Buying an electric guitar for the first time can be exciting yet overwhelming. There are so many electric guitars out there with different designs, pick-up, sounds, and of course different prices. How do you pick the right guitar for you? Playing an electric guitar should be an enjoyable experience, but the wrong choice could just take all the fun out of it.
Price is the first choice facing any beginning guitarist. It determines which electrics are considered and which are dismissed. Figuring out your price range comes down to how much you’re willing to spend for an electric guitar. There’s no sense looking at $1200 guitars when you want to spend only $250.
As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay, especially when comparing low-end electric guitars with mid or high-end electric guitars. The benefit of low-end electric guitars is they are inexpensive, so if you decide that you don’t like playing guitar, you haven’t invested a lot of money.
There are some less expensive electric guitars out there you can buy brand new that won’t salvage your fingers or make you wince every time you hear it. Just because a guitar is cheap, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s terrible. Cheaper guitars do tend to share some common problems with their factory settings that can make playing no fun. They don’t stay in tune. The intonation is off. The string action is too high. Poor quality electronics, and so on. Luckily issues like intonation or string action can be corrected by a guitar tech.
To me, $400-$600 is a good starting price range for beginners looking to buy their first electric guitar. It’s an affordable range that allows you to consider new guitars that aren’t too pricey as well as higher-end used guitars.
Once you’ve determined your price range, do you buy a new electric or a used one? That depends on how important it is to you to own a new guitar over perhaps a better quality guitar that is used but still in good condition. They key here is good condition. If you’re buying a used electric guitar from a reputable music store, it’s almost a given that the guitar has been inspected and any necessary repairs have been made.
If you’re thinking about buying a used guitar from a stranger, you should ask questions about its age, how long the seller has owned it and has it had any work done to it. Inspect the body and neck to make sure they aren’t warped or cracked, and verify the electronics work: the sound shouldn’t cut in and out. Nor should there be any fret buzz or other rattling noises when you play. If the guitar has old strings, replace them.
Whatever your decision, the guitar should feel comfortable when you hold it and fret the strings. Something else to think about is the kind of music you want to play. If you like classical or flamenco, an electric guitar is not a good choice. An electric guitar that has a thin and twangy sound is great for the country, but if you want teeth-rattling distortion, it will sorely disappoint you. Don’t buy a guitar you that won’t satisfy your musical preferences; you will regret it.
I hope that you find playing guitar as fun and enjoyable as I have, and I hope this article on buying your first electric guitar has provided you with some helpful guidance.