Hello everyone. We have all come that crossroads in life of playing around with getting and playing a guitar and after fooling around with one ( be it your dad's or friends or even a good ol air guitar lol ) thinking hey I might be pretty good at this and decide to save up our money and plunk it down on that first guitar. The choices that are out there now can be confusing and getting advice from your best friend or reading a review from a forum like this may help, it is still you who will be playing it and owning it so you want something you are going to like. You can go to a music store and ask the salesman about what you should get but unless if he/she is there because they honestly want to help you ( my experience has been over half are just their to sell you something that they deem you should have or they need to sell you anything with a high profit or even they just want your money and don't care what they sell you, your a beginner and most likely will give up and not be back )you are better off reading as much information about the many different types out there and what is available to you.
A forum like this one is a great place to start. You will get a lot of different opinions here and some advice as well. You have the ability to see what others have experienced with out having to have spent your own money and maybe making a bad decision. When I first got into playing all you had was word of mouth and of course what ever was in the local music stores inventory, but now there is no reason to be fully informed on what you want with knowledge of what you should get and what you should stay away from. As we go on I hope this will help you in making this decision and you will be happy with your purchase.
1. Single coil or humbucker equipped guitar.
The debate is endless about this and the opinions are as diverse as they are with which truck is better Ford or Chevy lol but I will just go into a brief discussion about this and leave it up to you. The great guitarist of all time have played both at one time or other in their careers. The sound each one makes ( single or humbucker ) is unique to it's design. Many soloist tend to like the clean sound of the single, it is crisp, clear, and precise in its sound. Many rhythm guitarist tend to like the full body sound of the humbucker. It has rich tones, full body sound that fills the air with music. Both can do the other and many rhythm guitarist play singles and many soloist play humbuckers, there is no real one is for this and the other is for that kinda rule. This is and has to be the choice of the user on the type of sound he/she wants to project with their talent. The choice you need to be focusing on is not whether how many controls it has or pups but in the sound you are going to create with it and being a beginner your sound is no were near what it will be later with practice, study, and good old blood sweat and tears on them strings. So in speaking on what kind of pick up it has and everything will factor into the decision a little bit it shouldn't be the total focus on what type of guitar you should get as a beginner. This focus should be on getting a good quality guitar that will last during your learning of how to play and honing your skills as a guitarist. As you begin to learn you will get to know how to hold your guitar, how not to bang it into the wall or amp or table holding that porcelain vase lol.It will get banged up, it will get scratched, it will be played hard and pick up style is not going to matter as much as whether or not the guitar will last the torture you are going to unleash on it :). With that said let's move on.
2. Style of my axe.
Again just like the pick ups above it is all up to you. A classic Les Paul, a Fender Strat, a Gibson hallow body, it's all up to you in the look that you are wanting to start out with. Although for a beginner it shouldn't be the most important aspect or your decision for your first guitar as much as the next post but still when you look in that mirror of your self holding your axe you want what appeals to you and so yes it is a good part of the overall decision. You want to hold some guitars now, as many different models and shapes as you can. Go to a music store and hold some of the floor models ( if there are none in or around you find a way to put some different styles in your hands like from friends or family that may play ). What you want to look for is what feels comfortable to you. A thick body guitar may produce better sound verses a thin body guitar ( that has to do with more mass to resonate and keep going, sustain) again this most also has to do with the quality of the guitar to. But for right now you need to put some wood in your hands to get you started playing. The better the guitar, the better the sound.
Look at your guitar heroes and see what style they use and picture what it will look like on you. If you like that look then that is what you should go for. You are just learning and you want something you are going to enjoy learning on. If you go and buy something you are not comfortable with because of the style, shape, weight, neck feel, fingerboard layout, and so on, you are not going to enjoy practicing and learning on it. This is almost as vital as the next part in that it is what is going to make you want to play it.
3. Quality made or cheap axe in a box at a retail store.
Your first guitar is going to be brutally put threw beating after beating, strumming after strumming, tweaking, restringing, just beat to crap your first year. You don't want to get something that will completely fall apart on you but at the same time this is your first so you don't want to get an super expensive guitar that you are just going to thrash either. There is were you look for the good quality yet low on expense guitar. I would say stay with a name brand, something with a history and defiantly do your research. Read every review on the makes and models you are looking at. Don't go and just pick up the cheapest thing you can find or stop in the store getting bread and think "oh that looks cool " and get it. A lot of those gig boxes in the big retail chains are not the best thing to start out on. Their quality will fall apart on you in no time mostly and their electronics are just slapped together. You want the best your money can afford and you should go into looking at a guitar as a mechanic goes and looks for tools. You will be playing this thing and using it as a tool to project the sounds and rhythms you feel and hear in your head. The guitar will become an extinction of you and your personal talents in playing style, you want a tool that will last and work for you not against you. Most name brands have a lower cost division in their corporation like say Gibson / Epiphone or Fender/ Squire and so on. You will get a guitar that has the backing of a larger company to help in the quality of the guitar as well as if you need warranty work to be done on it if something breaks down the road. Will they cost more than that $97 gig in a box ...mostly yes but were the pay off is you will have a better instrument that will last( most of the time). Now don't get me wrong, if a $97 gig in a box is all you can afford and you don't have an amp or anything and you are just getting started well then I would say get one because even they will get you started. They have and amp, cable, guitar, strap, and some come with a book of lessons and stuff. Most wont last a year of new guitar playing but there are exception. Although if you can get to a music shop they usually will work with you on price better and you can get a great, name brand gig in a box for just a few dollars more ( yes mow that extra lawn or babysit those extra kids or what every it will be better if you can save a little more for the better quality it will be worth it in the long run).
Remember this is a first guitar that you will be learning on, not the guitar you will be using as your talents and style have taken shape and playing a gig or something. This is were you learn, you begin to develop the skills that will be your sound, your talent played out on the strings. Save the money after for the better guitar to evolve what you have learned and perfect your sound and abilities.
4. Learning to play.
Now you have made the decision on what guitar you want and your ready to bash the crap out of it and start making sounds.Don't expect to have the sound of your favorite band or guitarist, that will come in time and equipment. You need to learn the basics and practice. The web is very informative here and you can go to many video hosting sites and pick up how to play the guitar. You can also go to the music store you may have gotten the guitar from and get lessons there too, or your school may even provide a course in a class. To learn how to play you will need to get the basics down first. Learn, read, watch all you can and practice, practice, practice. Your fingers will hurt, your wrist will be stiff, you will many times think that you will never get this down but in those times it will hit you and your fingers and everything will just hit it right. You will be shocked like " wow I did it, I made it sound just like so and so ...awesome". It takes playing it over and over and over again until you learn to make music. You wont be making the best sounds in the world but in your ears you will be a god :). Your doing good.
The old saying about blood, sweat, and tears is true. If you want to be good at this you will be giving all of them. Your guitar will start to make music, you will start to make music and be happy about yourself and your guitar. Play the crap out of it, it's yours, it's your style, it's and extinction of you coming out of that amp, enjoy it.I do not recommend that you do covers or learn stuff that everyone else is playing or recorded at first. A lot of people tend to do that and a cover is all they can do. Their friends think they are cool because they can play this or that but they are just mimicking someone else's hard work. Be original, learn to play what you feel. Yes you can learn a lot from others by copying their sound but that is not you and no one ever made it big just by covering others stuff. Learn from and for yourself young padawan and the force will be with you.
5. Conclusion, You Rock :)
You have your guitar, you have been learning chords and tricks, you have played it till your fingers bleed, you have tunes running back and forth threw your head all the time, you my friend are learning to play and on your way to developing a great skill and talent that will last you a lifetime and bring you and those around you great times. This is what it's about, creating music, creating memories, creating a sound that is all about you. You put to the ears of others. Play that guitar, it's yours, it's you, it's a tool and you are on your way to using it as so many before you to make something all your own. This shouldn't be the end though. As you go on you will get another and as your skill improve you need to look at more options than that beginning guitar. More control over your sound, more precision in your tone, more body in your music and all will come form the many guitars that are out there. Now if you have saved during this time of learning you should be able to get a nice guitar that will last a lifetime and one that truly extends who you are in music and talent. But always remember these rules ( quality = as best as you can afford, shape = what feels and looks good to you, learning = you never stop learning, and sound = what expresses your sound or who you are, be original )
I hope this has helped those of you just getting started in the guitar world as with all the players out there you are among many.Again remember this is your first guitar not the one you will have for ever so just learning the skills and styles you will need later should be the focus not on if this brand or style or model is the best in the world or something. Your first car wasn't a brand new Ferrari and so your first guitar shouldn't be either. And with that a good first guitar you can also upgrade it :) New pick ups, strings, add a tremolo if it didn't come with one, different tuners, and list goes on with what you can do once you have started learning. Rock On young padawan and have fun.