Having recently gone through the process of buying a new acoustic guitar, it struck me that others may want to know what I consider to be the best approach to buying a new instrument.

A few things to keep in mind before we begin:

Have patience - do not decide you HAVE to buy the guitar that day. Plan on taking at least two trips to the music store before buying.
Maintain control - you have the buying power, and thus you are in charge! Don't let music store staff intimidate you.
Research - the web is a great place to find info on guitars. Use it to your advantage!
Get help - if possible, recruit a friend who plays guitar to help you choose an instrument. If you're flying solo, don't be afraid to ask music store employees multiple questions.

You do not have to be an expert guitarist to get a good deal on a good guitar. What you do have to be is a disciplined shopper