How to Shop for an Electric Guitar: 

     If you are new to playing and performing music, how and where to shop for an electric guitar is important to consider.  It really comes down to how often you think you will be playing an instrument and how much it will cost you to buy it.  As a student, just beginning to learn how to play guitar, it would be wise to buy something basic and to not invest a lot of time or money searching for the instrument you think you want to play.  If money and a budget concerns you, it would be better for you to start out learning how to play an acoustic guitar well before graduating to an electric guitar.  With a basic acoustic guitar, one does not need to have a guitar amplifier to be heard while playing.  When you practice on an electric guitar, your neighbors will be more likely to hear you than if you were to practice on a traditional acoustic guitar that is not amplified.  

    Obviously, people change their minds frequently and on a regular basis, but let us assume you have some level of accomplishment on an acoustic guitar.  Now you are ready to jam on an electric one.  As with an acoustic guitar, you want to first learn how to play on something basic and less expensive.  Fender offers a cheaper line of good quality electric guitars under the brand name Squier.  The Squier "Squier "Bullet Stratocaster" by Fender." by Fender is an excellent and affordable electric guitar to learn on.  Gibson offers a cheaper line of good quality electric guitars under the brand name of Epiphone.  An excellent combo pack for begnners is offered by Epiphone called the "Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Package."  For $249, it includes a guitar, an amplifier, an audio cord, guitar picks, and an electric tuner.  This Les Paul deal gets even sweeter when approved customers use their new Amazon Rewards VISA card and get an extra $50 off instantly.  If money is not a concern and you want to sound just like Joe Satriani in a competition, then you might want his "Ibanez JS1CR", or “Chrome Boy” as it called.  Be prepared to spend over $5000, just on the guitar alone. That does not include a guitar amplifier, an audio cord to plug your guitar into the amplifier with, or a case to protect your guitar.  It also does not include a guitar strap autographed by "Satch."  Seek advice and take lessons from an experienced and professional guitar teacher such as Katie Hester of Homestyle Music.  She will likely know of some good basic electric guitars that will fit your budget and meet your needs.  

     Unless you buy from a trusted source such as a family member or neighbor, it might be better for you to stick to buying from a reputable company online such as Amazon, or a well-established local retail store with a good reputation.  Buying from a business rather than an individual is usually safer if you want a refund or an exchange for your purchase.  Lastly, another important consideration would be taking care of your electric guitar.  It is recommended that you purchase some sort of case to protect your electric guitar and that you also purchase a music stand to set it on as well.  If your guitar does not come with a strap, that is another valuable investment that will save you from juggling the guitar and possibly dropping it.  It will give you a better presence as well, when you are ready to play your guitar in front of others.  Listeners will not be distracted by your trying to hold your guitar steady.  Another important accessory is polish for your guitar if you want to keep it looking nice.  Good luck and happy hunting! 

--James Hester   

Choosing Guitar Strings: 

If you are new at playing guitar, or you are in the beginning stages of learning to play, you might be wondering which strings are recommended for your use.  The size and type of string on a guitar can affect its general tones and sounds, so you might want to try playing on several different guitars first with different brands or sizes of strings before you decide which string plays and sounds best for you. 

The type of strings one should play on depends on a number of factors including: the strength of the guitarist's hands, and whether or not it is an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar.  Electric guitars tend to have lighter gauge strings when you buy them brand-new with strings already on them.  Acoustic guitars tend to have slightly heavier gauge strings when you buy them brand-new than electric guitars. 

There can be great benefit in learning how to play an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar.  A person learning guitar might build his or her hand strength better on heavier gauge strings, by learning to play an acoustic guitar, provided he or she does not have any sort of disability in the fretting hand such as arthritis, paralysis, or carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Guitar strings are made in a range of gauges that are based on thousandths of an inch. For beginning guitar players, an excellent idea is to start out on a good, basic guitar such as the Squier Dreadnought acoustic guitar by Fender. It comes with a bronze set of strings that range in size from the high E string being a .012 to the low E string being a .052.  These are considered "light" strings for an acoustic guitar, but if your hands are not strong enough, or you just prefer to start out easier, then a lighter guitar string might be better when you begin playing. 

There are generally no right or wrong brands or sizes of strings to use for playing on a guitar. 

Good luck and happy shredding!  --James Hester

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