Whether you are buying your first guitar, or you are upgrading, you will feel the frustration of finding the right guitar. There’s a lot of guitar out there and sometimes, it overwhelms you as you have a lot of choices making it hard to look for the right guitar.
There are also some time that you did a researched on what and how to buy an acoustic guitar and when you went to a music store, you find yourself confused as there’s a lot of choices that you did not consider when you are researching and now you don’t know what to buy.
If you are like that, then this article is for you. I strongly believe that there will never be a perfect guitar that will provide all your needs that’s why many guitarist prefer to have a lot of guitar. But you should not stress yourself out by the many choices out there, you should focus on what will really help you on your playing.
I have a list that can help you narrow down your choices and teach you on how to buy an acoustic guitar if ever you find yourself confused even if you have done your research. There will be two parts:
1. Before Buying – you need to research and choose what’s right for you
2. Trying the Guitars – you need to have some practical and technical knowledge about guitars.
These article will be the part one. Hopefully you will be able to know what to search for.
How to buy an acoustic guitar (Phase 1)
Before Buying – What to look for
When you are deciding that you are buying a guitar, you should make a research for instead of going to the music store and just try out what looks good to you. But researching can be time-consuming if you do not know what to search for. These questions will help you to spend less time in research.
1. What is your Purpose?
Are you going to play on stage and do some gigs? Then you might consider buying an Acoustic-Electric Guitar instead of the Pure Acoustic. This guitar has preamp and will be able to plug-in so that your sound will be amplified. But if you are not going to play on stage and it is just going to be a home guitar, then you don’t need the preamp. This will save you bucks as the Acoustic-Electric Guitar is pricier than those without preamp.
Steel string or Nylon String? The difference in these two strings is the sound produced. Steel string is brighter and crispier which is good for Rock, Country and Pop style. While the Nylon String is more mellow in tone and good for Folk and Classical style. You should decide now whether you’ll use a guitar with Nylon or Steel String as you can’t use a guitar made for Nylon with Steel String or vice versa.
2. What is your Budget?
I believe this is the biggest factor for most guitar player. Who doesn’t want the best guitar in the world? But QUALITY COMES WITH A PRICE. That’s why we are driven in the corner and left with choices that we are not happy about. But do not worry, there’s still guitars out there that are under priced.
They might not sound like the high-end guitars, but the sound they produced is a real deal. You just need to spend time researching for the best acoustic for a specific price range. I have a list for the best sounding cheap acoustic guitar if you are really tight on budget.
Avoid the 100$ and less Price range. This is just my opinion and you may have a different. What I believe is that we must invest on our guitar and spend a little higher than that.
One thing I can consider is that it should have AT LEAST a Solid Top as it sound better as it age. But it’s your choice, you can always do a research and you may find a decent guitar at this price range but for me, it is not really advisable especially if you are just starting out. The sound will not be good and you might get frustrated.
As long as it is a Solid Top, even it has laminated back and sides, it will be much better to the laminated tops. This is what I will look for a guitar. Of course it is pricier and the affordable ones are ranging from 200$. But I highly recommend that you save for it instead of buying the laminated but cheaper ones. You will not regret it.
If you are just selecting for your first guitar, don’t go for 500$ and up price range as these guitars are for intermediate players and it will be wasted if you are just going to use it for learning the basic chords.
Start with the entry-level guitars, this way you will learn how to take care of guitar and if you have failed to do so, at least you will not waste a one of a kind guitar. So study taking care of the entry-level guitars first so that when you decide to purchase a high-end guitar, it will be carefully be taken care of.
3. What is the best guitar size for you?
Acoustic Guitar comes with different sizes. So if you have a small body, don’t worry, there is a right size for you and you won’t need to be stuck in playing with bigger body guitars.
A. Dreadnought – it is the most popular body size and it’s really big. Because of a bigger body, it has deeper tone and louder volume. This body is for flat pickers and aggressive strummer. One example of that is the Fender CD-60SCE. Check my review here
B. Jumbo – it is almost similar to a Dreadnought in size with a slight difference on its built (e.g Bracing, Round/Square Shoulder). Jumbo body size was made to be a contender for the Dreadnought. As for the sound, it has little but noticeable difference. One example of that is the Epiphone AJ-220SCE. Here is the review of Epiphone AJ-220SCE
C. Concert and Grand Concert – it is a good for smaller musicians who are having a hard time for the dreadnought and jumbo. It has a punchy mid range which is good for light strumming and finger picking. What’s good in this is that even at light strumming, it has power. The only difference between Concert and Grand Concert is the latter is bigger. My recommended Concert size guitar is the Yamaha LS6. Here is the complete review.
D. Auditorium and Grand Auditorium – I would like to say that this is the jack of all trades body size. It has a balanced tone and its size is between the Concert and Dreadnought. This is also the best guitar size that Taylor is making. You can check my review of Taylor 114E that is a grand Auditorium guitar
E. Travel and Mini-Acoustic – These are the smallest body size and it is good for small children. If you are also travelling always for gigs or for whatever reason, travel guitars are easy-to-pack and carry. Many guitar manufacturers now are making this body size without compromising the sound. Two popular choices are the Baby Taylor and the Little Martin.
Ordering Online or Go to Music Store?
As of this time of my writing, ordering online seems to be getting popular. Many online stores like Guitar Center, Sweetwater, Musicians’ Friend, Amazon and many more are offering Return Policy. Meaning, you can return the guitar if you don’t like it.
Just make sure to know their policy before purchasing so that you will not be left with a guitar you don’t like.
You can also go to a music store if you want to and have time to go. It is much easier to try guitars there without risks of the ordering online. It is up to you and what’s good for you depends on your situation as some don’t have accessibility for music store, or you are near a music store.
Online stores tend to have a large stock of guitars compared to a physical store so it is something you might consider. However they lack the limited edition ones or the one of a kind guitars that is usually found in a music store.
What should I accomplish in this phase?
You should be ready and make decision at these phase of buying. You should have at least 3 or 5 guitars on mind that yoi should be picking so that when going on the music store or ordering online, you would not be tempted to try everything.
Being ready will save you time and money. But just like what people are saying, picking your guitar is a personal preference, this is just a guide to help you find the one for you.
If you have decided what to buy, proceed to page 2