Let's say I've never played the guitar, or I've only learned to pluck a string and play a chord but have forgotten most of it. Now, I've become interested and would like to try it out. I don't want to spend a lot, and I want something that I will be comfortable with for my first few years of learning. I also don't want to start out by taking lessons – I don't want to commit just yet. I've found online tutorials and videos that should keep me busy for a long time.

How should I go about choosing a guitar for this purpose? What are some of the things I should consider?

(The conditional in the first sentence is because I already did this.)

  • Don't buy. Rent. Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 19:16

5 Answers 5


It starts with electric vs acoustic; which one do you want to play? If you want to play acoustic the following will still apply, but the guitar recommendations will be invalid.

The most important thing is comfort. Don't worry too much what a sales guy tells you about a guitar's electronics (e.g. pickups) -- that's not going to matter just yet. Try out a bunch of guitars and pay special attention to how the neck feels to you.

Many non-guitar-geek folks take this for granted, but all guitar necks feel different. Some are big and fat, some are thin, and others are shaped like a V. Most are rounded in the back.

If your hand is not comfortable on the guitar, don't buy it no matter how cheap or how cool it looks. At a 100% beginner stage, quitting is a giant possibility and in my opinion pain and discomfort will lead to you not enjoy playing and you'll eventually just quit.

Another related note is how the guitar is set up. A good setup on a guitar is the difference between the string buzz versus the strings being 1/4th inch off the fretboard versus a nice comfortable distance from the frets.

Although almost any guitar can be setup to play pretty good, at some stores (typically giants one like guitar center), the cheaper guitars aren't well maintained at the store or come poorly setup from the factory. Those are a nightmare to play. At a decent store, they should be able to set a guitar up for you. I would highly suggest you to ask for a quick tweak if you find a guitar you like but its strings are a tad too high or buzzy. It should only take a couple minutes and they should do it for free.

The last bit of advice I would give is... buy a tuner. Cheaper guitars can go out of tune pretty easily (especially with new strings). When the guitar goes out of tune, most of what you play will sound crappy and you won't get that "woah, that sounds right" feeling when you strum chords or play even simple licks. So buy a tuner and make sure you're in tune.


  • Buy a comfortable guitar
  • Make sure the setup is decent before you pay them money
  • Buy a tuner and stay in tune
  • Practice
  • 1
    Good answer, but -1 for netspeak, bad grammar and typos. Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 21:29
  • @neilfein Hopefully my edit is an improvement. ;) Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 20:12

I would recommend getting an acoustic guitar first. This is because although it takes more time to start playing it you can focus on the raw strings rather than having to worry about amplitude and other adjustments available in electric. From what I have seen all those knobs just server as a distraction to beginners and they finally end up fiddling too much with all the settings rather than practicing. Besides the finger and strumming practice you get out of an acoustic guitar is way better in my opinion than an electric one. In an electric guitar depending on your configuration a light strum might sound loud and even a hard strum can be made to sound thin. The acoustic guitar has a constant setting to help you practice repeatedly and improve.

And the best way to choose a guitar I think is to simply walk into a shop and start picking up different guitars and trying them out. There would be some which you like the tone of and some you don't. See if you can chat up with the people around and see what they have to say about guitars that you like. Shops usually have a person to guide you through all the different guitars available and help you decide. Take all your time to decide as it goes a long way.

I got some local model but it fits my budget and the best thing is I like its color. This keeps me motivated in the long run. So remember that the color and how much its looks appeal to you is also an important factor besides the tone.

Another thing to notice is the finish of the guitar. Look at the places where the neck joins the body, the frets joining the neck and notice the kind of finish it has. For a good guitar it would look neat - smooth, no bad edges and uniform.

Happy hunting!


If you are a complete beginner, I recommend you begin with a cheap classical guitar. This is because they are very easy to learn basic theory on, with wider necks and spaced strings so that the player can get used to fretting notes and chords and picking/fingerpicking. You can get a Jose Ferre guitar for about £39 in the UK.

Once you are fairly familiar with the basics and confident you are going to stick with it, I would move on to an acoustic guitar. I would recommend a six-string, dreadnought bodied acoustic, costing no more than £100. The Yamaha F-310 is perfect for this. Or, if you want to, an electric guitar if you want to take that route. A Squier Stratocaster or Telecaster + a decent small amp would be ideal in this case.

From there you can develop your technique, style and sound.

Hope this helps :)


First guitar? An acoustic with a built in tuner. Just you and the chords, and easy to keep in tune, no worrying about amps, cords, pedals, whammies, etc.

Also, I would NOT recommend a super cheapie. The action will drive you insane, and make your experience very unpleasant, and guess what, you won't know WHY you hate playing that thing and why you are horrible.

I would find a used, medium quality guitar like an Ibanez and then take it to a qualified, smaller guitar shop that has been in business for decades in your area for adjustment, unless you buy from an experienced player, which is probably your best bet.

I would not necessarily recommend buying from such, as from what I have seen, they may or may not be steering n00bs into decent beginner guitars.

Be prepared to spend 200 to 500, knowing that you can probably sell it for at least half price if it doesn't work out, assuming you buy some quality and or used.


Buy the best guitar you can afford!! That's the best advise I can give. Try as many out as possible. Ask guitar salespeople...not megastore sales people. Go to smaller stores that are privately owned, you will certainly get better advise there. also check out musiciansfriend.com and even guitarcenter.com to get an idea of prices and styles of guitars.

I hope you stay with it!! It is hard work and can take a long time to get to any one point..but st goals and practice! Let us know what you end up getting.

  • 3
    Buy the best you can afford? That's pretty stupid advice for a beginner, IMHO. You may have £1000 to spare, but what if you buy a guitar and don't get on with it? You've now just wasted a load of money. I would -1 if I could.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 9:11
  • 1
    I think this is great advice. If you buy a reasonably good quality guitar, you are more likely to have a good learning experience and you can always sell it if you need to. If you buy a cheap guitar, it will hinder your learning experience and nobody is going to want it if you decide to sell it later. Spend a little extra and buy a quality instrument because it will serve you well in the long run.
    – Avalanchis
    Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 13:38
  • 1
    You could qualify the statement with "buy the best used guitar you can afford". Guitar resale value doesn't dramatically change. Odds are if you spend $1300 on a used Les Paul you can sell if for roughly the same price a year from now. Even so, I don't think I'd recommend a guitar over $500 to a beginner.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 23, 2011 at 19:16
  • 2
    I don't think I'd ever advocate somebody buying the best they can afford at a hobby that they're not actually sure they'll keep.
    – jprete
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 13:54
  • What I would recommend is learning a couple chords and a scale or two and then trying out every guitar in the store whether or not OP can afford it or not. There may be a guitar that plays and sounds good (especially to a beginner) and won't break the bank.
    – Duston
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 13:31