The acoustic guitar is one of the most popular musical instruments that every aspiring guitarist should have. But finding the best acoustic guitar can be a bit confusing; at times, it can be also be frustrating. But as long as you know what qualities you are looking for in a guitar and you’ve clearly set your budget, you can surely find the right guitar that fits your needs. To help you in your acoustic guitar search, we have delineated here some tips that could be of great help to you.
There are varied reasons why you would want to buy a guitar. Maybe you want to have a guitar, for example, to show off to girls at school. Or maybe, you want to replace your old dilapidated guitar for an upgrade. But whatever your reason may be, you should be clear about it. Buying a high-end guitar is surely not a good idea if you’re just starting to learn to play guitar! You might as well settle for a less expensive one for a start. As such, you will have plenty of choices on the table, and I’m sure you’ll find one that can come in handy when learning the rudiments of guitar-playing.
At the onset, you should also consider which type of music you are fond of. If you intend to use your guitar to play hard rock or heavy metal, you should choose a guitar with a thinner neck like those of the Ibanez or ESP. If you intend to play blues, then, you might as well choose that of Gibson Les Paul. As a beginner, you should consider the level of difficulty that you must overcome to learn how to play guitar. Hence, as a starter, you should not opt for a wide-necked or wide-bodied guitar, for they are quite hard to handle, unless, of course, you are aiming to become a classical guitar player. Moreover, you should not go for a guitar with high-tension strings, for sure, it is not the best for beginners! Instead, go for a guitar with low-tension strings to avoid putting much strain on your “not-yet-so-calloused” fingertips.
On the other hand, if you’re an experienced guitarist, you surely have subtler reasons for buying a new guitar. It may be because you want to upgrade, and you want something better — one with deeper tonal properties and nuances.
Tonal woods come in wide varieties; some are softwoods like Spruces, Cedars, Yew, Redwood, and Douglas fir; some, however, are hardwoods like those of the Maple, Mahogany, Rosewoods, Koa, Blackwood, Cocobolo, and Ebony. Your choice, however, would usually depend on which tonal quality you prefer for your guitar.
As you become more experienced in guitar playing, you also become more sophisticated and wiser in your guitar choice! You also tend to carefully inspect the neck, frets, metal truss rods, and fretboard of the prospective guitar you would buy. Moreover, you tend to scrutinize its body - its soundboard, sides, back, hollow chamber, its upper body curves, and its lower bout. Of course, you also already understand that the size and shape of the guitar’s body play a critical role in its playability and acoustic properties. And you become aware of the value of the guitar “acoustic resonance.”
But what is acoustic resonance? Well, it is how sound is vibrated across a specific material. Since guitars are acoustic instruments, the sound they produce largely depends on the materials out of which they are made. There is a formula for finding this level of acoustic resonance, but it’s such a complicated topic to delve in at this point. It’s simple enough to understand that the guitar’s size and body have something to do with its level of acoustic resonance. Moreover, the higher its acoustic resonance, the better the guitar would be sounding.
Aside from its resonance, you should also consider the style of the guitar’s body. Guitars come in various body styles! Some styles include the concert and grand concert, auditorium and grand auditorium, dreadnought, jumbo, and travel and mini acoustics. The dreadnought style, however, was the most popular style of acoustic guitars worldwide. It was first developed by C.F. Martin & Company, but after the rolling out of this type of guitar, other manufacturers immediately copied this style. This style nowadays is the most common body type for acoustic guitars worldwide.
The top part of the guitar also impacts its tonal quality! The sound of the string, for example, is transmitted to the top where it is further amplified, depending on what material the top is made of. It would be good to note at this point that different wood types for the top offer different sound amplification.
It is also critical to choose a guitar with a neck that you can comfortably grasp since your level of comfort when playing the guitar also hinges on the size of its neck as well as the size of its body.
Your budget is your limitation when buying a new guitar! And unless you chance upon a high-end guitar on some second-hand shops or garage sales, you will surely find it hard to buy a high-end guitar if you’re on a budget. High-end guitars generally come at a hefty price. But if budget isn’t an issue, you can always go for a high-end guitar. You can splurge yourself into buying the likes of the Masterclass Concert Exclusive by Breed love, Taylor PS1ce, Dreadnaught Revere by Bedell, 1A C650, and Gibson Hummingbird. But if you’re on a budget, you can simply settle for more affordable guitars. Guitar manufacturers like that of Yamaha roll out affordable guitar models every once in a while; hence, you can simply select a Yamaha acoustic guitar that is affordable but of great quality.
The good thing about buying a guitar is that you can test the sound of your prospective guitar choices. Just visit the nearest acoustic guitar store, and there, you can play test the different variants of acoustic guitars within your budget range. I am sure you will find several models within your budget range. Ask the store attendant if you can play (test) the guitar. As you play each prospective guitar, check for quality. Then, weigh the pros and cons of buying a specific guitar model over another.
As a caveat, you should not be an impulsive buyer! Don’t immediately buy the very first guitar that you can get hold of from the guitar rack. Just give yourself time!
Get the feel of each of your prospective guitars. Then, leave them there for a while! Go back after several days and test those guitars again. Compare the feel of each guitar; compare their features as well. Once you get that feeling of absolute certainty about a certain guitar model, then, grab that guitar by the neck and quickly pay for it!
Paul Verschuur, a computer programmer by trade, has been playing guitar since childhood, originally teaching himself though YouTube videos. He now runs the Alpha Consumer Music web site, dedicated to teaching guitar playing and to helping guitarists choose the best guitar model through its reviews and information.
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