By: Pro Lessons
How to Buy a Guitar: What Questions Should I Ask?

There are a lot of good things to consider when you’ve decided to buy a guitar. Guitars are so vast in price range and quality, it would do us well to look at a first guitar versus a real investment. From $100 to thousands, guitars come in all shapes and sizes and you really need to know what you’re looking for. Before you go on the hunt for a new guitar, you should ask yourself some questions. Is this my first guitar? Which guitars do I like? What is my budget? Should I look at something used instead of something new? Knowing how to buy a guitar breaks down to realistically examining what your needs are and what kind of music you’re wanting to make.

Buying First Guitars

If it’s your first guitar, you wanna ask questions like, “Does this guitar fit me? Will this guitar stay in tune? Does this guitar play well, are the strings too high, can it be adjusted? Is this guitar in my price range?” First guitars should not be a huge investment. Now they don’t have to be cheap either. Basically, you’re looking for a solid guitar for less than $300. Does the guitar you’re looking at have eye appeal? If you don’t like the way a guitar looks, you might not be inspired to play it. That’s why there are so many shapes and options. To each his own. Find the guitar that speaks to you and then ask all the right questions. If it looks cool, pick it up. Is it too heavy? Is it too big or small? What does it sound like?

Buying An Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitars are built to project volume from the sound hole in the middle of the body of the guitar. Many companies send the guitars out with the strings high off the neck, so the instrument has a lot of volume. If you have strong hands and have been playing for a while, that might be desirable, but small hands or hands that have been on an electric for a long time will find an acoustic guitar hard to play and very discouraging. If you’re wanting to know how to buy a guitar that is acoustic, ask questions like “Can these strings be lowered? Does this guitar have an adjustable truss rod? Is the neck good and straight on this guitar? Does this guitar have a pickup?” Many acoustic guitars don’t come with a strap pin on the neck heel. You might ask, “If I buy this guitar, will you include a strap pin and strap? Does this guitar come with a case or gig bag?”

How to Buy a Guitar: What Questions Should I Ask?

Buying An Electric Guitar

Electric guitars have a lot more options since there are electronics and switches everywhere. Good questions you should ask about electrics are “Is this guitar too heavy for me?” Les Pauls and Flying V’s look real rockin’, but are a beast to balance. You want an electric guitar that sits well on your leg and doesn’t hurt your neck to carry around. Once you find one you can handle, then ask, “What do all these knobs do? What’s this bar for? Do I need it? What’s the difference in these pickups? What kind of sounds can this guitar make?” Electric guitars offer a choice in pickups, like humbuckers or single coils etc. The pickups determine the sound and style of music you might play with that guitar. Now, it really doesn’t mean you need a Telecaster if you’re gonna play country. New country guys are swinging Les Pauls, but single coil pickups don’t usually have the beef that a humbucker has. When it comes to electrics, how to buy a guitar boils down to the sound you’re going for.

Buying A Collectible Guitar - How to Buy a Guitar

A pricy collectible guitar is another matter. There are so many imposters out there and faking the real deal has gotten to be a lucrative business. Never buy a so-called original 50’s, 60’s or 70’s Fender or Gibson without having a professional look it over. You need to ask “Is this guitar vintage? Is it all original? Is the finish original? Has it been modified in any way? What is the year of this guitar? What is it really worth? Is this guitar stolen?” Some guitars are stolen and end up in pawn shops or on the street. You may have to be delicate about asking the legality of the situation, but you should always report a stolen guitar. Never pay too much for a collectible guitar either. Yes, they are desirable, but it may need some luthier attention and you have to be careful about who works on it. Never refinish an old guitar because it looks rough. Don’t replace anything you don’t have to and always hang on to the parts you remove so you can put them back on if you decide to sell.

Buying A Custom Built Guitar

A custom built guitar offers a whole different set of questions like “What are your favorite things about a guitar? Does your builder know your desired options and sound you wish to achieve? Is the builder a reputable one? Is your budget unreasonable?” Many custom built guitars are very expensive, so if you’re wondering how to buy a guitar, think about whether or not they really are worth the investment. These days there are guitars under $1000 that are fabulous. You can spend $5000+ and possibly end up with something that plays as well as one for $1000. Yes, it may be customized to fit you, but at what price? It’s really important to know 100% what you wish to accomplish. It’s a fine line because known guitar builders have earned a reputation and can get the price. Up and comers are zealous to build you a great guitar, but may be unstable as a company. You can invest thousands and never receive a guitar. We don’t want that to happen to you.

To know how to buy a guitar, there are plenty of questions to ask yourself. What color, what body style, which electronics, what price range, etc? Your best call would be to sit in a music shop and play as many guitars as possible. See what you really like and narrow it down to three or four guitars. Then play them back and forth until you just can’t put one of them down. That’ll be the one.

Once you’ve purchased your guitar, consider getting some lessons that will help you to reach your full potential. No matter how long you’ve been playing, guitar lessons can be a big help. At Pro Lessons, we offer you a consistent online lesson plan that will give you the tools you need to become a better guitar player. Find out more information by clicking on the icon below.


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