Buying Your First Guitar
Have You Ever Read Harry Potter?
Remember that bit in the first book about how "the wand chooses the wizard"? That is exactly what it's like. You'll know when you're holding the right guitar for you when all of your hair stands on end and a stream of golden sparkly magic shoots out from the headstock.
Ok, I'm joking. Guitars are special, though, and the relationship you have with yours will largely define your experience of learning how to play, so choosing a good first guitar is important. You need to love the way it feels in your hands, and if you find yourself daydreaming about how awesome you look holding it, all the better. The cacophonous "bro show" atmosphere of most guitar shops can be a real nightmare for beginners, though, so it's a good idea to bring someone along with you who knows what they're doing and can act as a guide.
Let's Go Guitar Shopping!
After your introductory lesson, if you decide to reserve a regular time slot and you'd like help buying a guitar, we'll book a time to go shopping together. I'll be your guide through the wild world of East Bay guitar shops. It'll be like an expedition into deepest, darkest Peru, but with bag checks instead of border patrols and heavy metal histrionics instead of howling monkeys.*
*There is, sometimes, a difference.
For Those Who'd Rather Go Solo
Some folks just do better on their own. Don't just run out there unprepared, though.
Download this excellent book and skip straight to the section on buying your first guitar.
How to Learn Guitar and Have Insane Amounts of Fun
by Dave Wirth, MM $10.00
Get Ready, Get Set, Go!
Having your guitar set up is an option that many new players don't even know exists. A "setup" for a guitar is like a tuneup for your car - it makes your music machine more reliable, easier to use, and a lot more fun to play. Guitar shops usually have technicians on staff. If you find a guitar you like but there's something funny about the way it sounds, then describe what you're hearing to a salesperson and ask if they'd set it up to see if that fixes the problem. You won't be obligated to buy the guitar afterwards, so don't worry.
If they don't have a technician (it's lame, but it happens) and you still really want the guitar, then find out if the shop has a reasonable return policy. If they do, then buy it, keep the receipt, and take it here:
Mike is, in my experience and opinion, the best guitar tech currently running a shop in the East Bay. He's friendly, warm, and honest; his tech skills, benchside manner, and business skills are all top-notch; and his space is clean, capacious, and comprehensively equipped – but what really sets Mike apart is that he obviously enjoys his work and has structured his business so that he runs it and not the other way around.
Mike's assessments are methodical and comprehensive; his scheduling system is intelligent and accurate; his invoices are detailed and easy to understand; his pricing structure is clear, fair, and quite reasonable; and his work is solid. In short, he's currently the only local tech to whom I feel completely comfortable referring my students.