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How to choose the guitar that’s right for you

By Dec 3,2019
How to choose the guitar that's right for you

Picking out your first (acoustic) guitar isn’t something you should do hastly, in fact you shouldn’t buy any guitar, whether it’s your first or your 10th, without checking out what you really need. It’s always a clever idea to go through products for guitars before making your final choice. A guitar is what many musicians call your 3rd arm, and you really want that arm to function exactly as you want it to work and feel like it is part of your body. We’ll give you a few tips what to consider when you start your quest for a good guitar that fits your needs.

Looks aren’t everything, on the contrary

People looking for a first guitar often fall in the trap of buying one which looks stunning. Ok, the design can be great, the varnish finish can look fantastic, even the belt can be a chef d’oeuvre, and that star-shaped fretboard can look astonishing. But all this won’t tell you one single thing about the sound it produces. The same goes for when you buy effects pedals online, make sure to pick out the decent ones.

A good advice, stay away from the looks when it’s your first guitar, in the end if it doesn’t sound great, your super pimped guitar will only collect dust in the end. In short, never choose a guitar based on its looks.

Measure your finger width, your frets need it

What a lot of starters don’t know is that guitars come in various fret sizes. That is the width between each individual note and you can recognize it as the raised element on the neck of your guitar. Frets make it much easier for a player to achieve an acceptable standard of intonation, since the frets determine the positions for the correct notes. Furthermore, a fretted fingerboard makes it easier to play chords accurately.

You have all kind of sizes, from really narrow to really jumbo ones, and they will affect the playability and tone of your guitar. Combine this with your finger measurements and you don’t have to be a wizzard to understand that guitarists with big hands will have quite a few problems playing a guitar that has narrow frets.

On instruments equipped with steel strings, such as folk guitars and electric guitars, frets are bound to wear down as the strings cut grooves into them. When this happens, you might want to refret your guitar and remove and replace the used frets. If you prefer to keep your old frets, you can go for fret dressing. In that case the frets are leveled, polished, and even recrowned.

Material isn’t everything either, but it can tell you something

The type of wood a guitar is made from can affect the guitar’s sound. To qualify as a good guitar wood, a wood must be strong enough to hold up structurally, but also have the tonal characteristics a guitarplayer is looking for. For instance, mahogany guitars will generally have a brighter, warmer sound with clear high notes. If you prefer a cedar guitar on the other hand, you’ll recognize a warm sound. And that sound is the one which is popular with finger-style players.

Guitar necks are traditionally made from maple, a very hard type of wood with good tonal qualities and good sustain. It’s strong and the material can highlight and amplify the wood in the body. Speaking of which, the neck generally comes in either bolt-on or neck-through. A bolt-on neck is literally bolted to the body, whereas a neck-through is part of the entire guitar carving. A necl-through delivers a much greater resonance and a warmer sound.

Note that not all woods are suitable for use in all parts of a guitar. Spruce, for example, is often used for tops in acoustic guitars, but is not considered to be an ideal material for electric instruments.

When you buy a guitar, make sure it’s one you will cherish

Buying a guitar is very much comparable to buying a record player. If you buy a cheap recordplayer you will never be able to enjoy the vinyl played as you want to enjoy it. The same goes for a guitar, make sure to pick out a decent one, it will make sure you don’t get disappointed by a cheap sounding sound.

So, basically, you should go for a guitar which you are proud of, and that will come with a certain price, but it can be a very decent one without loosing yourself in buying high end material. Or like a famous sportsman once said: “If you want to run, do it with decent shoes first before getting the Porsches”.



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Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading Side-Line Magazine than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

Side-Line’s independent journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we want to push the artists we like and who are equally fighting to survive.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as 2 US$, you can support Side-Line Magazine – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

The donations are safely powered by Paypal.

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