Alright, I've seen this question asked enough in the threads, so I figured I'd make a thread about it.
Step 1: What do you want to play?
-This can be an easy or hard decision. What style interests you most? The fingerpicking style of the acoustic players? The face melting style of shredding, or the smooth glassy tone that of SRV? The good news is, there is a guitar pack for just about any style out there.
Step 2: Are you sure?
-Decide whether or not you are willing to spend 200$ on a starter pack. If you think you might fiddle around with it for a few days and then sell it, I suggest spending very little money. If you think that you have found your passion and want to keep it forever, then go ahead and do it.
Step 3: Establishing a budget
-Guitar packs can be pretty expensive, and chances are, if you are just beginning, you are young and have no source of income. If you have money lining your pockets, I would not suggest going out and dropping 3000$ on a brand new Gibson when you first start off. For two reasons:
1.) If the skill does not match the guitar, then ridicule is inevitable. (Its harsh, yes, but its the truth. I'm doing it for you.)
2.) If you decide you want to switch instruments/styles, your out about 500-1000$. Ebay is not nice on your wallet, no matter what.
This I cannot help much with. You need to see how much your relatives or yourself can spend, and work at it from there. Guitar Center if I recall correctly, does 30 day layaway at their stores, and some online sites have payment plans (but beware, signing up for their "credit card" can lower your score and bog you down)
Step 4: Choosing the right pack
This I can do. Now, don't worry about making the wrong decision here, because I started out with a squire electric and I'm a metalhead. This is a crucial part of the process. This will establish what you like and what you do not like in a guitar. Go with your instinct, and you will most likely be happy.
The Packs-AC/DC fan?
Why not go for a nice Epiphone SG electric starter pack, this would make a nice starter guitar.
This is the pack for you, Ibanez makes wonderful guitars in this price range.
This is the pack I started out on, it worked wonders for me. My recommendation for a well rounded pack.
-Les Paul suit your style?
This pack should be nice, its practically the same as the SG pack (50$ extra though), with a different style guitar.
Leftys don't have much of a choice in choosing a starter pack, there are only a few out there, but trusty squire just put this pack out. Again, I like!
To be honest, with any guitar starter pack, go with the big brand names. They usually have the most bang for your buck.
Acoustics are really misunderstood. Starting out on an acoustic will, yes, "Get your fingers tougher" but it will not dramatically improve your electric playing so be it you decide to move on. All you need with acoustics are
to get started. This is my favorite acoustic pack, it has the best value to me, and I have played it before. Its not horrible by any means.
You could, however, just look around for your budget. All you really need is the guitar.
Acoustic electrics are a different story. If you want to plug one in, you need an amp, which are expensive, and if you don't see the need for that, stick with acoustics. What is an acoustic electric? It's basically an acoustic you can plug in, and using an on board preamp (usually located on the top side) you can adjust the EQ. I don't recommend running one through a heavy distortion circuit, leave that to the electrics, but you may like a little crunch.
Step 5: Do I need lessons?
-Lessons to me, are a personal thing. I think lessons are great for the aspiring guitarist, I do take them, and I think I would be half the guitarist I am now without them. They really help you learn how to play the guitar efficiently. But remember: Develop
your own style. Don't exactly copy your teacher, take heed of his advice while growing in your own part of the garden (to put it in lamens terms
) Lessons can also tend to be a bit expensive, and that too, is a personal thing. I cannot give you any advice or donate you any money. Sorry.
Step 6: Getting started/tips
-When you first start guitar, you going to want to play like the pros, but unfortunatley, that is not going to happen in a few days. One thing you might notice is your finger dexterity and your hand eye coordination. Don't give up; These come with time! Learn a few basic chords and scales from books you may recieve or can buy froma local guitar shop or bookstore. Learn songs from your favorite bands reading tablature. Tablature is a form of guitar sheet music in which frets are laid out on a 6 column "sheet". The one closest to your keyboard is the low E string, the thickest string, and vice versa. For example:
That is tablature for the intro to Stairway to Heaven. My favorite tablature site is www.ultimate-guitar.com
. Enter any song name and chances are, someone has made tabs for it.
Tab software is a lifesaver for people like me. Basically, what it is is blank tab sheets that you may input numbers into, and run MIDI through it. MIDI is basically fake instruments, and is also a great practice agent, as it can help you make sure the song is tabbed correctly and can really speed up the songwriting process.
There are three great tabbing softwares that I have used.
(A free, easy to use tabbing program)
(A cheap, excellent tabbing program with optional realistic sounding MIDI)
You can find tabs for both at www.ultimate-guitar.com
(It will show up with normal results if it is available) or you can go to the database of powertabs at www.powertabs.net
One last thing: A metronome is a powerful tool that most guitarists use to practice in time with, and you can benefit with buying a cheap one with a decent range of beats per minute. This is helpful when practicing a song on the go and during exercises. You may not use one starting off but you will later.
Step 7: Reputable sites
-Many ask where they can buy stuff online, and where it is safe. Take a look through these stores, all of which I have done business with.
(basically the same as MF)
or take a look through eBay. Just remember to buy from reputable people.
-This is a great site for those who have tuned by ear and don't have or didn't get a tuner with their guitar: This is a site I go to all the time to drop tune and hone my ear.
Be careful with it though, unless you know what you are doing. Keep it in the tuning it is already in to tune if you are new.
-This is also a handy little site for chord diagrams if you don't know what a specific chord is and is awesome for sheet music. (thanks to Thatswhatshesaid)
-This is one of the best chord diagram sites i have ever seen, this can be EXTREMELY helpful for a beginner acoustic player, even an electric player, or even a seasoned player. (Credit out to Chemicaldonkey)
More chords and tabs: (Thanks proref)
and a great guitarist who tapes lessons over youtube (thanks imyourfriend)
Thats it, just remember to be patient with guitar and you'll have a hobby, maybe even a career ahead of you, and a lifetime of enjoyment.
Edit: Thanks for the sticky guys