Guitar Buying Guide

So, little Jimmy or Jenny has hinted they want a guitar for Christmas. But, faced with the millions of choices out there, are you unsure what to buy? Well, we’re here to give you some honest, straight-forward ideas to help you make the right decision.

First of all, you need to decide whether to buy a classical, acoustic or electric guitar.  All these guitars are tuned and played in the same way but have a very different sound and feel to each other.  Classical guitars suit the absolute beginner because they have nylon strings which are much kinder to the fingertips than the metal strings of the other guitars. As a result, they have a much quieter, mellower sound. Millions of guitar teachers around the world start their students on these guitars as they are the easiest introduction to the six-string guitar world.  Sound-wise, imagine a Flamenco guitar. Try Googling the track ‘Gran Vals’ by the Spanish classical guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega – a tune heard millions of times a day by owners of a certain brand of telephone!

“But my favourite musician plays an acoustic guitar,” cries Jimmy or Jenny “and I want to sound like them!”.  Absolutely, the majority of modern recorded guitar music is played on the louder, brighter sounding metal strings of an acoustic guitar.  Often misleadingly nicknamed ‘steel-string’ guitars, (the strings are actually made of bronze), the acoustic guitar is a little tougher on the hands than the classical because of the extra tension in the metal strings.  Therefore, they’re best suited either to somebody that has already mastered the rudimentary basics on a classical guitar. Or the die-hard newbie that insists on plunging in head first and is willing to experience a few weeks’ worth of additional discomfort!   And no, you can’t put one type of string on the other type of guitar without the risk of doing a great deal of damage!

“But I want to be in Arctic Monkeys!” say the terrible two.  So now you’re into the realm of the electric guitar!  They are heavier than the other two, because they generally aren’t hollow, and they are also much shallower. The electric guitar is surprisingly well suited to the beginner, mainly because the strings are about 30% thinner than the acoustic, so don’t feel quite as ‘cheese-wiry’ to the fingertips.  However, electric guitars don’t make a lot of noise on their own so you’ll also need to factor in an amplifier and interconnecting jack cable.  Electric guitar starter packs will give little Jimmy or Jenny everything they need to get started, so they’ll be making rock star noises as well as doing rock star poses in the mirror.  You’ll also be glad to know that practice amps from Orange, Fender and Roland all have headphone sockets these days, so Jimmy or Jenny can play as loud as they like without interrupting that lovely Christmas afternoon nap in front of the TV you were so looking forward to.

So, if you want to take the plunge into guitar playing or if you have any other questions about the subject, you can pop into the store, call us on 01603 623563 or email us at guitars@cookes.co.uk. Myself and the rest of the team will do our best to help you make a wise and informed choice to make sure you buy the right guitar for you.