If you are looking to buy a first guitar for yourself, or as a present for someone else then the sheer range of different types and styles of guitars may seem overwhelming, not to mention the barrage of jargon and technical know-how that comes with it! The following guide has been written with the first time buyer in mind to guide you through this musical jungle and help you choose the instrument that suits you best.
The first main decision, (which you may or may not have reached by now) is whether you are looking for an electric, acoustic or bass guitar. Although they all work on the same basic principle of producing sound by plucking or strumming the strings, it is a good idea to take some time to think about what you want out of an instrument.
The acoustic guitar has been around for the longest time historically (several thousand years in some form) and requires no other equipment in order to play it - just pick it up and strum away! The 6 (or 12) strings vibrate as you strum or pluck and the vibrations are transferred to the soundboard (front of the guitar) which is springy, mechanically amplifying the vibrations through the hollow body of the guitar making the sound. Acoustic guitars are great for beginners to learn music on due to their simplicity, however their larger body and heavier strings can make them a bit more difficult to get started on straight away as it requires some training of technique and finger strengthening. The strings can leave you with sore fingers when you begin playing, but persist and your calluses will soon develop. After proper training and practice you can get an amazing range of sounds out of an acoustic guitar using different techniques and even a lot of songs that you hear played on electric guitars sound great 'unplugged' too!
Read our Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide
Electric guitars do not rely on mechanical amplification via a soundboard, but instead transfer the vibrations via a magnetic coil into a current down a cable and into an amplifier. They still have 6 strings, so you can play the same songs on an electric as an acoustic. In order to hear the music an electric guitar makes you will need to also get at least a cable and an amplifier, so after choosing an electric guitar you will also need to look into getting some extra equipment. To help you here, we sell guitar accessory kits, with all of the gear needed to get you playing quickly.
Electric guitars are just as good for learning to play music on as acoustic guitars and although you need to plug them in, most amplifiers come with headphone sockets, they can also be played quietly unplugged, and their lower action and slender necks often make them easier to develop your technique on quickly. (If you play an electric guitar after several months of learning on an acoustic it seems to feel much lighter on the fingers and you tend to be able to play faster). This initial difference in playability should not really be the reason for choosing an electric over an acoustic because it works the other way round too!
If you are interested in a specific style of playing, especially the ability to make that overdriven rock or distortion type sound then you can only achieve this via an electric guitar, plugged into an amp with the gain dial turned up.
Read our Electric Guitar Buyers Guide
Bass guitars are a bit different in that they tend to only have 4, much fatter strings, and tend to be bigger and heavier than electric guitars. They also need to be plugged into an amplifier in order to work, but the equipment needed is usually designed specifically for bass guitars and the low frequencies that they make. Bass guitars tend to be associated mostly with rhythm playing and for this you must build up a steady right hand technique, along with the ability to reach down the longer necks and grip the fatter strings. Bass guitars are also great for learning to play music on, but the approach you take may be slightly different as you will have to concentrate on the bass lines of songs which can be a bit less obvious than lead guitar parts.
If you aren't too sure what sort of music bass guitars are used for then go to your record collection and put on any song - listen carefully to the different range of sounds going on and more likely than not the bass will be there at the lowest of the frequencies steadily plodding along! Almost all songs in modern music use bass for some parts. There are also parts in many songs that can only be properly played on a bass and these solo parts can be a great way to start having fun with your bass. By choosing a bass guitar you won't be limiting yourself as to what style of music you play and electric bass guitars are a vital part modern music from Rock to Jazz to Funk and beyond.
Read our Bass Guitar Buyers Guide
As I'm sure you are aware there is a huge difference in quality between the high end and entry level instruments, but for each price bracket that we cover at Guitarbitz, there can be found some excellent examples of quality and value for money in a guitar. We only sell quality, well known branded guitars, with at least a 1 year warranty, and we check every guitar prior to shipping to ensure your new guitar is in full working order, please be assured that the guitar you buy from us is one that we deem suitable for the level of playing you are at.
It is important to consider though, that the those guitars in the cheaper end of the market will not be as long lasting and easy to play as those at the higher end and in terms of quality and performance - you get what you pay for in life, and often spending only a little more will give you a considerably better instrument.
If you really get on well with your first guitar and start playing it more than you first though you might, then you may want to upgrade within 6 months to a year, and we have a range of all styles of guitars that will suit you for many years to come.
Now lets look in more detail at the 3 categories of guitars,
If you found this information useful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and Google.