For beginners, buying their first guitar can be overwhelming. With different brands and styles to choose from, one will surely get confused on what to look for in a guitar.
Although choosing the guitar can be quite confusing, if you are well-prepared and informed before you set off to buy one, purchasing your first guitar can be an exciting process.
Here are some of the things that you might want to consider when looking through the different models:
This largely depends on personal preference. The kind of sound you like and how you will play it are important considerations in the tonewood you will choose. The wood used for the top usually determines the sound your guitar will produce.
Other wood parts that may also affect the overall tonality include the back and the sides. Common wood tops include spruce (high velocity sound), cedar (balanced warm sound), mahogany (strong punchy tone), maple and rosewood (rich overall tones).
The shape of the guitar usually determines the sound projection and tonal emphasis. Acoustic guitars are available as full-sized guitars as well as mini guitars.
There are also guitars made for traveling without hassle. This feature also depends on personal preference. It is important that you choose a guitar based on your comfort and that it has to fit your body as well as your hand.
Nowadays, newer models of acoustic guitars offer integrated pickups and preamplifiers built for playing in a crowd or large venues.
Your Hand Size
Consider the size of your hand. It is important that the neck should fit comfortably in your chord hand. The neck should be straight and not bent or warped in any way.
If you move your hand along the guitar’s neck, check if any of the frets are uncomfortably sticking out and grazing your hand. If your guitar has this problem and it bothers you a lot, go see a luthier, you can have them smoothed out.
Resonation and Projection
Try out different guitars and you will notice that guitars produce different vibrations against your body as you strum. This is called resonance.
When checking a guitar’s projection, have someone play the guitar while you listen to its sound. Check if the sound is projected clearly when played softly and loudly. Check if you like the balance between the high and low tones.
Action and Intonation
Action refers to the space between the strings and the fretboard. If it’s too high, the strings may be harder to hold down the fretboard. If it’s too low, a buzzing sound is produced when you play.
Intonation refers to whether or not the notes are in tune as you move along the neck. To check for the intonation, play an open string and then compare it against the 12th-fret harmonic, both should sound identical.
Fortunately, these two features can be adjusted. So if the guitar you want fails any of the tests, having it properly set up by a professional should solve the problem.
Although changing the stock strings is optional, if you are very particular with how your guitar will sound and how well it stays in tune, having the strings changed with fresh ones can make a huge difference.
You have to remember that the stock strings a guitar has may be old and have been played out for a while. With fresh strings, you will be able to check the real tuning and intonation of the guitar.
For those starting out, buying an expensive guitar is not really a wise move. For around $300, you will be able to find a good-quality guitar to learn on. From that price range, you can move up to more expensive guitars where the tops can be solid spruce and the instrument made of solid wood.