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By: Bob Slash
If you're thinking about learning to play the guitar, that's a great choice! You'll be joining a huge community of people around the world who are passionate about this fun and versatile instrument. But if you don't know much about it, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are a few things to think about before you start playing guitar.

Which type of guitar do you want to learn on?

If you haven't got a guitar already, you'll first need to decide which type you want to learn to play on. There are various varieties of guitar, the main categories being electric guitars, acoustic guitars with steel strings and acoustic guitars with nylon strings (of course you can also get electro-acoustics, 12-string guitars etc, but as a beginner you'll probably want to start with a basic six-string acoustic or electric model). The type you choose will depend on the music you want to learn.

If you're interested in rock, pop and other popular styles, you'll want a steel string guitar. Many beginners find electric guitars easier to learn on (since it's usually easier and less painful to fret the notes), although there's something to be said for learning on an acoustic, as this can be more versatile, doesn't need an amp, and your fingers will toughen up quickly enough anyway.

If you want to play classical or flamenco guitar on the other hand, you'll need a nylon string guitar of the appropriate type. It's a good idea to learn general classical guitar skills first, and graduate to the more specialised flamenco techniques when you have some experience.

Which guitar should you buy to start off with?

Once you know what type of guitar you'll need, it's time to make a purchase. Buying a beginner guitar can be an overwhelming experience, since there are so many to choose from in every category. Your budget will naturally have a big impact on your choice, but even if you don't have much to spend right now, don't be tempted to go for the absolute cheapest guitar you can find. Very low-cost guitars are often poorly made, with an unappealing tone quality and they can be frustrating to play. The guitar can be challenging enough to learn without having to struggle with a bad instrument, and unfortunately some people give up the guitar for this reason, never realising that it was the guitar that was at fault, and not them.

This doesn't mean you have to spend huge amounts of money though. You can get nice quality yet relatively cheap guitar from reputable brands for around $200 or less. These obviously won't be as good as a high-end guitar, but as a beginner you're unlikely to really know what you want in a guitar anyway, so there's not much point in spending a lot until you have more experience.

The internet is the best place to start your research - read the reviews on sites like Amazon, as well as specialist sites such as GuitarCenter.com, and see what others are saying about the guitars you're interested in. You might also want to visit your local music stores for advice (although bear in mind that they may naturally steer you in the direction of models they sell), or ask your guitar teacher, if you have one. Guitar forums can be a good place to get more opinions too.

Don't get too hung up on finding the 'perfect' guitar at this point. Remember, you're not looking for your dream guitar here - there will be plenty of time for that later - just a decent instrument that will be pleasant to learn on.

Bob Slash is a former rock-band lead guitarist, now running his own website for teaching others http://guitar-insider.com. There you will find quite a few information about http://guitar-insider.com/guitar-tips/5-good-reasons-to-buy-guitar/, together with other useful resources for guitar learning.

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