The Happy Lizard Beginner Guide:

Hey guys, today I wanted to put together my list of essential beginner buys for people who are just picking up a guitar for the first time. There are tons of accessories and kits out there, and I know it’s a bit crazy to start out and not know what’s what, what’s a gimmick and what’s really necessary. So, without further ado, the Happy Lizard Beginner Guide:

Number 1 is obviously a guitar. I know that’s pretty clear already, but I want to make sure you know what to buy. Don’t skimp on your first one, seriously. I know it’s tempting to get a $50 cheap-o model, but you should really spend at least $150 or so. Heck, I’d spend as much as you can afford. The better the guitar you start on, the more likely you are to stick with it. You’ll get better sounds, and be less frustrated by cheap materials and a bad design. Plus, even if you spend $300 and don’t end up playing, you can get pretty good resale values on any good instrument. That’s a good heads’ up for parents who are looking for kid options. Anyway, the point is to get a good guitar that feels good and sounds good so that you actually get some reward out of the learning curve, ‘cause that can be a bit boring or frustrating otherwise. If you’re shopping, check out this site,, for the best acoustic guitar for the money, and more. They have some pretty good reviews, and I’ve played most of these myself.

Number 2 is to get a good case. I always recommend a hard case more than a cheap bag, because the cheapest bags have basically no padding and they’re not really any better than carrying a bare guitar around. Get a hard one. They might be a bit bulkier, but even the cheaper hardshell cases give you good protection. The other benefit of the hard ones is they usually have a neck compartment where you can keep all your other stuff, like picks and capos.

Number 3 is a capo. Capos are kind of frowned upon by the “expert” guitarists, but screw them. Capos open up whole new worlds to you, since you can use your open chords in pretty much any key. Plus, plenty of professional musicians use them, so you can ignore the snobby hobbyist guy who insists on always playing barre chords.

Number 4 is some new strings. There’s not much to say here aside from the fact that pretty much every factory string set is shitty. Spend the extra $10 or $20 to get some good ones. Elixirs are good for new players, since they don’t wreck your fingers as much. They also last a really, really long time without getting crappy.

Ok, and last but not least, Number 5 is a good tuner. You don’t have to buy one, as long as you’ve got a smartphone. Get GuitarTuna or another free app. They’re just as good as a professional tuner, and they’re totally free. They’re way easier than using a pitch pipe or the cheap tuners that come with beginner packs, and they’re also more accurate.

Well, that’s about it. If you get those 5 things, you’re good to go! Happy playing, and if you want any more advice, give me a shout.

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