Choose Your Perfect First Guitar

SIDEBAR: was redesigned and re-launched on November 28, 2007. As a result, this page was replaced with one that looks at the key question: Acoustic or Electric?, which is right for you?

Click here to visit the new Home Page, then look at the navigation bar on the left side of the page for all of the lessons.

It's time to choose your perfect first guitar. Which one is it? These guidelines will make it obvious.

The Most Important Question...

Believe it or not, the most important question is: What type of music do you want to play?

This may be different from the music you enjoy listening to. For example, I like listening to a wide variety of music: The Beatles, Def Leppard, Toby Mac, Jo Dee Messina, Soulwax, to name a few. But I wanted to play Christmas tunes, and Praise and Worship music. This ruled out guitars like the Flying-V, or a Gibson Les Paul!

So, think about the primary type of music you want to play. Then think about the primary type of guitar used to produce that music. That tells you what your perfect first guitar will be.

  • Want to play Pop, Rock, or Alternative? Select an electric.
  • Ready to strum some Country, Folk, or Christmas carols? You need an acoustic.
  • Jazz and Blues your thing? Focus on electric instruments.
  • Leaning toward Classical or Inspirational music? Acoustic is the way to go.

Of course, all music styles will occasionally use the opposite type of guitar, to emphasize a particular sound. Don't worry about that now. That can be your second guitar!

It's that simple: the type of music you want to play leads to the type of first guitar for you!

SIDEBAR: Simple? Only if you can tell what type of guitar is used in the songs you want to play... and that's not always easy.

Luckily, most people remember songs they've heard... so I've put together a short list of some very popular songs and the type of guitar used.

Take a look at the What Guitar page. I hope it helps you identify your perfect first guitar!

By the way... all of the information on is geared toward beginners and hopeful beginners of acoustic and electric guitar. If you're interested in selecting or playing the bass guitar, check out all the great information available on the authoritative Bass Guitars Guide site.

Other Considerations

Beginners can find inexpensive acoustic and electric guitars for very reasonable prices. The Aria AK20 3/4 Acoustic Guitar with nylon strings would make a great first guitar for small sized hands. It's a nylon string classical guitar for only about $75. The Applause AA21 steel string acoustic guitar by Ovation, at about $175, is a full-sized option. In solid-body electrics, consider the Ibanez GRX20 at about $150 or the Fender Squire Affinity Series, available in a variety of finishes, also for about $150.

New or Used?
If this is your first guitar, I recommend that you either purchase from a trusted friend or buy new. New guitars are clean, scratch and dent free, passed quality standards before shipping, have a warrenty, probably have new strings (most music stores allow shoppers to play instruments before purchasing... so your new guitar might need new strings... if in doubt, ask!).

Purchase or Rent
You want to enjoy your first guitar. If you don't, you'll quickly lose interest and learn that new guitars, like new cars, depreciate in value quickly (the flip side, of course, is that a well cared for car or guitar appreciates in value over the years).

Rental, lease-to-own, and return-guarentee programs (where you pay a fee if you return the instrument in a set amount of time, like 30 or 60 days) are great if you are uncertain of your ability or interest. They're also great for young students who "really, really, REALLY! want to learn how to play guitar" but also "really, really, REALLY!" wanted that puppy that you now care for.

The Final Stretch!

You are making great progress! It's time to make your final decisions about the type of first guitar for you!

If you chose acoustic, you still need to determine the type, or style. There are several. Don't worry... simply consult our Acoustic Guitar Guide.

There are also various body styles for electrics, and you also have a wide variety of appearances available. Take a look at the Electric Guitar Guide. It contains lots of valuable information for making an informed choice.

The choice of an electric, or an acoustic with electronics, requires some form of amplification. This can be small and inexpensive, or large and very costly. Take a look at the Amplifier Guide to understand what you need to consider.

Once you've reviewed the guitar and amplifier guides, head over to our Buying Guide and make your purchase!

I have no real experience with Classical Guitars, but I found a great site built by someone who does. For more on this type of instrument (selection, accessories, lessons, more...) head over to "The Classical Guitarist"... everything for the classical guitar enthusiast.

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