Common Gear Questions
What kind of guitar should I get?
As a guitar teacher, this is one of the most common questions I get. Luckily, it’s a simple answer!
If you’re planning on playing only acoustic, then you should get an acoustic guitar. If you plan on playing electric guitar or both acoustic and electric (but you only want to buy one) then you should buy an electric guitar.
The main reason for buying an electric guitar is that it’s easier to play. The strings are flimsier, so it’s physically easier to fret chords, which promotes practise. You want things to be as easy as possible because this will increase your chances of success.
Do I need to spend a lot of money on a new guitar?
Actually, just the opposite! You should spend a little bit of money on a used guitar. The reason being is that there is always a plentiful supply of used guitars on your local Facebook buy/swap/sell groups, as well as on eBay. On eBay you’ll find a better selection, but in your buy/swap/sell groups you’ll generally get a better deal. I personally buy almost all of my guitar gear on one of these two platforms, because I know I can save money and get exactly what I want. You see, there are heaps of people out there that buy new guitars every day only to find they didn’t want to play quite as badly as they thought, so they stick the guitar in their closet for a year and then decide to sell it. The guitar is essentially brand new, but it’s still “used” as far as resale value is concerned. You should be able to save at least 25%, and up to 50% and even more by buying used gear.
What you’ll find is there are LOTS of different guitar gear that you’re going to want to buy, like amps and effects pedals, and things can get expensive really quick. Buying used is the easiest way to keep your costs down.
Do I need to buy a name brand guitar?
No. While you might get a bit better quality by buying a name brand, you will be paying A LOT more for it, and I’m talking about 5 to 10 times as much! You can easily get an entry level electric guitar that works fine for a couple hundred bucks, while a name brand that looks almost identical can easily cost $1000 or more. What’s great is that down the road if you really want that name brand guitar, you can sell your cheap guitar for the same price you bought it for and put that money towards your next guitar purchase
What kind of amplifier should I get?
Again, if you’re just starting out, get a used amp, and get one that’s small and portable. The brand doesn’t matter, but you should make sure that there’s a headphone jack so you can practise quietly if you want or need to. A 5- to 15-watt amp with one speaker should be fine, and certainly don’t go above 30 watts, because you’ll be adding cost and weight when you don’t need to. Once again, your local “buy, swap and sell” groups on Facebook are where you’ll find great used deals.
What kind of strings should I buy?
For electric guitar, I recommend buying what are called “nines”, named after the lightest gauge string (.09) of the six-string set. These are known as “light” gauge strings and they’re slightly easier to play than your standard “tens”, and for goodness sakes never buy “elevens”…those things will kill your forearm! I personally use Ernie Ball brand strings, but it really doesn’t matter too much…I’ve personally never come across a “bad” brand of strings.
For acoustic guitar, I recommend anything lighter than medium gauge strings. They could be “lights”, “extra lights”, or “custom lights”, all with similar but varying string gauges. Incidentally, “Mediums” are quite heavy, and while they last a little longer and tend to have a fuller sound, they’re not worth the extra strength needed to play them.
Do I need guitar pedals?
No, definitely not right away. You don’t even want pedals in the beginning because they’re just something extra to carry around and worry about. As you progress and start playing with others, then you can start to think about some pedals you might want to use.
Here is a final list of a few other things that you’re going to need to get started:
1. Guitar cable (to plug your guitar into your amp)
2. Guitar tuner
3. String winder (for stringing your guitar). Pay a little extra to get the one with the built-in clipper…it’s worth it!
4. Guitar picks (I prefer between .6 and .8 gauge)
5. Metronome (you can get a metronome for free for your phone as an app)
6. Practice Journal