Everyone beginning to play or deciding to purchase a new guitar wants to know approx. what sort of money do I have to spend to get a decent guitar? I also realise that it’s not an easy question to answer!
When you say decent guitar, I’m not talking silly money top of the range Martins or Gibsons but just something that sounds good enough to play for my own pleasure. I may or not intend doing gigs; however I just want to initially play songs by my favourite artists like James Taylor and Paul Simon at home and make a reasonably good job of doing so.
A very quick answer would be to say, spend as much as you can afford. The sky’s the limit as far as acoustics go and our advice would be to carefully research and decide on a price band and then go shopping with your ears. We say ears as it is so easy to go shopping with your heart and get totally carried away by really expensive brands and before you know it, you have actually spend much more than you had planned. You then regret the purchase and wish that you had spent less!
Always do your research to find the best guitar and try auditioning the different models that fall within your budget, its only then that you will find something suitable. You can eavesdrop on guitar-based forums online, or even join one and ask questions from people who have already trodden the long path you are on. Go to guitar shops and if you are just starting out, ask to hear the sound of the guitar being played by someone experienced in the shop.
If it’s an electric guitar it’s very important to listen to the sound through a very good quality amplifier or even through the same amplifier you are considering purchasing, use headphones if there is a lot of background noise. Spend time going through this exercise until you are happy with your selection of 2 or 3 before you finally decide on the one you really want.
It’s true to say that with guitars, you normally get what you pay for in today’s market and so we are surprising no one by saying that there is a very big difference between an acoustic or electric guitar weighing in at £2000.00 and one that costs £200. If you want to optimise your choices, consider looking in the £450.00 to £800.00 price range as this will include some of the lower end guitars, like Martins, Fenders and Epiphones plus other brands too numerous to list. Even acoustics in the £200 to £300 bracket have greatly improved enormously of late, so brands like Tanglewood etc. may well provide you with something that really fits the bill perfectly.
One important point, make sure you go for a solid top acoustic; this will mean its tone will improve with age. You should not ignore the second hand market, however if you are inexperienced on how to check for possibly faults, always purchase new.
Overall your final budget will decide whether you want a low priced guitar to begin with and then venture into the more expensive market. Or as many decide to do, purchase a very good quality guitar initially and avoid the lower end. It may be expensive but if cared for, it will not only last a lifetime, it will bring lasting joy when played.