What to Look for When Buying a Guitar for Beginners (Ultimate Guide)

Buying your first guitar is the beginning of an exciting journey of your musical journey. Therefore, it’s important to put your fast foot forward to be sure that you are bringing home the most exciting guitar that will keep you wanting to play it more and more.

Guitars come in vast styles, makes, and models thus it can be a daunting task choosing one, especially for beginners. Also, you will want to ask yourself what guitar size to go for, and whether to consider a refurbished or a brand-new guitar.

Whichever choice you make always consider your personal preference, style, and what feels and looks good to you. To simplify your guitar shopping, we provide you with useful tips for buying your first guitar.

What to Look for When Buying a Guitar

1. Playability

You need to make sure the instrument you are looking for is playable. How to do that? Well, if you have chosen the right product, there are tons of good reviews available on the internet. It is better if you go for the video reviews as you can hear the sound and its features at the same time.

When you are a beginner, things become more intense. Things should go both ways, as when you are learning to play the guitar, your guitar must be friendly enough to train your fingers. Being friendly with your gear is such a liberating feeling as instruments that are not comfortable usually lessen our hopes.

Therefore, regardless of the price, you must go for the one that is comfortable for your hands. I’m not saying you must buy an expensive one, there are lots of guitars available that are awesome and affordable at the same time.

2. Price Doesn’t Come First

Creating music is one thing, but the real magic lies in your fingers. And, to own those fingers, you need to practice a lot. Besides, you must be comfortable while holding the guitar or playing it. 

Therefore, we don’t advocate going too cheap on your first guitar. Trust me, you may brag among your friends about the cheap deal you just got, but that definitely doesn’t add anything to your learning process.

3. Don’t go for second-hand instruments

If you have a choice between a brand new cheap guitar and a second-hand moderately expensive one, go for the first option. A beginner should avoid buying an already used instrument unless a more experienced guitarist has seen it, played it, and given the go-ahead to buy it.

There are lots of delicate details we want to look for in a used guitar. They are quite temperamental instruments and these details are going to be difficult for someone who has just started his guitar journey.

So, if you have an experienced music teacher or a friend who has played guitar for a long time, avoid second-hand deals.

4. Buy Attractive Guitars

Go for a guitar that is visually appealing to you. It is likely that there is an artist who inspired you to learn the guitar in the first place.

From that, we can say visual attention plays an important role in the consistency of your eagerness to practice regularly. Wouldn’t it be fun to play an instrument that represents the artist whom you idolize?

Wait, you don’t have someone? Ask your child or younger brother. I’m sure they do.

Yes, I know it’ll cost you a fortune if your idol is Dave Mustaine or John Petrucci. But, if you search you will find almost the exact product as theirs that you can afford.

What Questions Should You Ask When Buying First Guitar?

When buying your first guitar, don’t rush! Take your time to understand what time of guitar you want and what options are available for you.

Here are a few questions to ask when buying your first guitar:

  • What’s my budget? (under $100, under $500, up to $1000, $1000+, etc)
  • What’s my preferred playing style (strumming, fingerpicking, etc.)?
  • Do I want an acoustic, electric, or acoustic-electric guitar?
  • What body style and size is comfortable for me to play?
  • What kind of tone am I looking for?
  • What are the features and specifications of the guitar?
  • Is it easy to play and handle?
  • Does it come with any accessories (case, picks, strap, etc.)?
  • Is there a warranty or return policy?
  • Can I try out the guitar before buying it? (You don’t want to buy a car without a test ride!)

If you have a more experienced guitarist friend, they can help you make the decision or even recommend some options based on your budget and preferences.

Should a Beginner Get an Expensive Guitar?

If you are a beginner, it is recommended to start with a more affordable instrument. This allows you to get a feel for the instrument and determine if it’s something you want to pursue without breaking the bank. An affordable guitar can still provide good sound quality and be suitable for learning the basics.

What to Look for When Buying a Guitar

However, it’s important to find a guitar that is easy to play, has good intonation, and stays in tune. A low-quality guitar can be frustrating to play and hinder a beginner’s progress. Before making a purchase, it is always a good idea to try out different guitars and seek the advice of a knowledgeable guitarist, salesperson, or guitar teacher.

How Can You Tell if a Guitar is of Good Quality?

Here are things to look out for to know if the guitar you are buying is of good quality:


A good quality guitar should produce a clear and balanced sound with good sustain. The sound should be consistent across all strings and up and down the fretboard. Play the guitar in different styles to test the sound quality.

Build quality

A well-made guitar should not have visible defects like cracks, warping, or loose components. Check the body, neck, and headstock for any irregularities or odd markings. Look for smooth finishes, properly aligned components, and well-fitted hardware.


The materials used in the construction of the guitar can have a big impact on its quality. High-quality woods, like solid spruce, mahogany, or rosewood, can contribute to better sound quality, durability, and longevity.


The action of a guitar refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard. It should be comfortable for the player to play without being too high or too low. The action can be adjusted, but if it’s too high or too low, it can affect the sound quality and playability of the guitar.


The guitar should be in tune across all frets and have accurate intonation. Play different chords and notes up and down the fretboard to make sure they sound in tune. Poor intonation can make the guitar sound out of tune and make it difficult to play certain chords and progressions.


The guitar should feel comfortable and balanced in the player’s hands. It should not be too heavy or too light, and the neck should be comfortable to grip. The shape and size of the guitar body should also be comfortable for the player to hold and play.

Brand reputation

Established brands with a good reputation for quality and consistency are often a safe bet. Do some research on the brand’s history and reputation before making a purchase. A reputable brand with good customer reviews is a good indication of a quality guitar.


If you are looking for a beginner acoustic guitar, the Yamaha F335 Acoustic Guitar is a popular option to consider, but there are plenty of affordable acoustic guitars you can compare.

Brands like Fender, Ibanez, and Yamaha are great for beginners and they have a range of guitars for different price levels and playing styles.

I hope we have helped by sharing some of our key thoughts regarding beginner’s guitar choice. Use these points when you buy your first guitar or one for your child.

Don’t rush into something you will regret later. If you want a temporary solution, you could always rent!

Frequently Asked Questions

What guitar is best suited for beginners?

When popping the question of which guitar is best for novices, nylon string guitars immediately come to my mind. I vividly remember dealing with painful fingertips when I was just starting on the journey of guitar playing. If you’d like to avoid that, nylon string guitars are the way to go. The reasons are quite simple. First of all, they boast thicker strings that are more forgiving to your fingers than their steel-string counterparts. Many beginners struggle with fingertip discomfort, and it’s quite common to feel disheartened as you’re just getting started. Nylon strings can mitigate this issue significantly. Moreover, these guitars feature a wider neck which comes in handy, especially if you have larger hands. Picking up chords and hammer-ons become easier due to this. So, before stepping into the guitar store or adding a product to your online cart, it’s worth considering a nylon string guitar for your starting venture in musical realms.

Which style of guitar is more conducive for early learning?

Having talked to countless aspiring guitarists and drawing from my personal experience, it seems pretty clear that people worldwide have found success debuting with both electric and acoustic guitars. However, if I were to guide you on which style to lean first, without a second thought, I’d say acoustic guitar. There’s a two-fold rationale behind my advice. Firstly, an acoustic guitar requires a higher level of finger strength due to the thicker gauge of strings. This might sound intimidating but trust me, it’s a blessing in disguise. Building up finger strength early on will make your future guitar explorations smoother, irrespective of the style or genre. Secondly, the acoustic guitar cultivates a discipline to learn chords and master the art of strumming, which are often the building blocks for many songs. It puts a little bit more pressure on you, mentally and physically, and that’s precisely what we need to grow, isn’t it?

What precautions should I take before purchasing a guitar?

Is it sensible for beginners to invest in an expensive guitar?

This is a question that often comes up in guitar forums and discussions, and rightly so. However, my recommendation to beginners is to avoid splurging on an expensive guitar especially if it’s their first or second. Now, you might be thinking, why not go for the best when you can afford it? Well, the reasoning is quite straight forward. Firstly, as a beginner, you may not be completely sure if you will stick with learning the guitar in the long run. Investing in an expensive instrument and then sidelining it is both disheartening and an inefficient use of money. Secondly, and more importantly, beginners generally don’t have the skills or the experience to exploit the full potential of an expensive guitar. I remember my friend who bought an expensive Gibson Les Paul as his first guitar. A year later, he admitted that he barely noticed any difference compared to his cheaper backup guitar. The fact is expensive guitars command a certain level of mastery to be fully appreciated. It’s wiser to advance your skills on a beginner’s level instrument and naturally upgrade when you start feeling the limitations. Trust me; it’s a journey worth treasuring.


I'm Johnny, the guy behind Guitar Manifesto. I've been playing guitar since my teens and now that I'm in my 40s, I'm all about sharing what I've learned to help you become a better guitarist.

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