This mini-course is all about getting you equipped, in order to learn properly. This doesn't mean breaking the bank with loads of expensive gear, just a simple checklist to ensure your guitar sounds good, is easy to play, and stays in tune!
This can be a tricky question, and really, the answer is budget-dependent. The best advice we can give is to find a local independent guitar store, where possible, rather than a larger chain retailer. These stores may be more willing to take the time to match you with a well-suited guitar, and will likely have a full range of beginner instruments to choose from. Generally, a medium-sized acoustic works well, and if your budget allows, selecting one with a built-in tuner and pickup is a good future-proofing tactic. If you are having lessons with a YGA tutor or would like to ask us directly then get in touch and we'll be happy to advise!
Don't feel as though you have to ignore a guitar you love the look of in favour of practicality... quite often, the allure of a beautiful guitar is what will keep you motivated to practise! If you find a stunningly decorated acoustic that you just can't resist, go for it! On the other hand, the only thing that will make you a better player is practice, not a more expensive instrument, so it's important to find a good balance when selecting your first guitar.
A beginners electric guitar should tick a few boxes! It should stay in tune, be able to produce a decent range of different sounds and be easy to play. Generally speaking, Squier Stratocasters and Yamaha Pacificas make excellent beginners choices in this regard, and both are affordable on more limited budgets. Your local store will likely have a selection of one or both of these models in stock, so take a look and find one you love.
When we talk about "ease" of playability, this broadly means how comfortable the guitar is to play. A great deal of this is determined by how well the guitar is "set up". Your local guitar shop will be able to advise on this, and it's also something we cover in more detail over in Gear Corner, so be sure to take a look!
Don't feel as though you have to ignore a guitar you love the look of in favour of practicality... quite often the allure of a beautiful guitar is what will keep you motivated to practise! If you find a stunning sunburst Fender that you just can't resist, go for it! On the other hand, the only thing that will make you a better player is practice, not a more expensive instrument, so it's important to find a good balance when selecting your first guitar.
If you have an electric guitar, then you will also need an amp. As a beginner, you do not want to be spending a great deal on this purchase - amps range from around £50 all the way up to thousands and thousands of pounds! We would highly recommend starting with a digital amp that has plenty of fun presets (sounds) and effects to allow you to experiment with different styles. The Fender Mustang, for example, has a great range of tones and settings that are quick and easy to use, and can sound really great. The Line 6 Spider is another solid choice. Again, the important thing is not to spend too much and to choose a versatile amp that can produce many different sounds, allowing you to explore your musical tastes whilst learning.
The other benefit of digital amps, such as the two mentioned above, is they offer headphone jacks. For anyone with family or neighbours, whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, this is absolutely crucial for obvious reasons! You'll be able to play as loudly as you like without disturbing anyone.
The tuner is probably the single most important accessory for a guitarist. There are a huge range to choose from, but "clip on" tuners are generally the most useful early on. These clip on to the headstock of your guitar and detect the vibration of the strings to determine the tuning. These are cheap and accurate, so pick up one at your local guitar store or online. Electric guitar players will also often find their amp features a built-in tuner; both the Fender Mustang and Line 6 Spider we mention in this guide, offer this functionality. Be sure to tune your guitar every time you practise!
If you are playing electric, you will need a decent lead to plug in your guitar. Many guitar shops may throw in a lead for free if you buy a guitar and an amp together, so try and purchase everything at the same time to save a little money.
Even if you don't plan on standing up whilst playing, a strap may allow you to sit more comfortably while practising. Straps come in a huge variety of styles, so they're also a fun way to add an extra expressive touch to your instrument.
Be sure to buy a set of 10 or more picks, as you will be amazed at how quickly these things go missing! If you want to start behaving like a true guitar player, then be sure to carry a pick around with you at all times... just in case! Use a medium gauge pick to start with, ideally between 0.8-1mm. If you are not sure which to choose then ask in your local store, they will likely have a huge array for you to try out.
You've now completed and taken a huge step forwards in your guitar playing journey.
Feel free to bask in glory for a while, or go ahead and try another course if you're hungry for more.