It’s super frustrating trying to learn guitar with a junky instrument! Make sure that you’ve checked all of these areas on a guitar before making a purchase, or if you already have a guitar, go to your local music store and get an adjustment. It’ll save you a ton of time and heartache down the road.
Action (String Height)
I think this is one of the most important things to look for in a guitar. There are a ton of guitars out there with strings that are way too high, which means you have to press down way too hard. Then on the other (much less common) end of the spectrum, there are some strings that are too low, causing the guitar to buzz and ring and make all kinds of horrible noises. Pressing down on the guitar strings does take a bit of finger strength…but it shouldn’t be much at all.
If you play a note on one string, and then play that same note on another, you want both strings to make the same sound (pitch). When that doesn’t happen, it means you have an intonation problem on your hands! Fortunately, you usually don’t see this problem in newer guitars. But if you have a used guitar, there’s a chance it’s warped or set up improperly, leading to poor intonation.
Quality of Workmanship
This is an issue I see with many beginner guitars. Most of the cheap guitars available today incorporate some type of pressed wood, which makes it easier to damage (and it usually doesn’t sound all that great, either) If you’re just looking for a budget guitar to get started on, it’s not bad to get a guitar made of pressed wood. But make sure that it’s from a reputable guitar manufacturer that doesn’t just slop together instruments on a conveyor belt.
If these three issues are taken care of, you’ll have a great guitar to start learning on!