A lot of people pick up the guitar with the intention of becoming rich and famous rockstars. However, as it turns out, that requires a lot of work and practice which can be no fun at all! As a result, the internet is filled with people trying to sell their barely used guitars. You can use this Priceonomics Guitar Price Guide to look up the price of any used guitar. Also, Priceonomics contributor Valerie Farabee has put together a basic guide on buying a guitar for any newbies out there.

a guitar on a wall

Image credit: Fanpop.

Ramble On: Your Guide to Guitars

Are you a shredder or a singer-songwriter? When searching for your first guitar, you will decide between two basic types: electric or acoustic. An electric guitar has a built-in pickup or pickups that convert sound vibrations into electrical signals for amplification – and wailing, of course.

An acoustic guitar is a hollow bodied guitar that does not need to convert the sound vibrations to amplify sound. Great for your folksier songs and campfire sing-alongs, but don’t underestimate the acoustic guitar, you shred those pretty hard, too.

If you choose an electric guitar you will need to be outfitted with a few extras from the start, and an acoustic guitar is ready to go. Many people suggest learning the basics on an acoustic and then adding an electric guitar to your collection.

Thoughts on Joining the GuitArmy

First off, there is no hurry! Buying a guitar is an investment that will last you a long time, so shop around and make a couple of visits to several stores before making your final decision.

To determine the quality of a guitar, check out what it is made of, what brand the guitar is, and if the model has been around for a long time. Even the best brands occasionally come out with a lemon, so it’s good to have information about the particular model you are considering.

Solid wood guitars are typically the best sounding and the most durable, which is good to know, but if a guitar will work for you or not is when you sit down and actually play it. I know you’re a beginner and don’t know how to play, but sit down with the guitar and strum the strings and listen to the sound – you don’t have to be a musician to know if it sounds good to you or not.

If it sounds right and feels right, this guitar should go on your wish list.

Inspect Your Gadget

A lot of people want to know if they should buy a new or used guitar when they are starting out. It depends on you! Here are a few things to look for regardless of if you are buying a new or a used guitar:

    • Check the metal fret wires to insure that they do not stick out too far, that they aren’t too sharp, and that they don’t hurt your fingers in any way.


    • Do the notes all ring out clearly? If there is a weird buzz that can’t be immediately fixed by the sales clerk, put the guitar back and cross it off your list.


    • The tuning pegs on the headstock should work correctly and not be too tight or too loose.


    • Do not buy if the neck of the guitar is obviously warped, looks funny, or is at all out of place.


  • Check the body of the guitar for any cracks, dents or bruises before you leave the store.


Your Axe’s Accoutrement

As a beginner, whether you choose electric or acoustic, you will certainly need a few extra items. A standard kit should include a case, a few picks, a tuner and an extra set of strings. An electric guitar requires a different set of tools to make it work, read on to find out more!

If you have chosen an electric guitar, you will also need a strap, an amp, and a cable to connect your guitar to your amp. A guitar strap attaches to the neck of the guitar and to a knob at the bottom of the guitar body to hold it in place while you play standing up. A strap is a must have if you are playing in a band or performing in front of people, so don’t forget to include it in your purchase!

An amp, or amplifier, is an essential tool if you are playing an electric guitar. As mentioned before, an electric guitar utilizes pickups on the body to amplify the sound vibration made when the strings are plucked. The amplification happens when a shielded copper cable is attached to the guitar and to the amplifier of your choice. Amps are rated by wattage rather than size, and for a beginner a simple, small 15W amp is a solid choice. Anything over 20W is overkill for a home practice space!

Remember to practice hard, play harder, and rock on!