How To Choose An Acoustic Guitar
Playing an acoustic guitar can be such a rewarding experience on so many levels. Two benefits come to mind - it is so relaxing even therapeutic to play and it is lovely to listen to (if played well!). The natural sound from such guitars is unparalleled. Just for clarity sake, an acoustic guitar is one that is designed to be played without the aid of any external attachments i.e. an amplifier. That in itself is advantageous to you if you want to carry around your guitar and play anywhere at anytime.
A question that is commonly asked especially by persons who are looking to purchase their first guitar is, "What is the best guitar to buy?". To be straightforward with you, the answer to such a question is very subjective. How a guitar feels and sounds to one person may be ideal, but to another person that same guitar may also sound great but feels a bit uncomfortable to hold. The truth is that no two guitars sound alike, and from this reality amongst others, the real question is:
"What is the acoustic guitar that suits me?"
To help in choosing a right acoustic guitar for you, these are some guideline questions with a bit of explanation for each.
- What kind of guitar? There are several types of acoustic guitars, but for simplicity, acoustic guitars can be categorized into steel/bronze stringed guitars and nylon-stringed guitars. Steel/bronze stringed guitars are the most commonly bought type, and are used for a number of musical genres including Rock, Pop, Blues and Country music. The strings typically last a reasonable time before you need to change them, but they can be weary on the fingers. Nylon stringed guitars are definitely easier on the fingers, and the neck of these guitars are generally wider than those of their steel/bronze stringed counterparts. This allows for heavy fingering which is associated with Classical and Flamenco music.
of wood? Spruce is the type of wood that is most commonly used
for constructing acoustic guitars. Guitars made from Spruce are less
expensive than others. On the other-hand, guitars made from materials
such as Cedar, Koa, Rosewood, Mahogany, Jacaranda and Maple are more
expensive and this not only has to do with the value of the wood, but
also the tone derived. Different wood will produce different tones.
you are more in for designer guitars with elite tones, and are willing
to pay over a thousand dollars, then think about guitars made from these
types of wood.
in pick-up and equalizer? If you are going to play before
audiences and even in a band, consider choosing a guitar with a built-in
pickup system and equalizer. These guitars are usually categorized as Acoustic-Electrics.
This can be more convenient than having
to buy a separate pickup for amplifying your guitar. With a built-in
system, all you will need to do is attach the relevant cable (typically
1/4 inch cable) from your guitar to the amplifier.
- Comfortable to hold and play? ~ This is one of the MOST important things to answer the question earlier. You need to hold the guitar that you are thinking of purchasing in your arms and strum, pick and finger. Just because it looks good, and even sounds good doesn't necessarily mean that it is going to feel good. Take some time at a guitar store and try them out before deciding to purchase.
- Left handed guitar? ~ The truth is that this is a right-hand world, but if you happen to be a left-hander, there are guitars designed for person whose more co-ordinated hand is the left. Keep this in mind when choosing your guitar.
- Color & Design? ~ Choose the color that suits your personal taste. The design of a guitar may be due to practical considerations such as Cutaway Dreadnought that has a cutaway for access to play higher up on the fret. Guitars vary in size, and if your hands are relatively small, then consider a smaller guitar. Generally, the design of acoustic guitars are in relation to the type of genre they are associated with.
- Cost Range? ~
your budget, but understand
that you may be sacrificing quality the cheaper you go. Nonetheless,
there are acoustic guitars that are of very good quality that you can
consider - even under $300.
- New or used? ~ This is a question for you if you are seeking to save a bit more money. Used guitars will be cheaper, but you have to be careful that the guitar is thoroughly examined. There are hidden damages that a guitar can have. Check the knobs to see that they are functional, the fretboard, the neck and the tone when you play.
- Brand Recommendations? ~ Personally, I use a Yamaha and a Hohner which I have been using for years without virtually any trouble, except that I have to get a knob changed on my Hohner which is 10 years old. There are other great brands not limited to but including Fender, Ovation, Gibson and Ibanez.
Choosing a reputable brand is a good idea, but maintenance of your guitar is what will make it truly last.