What Is Your Guitar Spirit Animal? What Your Brand Says About You

After years of begging, borrowing and stealing all the playing time you could, you’re finally in the enviable position of buying your first guitar. Just like your rock icons, soon you’ll be able to drag your instrument to rehearsals, shows and eventually into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But first you have to decide which model is right for you.

If you’re on a limited budget and are looking for a guitar in the $300 to $600 range, where do you start? All the best brands have a long history of artistic genius associated with them. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore has long played a Fender Jazzmaster. Neil Young is known for rocking “Old Black”, a 1950’s Les Paul with a rough paintjob dashed on. Meanwhile, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig stole his drummer’s Epiphone Sheraton. (Apparently he’s more devout about amps and uses a Fender Deluxe Reverb.)

Whatever guitar you choose is going to impact your personal style of playing, your sound and your image. Several renowned guitar brands have crafted affordable models in their most iconic styles. With a little research you can find a great axe that completely compliments your stage presence, whether you’re an Angus Young-style showboat or a Nick Drake-influenced secret genius.

Start by heading to your local guitar shop to see what they have in stock. You’ll want a guitar that has a clear, resounding sound with no additional noise, reverb or pops when you play a chord. Look for one with a well-made body with no chips or frays in the finish. And strap a bunch on – certain guitars will fit your frame better than others. You can always customize your instrument later with all kinds of modifications to your pickup, amplifier and by getting into the extensive world of effects pedals. (Just like J. Mascis!) However, it all comes down to the hardwood of your model. When you love the way your guitar sounds in its natural state – the pure, unadulterated ringing of an open chord – that’s when you know you’ve found the one.

So what are you waiting for? Head to a music store in your area and start shopping. Look for a place that offers a variety of premium guitar brands – Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, Marshall, Ibanez – with a warranty attached. There are Gibson guitars from Long & McQuade on-sale right now for as little as $650 with a one-year performance warranty. This Canadian music chain offers a wide variety of guitars, including the classic Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul and Taylor T57 acoustic/electric hybrid. No matter which rock god you want to emulate, they have plenty of options in-store along with the necessary strings, pick, amplifier and guitar case you’ll need.

Have you ever heard the phrase “know your influences?” Every band has a checklist of groups that have inspired them to keep going (and a sound they probably ripped off). One of Kurt Cobain’s favourite bands was The Knack! Having a guitar that feels like home is one of the most essential parts of honing your sound. So do your research and find an instrument you love, even if it’s one your favourite guitarist plays. Your first epic eight-minute guitar solo is just around the corner.