Marshall Crenshaw - Live in NYC
X - Live in New York City

How to Chose Your First Electric Guitar


This week I've got a guest post from Paul Misko over at with some tips on purchasing your first electric guitar.  That's my nephew above with the first guitar I got for him, a cheapo $100 strat. At this point, he'd probably be embarassed by the photo and the guitar.

Whether you’ve decided to purchase your first electric guitar or you are making the switch from an acoustic, it can be overwhelming to choose from the many guitar brands and models out there. Here are some helpful ideas to keep in mind to make sure you select the guitar right for you and your desired playing style.

Often many people assume it's better to learn on an acoustic guitar. However, that's not the case. It is generally much easier to hold chords or bend strings on an electric guitar than an acoustic. And if you really wanna rock out, well, there's nothing better, right? 

Electric guitar prices vary widely from a few hundred dollars to thousands, and in many cases you get what you pay for. Cheap guitars can be enticing at first, but once you get a feel for playing, the difference in quality will be very obvious. You will then find yourself wanting to purchase a new guitar sooner than you expected, and you’ll end up spending more than you wanted. Choose a moderately priced guitar that is playable and easily adjustable. For $200 these days, you can get a very decent made-in-asia guitar.  But whatever you do, don't go for the $99 big-box retailer special or the $200 includes an amp, strap, capo, cable and some picks holiday package. Those guitars are nothing but frustration!

The size of the guitar is also important. Make sure it is comfortable for both your right and left hands. If you are purchasing for a child, make sure to choose one that is small enough for them to grip, or learning to play can be difficult and discouraging. Generally speaking if a full-size guitar (24" - 25" scale) is too large, then consider a 3/4 size short scale guitar, typically 20" scale.

Choose a guitar that appeals to you visually. Pick a body style, finish, and color you like. This can help keep you motivated to play and learn. A cool looking guitar is part of the fun of playing!

Make sure to have a teacher or experienced guitar player train you on the basics of properly stringing, tuning, cleaning, and maintaining the guitar. Not taking care of your instrument can lead to problems with the frets, wood, and neck, which affect the sound. The pickups, bridge, and, neck size are all factors in the overall sound of the guitar. Try out different variations and learn which pickups work the best for rock, blues, jazz, metal, etc. If you don’t understand the basic workings of the guitar, it can also discourage your from learning to play.

Keep all of these key issues in mind when purchasing your first electric guitar. Make sure to ask questions and deal with an experienced person at a quality music store. Talk to other musicians who can give helpful advice on the guitar right for your style. Make a list of brands and models you are interested in, but most importantly, keep an open mind. The guitar right for you might not be the one you had in mind, but when you find it, it will become your best friend!


On the plus side if you can't afford an electric guitar, I find that after practicing on an acoustic guitar it's a lot easier to then play an electric guitar afterwards.

interesting post. I think the price is important but quality is also essential.

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