How to Buy a Guitar & Guitar Gear

When you are new to guitar playing, the selection of your guitar & guitar gear can be daunting. There are thousands of choices, and you don’t want to buy a guitar or guitar gear that becomes obsolete in a few months, (we all know how quickly technology can move along nowadays)!

The good news is this: with musical equipment, you are unlikely to run into this problem. There are very few ‘fads’ in the instrument market, and most guitars & guitar gear will last a lifetime, provided you take reasonably good care of it. There is also no need to buy all your guitar gear at once. You can prioritize some of your purchases to help you maximize your investment.

How to Buy a Guitar

Purchasing a guitar is a very emotional endeavor. If you find one you like, it becomes part of your identity as a musician. It can make you want to practice harder, it can inspire new musical ideas and motivate you to become a better musician. Take advantage of that inspiration and get the one guitar that is for you.

If you don’t yet own a guitar or any guitar gear at all, it helps if you do some research. What style of music do you ultimately want to play? Is there a specific guitarist whose sound you are trying to emulate? Is there a certain look attitude you would like to present on stage? Is cost your only concern? You can read through magazines, watch videos or concerts, or research on the Internet. Take notes and try your choices in a music store. If you have a friend who can play already, ask them to demo some guitars you like at the store. Discover first what it is that you like, and then which guitars and guitar gear can help you get there.

You’ll eventually find the one guitar that fits your needs; your dream guitar. However there’s a high chance that you’ll look at the price tag and find that you won’t be able to afford the guitar AND the amp. Simple solution: hold off on the amp purchase. The best rule when selecting gear is to ALWAYS buy the best gear you can afford – quality over quantity.

How to Prioritize Purchasing Your Guitar Gear

Most of the time, the amp is more expensive than the guitar. The amp also has a greater impact on your tone when you play. In other words, a great sounding amp will make even a bad guitar sound decent, but a great guitar will sound terrible through a bad amp. So the greater part of your investment should go towards a good amplifier. Take your time to save up for a good one, and if you need one in the mean time, see if you can borrow your friends amp or make-do with a hand-me-down or cheap second hand placeholder.

If you are a complete beginner, you should also hold off from purchasing guitar effects pedals right away. Unless you want to recreate another artist’s specific sound (for example The Police’s Andy Summer or U2’s Edge), you just don’t need them. Instead you should concentrate on developing your guitar skills. Effects can be too much of a distraction during your practice routine at the start.

It also helps when others can help you to share the cost. Most guitar effects pedals are not too expensive, and make great Christmas or birthday presents from family and friends. Drop some subtle hints, and you may have your friends and family helping you to purchase your guitar gear!

In Conclusion

For many guitarists, their favorite guitar is more than just an instrument – it is a lifelong friend that seems to develop a character of its own, with age. It becomes a part of your sound and it may see many years of touring and gigging. Guitarists typically own several guitars, but often see their first one as a favorite, for sentimental reasons.

About Wilfried Geck

Wil is a graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, CA and holds a Master of Music degree in studio guitar from the University of Southern California. In his more than 25 years as a professional guitarist, he has performed or recorded with artists such as Paulina Rubio, Billy Preston, Nodesha, and jazz legend Buddy Colette. His guitar playing can be heard on TV shows like the Emmy Award winning series Boston Legal and the Discovery Network series Combat Zone. Wil is also a music educator and has taught guitar to more than 400 students. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.

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