Whether you’re an adult or a child, if you’re thinking of starting guitar lessons please don’t make the mistake of rushing out to your local charity shop or Argos and buying the cheapest guitar you can find.
Because that’s exactly what it is: a mistake.
It’s a mistake because that guitar is almost definitely going to be a nylon-strung classical guitar for around £20-40 – like the Pure Tone Classical Guitar shown further down this page.
Here are a few reasons why guitars such as this aren’t good for beginners (or anyone else):
- They are hard to tune and go out of tune very quickly, making anything you play on them sound ‘wrong’.
- They have wider fretboards than acoustic and electric guitars, which make them hard to play, because you have to stretch your fingers further than other guitars (especially difficult for children)
- Because the materials are of poor quality and build, they sound dull and toneless, which contributes to that ‘wrong’ sound
- They don’t look nice. They aren’t the kind of thing anyone would actually want to pick up and play, which makes practice an arduous chord, rather than a pleasure (and it should be a pleasure!)
In summary, they are not nice to play and so they end up not getting played much… if at all. That said, there are those with enough motivation that they will manage to learn on such an instrument, but in my opinion that is not a reason to buy one – if anything you deserve a reward for such diligence in the form of a decent guitar. And anything under £100 is NOT a decent guitar.
So what would I recommend?
The simple answer is that it depends what guitar you most want to end up playing.
For example, if your dream is to play like Ed Sheeran, go for a decent acoustic guitar. You don’t have to shell out £650 on the Martin ‘Ed Sheeran’ Signature guitar (though if you can, do it!), but a nice Epiphone or Fender acoustic can be bought for around £150.
On the other hand, if you want to be the next Eric Clapton, go for a Fender Stratocaster. Again it doesn’t have to be an American made (MIA) Strat or the ‘Eric Clapton’ Signature one (which costs a mere £1800), but a new black Squire Bullet Strat will only set you back £120 or so. NB – Don’t be tempted by the Encore versions – remember anything under £100 is not a decent guitar.
The main argument against splashing out on a decent guitar when you’re starting out is that you might not get into playing the guitar, in which case the money will have been wasted.
In my experience, it is more likely that trying to learn on a poor instrument will stop you “getting into playing the guitar”. Conversely, having a decent guitar will help you get into playing. Be thankful decent guitars only cost a few hundred pounds. When I took up the violin, I ended up paying £15000 for mine… but it sounds AMAZING (except when I play it!)
Think of it as in investment in your guitar-playing future.
So there you have it – if you’re thinking of starting out on the guitar, do the right thing and buy yourself a decent guitar, one you’ll want to pick up and play, because that’s exactly what you’ll do with it!