New to the guitar shop? 5 tips to banish any anxiety
I remember being quite anxious the first few times I went into a guitar shop. I didn't really know the protocol and I didn't really know what to ask. Here are some answers to questions I wish I'd had when I was just starting out.
1) How can I choose the best guitar for me with such a wide ranging number of guitars on the market these days?
The answer is to do as much research before going into the shop as possible. Buy 3 guitar magazines and read the reviews of the latest models. Note down the brand names and models of any that look attractive to you and have a reasonable price tag for your budget.
Search the internet for the models that you've noted down and see if you can find out what people are saying about them. Forums like this one are the perfect place to ask and try out your new knowledge.
Another way to get information is to ask members of any bands you go and see. Ask the guitarist what model he plays and what he likes about it. Often most guitarists are happy to talk about their equipment so don't be shy.
Once you're armed with a little bit of knowledge then you can go into a guitar shop with your list and ask about trying some guitars. Apart from a few unhelpful guitar shops most people who work in them are more than happy to help a newcomer select the best model for them.
However, be aware that they may also be trying to sell you the one that they get the most commission for so be prepared to put your foot down when it comes to your budget. Go in with a maximum amount that you are willing to spend. For beginners I would say around $200-$300 should be adequate.
2) I can't play guitar yet so how can I try out the guitars in the shop?
Best thing to do is to ask someone you know who can play to go along with you. Do you have a friend who plays guitar? Ask them to try out the guitar so that you can hear what it sounds like and they can tell you if it's easy to play. If you're getting lessons then ask your teacher if your first lesson could be a trip to the guitar shop with him/her acting as your advisor and mentor.
3) I want to buy a decent acoustic guitar. What advice do you have?
it's quite difficult these days to get a shop that specializes in only acoustic guitars but if you can find one then go there. If not, try one of the larger chain stores. They will have a large acoustic section because acoustics are a popular seller. Again, try searching Google for "best acoustic for beginners" or something similar.
Some of the best acoustics in the world are Gibsons but they have a hefty price tag so they probably won't be within your budget. Whatever you decide make sure you get someone to play it in the shop for you so you can hear what it sounds like.
If you can't play then try taking a magazine with a chord diagram in it so that you can try out playing the chord on your chosen acoustic. Or ask one of the shop assistants to show you how to play a chord.
4) Are there any accessories that I should buy at the same time as my guitar?
I would suggest getting a case, a tuner, a guitar stand, a capo, a strap and 2 plectrums. For beginners I recommend soft plectrums. Remember, the cost of the guitar case will not be included in the price of the guitar and they are usually quite expensive, especially for a hard case.
I recommend getting one of the padded ones that go on your shoulders like a rucksack. Often the accessories can add up to the same price as the guitar! So include it in your budget.
5) What's the difference between single coil pickups and humbucking pickups?
Humbucking pickups were invented by Gibson in the late 1950s and have a thicker, meatier sound that single coils. You'll find humbuckers on Les Pauls.
When you are trying to identify the pickups on a guitar, remember that the single coil pickup has 6 metal magnetic pins, usually set in a row on a piece of oval plastic or metal (eg Stratocaster). The problem with the single coils is that they are prone to interference from other electronic devices such as strip lights. You'll often hear buzzes and hums coming from the amps of Stratocaster players when they are playing in a venue with lots of different lights.
So before going to a guitar shop make sure you've done some research but don't try to sound like an expert. Most guitar shops will be happy to help as long as you have some idea of what you want. And don't be shy to ask for advice from anyone!