GEAR GUIDE: Living Music's Guide to Choosing Your First Guitar

GEAR GUIDE: Living Music's Guide to Choosing Your First Guitar

If you’re a new guitar player looking to buy your first instrument, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the options. Choosing between guitar styles, shapes and sizes can have you thinking “Phew, where do I start?!”

Here at Living Music we meet beginner guitarists every day from all walks of life and we love helping them find the right instrument for their needs and goals.

Keep reading to find out which guitars we recommend for children, teens and adult beginners.

Children up to 12 years of age: Classical Nylon-String Guitar

For children up to the age of 12, we usually recommend choosing a classical guitar when learning to play. There are several reasons for this:

  • Nylon strings are much gentler on the fingers than steel and are easier to press down; children can be turned off of playing and practicing if their fingers hurt too much.
  • Classical guitars have a slightly smaller and slimmer body shape than acoustic guitars, which makes it easier for children to hold and strum the guitar.
  • Classical guitars are available in a range of awesome colours.
  • Classical guitars are available in four sizes: Quarter (1/4), Half (1/2), Three Quarter (3/4) and Full Size (4/4). Use the chart below as a rough guide for selecting the right size guitar for your child.


Guitar Size


1/4 Size


1/2 Size


3/4 Size


4/4 Size


Shop our range of Classical guitars here.

Teens aged 13-17: Full size Classical Nylon-String Guitar, beginner Acoustic Steel String Guitar or beginner Electric Guitar

When we meet a teenager who wants to buy their first guitar, we often ask them what sort of music they like to listen to; this gives us an idea of the sound they want to achieve. If the answer is Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, we’ll steer them towards a classical or acoustic steel string; if the answer is Foo Fighters or Metallica, we’ll look at electric guitars.

When it comes to classical nylon vs acoustic steel strings, teens are generally able to handle adjusting to steel strings better than a child, but it is ultimately a matter of preference.

Acoustic guitars are similar in shape to a classical guitar but come with steel strings. They are available in a range of shapes and sizes, the most common being Dreadnought and Folk (or Small Body). Dreadnought and Folk size guitars generally have the same scale length but different sized bodies. Many people find a Folk size guitar to be more comfortable than a Dreadnought, but it is ultimately a matter of preference.

Shop our range of Dreadnought acoustic guitars here.

Shop our range of Small Body acoustic guitars here.

Electric guitars are smaller in the body than acoustic or classical guitars and are available in a wide range of shapes and styles. However, they also tend to be much heavier, which should be taken into consideration when shopping for a younger teen.

Electric guitars require more equipment than an acoustic or classical. When purchasing an electric guitar, you will also need to consider including an amplifier and lead in your budget. We have a range of electric guitar packs available that are ideal for beginners and include everything they’ll need to get started.

Shop our range of Electric Guitar packs here.

Adults aged 18+: Full size Classical Nylon-String Guitar, Acoustic Steel String Guitar or Electric Guitar

Adult beginners, much like teens, have a large range to choose from when shopping for their first guitar. Plus, everyone’s goals, needs and budget are different.

Taking this into consideration, we’ve curated collections of some of our most popular classical, acoustic and electric guitars that we recommend for adult beginners.

Shop Classical Guitars for adult beginners here.

Shop Acoustic Guitars for adult beginners here.

Shop Electric Guitars for adult beginners here.

If you have any questions or would like some extra guidance on which guitar would suit you best, feel free to give us a call, send us an email or drop by and visit us!

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