Playing Guitar Step 0: Buying a Guitar

So you want to learn this beautiful instrument, but have no idea where to start?

It's tough, todays market is full of beginner guitars, some of them are great, some are not.

Let's weed out the bad ones and look for your perfect guitar!

What kind of music do you want to play?

You want to learn playing guitar, but where do you want to go?

Want to play hard metal riffs? Or just play some nice fingerstyle guitar? Or even learn the classical guitar?

Back when I started playing there was only one choice: Classical guitar. It was cheap, my hands were very small and it IS a good way to start. Even today I know some teachers who still advise their pupils to get a classical one first and switch later.

But in todays day and age I don't think that's the right way. The quality of the cheaper instruments increased drastically over the last 5-10 years.

So my advice is: go with what you want to do. If you want to play electric guitar: go for it. Same goes with steel string acoustic and the classical guitar. Choose what you think brings you the most fun. Since that is the most important thing.

But don't forget if you want to start with an electric guitar you have to buy an amp and cables which will add some odd 100$ to your expenses.

Used guitar or new one?

Depends all on how much money you want to spend. Most used guitars are perfectly fine. Though as a rule of thumb: try before you buy.

Try to check every note on the fretboard to see if something doesn't sound right. If you can't play try to bring a friend who plays the guitar or ask your teacher.

Amps and cables and the like I'd suggest buying new. Too much electric stuff that can fail easily, and beginner amps are quite cheap.

Let's take a look at the different choices

Classical Guitar

These are the cheapest ones of the bunch. Learning classical guitar is not easy. But it is incredibly rewarding. It is a great way to start since it will also teach you reading music. And will give you a great foundation.

Classical guitars also come with nylon strings which won't hurt as much as the steel ones on the other kind of guitars. Especially for children I would recommend the classical guitar.

Beginner guitars are pretty affordable and range from as low as 70$ to about 150$.

My recommendation:

I've had nothing but great experiences with Yamaha guitars. They are mostly very cheap and offer a real good quality. Now with the discounted price of 140$ I can only recommend this set.

Acoustic Steel String Guitar

Now my favorite kind of guitar. Steel string acoustic guitars. It's what the big fingerstyle players such as Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee or Don Ross use.

You can sit down at the campfire and play a few old folk songs on it or play some mind-boggling fingerstyle pieces.

These guitars are usually big, so if you want to buy a guitar for your child let it try the guitar first.

Beginner guitars in this category usually range from 150$ and up to 300$.

My recommendation here:

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural
Amazon Price: $169.00 $79.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 17, 2016)

Great guitar! Takamine built it for the low price sector but it still got all the usual Takamine quality. It plays really great, has a nice ring to it and the fretboard has just the right size for my very medium hand size. Right now it's discounted so it's a real steal.

Electric Guitar

Now let's go to the probably most diverse category of electric guitars.

There are multiple shapes and prices availible.

When buying an electric guitar: 

First look at the guitar bridge, for me it's one of the most important things to look out for on a beginner guitar. Don't get one with a floyd rose (floating) tremolo. It will be harder to re-string, it can collapse if you don't have enough tension in the strings which will lead to really frustrating acts of playing around with the tension until it works again. In my experience the quality of the floyd rose tremolo is usually not up to par with a standard tremolo or a fixed bridge.

The more 'special' the guitar is the worse is usually the quality for beginner guitars. Don't buy one with shark fin inlays or weird paint jobs or in crazy shapes. The money for making these usually gets taken out of one of the actually important parts.

My recommendation is a very standard stratocaster style guitar. I have had very good experience with this guitar as it is cheap and offers a great quality.

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112J Electric Guitar; Black
Amazon Price: $302.00 $199.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 17, 2016)

Now you still need an amp. I recommend a rather small inexpensive one, it still sounds great though. It has everything you need at the beginning. Distortion, some effects and is loud enough to wake your neighbours.

Rock On!

Now all you need is a teaching resource, be it the internet, a book or a live teacher. All is valid all is possible. 

The great Don Ross