Choosing your first guitar – What to consider

Author: Ian-Bush  Date Posted:22 September 2011 

Choosing your first guitar is something that is extremely important and also very confusing. A guitar player of many years has learnt about all the subtle differences and knows exactly what they want to do but beginners need help. Unfortunately the right advice can be hard to find. So here are a few key points to consider;

1. Body Size and Neck size and weight Especially for smaller, younger, or larger players (particularly hands) this is really a critical question. An Electric guitar has the smallest body size (making it the easiest to play), weighs the most (So it could be too heavy to stand up with for a child) but it has the thinnest neck (Very easy to play) Classical Guitars or Nylon string guitars have a medium size body, the widest necks (which can be difficult for smaller hands) Acoustic Guitars have the largest bodies (hard to play for smaller people), Medium size necks. To give you some idea of the dimensions the neck on a standard Acoustic is 44mm, Electric is 42mm and Classic is a whopping 50mm (3/4 size is smaller at 46mm)

2. String type, Electric vs. Steel string, Steel String vs. Nylon String Nylon Strings are the easiest to press Electric strings are thinner than Steel Acoustic strings – not so hard to press Steel Acoustic Strings are the thickest and hardest to play (And the thicker the strings the better the tone) There are many ways to consider this - firstly you need to consider what sound you really want. I remember as a young child wanting to sound like Mark Knopfler playing distorted guitar on Money for Nothing, when I got my first nylon string guitar and it didn’t sound the same I was really disappointed (I was only 9 so forgive me for making the mistake !) I should have bought an Electric guitar with an amp given the time over again.

The reasons are, 1. It would sound like what I wanted to hear – and that’s a huge motivator. 2. The neck on an electric is actually the thinnest neck you can get (much thinner than a classical guitar) Right now I play a steel string dreadnought most of the time, It suits the music I like, and it’s really convenient. Nylon string guitars are great for a particular purpose and have their own sound, but for most people it’s not the sound they hear in their heads. That being said Nylon string guitars are by far the most popular in Australia, they are cheaper to buy and easier to play (but be careful of the bigger neck).

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