There are many choices and factors when it comes to buying a new electric guitar. Price, style, quality and comfort are major players.
Many new guitarists start off with a box set, one that includes a guitar, amp and cable. These are good for the beginner, but what if you are crossing over from an acoustic guitar or another instrument and already know a few things about the guitar? It's worth shopping around to find out what you want and what you can afford.
Let's take a look at a few things that you should consider before handing over your money:
Step 1 Pick your style
It might be a little vain, but to some people a warlock style guitar just is not as cool as a 'telecaster.' It really does matter what body shape the guitar has, for someone who loves country guitar, having a made-for-metal axe slung over your shoulder is just embarrassing. So it's important to think about what style music you play, and what style you think is cool.
Lets look at the most common body shapes:
Step 2 Who plays it
Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin plays a Les Paul in all of the pictures and videos of him that I have seen. So guess what? I bought a Les Paul. It's a Classic Rock guitar, and a classic.
Check out your favorite artists and find out what they use. Use that as a starting point for choosing the right axe for you.
Step 3 Your budget
If you are just starting out playing music, buying one of those starter kits that I mentioned earlier can be a great choice for you. If you decide later that the guitar is not for you, then at least you did not drop a huge chunk of change finding that out.
For those guitarists who know that they will continue on playing far into the future, it might be wise to save up and get the guitar that you really want.
Step 4 Brands, tone and quality
The two major players on the market are Fender and Gibson. They both are USA born brands, and they both have lines of guitars that are made outside of the USA, and are more affordable.
Also, Fender and Gibson have a separate economy line of guitars, Squier and Epiphone. They make the same style guitars but at lower prices. Try them out against their big brothers to get an idea of the tone and quality of each one. Normally Squier and Epiphone are geared towards beginners, but I have seen experienced guitarists play them too.
Whether or not to buy the USA made guitar, or the one from Mexico or China really depends. Try them all out at your local store; even some of the ones not made in the US are really good. Check out if you like how it sounds through your amp. Some of the foreign guitars use USA made parts and it can be hard to tell a difference between the more expensive model and the one half the price.
I have found that the craftsmanship is what usually takes a dive in the lower line models. The guitar might be rougher around the edges in the $300 foreign made model. The tuning pots, tuners and pickups might be of a lower quality. For the tech minded guitarist, those are the types of things you can change out and customize.
Step 5 Try it before you buy it
Really what it all comes down to is going to a music store that has a decent collection of guitars and trying out as many of them as you can. This is the best way to get an idea of what is quality and what is not.
Step 6 Investigate
Look online and in other stores for deals. There are some great sites online in which the prices can't be beat. It's also great to support your local music store.