How to Choose a Guitar
Today we will have a look at how to choose the right guitar.
Choosing a good high quality guitar is something that all guitarists should aim for when they are looking for a new guitar.
Quality is important because a cheap guitar will have low quality parts which will not sound as good.
A low quality guitar also has a high chance of one of the parts on the guitar breaking, sometimes at the worst possible moment. Gigging in another town you would not want to be left without a playable guitar, or even worse the guitar could fail on you right in the middle of a show.
Certain brands in the guitar industry are a cut above the rest
Some of the safest guitar brands to buy include Gibson (eg the Gibson Les Paul Standard), Fender, Ibanez, Epiphone (such as the Epiphone 339 or the Epiphone Les Paul Standard), Jackson, Yamaha (for example: Yamaha FG700S, Yamaha FG800), Taylor, ESP, Dean and many others.
Best sure to always check the warranty with your guitar retailer.
When thinking about the guitar you want to be playing for the next few years you also need to know what type of genre you will be playing and what type of guitar is used for each genre.
You will need to choose between acoustic, acoustic-electric, semi-acoustic or electric.
The Acoustic Guitar
An acoustic guitar uses no amplification to produce its sound, instead it uses a soundboard and sound box to a amplify the vibration of the strings.
Because of the way an acoustic guitar produces sound the size and dimensions of the soundboard and sound box notably affect the quality of the sound.
You should keep this in mind when choosing an acoustic guitar, A smaller guitar is useful for traveling but you will sacrifice an otherwise fuller sound.
Acoustic guitars are used in many different genres but the most notable are folk and country.
The Electric-Acoustic Guitar
Just like a normal acoustic guitar the sound is produced through the vibration of the string being amplified through the soundboard and sound box, when not plugged in the electric-acoustic sounds the same as a normal acoustic.
Unlike an electric guitar which uses a magnetic pick-up to detect the vibration of the strings, in most cases the electric-acoustic uses a piezoelectric pickup or a microphone to turn the acoustic vibrations into an electric signal
Electric-acoustic guitars are perfect for playing acoustic guitar to an audience through a PA system or for recording your guitar without needing to set-up a microphone.
The Semi-Acoustic Guitar
The semi-acoustic guitar is favored by many jazz and blues musicians around the world, in many ways it is the perfect mixture between an electric guitars feel and an acoustic guitars tone.
Semi-acoustic electric guitars have a hollowed out body as opposed to the solid body of a full electric, this provides resonance which gives a warm and smooth quality to the guitar tone.
Heavy distortion should not be used with one of these guitars, because of the resonance the sound can quickly become to muddy, this type of guitar should rather be played clean on a really loud amplifier.
The Electric Guitar
The solid body of an electric guitar gives super long sustain. Electric guitars come in many different shapes and are made out of many different materials, because of the way it works you could essentially make an electric guitar with a 2×4, a pick-up and some strings.
Every guitarist should own at least one electric guitar, the sound possibilities on an electric guitar are worlds apart from that of an acoustic guitar and are truly worth experiencing.
Once you know which type of guitar you will be buying you should consider the features you would like to have on your guitar.
Lets go through some of the parts on a guitar and how they can differ from guitar to guitar.
Guitars are most commonly made out of wood, there are many different types of wood used in guitars and each type has certain tonal qualities.
The body of a guitar consists of a treble or upper bout and a bass or lower bout and the size and shape of these parts have an effect on the tone as well as whether the body is solid or hollow.
In general guitars with larger hollow bodies have a thicker tone and more resonance while on the other hand guitars with a solid body tend to have much more sustain.
The main purpose of the bridge is to maintain the strings at a relative height to the fretboard.
On an acoustic guitar the height of the bridge is not adjustable except by shaving down the saddle, this change is permanent and you could ruin your guitar so you should rather make sure you are happy with the string height before you buy the guitar.
Electric guitars have many different types of bridges, the main thing to note is whether it is a fixed bridge or a tremolo bridge.
Even though there are many different types of fixed bridges they all serve the same purpose however a tremolo bridge can give you extra options in your guitar playing
If you feel like a tremolo bridge is for you then be prepared to spend a little more to make sure that you are buying a guitar with a really high quality bridge so that you don’t end up suffering from tuning issues every time you use the tremolo. The Floyd Rose double locking tremolo is my personal favorite and many seriously famous guitarists agree (click on the link to see it on Amazon).
The Neck and Frets
Acoustic guitars are all pretty standard when it comes to the neck and frets, an electric guitar will either have a bolt-on or a through-body neck. Guitars where the neck and body is made out of a single piece of wood are usually more stable and less prone to fret buzz and other problems.
Although a bolt on or glued on neck is commonly used in cheap guitar manufacturing some of the best guitars available have a bolt on neck so it is no reason not to buy a guitar, it is up to personal preference at the end of the day.
Electric guitars commonly come with either 22 or 24 frets, although in most cases those extra two frets are not needed they can be very useful to have especially when soloing while tuned to D standard.
Pick-ups and Pots
The type of pick-ups on a guitar have a huge effect on the tone that will come out of the guitar. Cheap pickups means a cheap guitar tone.
It is common to have different pickups and the neck and bridge position of a guitar. The bridge pickup is mostly used for heavy distortion styles like metal while the neck pickup is better for clean tones.
EMG and seymour duncan are two of the best pickup manufacturers out there who sell there pickups separately although the pickups that come on a good branded guitars are usually more than good enough.
Electric guitars usually have at least two pots controls for volume and tone. Sometimes each pickup will have it’s own pots controls or both pickups with be connected to one pots control, having extra pots controls can give you the ability to make some interesting sounds using the controls and pickup selector together.
Buying a guitar is like picking a girlfriend, you don’t want to regret the choice later because you realize that it does not have everything that you desire. You should think carefully about your choice of guitar because you will likely develop an emotional connection with it. It will stick with you through good times and bad times, it will let you take out your frustrations on it and be there as a reminder of it all. Consider that and choose the guitar is right and meant for you.