Guitar and Bass Recommendations
From beginner guitar packs, though acoustic, classical, electric guitar and bass, we've got the right guitar for you.
We can split guitars into three basic categories - Electric, Acoustic and Classical. We've explained a bit about each below.
By Richard Moss
Electric guitars and packs
Entry Level Guitars
Our entry level guitars offer you the chance to buy a great quality instrument that will help you get started with playing the guitar. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to start learning to play, is to choose from one of our range of guitar packs. The packs are a great idea for people who are new to guitar, as they include everything that you need to get you started; guitar, amp, leads etc at a price cheaper than buying them on their own - See our Squier Strat and Tele Packs:
- SQUIER by FENDER Electric Guitar Packs
- YAMAHA Pacifica Electric Guitar Packs
- IBANEZ Electric JamPacks
Guitars for the novice or enthusiast
If you have already started down the road of playing guitar, and have your own amp and would like to upgrade your existing guitar, we offer a great range of instruments which would fit your needs. When you start upgrading your guitars, you'll find great results from the pickups and tone woods of the guitars. One of our most popular ranges is the Fender Standard series, which are a great introduction to the more serious guitarists – click here for a link of our most popular enthusiast guitars.
- VINTAGE V100 Electric Guitars
- SQUIER Classic Vibe Series Guitars
- IBANEZ RG Electric Guitars
- FENDER Standard Stratocaster Guitars
- FENDER Standard Telecaster Guitars
- GRETSCH Electromatic Hollowbody Guitars
Guitars for the more advanced user
Looking for a high end guitar? We have a vast selection of high end guitars on offer, giving you great guitar tones and crystal clear pickups, beautiful tone woods and amazing finishes. Once you start upgrading to this level of guitar, the quality and workmanship involved in their creation is meticulous down to the smallest detail – here's our most popular high end guitars.
- PRS Electric Guitars
- FENDER American Standard Stratocaster Guitars
- FENDER American Standard Telecaster Guitars
- FENDER American Deluxe Stratocaster Guitars
- FENDER American Deluxe Telecaster Guitars
- Rickenbacker Guitars and Basses
Acoustic guitars come in a variety of shapes, from the normal 'Dreadnaught' shape, smaller 'Folk' and 'NEX' shapes, to Large 'Jumbo' shapes and more. Acoustic guitars can also have pickups fitted, so they can be plugged into an amplifier . These Electro-Acoustic models generally also have a cutaway in the body.
One of the main differences between the entry level guitars and the more expensive guitars is the construction of the top and back and sides.
The entry level guitars will generally be made with a laminate back, sides and top. As the price increases, the guitars will start to be made with a solid top and then a solid back and sides. This improves upon the tone of the instrument and the overall sustain, as it is a single piece of wood which causes a more natural ring to the guitar instead of several layers which have been glued together.
Entry-level Acoustic Guitars and Packs
We have a range of starter acoustic guitar packs available - mostly with full size 'dreadnaught' shape guitars - if you're looking for a smaller size guitar, we would suggest considering a classical guitar, as we mention later on.
Most guitar manufacturers have entry-level acoustics available, Aria, Fender, Ibanez, Vintage, Takamine , Tanglewood and Yamaha all have popular entry-level to intermediate guitar ranges:
- Aria Acoustic Guitars
- Fender Classic Design Acoustic Guitars
- Ibanez AW Series acoustic Guitars
- Takamine G series Acoustic Guitars
- Tanglewood Evolution series Acoustic Guitars
- Vintage Acoustic Guitars
Intermediate and high end Acoustic Guitars
Moving up to higher models with better build quality, hardware and solid tops - which makes a great difference to the sound. Usually, on the beginner and intermediate guitars, the tops (and often back and sides) are made of laminated woods. When you start upgrading your acoustics, the back, sides and tops will start to be made of a solid wood, which will greatly improve the tone and clarity of the sound.
Some of the most popular woods used for the tops of a guitars body are Spruce (usually Sitka Spruce), Cedar and Mahogany.
A spruce top is generally used because it is a very supple wood. This allows for the top to be easily manipulated with a heavy playing style which generates nice, clear overtones.
A cedar top is generally used in classical guitars, however it has started to make it's way into the steel string acoustics made today. The reason for this is it has a very mellow tone, and if you play in a very controlled style, without a heavy touch, you can produce some beautiful, warm and mellow tones.
A mahogany top is generally quite a brittle top, which causes the guitar to have a very bright tone. If you are looking for a punch and treble sounding guitar, this would be a suitable wood.
The back and sides are traditionally made with Rosewood (Brazilian or Indian), Mahogany, or more recently (which is popular throughout several of the Taylor ranges) Sapele.
High end models are highly crafted works of art - beautiful to look at and to play, normally made by makers with iconic names and history - Guild, Taylor, Takamine, Tanglewood and Gibson are some more well known makers
Another thing to consider whilst choosing an acoustic to suit your needs is amplification. If you aren't going to be using the guitar in live situations, you may wish to choose a guitar without an inbuilt pickup, as it is only useful if you are going to be plugging it in.
The main type of pickup used in acoustic guitars is a Piezo pickup, rather than the magnetic pickups used in electric guitars. This offers a more controlled signal, as the pickup doesn't receive interference from nearby magnetic fields (such as mains hum and feedback from monitor speakers) which in turn cuts down feedback and unwanted sounds from the guitar
Most acoustic guitar makers will also include electro-acoustic guitar models in their range - Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha and Vintage all make popular entry-level electro-acoustic models, but some guitar makers concentrate more on electro-acoustic guitars. Taylor in particular have stunning higher end electro-acoustic models.
Ovation make some of our most popular guitars - but they could be considered to be in a class of their own. Their signature round back electro-acoustic guitars are popular with singer-songwriters, giving great projection, both unplugged and amplified, and are comfortable to hold:
- Fender Electro-acoustic Guitars
- Ovation Roundback Electro-acoustic Guitars
- Martin Electro-acoustic Guitars
- Takamine Electro-acoustic Guitars
- Taylor Electro-acoustic Guitars
- Yamaha Electro-acoustic Guitars
Most notable for use in Spanish music, classical guitars originated in the Renaissance period - eventually becoming the 6 string nylon strung guitar we have today. The classical guitar is good for beginners because it is easier to press the strings down onto the neck, and make notes and chords. For this reason, most quarter size, half size, and three quarter size guitars are classical models.
Beginner and student Classical Guitars
Since classical guitars are so recommended for learning, there's a lot of choice in this range - the woods used and construction may not be as high a quality, but you can get just as good a result with these as more expensive models. Aria, Ibanez, Stagg, Jose Ferrer, Santos Martinez, Manuel Rodriguez and Yamaha all have popular entry-level models:
- Aria Classical Guitars
- Jose Ferrer Classical Guitars
- Santos Martinez Classical Guitars
- Stagg Classical Guitars
Intermediate and Professional Classical Guitars
Moving up in the range , these guitars have better machine heads, better woods, and better construction, with higher end models being hand crafted. Admira, Santos Martinez and Yamaha all have intermediate models, as do Manuel Rodriguez, who also have stunning professional models available.
The electric bass guitar has been holding down the low end of modern day music since the 1950s. Ever since the instrument was first mass manufacturer (the Fender Precision Bass started in 1951), the instrument has gone from strength to strength and has progressed in many different ways.
The four string bass guitar is by far the most common incarnation of the instrument, however suppliers and players sometimes use different versions of these guitars, such as five and six string basses (and sometimes even more!).
There are quite a lot of things to take into consideration whilst choosing the bass guitar for you.
Active / Passive Bass Guitars
As the price increases, you will often find that a large amount of the basses come with "Active Pickups". These basses generally have a higher output (louder!) than the passive equivalents, and have an active pre-amp. This offers greater control over the overall tone of the instrument as they usually come with bass, middle and treble controls to change the respective frequency ranges, but it also allows you to increase a certain frequency (passive controls only let you reduce it).
Fretted / Fretless Bass Guitars
Another consideration is whether to go with a bass guitar with frets or without. On fretted bass guitars, the frets dvide the neck into semitones. On a fretless bass, the sound produced is usually a warmer and more muted sound, more similar to the Upright Double Bass, as the string is pressed down directly onto the wood rather than resting on the fret wire. Because of this the fretless bass is usually associated with Jazz and Jazz fusion, although it has in the past been used in unexpected genres such as metal and rock music.
Four / Five String Bass versions
Since becoming more widely available and also affordable over the last twenty years, more and more bassists are turning to five string basses added lower range. Usuaully, a five string bass will have the same strings as the four string equivalents (EADG) but with an extra Low-B string, which allows access to lower notes and also increases tonal quality of the low notes (through use of a thicker string).