What should I look for when buying a new guitar?
What should I look for when buying a guitar acoustic or electric?
I've sold tons of guitars and am the buyer of our items at our music store. Have been a music shop owner since 1998 and a player since 1979.
The most important thing is to get started. Don't let equipment get in the way of you starting. Visit a locally owned shop where you can go in and speak with people and feel a good vibe there from folks are musicians and care about their customers. Avoid the massive chain stores.
#1 is to find a guitar that feels comfortable. Sit with many. Some simply don't feel as comfortable to you as others will. You spending a lot of time playing this is where the magic has so make it a comfortable fit for you. Strat style, tele, les paul, semi hollow and then your odd shapes (V etc) will certainly feel different.
#2 Make sure the guitar is setup well. The strings should be close to the fingerboard. Compare it to others. Have a player check it up and down the neck. The strings should all play clearly. Intonation and setup can be adjusted later of course but you want to start on the right foot when you walk out with it.
#3 Buy a decent quality guitar. The cheaper guitars are going to have cheap wood, cheap materials thus it will sound like butt, won't stay in tune and won't hold up and later as you advance you'll certainly appreciate the difference in tone and playability.
#4 Consider the genres you like. For instance if you're into old school jazz you don't walk out with a odd shaped BC Rich. A strat with single coil pickups isn't found in metal as much as humbucker pickup guitars. If you're into classic country a tele or strat will be an easy fit. Some guitars lend themselves better to certain genres. Of course you can play any style on any genre but at least "consider" the genre you like and notice similarities with other guitarists you admire who play that style.
Buy it. Get moving! Practice and enjoy yourself! Don't lose tons of valuable time researching this and that as many musicians do checking reviews on this and that. I see it all the time. A guy comes into the store and can spit specs like nobodies business and can't play if the guitar doesn't have this or that gizmo, feature etc. Then you hear them play and they stink! lol! If they spent more time wood shedding (practicing) than they did researching stuff they would simply be tons better. Look, it's a hobby and we all like to dig into our hobbies, just encouraging you to spend more time doing it then researching it. Find a healthy balance. Enjoy the ride! I love music. :-) Can't imagine life not playing.