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So! It’s time to get into guitar playing. First off, Congrats for making the first steps to one of the most enjoyable things on the planet!

In this article I hope to provide you with some tips on buying a guitar for a beginner.

Luckily, this article will provide tips that will generalize for both electric and acoustic models! There are some differences that will be discussed, but lets get into the main points.

Basically, we want to make playing guitar as easy as possible on ourselves, right? I mean, who want’s to make something awesome into something painful!? Especially when a good deal of pain can be avoided!! The tips that I will provide in this article will steer you in just that direction – making guitar playing and the beginner curve as easy as possible.

There are 2 main things to look for. 1) The action 2) Buzzy notes

1) Everyone wants action, right? Well Guitar action refers to something a little bit different. Action refers to The height of the strings off of the guitar neck.  So, big deal right? well think about it this way – The higher the strings are off the fretboard, the further the distance your soft little fingers have to go to press those strings down to make a sound! So generally speaking the closer the strings are, the better. But!! if their too close, we’ll get Buzzy Notes which we’ll get into in a moment.

So more on the action. You’re probably wondering “How do you actually look at the strings and are able to tell this?”. Well, holding a guitar in your lap in the playing position you can get a good view of the strings and the height of them off the frets. The Eyeball Test – Look down at the very first fret (1st metal slot at the top of the neck) And take note of how high the string is. Now follow the string up the neck with your eyes. How much does the string change in height? If it drastically changes then this guitar needs some work done to it! What you want to see is Roughly a consistent string height off the frets ALL the way up the neck. Now keep in mind a slight change in height off the frets isn’t the end of the world, in fact it’s quite normal but we are looking for a certain level of consistency. The goal here is to have the string close to the frets.

2) Buzzy notes sounds like garbage. They’ll make a 2,500.00 Martin sound like a trash can! Buzzy notes are usually caused by strings being too low on the frets and will buzz against the other frets.

It helps if you know how to play single notes properly before purchasing a guitar to test this properly (I have a free video on this). Assuming you know how to play single notes, just play random notes all over the fretboard and let each note sustain for a few seconds each. Do you hear buzz? or are the notes clear? Try higher notes, try lower notes. Again there is a certain level of consistency we’re looking for here just as the guitar’s action. A little bit of buzz is totally ok, especially on an electric. In fact, many electrics are buzzy on their own and is inaudible when plugged into an amp. Acoustics you have to be a little more careful. How much is too much buzz? Are the notes buzzy the entire time you hold the note?

To summarize both these points, we’re talking about the guitars setup. This refers to all the different parts on a guitar and how they work with each other. The truss rod, the bridge, the nut, the frets will all have an effect on the guitar’s action and buzzy notes. Since you are new to guitar these 2 tests that we’ve discussed: 1st the eyeball test of checking out the action of the guitar and 2nd, the listening test for buzzy notes – are 2 of the most important things in buying a guitar. These will make the biggest difference in learning the guitar and making you sound the best you can be. Otherwise, we can blame our poor skills on the guitar!! 😛

I hope you found this article useful and learned some tips on buying a guitar for a beginner.

Of course which guitar to buy would be the next thing. I have an article on that! Check out my Acoustic Vs. Electric post. It’s totally connected to this.

Keep on rippin it up!

– Will Ripley