Don't Get Ripped Off!
Things to Look For When Buying a Brand New Guitar
If you're planning to get your first guitar (or, actually, even upgrade the one you have right now), it pays to do a little research first to ensure you end up with the right instrument. Rushing off to the shop and buying the first guitar that looks and feels nice can be disastrous. A few months down the track, it might turn out that you have a gorgeous, brand new guitar... that you hate!
I'm sure you don't need to be reminded that as a musician, your instrument is an extension of your personality. But that doesn't just mean its looks. It also means the sound, the style, everything.
First Time Buyer Beware
A word of advice: don’t just head down to your local music store without doing some research. The sales rep (unfortunately) is likely to nudge and sweet-talk you into buying a guitar that may not be right for you (but great for his or her commission cheque)! You need to do your own independent legwork to be fully familiar with the different types of guitars that suit you.
What Do You Want In Your Brand New Guitar?
First, you obviously need to know exactly what you're looking for. There are basically three types of guitars: the electric guitar (which is amplifier driven), the acoustic guitar (which is not), and the electric-acoustic (which can be played just fine with or without being plugged into an amp). So which one do you want?
Also, do you want a Fender or a Les Paul guitar? Ovation or Maton? Ibanez or Rickenbacker. Gretch or Gordon-Smith? They all have different sounds. And every guitar, even if it's the same make, with have a different tone. There is no "ultimate sound"; it's only what you like listening to.
What about the look? Something snazzy and new or do you want a guitar with a more vintage look and feel? Some guitars are like functional pieces of custom art, with loving attention paid to the body and the neck. Others have a no-frills design, with a rugged construction to ensure long life for years to come.
Customer Reviews, Product Info, & Feedback
There are two main places to look when shopping for a helpful review to buy a brand new guitar. One is in guitar magazines. The other is online.
A great place to start your research is in guitar magazines. They usually contain regular reviews of the latest guitar products in the market.
Look at the star-rating, read all the details in full, but be careful; some reviewers may be influenced (or incentivized) by the companies behind these products. A huge, glaring ad in the same issue of the magazine could be an indication that there’s a little *cough*cough* "trade-off" that happened.
The upside to reviews in guitar magazines is that with so many run-of-the-mill guitars being produced and introduced into the market, reputable publications are unlikely to waste time reviewing mediocre products.
So once you've used the mags to narrow down the list a little and make things clearer, it's time to hit the internet. There are literally tens of thousands of suppliers with websites from whom you can order over the phone (or even online in many cases). Shipping costs are generally fairly reasonable and buying online can result in considerable savings. However... don't get carried away and buy anything just yet! Just poke around, read their customer reviews, etc. and make more notes.
Another pretty good source of guitar reviews and other information is guitar forums. This is where regular players like you give (relatively) unbiased comments on the different brands of guitar. Listen to the questions that people are asking so you can ask them when you need to, as well (see below).
Look for related posts and related items. Make a note of the the comments that a lot of people said they found most useful. Don't be afraid to post a question directly to the most helpful person if something isn't clear. There a lot of cool players out there who are happy to give feedback on their experience.
Finding a Great-Sounding Guitar
Once you've done all this groundwork, it's time to hit your local music stores. You'll now have plenty of details about the brands you're most interested in and you'll know the ones to exclude. You'll be well-equipped with pros and cons from the various customer reviews you've read. This will project to the salespeople that you are knowledgeable and that you know what you want.
Now, don't pretend you know stuff when you don't! Their job is to help you make a good buying decision and they know their stock better than you do, of course. Just make it clear that you've done your homework. You're much more likely to get better service because it shows that you're serious.
Make sure you actually play each guitar (so prepare a couple of pieces you're confident playing) and listen to how it sounds. If you're playing through an amp, make sure that it's "running clean," that is, without any fancy effects pedals, etc. You want to hear the sound of the "naked" guitar. You can dress it up later.
And That's How You Buy a Brand New Guitar!
By doing your homework, narrowing down ideas of what you want, and being prepared with good questions, you're much less likely to get ripped off when you do set out to buy a brand new guitar. And... when you do decide to buy, you'll probably be able to get them to throw in a hard case (or at the very least a guitar bag - or "softcase") and an extra set of guitar strings!
Best of luck with it,
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