In this guitar buyer’s guide, we’ll touch upon all the things that you need to consider before buying a guitar.
Purchasing a guitar is often a major investment. Even instruments in the lower price range still carry considerable price tags.
If you are purchasing a guitar for the first time or looking for a new item to add to your collection, you likely have a lot of questions about how to select the right guitar.
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a guitar. The size and materials of your instrument will affect the sound quality and how easy it is to play.
Also, it is important to consider special features and kit items to get the most for your money. Keep reading for a buyer’s guide for guitars.
Guitar Buyer’s Guide
1. Size of the Guitar
Beginners may think guitars come in one size, but that is far from true.
Your unique needs and goals for playing the guitar will help you decide which size is right for you.
Before you start looking for a guitar, answer the following questions.
- Are you planning to travel with your guitar?
- Are you purchasing a guitar for a child, teen, or person with a smaller stature?
- Do you have enough extra room to keep a guitar around?
- Are you looking to play a specific style of music?
Acoustic guitar size options
- Mini guitars are half or ¾-size guitars designed for children. They are small enough for kids to hold and they typically cost less.
- Travel guitars are smaller and less expensive than most other options. They only weigh a few kilos so you can take them with you on the go.
- Classical guitars, or Spanish guitars, are used to play classical music. They feature nylon strings instead of steel strings.
- Parlor guitars use steel strings and have an older style shape, as a result, it provides a very traditional sound.
- Concert guitars have six strings and are a bit larger and more expensive. They create louder sounds as well. There are a few different size options within the concert family.
- Dreadnoughts are the most common option for guitars. The larger body offers a deep sound and is great for strumming and flat-picking.
- Grand Orchestras are fairly large instruments. A light touch is all it takes to get a loud volume.
- Jumbos are the biggest option and produce a very powerful sound. However, they are more expensive and feature a shape similar to concert-style guitars.
2. Acoustic vs. Acoustic-Electric Guitars
Acoustic guitars are a great option for both beginners and experienced players.
However, if you are interested in plugging your guitar into an amplifier or PA system, you will need an acoustic-electric guitar.
This hybrid option is typically not as expensive as an electric guitar, but it features an electronic pickup system.
3. Guitar Material
The type of wood used to make a guitar will greatly impact the sound it produces as well as the tone and volume. Consider the type of sound you want to make and how you prefer to play the guitar. If you prefer fingerstyle playing, you will need wood that does not require much force to resonant. If you prefer using a pick, you will require a different type of material.
Sitka spruce is one of the most common woods for tops. It is a softwood and lightweight while maintaining a high rigidity. It makes a high velocity of sound and creates a powerful tone.
Even if you play forcefully, the tone will be maintained.
Western Red Cedar is a great option to produce a warm sound.
Fingerstyle players tend to prefer this wood because it responds well to a lighter playing style.
The response rate for mahogany is fairly low and it has a great density. The tone from mahogany guitars is more punchy and great for playing country or blues music.
There are a few species of maple used for guitars, and they tend to be acoustically transparent.
They have a lower response rate to allow for tonal characteristics of the top to be heard better without adding significant tonal coloration.
The response rate for rosewood is high and it produces a broad range of overtones. It is known for strength and complexity to produce a dark tone and rich upper register tones.
4. Guitar Body Features
The neck of your guitar is another important element to consider.
The right guitar for you will depend on the size of your hand. The size of your guitar will impact the size of the neck as well as how many frets it has.
Some guitars have tuning machines enclosed that allow you to easily tune your instrument.
The bridge and fingerboard materials may impact the sound and quality of your guitar, but they do not typically have as big of an impact as the material of the body.
Also, the finish of your guitar can change the wood vibrations and the sound, but this is not avoidable.
5. Guitar Kit items
If you are purchasing your first guitar, you can look for a guitar kit.
Kits often include a guitar as well as a variety of accessories. These kits are great options for beginners who are unsure of which accessories to purchase.
It will also save you a good bit of time in finding and purchasing items individually. For experienced players, a guitar with a kit can add more accessories to your stock.
Common items for guitar kits include:
- Shoulder strap
- Gig Bag
- Extra strings
- Polishing cloths
Buying a guitar is a major decision. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it can be difficult to decide which instrument is right for you, especially if you are just getting started.
Also, it is important to consider why you want to purchase a guitar and how it will be used before deciding which type of wood and size is best for you.