8 Tips For Buying An Acoustic Guitar

If you are buying an acoustic guitar and are inexperienced, the process can be a bit daunting. Here are some guidelines and tips to help with the decision making process. Time spent looking at the big picture will help to avoid costly mistakes and frustration later on! Rushing out to buy an acoustic guitar on a whim is not a good idea. Read on…Find out more…

Bryan Sutton

Bryan Sutton at Music City Roots

Buying An Acoustic Guitar

First, ask yourself why you want to buy a guitar in the first place. If you are only going to play at home, as a hobby or for your own personal enjoyment, your needs will be much different than if you plan on playing at church or in performances.

You need to know how much you can afford before you begin your search, this will help you look at what you actually can afford. It is a little like shopping for a car: you start out looking at a Honda Civic and soon the salesman has you putting money down on an Acura!

Price matters when you buy an acoustic guitar

Acoustic guitars range in price from under $100 to over $100,000! For somebody just starting out, and on a limited budget, plan on spending between $100 and $350 for a guitar you can actually play.

Whatever you do, avoid the toy type instruments, or one that is just plain poor quality. You are only setting yourself up for a disappointment. It will not sound good, your fingers will hurt like crazy, and it will be hard to tune.

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girl learning acoustic guitar

Girl learning to play acoustic guitar

Know the type before you buy an acoustic guitar

Your basic steel-stringed acoustic guitar comes in sizes from children’s to the big Dreadnought’s you seen in bluegrass performances. In between are parlor guitars, which are nicely sized for women or people who don’t need the big volume of the Dreadnought.

For an acoustic-electric, you can plan on at least $300 for a decent one. You will also need some kind of amplifier to go with it. Many makers offer good package deals when you buy everything at once. These guitars are basically a regular acoustic with a pick-up added to enable amplification.

A classical guitar is a good choice for a beginner. This is because they are generally easier to play, cost less and there is a good selection available. Personally, I used a classical guitar for a many years, until I could afford a steel-stringed acoustic. Willie Nelson seems to have gotten along pretty well with his, not mention people like Andre Segovia. Maybe I shouldn’t put these two in the same sentence, just not fair to Segovia.

Visit a guitar store before you buy an acoustic guitar

Buying a guitar online, from a catalog, Ebay, or from the newspaper is a great way to save money. The obvious disadvantage is that you cannot play it! I sold a really nice Washburn Limited Edition on Craigslist once, but he buyer lived locally and came over to try it out. There is nothing quite like holding it and letting it speak to you. It’s kind of like picking out a pet, let the pet pick you.

This is why it is good idea to visit a guitar store and have somebody play them for you. Take a friend who plays, if possible. The salesman usually is a guitarist as well, and can give some good recommendations.

Recommended Guitar Brands


If you find one you really like, go for it and buy it! If you wish to save some money, you can buy it online, once you know the Brand and model number. The disadvantage to this is that it is more difficult to get service, if you develop a problem. On the other hand, most guitar stores have a repair department and will work on any guitar, even if you bought it someplace else.

If you are serious about playing, take your new acoustic guitar to a luthier and have him set it up for you. This costs little and is well worth it. Everyone plays a little differently and plays different styles of music; the luthier can set the action to suit your preference, maybe change a few items to get better tone and make suggestions for maintenance. He has seen a lot of guitars and, like anything else, some models have quirks or weaknesses.