7 Tips To Remember When You Buy Your First Acoustic Guitar
Are you enchanted by the sweet caressing sounds of finger picking? Do you long to learn how to strum and play those crisp bright chords that mark the intro to Hotel California or woo the partner of your dreams with your crooning voice as you play Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. Maybe you’re into pop and want to rap as you play like Ed Sheeran or need to release you pent up emotions and frustrations in a song like a teenage Taylor Swift. Sounds like you need an acoustic guitar! Hold on now, don’t go rushing off to get any old guitar! Here are a few tips to help make sure you buy the guitar meant for you!
1. Do not, and I mean DO NOT buy the guitar because of how it looks. This first time kind of applies for all instruments. If you’re serious about playing music you need to love how your instrument sounds, ’cause if you don’t you’re going to end up buying a new one or giving up playing because you think you sound terrible, when it’s not you that sounds terrible but your guitar. While it is important to play an instrument you love the look of and are proud to call your own, this should be no means be your priority when picking out your first acoustic guitar, especially if you intend to play it often and for years to come.
A guitar should be easy to play and feel good in your hands, if it looks pretty and you adore the way it looks you’ll always have “at least it looks gorgeous”, which is great if you just need some extra motivation or a small emotional boost to keep you going. However, remember that if your sentence ends with “at least it looks gorgeous” but starts with ” It’s impossible to play and I struggle so hard with it but…”, then you bought the wrong guitar. Making sure the guitar is set up to your needs is also very important, as a badly set up guitar can make any guitar close to impossible to play for even a seasoned guitarist.
2. Understand what it is you are expecting sonically when you are shopping for a guitar. Often times I’ve advised people to think about what inspired them to want to play guitar, especially if it’s a song that you like. Try to figure out what the ideal guitar would sound like to you. Take Wonderwall by Oasis for example. If that’s a song that you already know how to play and that’s a sound you want then just start picking up guitars in a shop and play that song for a while on each of them. Get the guitar that is most budget friendly but still sounds great to you.
If you can’t play yet getting a salesperson to play is always an option. If they can’t play the song you want then play the song from your phone and see if they can play something similar. In short ask someone to play the guitar for you and try to find one that matches that sound in your head. If the salesperson can help you after you describe what you’re going after (or play wonderwall from your phone) then that’s great. If you don’t know how to play yet getting a friend who understands what you’re looking for and has experience buying and playing guitars is a great option too as
3. Make sure it’s in good condition. If you’re buying a guitar and are not familiar with the art of not getting screwed over it’s a good idea to bring a knowledgeable friend with you to make sure that nothing is wrong with the guitar. Always ask the people at the shop or the people selling the guitar if anything has happened to it in the past and if it’s in perfect condition, if it isn’t and has been banged up bit or has a few scratches that can also be a cause for celebration because you have a right to ask for a discount when buying a damaged item. Bringing it to a local guitar tech for a check up after purchasing isn’t that bad an idea either so that they can verify that whoever sold you the guitar wasn’t lying
4. Do not buy the guitar within the first 5 minutes of spotting it. You may be very eager to get a new guitar and start playing or learning how to play but staying calm and keeping an eye out for a better deal for a while wouldn’t hurt. Going around your local music stores to compare brands and prices is also a good idea. Every time you go to a store, note down the models of a few guitars you liked the most so you can compare them later.
5. When comparing guitars try not to just focus on certain aspects but try to look at the big picture. Look at which brands are more reputable and where the guitars are made, reviews by people that bought them as well reviews on Youtube and other sites. Getting a second opinion can sometimes help you see if this is really the acoustic guitar for you
6. Take a look at what your heroes play. If you’re favourite acoustic guitarist is Kotaro Oshio for example then chances are you’ll be going for a steel stringed acoustic guitar as opposed to a nylon stringed classical guitar. Similarly, if your favourite guitarist is Jimi Hendrix, Slash or Yngwie Malmsteen you should probably get an electric guitar instead of an acoustic guitar since these guitarists are not known for their work on acoustic guitars
7. Plan ahead. Is money tight? Will you be playing shows in the future? Do you need a guitar with pickups? Would it be better to wait a few months before getting a guitar if you do? Understanding your financial constraints will also help you make sure you get the best instrument possible. If you’re looking at guitars during October or November, waiting for December in order to buy a guitar during Christmas (or whatever upcoming seasonal sale) would allow you to get a better guitar for the money you have compared to if you got one now. It also gives you more time to shop around and consider your options as well as compare guitars.
If you plan on playing for many years to come or would like to play on a quality instrument it would also save you more money to save up a bit longer and spend more to get a good instrument the first time around instead of buying a series of guitars each slightly better than the last in a time span of 2 or 3 years and then finally settling on one. Bear in mind that “student guitars” are not always the most comfortable, fun or student friendly instruments. Hence the importance of knowing what you want and shopping around
Thus concludes a few tips on buying your first acoustic guitar. Hope everyone’s having a lot fun and rocking out!