Newbie Series : The Ultimate Guide For New Guitarists

So you want to learn to play left handed guitar or bass but are unsure of where to start?  You’ve come to the right place, my friend! This nine-part mammoth guide will clue you in on everything you need to know when starting out with your new hobby.

I am regularly updating this guide, so keep checking back for updated information.

Everything in this series will also apply to our right handed friends so tell them to check out the information as well.

The guide is broken up into nine different detailed sections, so feel free to skip to the areas that are relevant to you!

Part One : Tips Before You Buy
Part Two : Beginner Electric Guitars
Part Three : Beginner Acoustic Guitars
Part Four : Beginner Bass Guitars
Part Five : Beginner Classical Guitars
Part Six : Amps
Part Seven : Effects
Part Eight : Accessories
Part Nine : Lessons

Important Tips Before You Buy

Before we start looking at gear, here are a few ideas to consider that will hopefully help you to avoid any newbie pitfalls.

Left or Right Handed?

First things first. Are you actually a left-handed or a right-handed guitarist?

If you’re unsure, check out Should I Learn Guitar Left or Right Handed? 

Although there are generally fewer options for new left handed players, this is not a reason to play the wrong way around and potentially hinder your progress. Don’t worry – there’s still plenty of choice – I promise!

Acoustic, Electric, Classical, or Bass?

There’s this odd belief floating around that new players should start on a classical or acoustic guitar before “advancing” on to electric or bass.

Absolute nonsense.  

Please start out on whichever instrument you ultimately want to play. Sure, a nylon-strung classical will be easier on the fingers – but what’s the point if all you want to do is rock out?

If you want to be the next Ed Sheeran, get a steel-string acoustic, or if you want to be the next Flea, you need a bass!

Decide What Your Budget Is

The next thing to do is to plan out what your total budget is, and then when buying your equipment, stick within that budget!

You’ll most likely need more than just a guitar, so tally up all of the equipment you will need when doing your calculations. 

For example, if you want to play electric guitar you will at minimum require a guitar, a cable, and an amp or effects unit. 

Also budget for any additional expenses once you have your gear, such as instructional materials, lessons, guitar stands, gig bag, etc. I’ll talk you through all of this throughout the guide.

Buy The Best You Can Afford

As far as guitar is concerned, it really is a case of ‘you get what you pay for ’.

It’s a false economy to purchase a cheaper guitar now, only to spend more money further down the line when you realize that you need something of a higher quality.

Start off with a great setup and it will serve you for years to come and save you money in the long run.

I’m not suggesting that you buy a $4000 Fender Custom Shop Strat as your first guitar (although how cool would that be?!), just do yourself a favor and don’t buy whatever is on sale in your local Best Buy.

Keep It Simple Stupid

When choosing your first guitar you don’t want to become overwhelmed by buying something loaded with fancy gadgets and gizmos. 

For example, I would not recommend initially buying a guitar with a floating tremolo (Floyd Rose style) system. I cannot imagine the frustration a beginner would have trying to tune his or her guitar for the first time with one of those bridges.

You also probably don’t want to start out on a 7 or even 8-string monster – yikes!

Stick with something simple, and once you start figuring things out you will know what additional features you may like to get later on. I’ll recommend some excellent beginner guitar options in the coming pages.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Your first guitar is primarily going to be something you play at home, probably in your bedroom, possibly in front of the mirror!

You may think it will be cool to buy a Flying V right off the bat, but you are going to get quickly frustrated when you’re sitting at home and the thing keeps sliding off your leg.

Similarly, if you are a smaller person you may want to consider a shorter scale length or smaller bodied guitar. You might like to check out my 3/4 size left handed guitar guide as well.

An uncomfortable guitar is only going to cut your practice sessions short and introduce tension into your playing.

Beware of Guitar Store Sales Staff

It can be incredibly intimidating stepping into a guitar store for the first time.

Unfortunately, many guitar sales staff are there for one reason and one reason alone; to make the biggest commission possible. If your rookie ass ventures into a guitar store alone they are potentially going to eat you alive, and you’ll come out of the place $1000 lighter with a guitar that they’ve been trying to shift for months.

Have a good idea of what it is that you’re after before heading to the store, and if possible take some guitarist friends with you.

Alternatively, buy online! And…

Make Use of Internet Knowledge

Sign up to one or more guitar websites that have online forums and read the relevant sections – you can learn a lot by reading other new players’ questions. 

Ask as many stupid questions as you like as people are always glad to help out newcomers.  They could save you from making a costly mistake! Or send me an email!

Blah, blah, blah.  You just want to see the gear right? Choose the relevant section below!

Part One : Tips Before You Buy
Part Two : Beginner Electric Guitars
Part Three : Beginner Acoustic Guitars
Part Four : Beginner Bass Guitars
Part Five : Beginner Classical Guitars
Part Six : Amps
Part Seven : Effects
Part Eight : Accessories
Part Nine : Lessons

Neal Author Bio
Neal has been playing guitar (left-handed!) for over 20 years, and has also worked in various roles within the guitar retail industry since 2012. He started LeftyFretz in 2010. More Info