How To Buy A Cheap Beginner Guitar

How to Buy a Cheap Guitar For A Beginner

Related Articles:

• How to buy an inexpensive guitar
• How to buy a child a beginning guitar
• How to buy strings

1 – Avoid High Action – but not so low that it buzzes

this photo is courtesy of - a fantastic guitar and lutherie site
this photo is courtesy of – a fantastic guitar and lutherie site

High Action can be assessed relatively easily, visually. Play the guitar – if you like an electric guitar but it seems a bit hard to play, ask the store to adjust the action. If it’s an acoustic guitar, you’ll have to pay to have the action lowered. Don’t be overly picky in the store about action before purchasing; skill still matters. If the luthier tells you “it can’t get any lower without buzzing,” then believe them, and take a few lessons so you learn about how to avoid buzz.

2 – Don’t Buy at Guitar Center

A deal from Guitar Center is not a deal, it is a waste of time and money. If you’re buying a NEW guitar, you just spent $300 on something that would have cost $100 otherwise.

 If you don’t play in bands,  being in a music store may seem intimidating; but you won’t learn how to interact in a music store by going to Guitar Center. Go to the local shop first. Even if you don’t buy anything. You’ll save thousands in the long run.

3 – Great shops often have no sign

Unmarked recording studios and shops are a hallmark of music industry tradition. Nondescript, small shops are generally the higher quality, better reputation places for guitar purchase and repair.

4 – Great shops employ musicians, not “sales pros”

The best shops are the quieter, local shops. The quiet, local, cool shops attract quiet, cool people who know their stuff. They are there to build a good reputation. 

5 – Salespeople on commission are more aggressive. Great shops are where you get left alone.

Don’t interpret a salesperson bothering you as “customer service.” They want to spend your money.

6 – Ask Your Guitar Teacher To Go With You

I offer this service for free to my students; owners of music shops love when I bring in customers who buy things. It’s symbiotic, there would be no reason for me to charge students in helping them buy guitars. Contact me to make an appointment. Good teachers generally accompany their students to guitar shops, because a teacher would rather spend an hour helping a student, instead of helping that student deal with a low quality instrument for years.

7 – Avoid A Heavy Guitar


Again, if you like it buy it, but try to avoid the Les Pauls and heavier guitars at first.

This is a picture of an oak Telecaster. By the way – if you’re starting out, don’t buy a Telecaster.


8 – If You’re Not An Expert, Don’t Buy A Telecaster

69 Tele

Keith Richards, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Page, James Burton, and Curtis Mayfield play(ed) Telecasters. They’re cranky, tough guitars.

Get a Squier Stratocaster, an Epiphone Les Paul.


Almost anything else that you pick, will be easier to play than a Telecaster.

Recommended Music Stores & Repair Shops In Portland

There are a lot of great shops, here are the shops run by my good friends (they also happen to be the best). 🙂

Trade Up Music

oodles of great, cheap, mostly used gear, with some new – guitars, amps, basses, synthesizers, pedals, ukuleles, PA systems, drum parts, drum kits, melodicas, harmonicas… friendly service, right next door to Stumptown Coffee. >>website

Trade Up Music 4701 SE Division St., Portland, OR 97206  *503-236-8800* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm daily Google Map
Trade Up Music 1834 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211 *503-335-8800* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm daily Google Map

12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop

nationally renowned lutherie and repairs of stringed instruments of all sorts, serving the general public and prominent artists since 1979… friendly service, wonderful people who really go the extra mile. >>website

12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop 2402 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR 97214 *503-231-1912* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm Tue-Fri and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Saturday Google Map

East Side Guitar Repair

Guitar repair, amplifier repair, custom instruments >>website

East Side Guitar Repair 3341 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214  *503-232-0838* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm daily Google Map

Portland Custom Shop and Sour Sound

Amplifier repair, synthesizer repair and synth restoration; PA system repair, Pro Audio repair facility   >>Custom Shop Website  ::   >>Sour Sound Website

Portland Custom Shop + Sour Sound 1115 SE Morrison St. Portland, OR 97214 *503.227.9260* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Mon-Fri and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Sat-Sun Google Map
Related Articles:• How to buy an inexpensive guitar
• How to buy a child a beginning guitar
• How to buy strings

-Amanda Machina

squirrel at whirling squirrel dot com


2 thoughts on “How To Buy A Cheap Beginner Guitar”

    1. Sean you’re so right!! I don’t have as much contact with Hank & Old Town as I do the other folks mentioned above, but Hank is awesome and Old Town is great.

      Old Town Music, I believe, has the largest selection of effects pedals of any Portland music store. They also have guitars, synths, and amps, and they do repair as well. Hank rocks!!

      (so does Sean Flora)

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A music teacher in Portland Oregon