Guitar Buying 101
Maurice Cahen shares tips based on decades of teaching experience.
Buying a guitar can be a challenging task when you don't know much about it. It's very important you consult your teacher before purchasing it.
For my students I recommend a nylon string guitar, also known as "Classical" or "Spanish" guitar, which can be used for many styles of playing. You can either get a half, three-quarter or full-size depending on student age and size. Stay away from Flamenco guitars for now unless you only want to focus on that style. Action is way too low. Avoid steel string guitars for beginners (also known as Folk or Dreadnought guitar). The steel strings hurt fingertips, which can make students quit playing. Additionally, practicing on an acoustic instrument as opposed to an electric guitar develops strength and endurance. It's great playing an electric guitar, but I recommend daily practice on an acoustic instrument.
New vs. Used
Don't hesitate to purchase a second hand instrument. They are usually cheaper and well seasoned. Conversely, don't buy an inferior or damaged instrument - that will be even more of an impediment in spite of the temptation to save money.
There are many great nylon strings out there. To get started, I recommend: D'addario Pro Arte nylon strings EJ46 Hard tension. It's a good quality string at an affordable price. There will be plenty of time to explore different brand which can work well with your instrument. If that makes no sense, show this letter to the store clerk. They'll know what to do.
Where to Buy Locally
Call them first to make sure they have whatever you want in your price range.
Music Workshop (R.J. is the best!) 190 Main Street, Malden
The Music Emporium (high end instruments) 164 Mass Ave., Lexington
Guitar Stop 1760 Mass Ave., Cambridge
Mr. Music (great for second-hand instruments) 128 Harvard Ave, Allston
Performance Music Center 405 Main Street, Wooburn
Carlino Guitars 392 Main Street, Medford
Now if you are ready to purchase a top-notch instrument from a Luthier, I would suggest my friend Richard Young. He can build pretty much anything you’d like with any specifications custom made. I love his work and have been playing his guitars for many years.