One of the trickiest questions that you find yourself asking; both as a beginner and as a professional, is: “what kind of guitar should I get?”
With the huge variety available to you out there, it is no wonder that you find yourself perplexed over this. Obviously the simplest answer that you’d get for this question is ‘whatever suits your style’. There’s no such thing as a perfect guitar, it’s how the player handles it. A guitar might sound totally different in each hand, depending upon the skill of its handler. While there’s no doubt that your musical style matters a lot, but there are a few other things that you can look for when choosing one. A few are as follows.
Acoustic Guitar or Electric Guitar
While looking for a guitar your first need is to decide what type of guitar do you want to go for? An acoustic guitar is a guitar that only uses an acoustic soundboard to transmit the string energy. There are various tonal qualities in the soundboard because of the tonewoods and bracing. The guitar is also loud since the soundboard has a strong effect. The body of the acoustic guitar is hollow so it’s best for lower frequencies. Comparatively, the electric guitar is the one with built-in pickup or pickups. These pickups convert the vibrations produced by the strings into electrical signals and send out amplified sounds as output. Electric guitars are the best for beginners since they are easier to handle.
With quantity comes the quality. An expensive guitar is obviously going to be better than a cheaper one. It is important that you consider your price range before going for a purchase. The more the price of the guitar; the better are the woods, hardware, setups, and sound amplification. You should also keep the prices of amplifiers in mind since you might need some extra features. Though it’s not necessary since a lot of great IOS apps let you hear the guitar with a special interface. Even still, you need to keep a budget in mind and don’t hold back in spending if you are looking for something extraordinary.
Once you have decided upon the kind of guitar that you want and your budget, the next thing is the aesthetics of your guitar. You can go for something that is pleasing to your eye or maybe something that is preferred your favorites. This is a great way to know what you’re looking for. Think beyond your budget and go for your preferred aesthetic.
The body of the guitar matters as much as its appearance. While going for electric guitar, there are two body types- solid body and hollow body.
Solid-body guitars are made from solid wooden blocks and they are the most versatile instruments capable of playing all styles of music. The solidity makes the toning more perfect and focused.
Hollow body guitars can be either completely hollow or semi-hollow from the inside. The semi-hollow guitars can make both clean and overdriven sounds. They have an increased resonance though this impacts the tonal focus. These guitars are often used in genres like jazz, pop, funk, soul, blues, rock, indie, alt-rock, and rock. In comparison, the completely hollow guitars have more resonant acoustic tone and larger bodies which make them perfect for some traditional jazz though they might not be ideal for rock or metal. The standard choice in this case is solid body guitars. Though, you can go for the ones that your favorites prefer as well. Since your preferences affect your motivation as well as performance.
The tonewoods deeply impact the guitar’s resonance and its quality of sound. The more expensive the guitar, the more likely it is to be constructed from a better solid tonewood. The tonewoods used on the neck are usually different from those used on the fingerboard. The type of tonewoods may also influence the sound. You need to search beforehand whether you’d like mahogany, maple, basswood or rosewood. There are other alternatives too, be sure to research the tonewood that you want to look for.
The shape of the guitar is as important as its size. You need something that you can easily adjust with as that can influence the way you play it as well. You can go for a double-cutaway with twin horns or a single cutaway with a single horn. Though if you want to go for something real flashy then V-shaped guitars can be your pick.
The neck of your instrument can add up a lot of difference when it comes to the feeling of playing. Obviously it might not seem as important when you are just beginning to learn but as time passes by you come to realize its importance.
The Things You Need to Watch Out for are;
Neck joints: The neck of the guitar is mostly connected to the body through bolts or glue. These joints also impact the feeling of the resonance. The rarer option is the neck-through construction while has a single neck block throughout the length.
Frets: The number of frets impacts the width and speed of the note. You’d need one with 24 frets if you’re looking for a guitar that can play the highest and widest note rang quite fast. 22 frets are the standard number while 21 is the vintage style. The same is with the fret size since the bigger the fret, the easier it is to play string bends and vibratos techniques. Smaller fret sizes provide smooth glide from strings to fingerboards while vintage guitars have smaller frets which are great for chords but kind of tricky. You should rather go for ‘medium jumbo’ as a standard.
Fingerboard Radius: Fingerboard radius may impact the ease of playing. The fingerboards are usually made with a gentle curve so the bigger the radius, the flatter the curve. This would make it easier for you to cross the strings. Though, smaller radiuses are standard for chord playing.
Scale Length: The length of the string from the neck to the ridge affects the resonance of your note. The longer scale length has more resonance but it is harder to make string bends on them. Shorter scale lengths are easier and better for low tunings. Scale lengths, along with the neck profile of your guitar affect your play at hand. C shaped is more standard compared to D shaped necks.
1. Pickups and Configurations
Pickups are made of magnets that are wrapped in coils of wire and are loaded under the strings to the front of the guitar. They convert the string vibrations to electric signals. They affect the overall tone of the sound that is produced by the guitar. Pickups come in different types and configurations. The types of pickups are as follows.
Single coil: low powered, versatile with a more nuanced tone
Humbucker: back to back coils with noise-canceling design
P90: vintage style with single-coil and humbuckers both, a halfway toner
Passive/active: pickups with additional power, stronger sound
While the pickup configurations can be: HH (twin humbuckers), SSS (3 single coils), HSS (humbucker and 2 single coils), and HSH (2 humbuckers and 1 single coil). These configurations highly impact the tones of your guitar.
Lastly, you need to check for the bridge of the guitar which is where the strings connect with the guitar. Bridges can be fixed or moving depending upon the guitar. The ones with the fixed bridge have more tuning stability. There are guitars that allow adjustment of action and intonation. These types require constant tuning. Like for example, a vintage-style tremolo with a moving bridge lets you adjust the pitch of all 6 strings bit it often requires re-tuning. While with a Double Locking Tremolo the strings are locked in two places so they can’t slip but it is quite difficult to maintain and change the strings.
Next time, you find yourself questioning “what guitar should I buy?” keep all of these things is a consideration. Once you have answers to all these requirements, it’ll make your buying experience easier. A little research on the particulars and components of the guitar can really help you choose a good guitar even for a beginner. Make sure that all the money you spend on your guitar is actually worth it.