Buying an Acoustic Guitar
We meet once again,
Buying an acoustic guitar is not that different from buying an electric guitar. It involves the basic steps of defining your budget and finding an instrument that speaks to you. I know, I know, some of you might cringe when the word “budget” is mentioned. And perhaps, someone somewhere has absolutely no budget limitations. However, for most of us, the money we have to spend on an instrument is a reality that is hard to bypass. But I have great news for you, at least when it comes to guitars, there’s something for every budget.
But before you start… let’s have some serious fun!
Sometimes we take for granted the moment in history in which we live. We have a plethora of information right at our fingertips, and we are going to use it here. Perhaps the best advice before buying an acoustic guitar is to research and experiment before making the purchase.
Read up on reviews, go on forums, go on online music stores, and explore the web on all things related to acoustic guitars. Go on the website of the usual suspects for acoustic guitars: Taylor, Martin, Larrivee, Alvarez, Cordoba, Gibson, Fender, etc. If you already have defined what your budget is, then you can even start a short list of models that look appealing. If you have not defined your budget yet, there’s no need to worry.
Regardless of your budget, get acquainted with as many acoustic guitar models as you can. Read about what makes them good, or not so good, why some features are more desirable, etc. Once you have started that, we can then move on to part two of our plans.
Try out many acoustic guitars
Go to your favorite music stores to try out as many acoustics as you like. Spend time with them and get a feel for what you like. See if you connect with any and if so, start noticing what do you like about them. Is it their sound? Perhaps how they feel? Maybe even how the body resonates against your chest?
Feel free to try guitars that are not in your budget. The idea here is to develop some criteria. This way you will know exactly what a $ 1500-dollar guitar feels and sounds like, as opposed to, say, a $ 400 dollar one. And the best of all is that you will experience this first hand. This will be a nice complement to all the info you read online.
Talk to the sales people at the store and ask for their opinion. A word of caution: opinions will differ greatly from person to person. There is no wrong or right here, as tastes vary widely from player to player. The only one that knows exactly how an acoustic guitar makes you feel is you. Even if you have never strummed one before. When buying an acoustic guitar, nothing is as powerful as connecting with the instrument.
A word on budget
Common wisdom dictates that with a larger budget you can buy a better guitar (as with most things). The good news is that guitar manufacturing has come a long way. This is especially true when trying to get a good instrument with a limited budget. Companies understand that most potential acoustic guitar buyers don’t have thousands to spare. And believe me, those companies want your business. Therefore, they try and offer the very best money can buy for all budgets. This is true not only for new companies but also for the very established ones. Manufacturers like Gibson, Fender, Cordoba, Ibanez, Martin, Taylor and more, offer good options for virtually every budget.
Steel-string or nylon string?
This is an important question!
For the most part, steel-string guitars project more and tend to be a bit louder than their nylon counterparts. However, nylon is usually a bit easier on the fingers and lends itself particularly well for fingerstyle playing. Style is also an important consideration. If your goal is to engage in classical style studying, then nylon is definitely the way to go. For about everything else, including songwriting, it all depends on your taste. Try several models of steel string and nylon string guitars, and see what you prefer.
Plugged or unplugged?
Another important consideration is whether the guitar will have a built-in pickup system. If your plan is to plug in an amp or speaker, then this is a must. Keep in mind that having a pickup automatically raises the price of the instrument. There are also add-on acoustic pickups that you can buy separately, but they typically sound inferior. If you want to connect your guitar to amplify the sound, a built-in system is a way to go.
On the other hand, if you want an acoustic guitar to just learn how to play and have fun, then you can skip that. The same applies if you just want to write some songs or use them in situations that do not require amplification.
Wrapping it all up
If you follow the advice given here, buying an acoustic guitar should be a very satisfying experience. There’s nothing like finding out what you truly like and connect with. Informing yourself and playing several acoustic guitars will not only be rewarding and productive but fun as well.
A word of caution: If you can, steer away from buying a guitar that you have not tried. It might be alluring to just order something off the Internet (which will usually be cheaper than buying at a physical store). I would advise against that, even if you have tried the model of the guitar in question. The best scenario is to try out a guitar, feel that it speaks to you, buy it… and live happily ever after.
That’s it for this week!
Stay tuned and…