I’ve had 2 different friends ask me lately about guitar playing and thought I’d put together some simple thoughts that I wish I’d known when I started. I’ve been playing since I was in my early teens and am 43 now. That doesn’t mean I’m any good but, I’ve been a constant student along the way and have a few pieces of advice that may help.
I’m going to break this into a couple different blogs so you can soak it all in. Let’s start with purchasing an instrument to get you going. Here are a few things to consider when buying an instrument.
Let me begin by saying that for me, I would only buy used stuff or very low priced equipment if I was just starting off. Spending a ton of money and then losing interest is a great way for the next guy to get a good deal on what you burned out on. Have a clear idea about what you want and start simple.
The used market for instruments on either Facebook market place, Craig’s list, or the pawn shop, are a great place to start looking. The local Guitar Center will also have a wide selection in every price range. You will need to do your homework and probably not buy it your first trip but, some diligence on the front end will make sure you get a good starting instrument.
Be aware, used instruments are going to be scratched, worn, maybe some dents, but as long as the main features are solid, you’re ok. If you have a friend that plays, maybe ask them to go along and try it out if you don’t yet play or have the confidence to check it out yourself. It can be daunting so just take your time, do a little research, and keep your budget in line with your goals.
After purchasing the instrument, I would find a local luthier to set it up. Now, what the heck does that mean???
A luthier, in the basic definition for our purposes, is a guitar mechanic that will make it work. They can make a number of adjustments to make it play correctly, and make it easier for you to play. Even a cheap guitar set up correctly will make a world of difference in your frustration level with learning to play.
“A Set up” means that the parts of the guitar are adjusted to affect a number of functions. It assures that the neck is straight, that the frets won’t buzz, that the nut doesn’t grab the strings, and that you will be happy playing it. Keeping it in tune and easy to play will make a huge difference in sticking with it.
If you’re set on a new guitar from a retailer, great. You may pay a little more but you have an advantage of comparing a number of different instruments and you are relatively assured that the instrument is in near perfect shape. I would also push for them to set it up and put on new strings for you. If they won’t throw it in for free, have it done before you take it home. It will give you a good couple of months of playing those strings and assure that you can focus on learning and not wrestling a high action neck.
Now the really hard part, putting in the work to start playing. Before we get there, here are a couple videos that I found very helpful for this subject.
This video is a great breakdown of all the different kinds of guitars and showcases some of the things that I mentioned in this article. Find what you want and start to research the brands that give you what you’re looking for.
I follow Tony Polecastro on a number of platforms and find his videos and lessons to be the easiest and most complete for what I’m trying to do with my guitar playing. His knowledge on the instruments as well as music is why I listen closely to his videos. I would suggest once you get a guitar that you hop over to his page. I’ll link a few lessons that will help the beginner.
I hope this helps you get started and I’ll post a second blog on getting to playing soon.