Looking For A Guitar - Not Sure What Guitar To Buy?

I am looking for a guitar for beginner. What do you recommend?

Follow your budget. This is the often asked question. Get something that suits your budget.

If you can afford something better, go ahead - a better quality guitar has better intonation, sound, projection, clarity and feel. Certainly with a better quality guitar, we have a better chance of progressing and excelling in the guitar (hey if you can have a head start with a better tool, why not?).

But if we are on a tight budget, we just make do with what we have - you can even get a guitar under RM200!

Even with the most expensive football boots and attire, you may not make the school team. Yet the street urchin practising with his makedo ball may turn out to be a great player. If you dream of playing like Jimmy Page, even with the most poorly made guitar, you would practise day and night! More importantly it's the determination and love for the instrument that sets you apart from others.

For a beginner your main purpose is to learn how to play the guitar. So get a guitar that fits your budget - acoustic if you like to play popular hits and don't mind a bit of pain from the steel strings; or classical if you like the mellow sounds and nylon strings not too hurting on your fingers. It is just your first guitar, don't think too much - just get going, as long as it does not break your wallet!

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My son is only 9 years old. What sort of guitar should I get for him?

A young child should get a classical guitar (which has nylon strings) because it is not so painful when his left hand fingers press on the nylon strings. The steel strings on an acoustic guitar are more painful to press.

Most guitar instructors recommend kids to start on a classical guitar for this reason. Many teachers in music school get their student to start with classical (nylon) guitar because it is not so painful on the right hand fingers when pressing. More so if they are female students.

Most young people however, do not enjoy the sound of classical guitar because it is mellow. But that is because classical guitar aka Spanish style guitar is designed for fingerstyle set pieces, solo and accompaniment playing. Just search 'classical guitar' youtube and hear the playing.

If you are learning on your own, with friends, youtubing, etc, you can buy any type of guitar, and usually young people prefer the acoustic (steel) guitar which is bright and ringing. This is the type of guitar we usually hear and see on Youtube, the one Taylor Swift or Yuna picks and strums on accompaniment.

Finally, a guitar costing say RM800/= will certainly sound better and build better quality than a guitar below RM200/=. But the cheap guitar can still play and get the job done, ie. to entertain you. Of course if you have RM800 to spend for your first guitar, go ahead.

All our guitars are budget guitars within their category and good enough for beginners. Just decide whether you want to buy acoustic guitar (steel strings) or classical guitar (nylon strings) first.

Which guitar is cheaper? Acoustic Steel Strings Or Nylon Strings Classical Guitars?

Both classical and acoustic guitars have very cheap and very expensive versions - from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The cheap guitars are mass produced in the factories, while the more expensive guitars are part factory and/or custom handmade.

Read this first!
Acoustic Steel Strings vs Classical Nylon Strings - A Clear And Concise Explanation By Tomas Michaud

Read this too!
Beginner - start with Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

Which guitar (sounds) is better? Classical or Acoustic?

It is not which guitar is better. Both are equally good. It is just that one is designed to be more suitable for a certain type/style of music, and the other a different genre.

Classical guitar is more suitable for fingerstyle solo melody/harmony set pieces. It sounds more mellow. Acoustic guitar sounds brighter and used for accompaniment and/or solo pieces popular music. Many guitarists own both acoustic and classical guitars to play a wider variety of music.

Note. Guitar instructors usually get beginners (especially kids) to start on the classical guitar because nylon strings do not hurt the left hand fingers too much when they first learn to press the strings. Steel strings acoustic guitar are more painful for first time guitarists.

If you absolutely love to learn and play classical guitar and wish to sit for classical guitar exams, you can take the ABRSM - Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams. In this case, you must buy a classical guitar. Otherwise you will not be allowed to go in to the examination room.

Another way of looking at it:-
Which car is better - hatchback or sedan? It's like they have different applications. Typically the strumming and singalong guitar is the steel string guitar. It's bright sounding and a lot of fun.
The nylon or classical guitar is more suited to fingerstyle plucking, playing solo guitar pieces - classical music (as in Bach) or pop music arranged in classical style. But we can of course use the nylon string guitar for strumming and singalong. Just use a lighter plectrum to strum the guitar.

Another way of putting it is like the weather! Acoustic guitar sounds bright like "cuaca cerah"; whereas Classical nylon guitar sounds mellow like "cuaca renung". That's why the classical guitar, aka the Spanish guitar - sounds especially good playing typical Spanish minor mode tunes like "malaguena".

"Sweet Child O'Mine" - Electric, Classical or Acoustic Guitar?

Which sound/style do you like? You prefer? There's no right or wrong!!

1) Electric guitar by Slash (the original)

2) Classical guitar here - fingerstyle solo playing. Or,

3) Acoustic guitar here - fingerstyle solo playing.

4) Acoustic guitar played with a pick/plectrum by Slash himself

How do you feel? Which excites you? Where, what type of music do you like to learn in your guitar playing? It comes from within you!

These are general guidelines only. Whether the guitar is acoustic or classical, it is still a guitar - you can get a plectrum to pick, play fingerstyle, play melody and or harmony at same time (you may have noticed these differences in styles in above clips) or just strum both types of guitar. Like any art form, you can take any type of guitar and adapt, modify and play any type of music you like once you get more accomplished. Feel free to explore.

Do I need to join or form a band to play electric guitar?

No, you do not need to be in a band to play electric guitar although we see most electric guitarists in a band. You can work your own electric guitar solo arrangement and with amplifiers and effects, play a great tune all by yourself. Watch the awesome Andy Timmons plays 'Strawberry Fields Forever', his own solo electric guitar arrangement.

How long does it take to learn the guitar?

If you wish to play the guitar like Slash (above), it will take you years of training. If you wish to accompany yourself on the guitar as you sing a simple song, then it will certainly be shorter, probably not more than 3 months to learn a few simple chords and strum the guitar slowly as you sing a simple song.

What do you mean by classical, acoustic, electric guitar? I don't know anything about guitars

Please refer below (scroll down to the bottom)

Are your guitars new?

Yes almost all the guitars are new. If it is used we will indicate so.

Is this a good guitar?

Or do you mean 'is this a good buy'? A good guitar can costs thousands of ringgit and it still can be subjective! A good buy is that the guitar is reasonably decent based on the value you are paying.

I'm looking for something for my son/ daughter, something for a beginner. My son mentioned something like Fender or Gibson. What do you recommend?

We do not have any branded label guitars.

We carry guitars below RM1,000/=, in fact many less than RM500/=. They are ALL cheap yet decent guitars made in China, certainly decent enough for any beginner... but that's our view. Some parents give their teenage son/ daughter a small cheap used car for a first car whereas some a new 1.8 Honda or Toyota. So it depends on where you're coming from.

What we can say is that for a lady, a nylon string guitar (see below) may be more suitable when starting to learn simply because it is less painful on the fingers compared with steel string guitar (see below). Many music schools also use a nylon string guitar for beginners and teach them to pluck and strum simply because it is easier to play.

The Valencia classical (nylon strings) guitar is one of the very popular entry level guitars used by many music schools.

Do you have second hand guitars?

Most of the time, no.

I got a guitar to sell. Do you buy?

No we do not buy second hand guitars. If there are any in the shop they are on consignment basis. The customer left it in our shop for us to sell on their behalf.

Where are your guitars made?

Almost all are made in China.

China guitars can (play) ah?

These are cheap guitars compared to a RM2K - RM5K guitar or RM8K - RM10K+ (and even higher). Many branded labels do not have guitars below RM500 AND even if they do,:-
(1) the guitars may be re-labelled with a second-tier name (or some use their orginal label), AND
(2) the guitars are likely made in China or Indonesia.
We are not likely to find guitars below RM1K made in USA, Japan, Spain.

The made in China guitars we carry are quite decent for the price you pay. If we benchmark against the branded labels (but made in China or Indonesia), we are about 50% to 70% of their prices. In fact the Valencia classical guitars are used by many music schools.

Can you give examples of second tier labels?

Good example is Squier which is Fender's second tier label.
Another is Gibson's Epiphone label made in Qingdao, China.

Even Yamaha had its own factory in Hangzhou, China. This is not a second tier label but a state of art factory with employees trained by Japanese master craftsmen.

Today there are many factories manufacturing guitars in China, on Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) basis (you can put your own label but must meet their Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) which can run into hundreds of pieces - it is basically an economic decision, the more you order, the cheaper your costs) OR they manufacture AND promote/sell their own label. Some of these companies can be found here.
Here's a useful thread about searching for good Chinese guitar factories.

Are there made in Malaysia guitars?

So far there are no known large scale guitar manufacturing factories in Malaysia - to produce low price mass market guitars. If there are any Malaysian guitars, then it's likely:-
1) DESIGNED in Malaysia, but made in China. These can be low cost to some mid-price range guitars, OR
2) really custom handmade in Malaysia by
JEFFREY YONG, Malaysia's very own famous luthier. These are guitars usually priced from RM7K - RM8K upwards.

What do you mean by decent guitar?

Like we say above, all of us have different budgets. Here we carry guitars less than RM1K and the models spread over different budgets. Say if you have RM300 to blow for a classical guitar, we have a model that we think is a decent buy.
There are 5 basic qualities in a guitar (1) projection / volume (2) tone (3) sustain (4) playability/action and (5) build to last. A guitar is decent enough with regards to these qualities within its price range. Certainly if we buy a Proton, we do not expect it to perform like a Honda.

Most of these cheap guitars can easily last 5 to 10 years or more. In fact plywood actually can last a long time. It's the glue and binding that gives way.

You mean these guitars are plywood ah?

It is not likely you can get any solid wood (as against plywood) for anything less than RM800 - RM900 for branded labels. We have solid top models starting above RM450+. Solid top refers to only the top piece of wood of the acoustic guitar (where the hole is) as against the back piece and the side pieces. A guitar that is made of solid wood all round is a different class altogeher.

There is a major difference between a solid top and the normal plywood (laminated). The top piece of the guitar is the main sounding board and a solid top guitar reverberates stronger and longer.

What do you mean by classical, acoustic, electric guitar? I don't know anything about guitars

We can put into 2 types:-
(1) electric guitar
The ones where you watch the bands playing on MTV, loud and hard edge. Usually 3 to 5 guys gals with a drummer, bass guitar, lead guitar, cables on floor with guitar strap hanging over body, and large amplifiers to amplify the sound of the electric guitar.
So if you are buying an electric guitar, you need an amplifier to go with the guitar.

(2) acoustic guitars - these are 'boxed' guitars with a hole on the top and played normally without an amplifier, loud enough for a room, They are your campfire guitars, the one most people play in their rooms or school concert.
[Note: some acoustic guitars also come with built-in pickups. We then have the option to plugin acoustic guitar to an amplifier (need to buy of course). This is louder of course then playing unplugged. Or we can buy separate pickups, attach to acoustic guitar and plugin to amplifier.]

Acoustic can differentiate into 2 types:-
(a) steel strings (b) nylon strings
Steel string acoustic guitars are your typical country western strumming 'changling' bright kind of sound. You can use a pick (plectrum) or your fingers to pluck the strings.
(b) Nylon string guitars are the classical (or spanish) guitars. They do not have button straps. So we cannot strap the guitar over our body. They are designed to be played in sitting position, prim proper concert manner, like you can bring your classical guitar and play with the Philharmonic Orchestra. The guitar sounds more mellow in contrast with the steel string guitar which is bright.

Also, checkout Wikipedia's Different Types Of Guitars.

Alternatively, we can look at it this way.

There are basically 2 types of guitar:-

(1) 'Box' guitar - which is hollow inside and has a sound hole outside. You can play the guitar as it is and can hear the sound.

(2) 'Solid' body guitar - by definition, it is not hollow and no sound hole. Instead it is made of solid piece of wood and has magnetic pickups. It is commonly known as the 'electric guitar' - usually members of a pop band play. The guitar needs to connected to an amplifier to be heard. It is not designed to be played unplugged (sounds too soft).


'Box' (type) Guitars

Most beginners start with some kind of a 'box' guitar, and there are 2 types:-
(1) With nylon string aka Classical Guitar (listen to video - mellow sounding)

(2) With steel strings aka Acoustic Guitar (listen video - bright and ringing sounds)


Note that today many of these 'box' guitars also come with built-in magnetic pickups so that we can plugin to an amplifier, to play and be heard in a larger hall.

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