Guide to Newbies: How to Choose Your Very First Acoustic Guitar

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"My first love was the sound of guitar."-Boz Scaggs

"Besides being a guitar player, I am a big fan of the guitar. I love that damn instrument."-Steve Yai

I remember the first time I stepped foot inside a guitar store, the options I had was endless and it baffled me to not know what I was looking for. In the end, I end up with a guitar I dont really liked. To avoid the same mistake I made in the earlier years, I decided to write this concise guide to new guitar dummies. In this guide I won't go too far or too deep, because this post is for new students who want to start learning guitar themselves, but have no idea how to choose their first guitar. Just some easy and simple tricks that works for me. Lets go step-by-step shall we?

STEP 1: Set a Budget

Unless you are planning to borrow guitar from your friends and family members, you will never get one guitar without PAYING for one. If you are still financially dependant on your parents, do ask permission from them to buy a guitar and also the amount of money they are willing to spend on your first guitar. In Malaysia, I'll say a good starter guitar cost about RM300-450. But you can fine cheaper options here in Malaysia such as the Pepatung or Kapok brand which only cost around RM100-250.

STEP 2: Expand your choices of purchase

You already have an approved budget from your guardian, and now you need to go on Google Maps or Facebook to check out some of the music stores closest to you or within your reach. Do ask experienced guitar players where they bought their guitars and ask for the review and trust-ability of the particular shop. Now for newbie, I wont recommend purchasing online unless you have some really really experienced people helping you out. 

STEP 3: Test out your guitar in the shop

Same concept before purchasing a car, you TESTDRIVE it. For guitar, its all too familiar but too often newbies skipped this step. By testing I dont means holding it in an awkward position and just give it a strum or two, thinking "It will do". NO NO NO. 

COMFORT: What I want you to do is to sit down, place the guitar on your lap correctly and start strumming. Ask yourself, do you feel comfortable with that guitar on your lap? Is your hand and arm constantly stressed because of the anatomy of the guitar? And does the guitar size best suits your body size? Is the guitar too heavy for you?


Above image of guitar body size by strumviews.com




Above image by guitarfriendly.net. Generally, guitars with cutaways are more comfortable because they rest better on your lap. Feel free to experiment with cutaways.




SOUND: For sing-alongs, different guitar have different sound range, choose the sound that suits your voice the most. For example, I have a low alto sound for a girl, so naturally I wouldn't go for the guitar with typical bright and high sounds, instead I opted for a bassier guitar that best suits my vocal range. Dont be shy to hum around while strumming to find your vocal range. But most importantly, you yourself like the sound.

STRINGS ARE EASY TO PRESS: When you first start out guitar, those fingertips will hurt like hell, so at the beginning, you might want to find a guitar with a softer string or those strings closer to the fretboard (so you wont have to press so hard on them).
Image above by start-playing-guitar.com. Distance between the string and fretboard matters in the sense that how much force you need to press a note down accurately.



ASK FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: Its always good to have someone professionals (shop assistant) to help you out with your selection. But I do have to warn ya, not every recommendation can be trusted. Still, you have to test it out yourself. 

STEP 4: Staple Guitar Accessories

You already know which guitar you would like to purchase, but still there are some other things you have to own to make your guitar journey a little bit easier. 

First, I will recommend you get a TUNER, A chromatic tuner works best for beginners as its is digitalized.
For guitar tuning, we set thefrequency to 440Hz


Above image by pusatmuzikreco.com.my. Chromatic tuner.


Above image by www.guitar-tuner.info.com. How you use a guitar tuner. Clip it on the end of your guitar and start tuning. EADGBE (the thickest string to the thinnest)

I use to memorize it with Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie. (what i learn from youtube)

How about a magical contraption call the CAPO?
Instructions on how to use a capo on wikihow.com

Guitar Capo. From guitarnoise.com

Guitar capo. From guitaradventure.com


You would also like to get a GUITAR BAG to store your guitar properly (to avoid those nasty bugs and dusts) and also some GUITAR PICKS. (You can usually ask those picks for free with your guitar purchase)


Above image by blessthisstuffs.com. Guitar Bag



Do take note there are different picks out there in the market. Which is easily characteristed by thin, medium and heavy as shown above. Starting with medium picks are always a good choice. In case you arent satisfied with the strumming feeling, you can always go for heavy or thin.



STEP 5: Bargain with the shop

Its always a good idea to ask for some discounts or freebies before you pay for your guitar. Who knows you might get a free bag, free tuner, free guitar picks and tons of freebies.

STEP 6: Maintain your guitar

Now that you are happy with your purchase, don't forget to take good care of your guitar. Keep it store in the bag when unused and remember to keep it in tune and do not knock it around like you are some kinda rock star. I hope you love your very first guitar!!!



Last but not least, do check out my other post on How to start playing the guitar without a teacher. Hope this helps a lot, signing off with love
Happy Strumming!!!




Disclaimer: I do not own some of the Images or gifs in this post.

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