You are interested to learning the guitar or are a musician and are looking for a guitar. This article is for you. After choosing a guitar that suits your eye, be sure to hold the guitar, slide it under your arm and try playing it in a comfortable position.
Try strumming, playing some scales or plain plucking of some notes. Assuming the guitar is in tune and your finger positions are correct, the sounds produced should not be buzzy or giving off inconsistent intonation. If you really love the guitar you have chosen in all aspects, besides the minor buzzing, you should ask if the same model is in stock and try it out.
While guitars come mostly in the same size, there are slight differences that are worth looking out for.
Guitar necks come in varying width and shapes. This difference affects the way you position your hand and ultimately the way you press on the strings. The ‘C-shaped’ neck is the most common and it may be something you are looking for in an acoustic guitar. It provides a comfortable grip when playing chords and is not too chunky. For some, a ‘V-shaped’ neck may hurt the bone on the thumb when playing while others would find it easier to play scales with their thumb hanging off the guitar neck.
A typical acoustic guitar is 38inches long (96cm). Concert series (which produce louder sounds) are 40inches long and ‘Dreadnought’ are between 41 – 42 inches long. The ‘dreadnought’ is an acoustic guitar style built by the Martin & Company guitar manufacturer. It is now a commonly reproduced style as it produces a richer and louder sound. However, it is also a much larger guitar. On the other hand, there are smaller guitars such as the Taylor Baby which is ¾ sized. These smaller guitars tend to produce a softer sound (this may not be true considering manufacturing developments) and are more portable.
For a start, it is most important to choose a guitar that you are comfortable playing as you may be spending hours with it during practice or a worship session. The loudness or volume should not be a large deciding factor unless you plan to play for a big group.
3. Aesthetics & finishings
The type of wood gives off different vibes to an acoustic guitar – in terms of colour and sound. For a start, it is most important to find a guitar which looks beautiful to you (keep in mind that the guitar is seen when you serve/perform).
Laminate woods (multi layered) are popular with newer and possibly budget models. These laminates are formed with different woods which makes it easier to customise its properties (look, sound, durability).
Some guitars come with a built-in tuner and pickup, or with either one only. A built-in tuner is good to have but it will add on some weight and if not well placed – may tamper with the sounds produced. An external clip-on tuner would be an easy and handy substitute.
A bulit-in pickup is nearly a must-have and they come installed with many new models. If you plan to play on stage or in a bigger area (with amplifiers), you should have the pickup installed. For acoustic guitars that do not come with it, do ask the sales assistant to help get it installed. This should cost between 150 to 500, depending on the pickups you choose. If you’re getting a really expensive or vintage model, do consult the sales assistant before getting one installed.
The strap button and lock helps secure a guitar strap. If you forsee yourself playing the guitar while standing or kneeling, you should ensure that this is installed. If the guitar you like does not come with the strap button and lock, you can get it installed at most shops and it should take less then 10mins. Do check that it’s a reputable workman doing the job!
5. Price and Promotions
Keep in mind on how long you wish to keep your first guitar. A budget to moderately priced model is reccomended for a first instrument. It is always not too late to upgrade at a later time when you are more familiar with an instrument.
Promotions or packaged deals (with free strings, tuner, bag, strap) are ideal considerations when getting your first guitar.