store to feel different guitars. This experience alone will likely give you a better idea of what you are looking for. Keep an eye out for playability, tone, weight, size and, of course, price.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?
This will probably be the question that will determine which guitar you pick. There is the myth that says you have to start with an acoustic guitar and then transition to the electric, because acoustic is more difficult and it will give you the strength you need to play. Or, the one that says that it’s better to start on a cheap guitar because it forces you to get the best tone off a poorly made instrument. These myths are both FALSE. Learning acoustic or electric won’t make a difference, and playing a lower quality instrument might even make the learning process frustrating. What we recommend instead is that you start with the kind of guitar that is used in the music that YOU LOVE. So, if you like the sound of The Beatles, you should get a Telecaster, or a hollow-body electric. If you like Jimi Hendrix or John Mayer, perhaps a Stratocaster is for you. If you’re into classical music, you’ll love playing a nylon-string acoustic. If you like Led Zeppelin, or Guns N Roses, go for a Les Paul. And so on. The similarities of sound and look with your favorite artists will encourage you to pick up the instrument and play more often, and that’s what really matters when learning to play an instrument: that you feel inspired and motivated to pick up your instrument and play it!

Ready to learn more? Schedule your free intro session with Cardon Studios to meet a teacher, and learn more about how we can help you meet your goals!

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