10 Essential Things to Check When Buying Your First Guitar

first guitar


Written by Ged Richardson from Zingstruments

If you’re just starting out playing guitar, buying that very first guitar is a daunting prospect. It doesn’t have to be, so long as you’ve done your homework.
Here are the 10 biggest hiccups that newbie buyers make when they get their first guitar. Don’t be that rookie…read on!

Here are seven features you must check before purchasing your first guitar:


Do you like the look of the guitar? However affordable the price is, make sure you pick a guitar you actually like the look of. It’s going to be a big feature in your life, so make sure the look of it resonates with you. Many people buy the first one they lay their hands on. Don’t be one of those people. Play a few and really get a feel for what works.


Here’s one that is often overlooked. Is the guitar comfortable to play? Does it sit well? Does it feel awkward to play in any shape or form. Can you get your hand around the fretboard easily? Are you instantly ‘at home’ with this guitar? Your perfect guitar should physically feel great on you – if not don’t buy it.


Does the guitar sound awesome? It should instantly make you think ‘wow, sounds cool. There are plenty of guitars out there, don’t go for one that doesn’t sound great to your ear. Have someone else strum your guitar – grab a friend or the guy in the shop and ask him to strum the guitar for you. Check out all those videos on you-tube. It will give you another perspective.

Set up

Most guitars need setting up to some extent. Yes most. You’re average newbie will think the guitar is good to go. Big mistake, have someone who knows what they’re talking about look at it. For a beginner, look for a guitar with low action (the distance of the strings from the fretboard) so the strings aren’t too far from the fretboard.

Fret buzz

A lot of budget guitars suffer from buzzing strings when you hold down a fret. Play notes (or chords) at different places on the fretboard and look out for any buzzing. If it’s buzzing, ask the shop to sort it out for you. If they won’t (or don’t know how) keep looking.

Check intonation

Play the same note (or chord) at various places on the fretboard. It should sound the same, but at different pitches. If it doesn’t, there’s likely to be something wrong with the neck and / or the bridge of the guitar. Again, if this happens ask the shop to sort it out before you flash your plastic.

Light strings

The weight of your strings makes a big difference in the beginning. Heavy gauge strings sound great but tend to be harder to handle. Go for light gauge strings with your first guitar. It will make it much easier to press down the strings and will be easier on your fingertips.

Here are three must-have purchases to accompany your first guitar:


Your guitar is going to pretty useless if you can’t keep it in tune. The amount of people who don’t bother getting one of these things astounds me. Yes, you can find an app on most smartphones, but having a bespoke guitar tuner is a good idea, especially one that sits on the headstock of your guitar. You won’t regret it.


Moving about without a bag to put your guitar in is going to problematic. Many guitars come with a gigbag (or a hard case) to transport your guitar. Definitely worth picking up when you get your guitar.

Cleaning gear

New guitar, do I really need to buy cleaning products? You betcha. The secret to keeping your axe sounding as good as the day you got it (or better) is to keep it in shape. That means cleaning the fretboard at regular intervals, frequently cleaning strings after playing and keeping humidity at a decent level (depending where you live).


So there you have it. 10 errors most rookies make when buying their first guitar, did any sound familiar? If you’re about to take the leap, don’t let this put you off. It’s not that hard to get it right. It will be the best purchase you’ve ever made 🙂

Ged Richardson is an avid guitarist, as well as a blogger and teacher who writes about how to improve your guitar playing at Zingstruments.

One thought on “10 Essential Things to Check When Buying Your First Guitar”

  1. In my opinion your first guitar should be a good brand but not too much money.Sad to say but many beginners never progress to more than beginners, and soon the guitar is in the attic. If you have a good guitar you have a good chance to re-sell it. This would work, even if you do progress and want to upgrade.

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