Guitar Buying Beginners Guide


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Our lessons promote rapid growth and understanding at Guitar Lessons Meath we use the most up to date and modern approaches to guitar tuition by utilising a strategic three pronged approach.

The acoustic guitar is by far the most popular starter instrument. It is affordable, easy to transport, quiet enough not to disturb others during practice, relatively easy to make a nice sound, and doesn’t need any additional equipment like amplification. It can also been seen as a more ‘serious’ instrument to learn on. All skills and techniques learned on an acoustic guitar can be easily transferred to the electric guitar, learning on the acoustic guitar first, will also develop finger strength and dexterity. There are two types of acoustic guitar; the classical (or ‘nylon strung’) and ‘steel strung’ which is what is most often meant when someone refers to an acoustic guitar. The classical guitar is considered to be best option for beginners as it uses nylon strings, which are much easier to play than steel – the lighter string tension makes it far easier to press the string down onto the fret-board to sound a note clearly. The Thomann Website have some excellent guitar starter packages and will deliver these straight to your home address, Guitar Lessons Meath have put together a selection of starter guitars of various sizes to help you with your selection from just under €100 for the cheapest

RGT LogoHaving the right size guitar is as important as having a good quality guitar, the table below offers a guide to purchasing the right size instrument


Guitar size Application Age group
1/8 guitar Beginner’s guitar 4-6 years
1/4 guitar Beginner’s guitar 5-8 years
1/2 guitar Concert guitar for children 7-9 years
3/4 guitar Student guitar 10-13 years
7/8 guitar Youth/student guitar 11-14 years
4/4 guitar The standard full-size guitar 12 years onward


Like the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar is also very a popular choice, and has recently undergone a resurgence of interest due to the prevalence of guitar-based bands. In the past, guitar teachers felt that it was important to get good grounding, and technique on an acoustic before beginning to play an electric, but attitudes have changed, and as long as the correct tuition is given, an electric guitar is just as good a starter instrument. Like the classical guitar’s nylon strings, the electric guitar strings are much thinner, lighter and closer to the fret-board than an acoustic guitar, and so are less likely to discourage the sore-fingered beginner. Younger students below the age of 12, however are more suited to an acoustic guitar, solely for the the reason that an electric guitar requires amplification, and that very often mains electricity is required to power the amplifier

As electric guitars do not have a hollow body to amplify the sound, magnetic pickups are used underneath the strings which need external amplification, so you will also need a guitar amplifier and an instrument cable to connect it with. Electrics are generally played with a plectrum, you’ll also need a strap, and you may want to consider some kind of multi-effects pedal to give you a variety of different sounds. You can either buy all the components separately, or choose from the range of guitar packs now available which include amplifier, cable, strap and often a starter tuition booklet. These are ideal for parents unsure of what to start their child off with, as the packages are tailored for beginners and take the stress out of buying. Don’t forget to protect your investment with a case, and if you also buy a guitar stand it will mean you can leave the instrument out in full view to encourage you to practice more often! As with any stringed instrument, don’t forget spare strings!

The Thomann Website also have some excellent electric guitar starter packages from just over €100.00 and will deliver these straight to your home address.

If you would like more specific and detailed information, or would like to book some guitar tuition please fill out in a request form on our contact page and we will try to assist you.

The following information contained below is a brief guide in what to look out for when making that first guitar purchase.
The beginner guitarist can often feel overwhelmed with all the new, and unfamiliar aspects of becoming a guitarist.

One important decision that is often a point of confusion for a new guitar player is choosing the right guitar, so we have included this “Guitar Buyers Guide” to assist you. The first decision regarding the purchase of a guitar is what “style” of guitar to go with, this will ultimately be dictated by the style of guitar, or music you wish to play.

The three  main choices for different styles of guitar are the; Acoustic, Electric or Classical.


Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar



Acoustic Guitars

When deciding for an acoustic guitar there are some considerations you should take into account.

Firstly; guitar necks are typically constructed with a “truss rod”, which is an implanted metal shaft that that allows the neck to be adjusted periodically. This is necessary because the wood on the neck has a tendency to move and shift slightly in responses to changes in climate. Some very inexpensive guitars are made without a truss rod to save on manufacturing costs. These guitars should be avoided”.

Secondly; you will want to make the investment in an acoustic guitar with a “solid top” as opposed to a laminate. A solid top will produce a better tone and will far out last laminate type structures, also a solid top guitar will mature with age – just as a good wine.  A nice solid top guitar without can be purchased quite reasonably, and it is well worth a few extra Euros’.

Thirdly; you will also need to consider whether you want to a standard dreadnought size, a standard size with a “cutaway”, a jumbo or parlor size guitar or an acoustic with electronic pickups. A standard dreadnought will be the choice for many, especially if you are aiming to play guitar for enjoyment at home, or with friends.

If you are looking toward playing a lot of “lead” guitar down the road, a guitar with a “cutaway” may make more sense for you.The cutaway design allows room for your hand to reach into the upper parts of the neck Without the obstruction of a normal dreadnought.

When choosing a “cutaway” style acoustic guitar you may also want to consider getting one with an electronic “pickup” system already installed. This will enable you to plug the guitar into some form of amplification if you get into a band situation or, into a recording device if you are concentrating on songwriting.

After-market pickups can be installed in an acoustic after you have purchased one, but it is usually less expensive to buy the guitar with the pickup system already installed.

Electro Acoustic Guitar - with cut away




The jumbo acoustic has a much larger body, it is advisable to “try one for size” before going that route.

Conversely, a parlor size acoustic has a small body and does not produce as much volume or tone as a standard body guitar.

A parlor guitar has its uses but would not be a recommendation for your first guitar unless the small body size is a better fit for you.


Jumbo Acoustic Guitar

Electric Guitars

Although electric guitars come in many shapes and sizes there are two models that are probably more easily recognised than any others.

They are the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul.

Purchasing a new American made version of either of these would be a costly investment for the beginner guitarist.

However there are countless Strat and Les Paul clones on the markets that are very nice guitars.

Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar


Just Like their acoustic guitars, electric guitars are made of many various woods and the better the wood, the higher the cost. One consideration is the type of fret-board on the neck. Typically you will find either “rosewood” or “maple”, and guitarists prefer one over the other for different reasons.

A rosewood neck produces a fatter tone with more “meat” to it, making it the preference for many. You can always tell a rosewood neck because it is a dark color wood.
A maple neck produces a “brighter”, cleaner tone and is popular with many country and blues players. You can recognize a maple neck because it is a light color wood.

Gibson Les Paul Electric Guitar


Electric guitars also have a variety of different pickup combinations to consider. Usually you can break them down into two categories. “Single Coil” pickups and, “Humbucker” pickups.

Single coil pickups are usually associated with a “Stratocaster” sound which is a cleaner, brighter sound.

Humbucker pickups are basically two single coil pickups put together. They are called “humbucker” because they resist the tendency to “hum” that many single coil pickups do when in proximity to certain electrical conditions such as neon lights in a nightclub. Humbucker pickups are known for producing a thicker, “chunkier” tone closely associated with rock and metal.

There are many fine guitar companies that make very affordable electric guitars and you are in no way limited to the “Strat” or “Les-Paul” type models out there. Those are just two of the most common body shapes.
It would always pay to shop around a bit and do some research prior to a purchase. You will also want to keep in mind that with an electric guitar you will need to purchase an amplifier to hear yourself. In the beginning a small practice amp will do the trick until you decide if you want to start playing with a band down the road.


Classical Guitars

Classical guitars tend to have a smaller body than a dreadnought acoustic, but are larger than a “parlor” size guitar. The neck on a classical guitar is also wider than a standard acoustic, making fingering a little more difficult. They also use “nylon” strings which produce a softer tone and the strings are attached on a “slotted head-stock”. These guitars are designed for finger style playing and are not conducive to strumming with a pick.

If you are definitely going in the direction of playing classical or flamenco music then a classical guitar is your choice. If, however, you are interested in playing country, rock, blues or folk music then one of the previously mentioned choices would be a better pick.

Nylon Strung Classical Guitar


Another consideration is the “action” of the guitar. The action is described as the height of the strings off the plane of the neck. The lower the action, the easier the guitar is to play. The action can be adjusted by tweaking the truss rod and bridge of the guitar, but a guitar with a real high action to begin with, may be a sign of poor construction. This will make playing much more difficult and should be avoided. Many guitars bought in shops purposefully have the action set high, the reason for this is  sales based, as no one will buy a guitar that produces fret buzzing – with this said even the most expensive guitars require a professional set-up – It is therefore advisable to get your guitar set up by a professional luither. A guitar luither will advise you on the correct gauge string, and the appropriate action for your style of playing.

There is no substitute for actually putting your hands on a guitar prior to purchase so it is always preferable to go to your local music store and try a few on for a good fit. If you are inclined to purchase a guitar online make sure the company has a strong return policy because you may have to try a few guitars out before finding the right one. Cort 290 Electric Guitar


Many guitars in the “under €100” category found in the high street retailers can be of inferior construction and may actually discourage you from playing. You can usually find a nice starter guitar in the €150 to €350 range that will last you a  long time. As with anything, “you get what you pay for” and opting for the cheapest guitar can actually cost you more in the long run if you have to upgrade in the first few months of playing, or, if you give up playing altogether out of frustration fighting a poorly constructed instrument.

Expert tuition will keep you focused, by setting clear goals, and helping you to learn what you need to learn, not what you think you should learn. By developing you in such a way; that the musical learning journey will be approached in a strategic manner. This eliminates many wasted years playing the same old material over and over without ever really improving or getting better.

If you have any queries please fill in a request on our contact page and we will try to assist you.