What To Look For In A Guitar

Tis the season to be shopping for a guitar for either yourself or a loved one.  The choices are endless and you need to be informed to ensure you get a quality guitar that you will be happy with.

Griff Hamlin of Blues Guitar Unleashed wrote a great article to help you make wise decisions when you are out shopping this holiday season for a new guitar

Check it out…

If you haven’t already started your guitar collection (and yes, it will be a collection one day) and you are looking at the myriad of choices out there for your first (or second, or third) guitar, it’s pretty overwhelming.

Especially if you don’t have the option of a large music store nearby… buying one site unseen is pretty daunting.

So let’s see if I can’t help out a little bit and get you going in the right direction.

Beginners:

The main question here seems to be, acoustic or electric. The answer is very simple – which one do you want to play?

There’s an old wives’ tale that says you should always start on acoustic which is total baloney. Acoustics are actually harder to play that electrics (the strings are heavier and the bodies are bigger) so if you want to end up playing electric anyway don’t start with an acoustic just because someone said so.

The advantage to acoustic guitars is they don’t require an amp. DO NOT practice on your electric without an amp. You can’t hear it well enough and you’ll play much too hard. At the least you’ll develop some questionable technique… at worst you’ll hurt yourself.

If you get an acoustic – before you leave the store get a set of extra light strings put on if you’re a beginner. Do your fingers a favor and make it a little easier now.

Now as for brands and country of origin – you don’t have a lot of choice here. Most everything in the sub $200 market is overseas made and often in the same factory with different logos on the headstocks.

For some reason I’ve always had the best luck with Yamaha guitars over the years at the entry level. Epiphone (Gibson’s low end) and Squier (Fender’s low end) have often been some of the worst as far as quality.

Granted, that’s not always the case, and there are plenty of good ones out there. Just from a consistency standpoint that’s what I’ve noticed.

Everyone:

The main thing I can say is to play as many guitars as you can get your hands on. Learn what makes one you like the one you like.

Different guitars have different pickups, scale lengths (the distance from the bridge to the nut,) different woods… the variations are pretty mind numbing.

If you find you like Strat style guitars more often than not, then go with that. If you’ve truly never played… it really doesn’t matter what you get as long as it plays reasonably well. You’re going to adapt to it and a year from now you’ll likely move on so don’t make it too big of an investment.

And set a budget before you walk out the door. There are guitars that range from $200 to $10,000 on that wall at your local store. If you don’t set the budget before you leave the house there’s no telling what you’ll have to answer for when you get home :)

One last thing… it’s rare that this guitar is the last one you’ll buy. You might think it is now, but chances are it’s not. Keep that in the back of your mind. You want one that feels so great you know you could never buy another and be happy – but know that it’s probably not the last guitar you’ll ever buy.

Your tastes will evolve and change… what you want to hear and what you are able to hear will also change. So take your time but understand it’s not the end of the world.

And if you must buy something mail order make sure there is a good return policy… quality control is far from perfect and no 2 of the same guitar will feel and sound exactly the same no matter how mass produced they are.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Be sure to check out all of the awesome blues guitar courses that Griff has to offer.

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