So you’ve decided to start learning how to play the guitar (congratulations, you’ve just made the right choice), but you’re lost with where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered – it’s time to find your first Fender!
Firstly, do you have everything you need to start your journey down this fun and highly rewarding path? You’ve already got a passion for music, along with the desire to learn, but no guitar? Well, you’re going to need one of those if you want to start playing. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming. No matter what you go for, you want something that sounds good, feels comfortable and inspires you to play. That’s where Fender comes in.
Find Your Fender Part 1: Why Fender?
Before we help you find your first Fender guitar, we’ll give you a bit of background on this beloved guitar brand. Founded by Leo Fender in 1946, Fender is responsible for creating some of the most iconic guitars of all time. The company would go on to shape the course of music as we know it. Producing both the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar and electric bass is no mean feat!
Fender‘s instruments, including the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision Bass, have featured on millions of landmark recordings (too many to name) and been used by a laundry list of legends. Whether you’re a country picker, a singer-songwriter, a metal-loving shredder or a rocker playing raucous riffs – there’s a Fender guitar that’s perfect for you.
If you’re a beginner on a budget, a Fender could be too steep for your first guitar – Don’t fret! Since 1982, Fender has been creating scaled-down and affordable versions of their most famous guitars under the name, Squier.
Squier guitars give you the feel, tone and look of a Fender, at a price that won’t break the bank. In fact, there are plenty of professional artists that have favoured Squier guitars, including Mike Rutherford (Genesis), Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Jack Pearson (Allman Brothers) and Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos).
It may be true that Squier has scaled back the more premium features of a Fender, however, this has made their illustrious range of instruments more accessible to those that may be a little more price-conscious. Squier promises the same level of variation across its ranges, as well as the legendary looks, tone and playability that Fender is known for.
Find Your Fender Part 2: Electric or Acoustic?
Before you can find your first Fender or Squier, you should figure out if you’re going to be an electric or acoustic player. Whilst the techniques used for both are wholly similar, there are differences in their playability and sound.
It’s an urban myth that you need to play a Classical Guitar or Acoustic Guitar before moving to an Electric Guitar. Ignore those people, it’s just not true. Choosing which guitar to start on comes down to a few very simple considerations.
Here are a few things you should consider before you pick:
What Style Of Music Do You Want To Play?
What kind of music do you love listening to? Which guitarists do you look up to? Knowing the answer to these questions is a key part of deciding if you’ll wield an electric or an acoustic. For example, if you’re a huge Ed Sheeran fan and aspire to be a singer-songwriter, you’ll want an acoustic guitar. If you’re a budding guitar hero in the vein of Eddie Van Halen and want to bust out blistering solos, an electric guitar will get you on your way.
Whilst you could play Van Halen’s “Eruption” on an acoustic guitar, it won’t have the same impact as a solid-body electric plugged into a roaring amp! Equally, you may attract a few funny looks if you perform Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” on a fuzzed-out electric at your local folk night.
Get to know the genre, style and techniques you’ll be using. It’ll bring you a lot closer to knowing if you’re an acoustic or electric guitarist.
Do You Want To Learn Blistering Solos or Strum Chords?
Generally, electric guitars are easier to play, largely due to lighter strings and thinner necks. Whereas acoustic guitars are strung with heavier strings, have thicker necks and deeper bodies. This makes electrics a lot easier to get to grips with as a total beginner. Plus, if you see yourself learning lead techniques, like string bending or tapping, you’ll likely prefer the playability of an electric.
However, that being said, acoustic guitars are a lot lighter, making them more portable and immediate – simply pick it up and start playing, as no amp, cables or pedals are required! If you plan on singing some songs around the campfire, going busking or playing more intimate musical genres, your faithful acoustic will be raring to go. Plus, whilst an acoustic may be tougher play at first, your hands will indeed be stronger should you decide to pick up the electric down the line. An acoustic may also be a better option if you’ll mainly be strumming chords or fingerpicking.
The Fender Play App is a brilliant resource if you’re a beginner and want a fun, intuitive way to get to grips with new techniques – another reason to choose a Fender guitar!
What Do You Have Space For?
One of the most appealing aspects of an acoustic guitar is its simplicity and small setup. When you play an acoustic guitar, it resonates and generates its tone through the soundhole, meaning it doesn’t require an amplifier to work. It’s an instrument that’s ready to go as soon as you pick it up with no need to add anything else to play it. Other things you may want to grab alongside your acoustic guitar are picks, a strap, a capo (handy for playing songs in different keys… or Wonderwall) and a slide (essential for acoustic Blues).
In contrast, an electric guitar needs to be paired up with a guitar amplifier to achieve its full sonic potential. It’s called an “electric” guitar for a reason! An electric guitar is fitted with at least one “pickup”, which is a magnet that turns the vibrations of the strings into electrical signals. This signal is transmitted from the guitar to the cable, then to the amp, which gives you the roaring tone that the Electric Guitar is famous for.
Whilst an acoustic guitar is limited to essentially one sound, an electric guitar is a lot more tonally versatile. For example, with a Stratocaster, you have access to five distinct tones from the guitar itself. Once you start getting into the vast world of effects pedals, you can totally transform the way your guitar sounds.
The amp you choose will have a huge impact on your tone, so it’s well worth trying a few out to find one that fits the style of music you’ll be playing. You’ll also need an instrument cable to connect your guitar to your amp. No need to worry, we’ve also included our top amp suggestions in this blog too!
Staying In Tune
Keeping your guitar in tune is absolutely essential, especially if you’re playing with a band. Headstock tuners like the Fender Flash Rechargeable tuner are affordable and work with both electric and acoustic guitars. For live performance with an electric guitar, you may want a dedicated pedal tuner. Fender also offers their free Fender Tune app. Fender Tune is a convenient way to get in tune if you only have your phone handy.
Find Your Fender Part 3: Choosing An Electric
If you’ve come to the conclusion that you want an electric guitar, the next step is picking one! But which one do you choose? Stratocaster or Telecaster? Jaguar or Jazzmaster? This part can be as tricky as deciding if you’re an electric or acoustic player, as there are so many models to choose from. Whilst you can technically use any electric guitar for any genre, some models are favoured for certain styles over others.
Single-coil vs. Humbucker
Whilst the majority of Fender and Squier guitars are equipped with single-coil pickups, some feature humbuckers. Single-coils are known for their bright, crisp and detailed tone. That’s why they’re often a go-to for styles such as Pop, Funk, Country and Indie. On the other hand, humbuckers or dual-coil pickups have a punchier, thicker and darker tone that works well for Rock and Jazz. Humbuckers can also handle a lot of distortion without becoming noisy, making them ideal for heavier genres such as metal.
One doesn’t necessarily sound better than the other, they just present different sonic flavours. You can even get guitars that have both a single coil and a humbucker onboard, giving you the best of both worlds!
Ask someone to picture an electric guitar in their mind and there’s a good chance it’ll be the Fender Stratocaster. The Stratocaster, affectionately known as the Strat, is by far one of the most recognisable guitar shapes out there. Not only is the Strat‘s shape an icon, but it’s also ergonomically shaped for optimal playing comfort and balance. Its distinctive double-cutaways give it a futuristic look and provide easy upper fret access.
Most Stratocasters are equipped with a trio of single-coil pickups and a 5-way selector switch. Positions 1, 3 and 5 give you the bridge, middle or neck pickup on its own. The bridge has a bright tone that can easily cut through a band mix. The neck pickup, on the other hand, has a warm, mellow tone. The “in-between” sounds in Positions 2 and 4 combine two of the pickups to give you that unmistakable hollow Strat tone. A prime example of this sound is “Cory Wong” by Vulfpeck.
The Fender Strat has been adopted by a diverse range of leading artists over the decades, which goes to show how versatile it is. We recommend going for a Strat if you’re interested in playing the electric guitar but are still deciding what style to play. It’s a guitar that can cover a lot of bases. Notable Stratocaster players include legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Rory Gallagher, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, John Frusciante, Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Harrison and Nile Rodgers.
Words used to describe the Stratocaster’s tone: Crisp, Quacky, Chimey, Bright, Articulate, Glassy
Genres that have featured the Stratocaster: Blues, Rock, Pop, Funk, Disco, Metal, Surf and many more
Our top pick Stratocaster picks:
The Squier Bullet Stratocaster encompasses everything that made the original Fender Strat such a classic at an affordable price. There’s plenty of tonal variety on tap thanks to the trio of pickups and 5-way selector switch. The HSS version of the Squier Bullet Stratocaster boasts a humbucker in the bridge position, giving you both crisp single-coil and hot humbucking tones.
The sturdy hardtail bridge makes setting up the guitar a breeze and the tuning stability rock-solid. The thin, lightweight Basswood body that’s comfortably carved to the famous Strat shape and easy-to-play “C”-shaped neck profile make the Squier Bullet Stratocaster an excellent choice for beginner guitarists.
The Fender Player Plus Stratocaster represents exceptional value for money, delivering a premium, pro-grade instrument at a very attractive price. Like the other models in the Player Plus series, the Player Plus Stratocaster melds classic Fender design with a host of high-performance features such as Noiseless pickups and a Push/Pull switch for extra versatility. Effortless playability is catered for by the Modern “C” neck profile, silky smooth satin neck finish and 12″ radius fretboard (which features rolled edges for improved fretting hand comfort).
The Fender Telecaster, also known as the Tele, is the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar. Finally, everyone from professional musicians to hobbyists could own a durable, high-quality electric guitar. Leo Fender nailed the beautifully simple Telecaster right off the bat, which is why it’s largely stayed the same over the years. The Tele‘s single-cutaway body oozes style and rock ‘n’ roll attitude. There’s a reason why it remains one of the most popular and enduring guitar designs to this day!
At the heart of the trademark, Telecaster sound is its dual single-coil pickups and 3-way selector switch. It’s wonderfully simple and incredibly effective. Position 1 and 3 select the bridge and neck individually. Position 2, the favourite of many die-hard Tele fans, combines the mellow neck with the twangy bridge for a truly magical tone. Take a listen to the “Stairway To Heaven” solo to hear that sound in action.
Like the Stratocaster, the Telecaster is a versatile instrument that’s been used to great effect across a broad range of genres. A trademark of the Tele is its rock-solid stability, which is partly due to its one-piece hardtail bridge and If you’re looking for a dependable workhorse guitar, the Tele is a top choice. Famous Telecaster players include Keith Richards, Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey, Jimmy Page, Joe Strummer, Jack White, Jonny Greenwood, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Duplantier and Albert Lee.
Words used to describe the Telecaster’s tone: Bright, Twangy, Cutting, Rich, Mellow, Warm
Genres that have featured the Telecaster: Blues, Rock, Pop, Funk, Punk, Metal and many more
Our top Telecaster picks:
The Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster captures the timeless spirit of an early-50s Tele. This guitar radiates classic Fender style with its 1950s-inspired headstock markings, a bridge with barrel saddles and a vintage-tint gloss neck finish. The Classic Vibe ’50s Tele melds old-school Fender tone with modern playability, by combining a comfortable “C”-shape neck profile and a modern 9.5″ radius fretboard with Fender-designed alnico pickups. As you’d expect from a Squier Classic Vibe guitar, this is an instrument that punches well above its weight!
The Squier Affinity Telecaster Deluxe breaks from the usual Tele format with its dual humbucking pickups. As a result of its humbuckers, the Squier Affinity Telecaster Deluxe has a warm, fat and muscular tone that stands out from the pack. Each ceramic humbucker has its own set of volume and tone controls, allowing you to craft the perfect pickup blend.
For example, you could set the bridge pickup to be louder and brighter than the neck for a quick lead boost. There’s a wealth of tones to be explored within the Tele Deluxe. Throw in a keen price and you have a top-notch alternative to the traditional Tele. This guitar is worth look if you’re into heavier genres that use more distorted tones.
Whilst the Stratocaster and the Telecaster are arguably Fender’s most popular models, they have plenty of other designs that have a unique character all of their own. Named Fender Offset, these guitars have seen a huge resurgence in recent years due to their distinctive looks and characterful tone. These offset guitars are well worth your attention if you’re looking for something exciting and out of the ordinary. The term “offset” refers to the endearingly angular body shapes that these guitars are sculpted to feature.
With so many shapes, sizes and pickup configurations available, there’s sure to be a Fender Offset guitar that resonates with you!
Fender offsets have been favoured by plenty of iconic alternative artists over the years, including Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Ruban Nielson, Kevin Shields, Tina Weymouth, Sharon Van Etten and Patti Smith.
Our top Offset picks:
The Squier Paranormal Super-Sonic has a fiery tone to match its quirky, angular aesthetic. The Super-Sonic was originally released in 1996. Its distinctive shape was inspired by a photo of Jimi Hendrix playing a Fender Jaguar turned upside down. The lightweight Poplar body and slinky 24″ scale length make the Squier Paranormal Super-Sonic a good choice for players with smaller hands.
The shorter neck also reduces the string tension for a more elastic feel, which is great for beginners. The dual Atomic humbuckers always retain their immense clarity, even when used with lashings of distortion. If your aim to play hard-hitting, aggressive styles the Squier Paranormal Super-Sonic won’t disappoint!
The Fender Jazzmaster is one of the most iconic offset guitar shapes out there. For many, it’s the archetypal Grunge, Shoegaze and Dream Pop guitar. The Fender Vintera ’60s Jazzmaster Modified combines timeless Fender features with contemporary tone and playability. Whilst the Vintera ’60s Jazzmaster Modified looks like it was made during Fender’s Golden Age, its slim Modern “C” neck profile and high-output single-coils bring it into the 21st century.
The Fender Player Jaguar is an ultra-stylish and sleek take on the iconic offset guitar. The shorter 24.5″ scale length, Modern “C” neck profile and 9.5″ fretboard radius deliver a comfortably slinky playing experience that’s ideal for new players. Budding sonic explorers will love the huge amount of tonal flexibility onboard.
With its classic Jaguar switching, single-coil and humbucking pickups there are tonnes of tones all within this top-notch guitar. This Jaguar is part of the Fender Player series, which is the most affordable entry point into the Fender brand. All the Player series guitars meld timeless Fender design with modern performance features, Tim Shaw-designed pickups and an attractive price.
Find Your Fender Part 4: Choosing An Amp
Now you’ve got your electric guitar, you’re going to need something to plug it into. That’s where a guitar amplifier comes in. Each of our recommendations features a Clean and an Overdrive mode. This saves having to buy a distortion pedal if you want to play Rock or Metal. They also feature headphone sockets so you can practice without bothering your neighbours or housemates!
The Fender Frontman 10G is a compact, easy-to-use and affordable amp with a quality tone. There are two channels onboard, which can range from crisp clean all the way to a fully saturated distortion that’s primed for Metal. The Frontman 10G also features a handy Aux In so you can play along to your favourite songs. If you need an amp for home practice or a portable amp that you can easily take on the go, the Frontman 10G is a great option.
The Fender Mustang LT25 guitar combo is a digitally-powered 25W practice amp that’s equipped with an effects processor. There are a wealth of inspiring tones onboard, with 30 perfectly dialled in presets to choose from. This is handy if you’re new to the electric guitar and are still finding your sound. If you plan on playing with a band or gigging, there are louder versions of the Fender Mustang amp that’ll be able to keep up in the volume department. If you’re mainly going to be practising and playing at home, the LT25 25W and its 8″ speaker have plenty of kick.
Fender Mustang Micro
The Fender Mustang Micro is a revolutionary headphone amp that gives you authentic Fender tones on the go. Simply plug the Mustang Micro into your electric guitar’s jack socket, grab your favourite headphones and start playing! There are plenty of amp models to choose from, ranging from pristine clean to brutal distortion, as well as a variety of effects to compliment them with. The Mustang Micro is also Bluetooth enabled. This means you can wirelessly jam along to music and use it as an audio interface if you want to record with it.
Find Your Fender Part 5: Choosing An Acoustic
You’ve settled on grabbing an acoustic for your first guitar, but which one do you choose? Cutaway or non-cutaway? Dreadnought or concert size? Acoustic or Electro-Acoustic? Luckily, Fender’s acoustic guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes so there’s bound to be one that’s right for you. The best part is, they’re all at an affordable, beginner-friendly price-point and are built to Fender’s trademark build-quality. Whatever Fender acoustic guitar choose, you’re guaranteed an instrument that’ll look, sound and play great for years to come.
The Fender CD-60, the CD-60S and CD-60SCE are affordable dreadnought-size acoustic guitars. They’re amongst our best-selling acoustic guitars and are incredibly popular with beginners and experienced players alike. Dreadnought guitars are arguably the most well-known acoustic type around.
A Dreadnought is probably what you’d picture in your mind if you were asked to think of an “acoustic guitar”. They have a big, bold tone and can project plenty of volume if you like to dig in with your strumming arm. Dreadnoughts are also incredibly versatile, they can handle a wide range of genres (from folk to country to indie) and playing styles (from aggressively strummed chords to delicate fingerpicking) with ease.
Each version of the Fender CD-60 boasts a spec that you’d usually find on a more expensive acoustic guitar, including a Mahogany back and sides, a Spruce top and a Walnut fretboard. The CD-60S is available as an upgrade and offers improved tone and playability thanks to a Solid Spruce top and Fender’s “Easy To Play” neck. The “Easy To Play” neck features rolled fingerboard edges and feels incredibly comfortable – perfect for beginner players.
The Fender CD-60SCE is an electro-acoustic version of the CD-60S. If you’re going to play live or with a band, we recommend going for the Fender CD-60SCE. The CD-60SCE comes equipped with electronics from a renowned company, Fishman. There’s a handy onboard tuner and a preamp that has controls for volume, treble and bass so you can easily dial in your plugged-in tone.
The Fender CC-60S and CC-60SCE are Concert-sized versions of the CD-60S and CD-60SCE. The Concert size is smaller than the Dreadnought. A Concert model is a solid choice for smaller players or those looking for a more portable instrument. Whilst the Concert shape is certainly a versatile one, with enough bottom-end on tap to handle strumming, it excels when used for fingerpicking.
Fender also offers a range of fantastic ukuleles. Ukuleles are well-suited to young children with small hands that are looking to start their musical journey early. If you choose a ukulele for your first instrument, it’ll still be another sonic flavour in your palette if you decide to become a guitarist later on. They’re also a super portable and light instrument that you can easily take anywhere. If you want to play music on the beach, at the park or by the campfire, you can’t go wrong with a ukulele!
The Fender Venice Soprano series delivers a host of beginner-friendly features, including a comfortable slim “C”-shape neck and a no-tie bridge, making changing strings a lot easier at a very affordable price.
Find Your Fender Part 6: Wrapping Up
Thanks for reading, we hope we’ve helped you find your first Fender! As you can see, Fender and Squier present a massive range of high-quality instruments. Whether you want to be a punk rocker thrashing out power chords, a folk hero gently picking out chords, the next big singer-songwriter or a metal-head busting out intricate riffs, there’ll be a Fender or Squier guitar for you.