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Guide to Purchasing a Guitar

Step 1: Choosing the Type of Guitar That is Right for You

There are 3 main types of guitar: Acoustic, Electric, and Classical. For beginners and students under 12 years old, the best choice is often the Classical guitar. That being said, every student is different, so read more below to find the type of guitar that fits your needs and interests.

Acoustic guitars are most often used for rock, pop, folk, and blues. They are very convenient because they donʼt require an amplifier or any other equipment to be played. This guitar uses metal strings, and it takes a lot of strength to play notes on the fretboard. For that reason, the acoustic guitar may cause some problems for beginners and younger musicians. It is not recommended for students 12 and under. For students interested in rock, pop, blues, or folk, or any student high school age or older, the acoustic guitar is a great choice.

Electric guitars are most often used for rock, pop, blues, and jazz. These guitars are excellent for young students because they do not use the heavy strings found on acoustic guitars. The drawback of an electric guitar is that it requires additional equipment: an amplifier and a ¼” instrument cable. This can make electric guitars less convenient and more expensive.

Classical guitars (also known as nylon-string guitars or Spanish guitars) are the best choice for most young students. They look very similar to acoustic guitars, but have one key difference: they use nylon strings instead of metal. The nylon strings are much easier to play, making the classical guitar an excellent choice for a beginner. They are used primarily in classical music, but are great for studying any genre. Recommended for students 12 and under.

Step 2: Sizing Up

If youʼve completed Step 1, you know that guitars come in different shapes. They also come in different sizes, and choosing the right size is very important. A guitar that is too big for a young student can make playing unenjoyable.
Most young students use what is known as a ¾ scale guitar. This guitar is ¾ the size of a normal guitar. If the student is very young (under 8 years old), or very small (under 4ʼ tall), a ½ scale guitar might be a better choice. A full-size guitar is recommended for students age 12 and up, or over 5ʼ tall.

Step 3: Visiting your Local Guitar Shop

Pick out a few guitars that look nice and are in your price range. Donʼt be too concerned about brand—there are many excellent guitars made by less popular companies. If you are looking for a bargain, check out used guitars. They may look old and worn, but used guitars frequently play just as well or better than new guitars.
Take your time with each guitar. Strum it a bit to get a sense of its tone, and to make sure none of the strings buzz or rattle (a common problem with guitars). Being in the store may make you feel scared to play at full volume. Donʼt be! It is important that you play the guitar just as you would at home to get a good sense of its sound.

Step 4: Getting a Good Deal

Now that you have found a guitar you like, itʼs time to make sure you donʼt overpay. Instrument store employees are often willing to bargain. They may be willing to drop 10-15% off the price. If they will not budge on the price, ask them to throw in some extras— a case, an instrument cable, a few packs of strings, a tuner, or maybe a capo. In any case, never seem too eager to buy. Most of the time, the salesperson will offer you something in order to seal the deal.
Using the information in Steps 1-4, you are now ready to buy a guitar! However, if you are still unsure about your choice, please ask your instructor to make a personal recommendation for you.

Guitar Stores Near You

Hoffman Academy of Music endorses Portland Music Company as the best choice for purchasing student guitars in the Beaverton area.
For more detailed information about where to purchase a guitar, please ask your Hoffman Academy guitar instructor for a personal recommendation.


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