So, this may be your first guitar purchase, a present for a relation or you may just have the hankering for a new addition to the collection. When buying a new guitar here are some words of advice based on my experiences.
First – avoid the temptation to buy it straight from the internet because it is cheap or you like the colour, unless you have played that particular model before and don’t mind taking a risk. Many times I have had students come with guitars that are unplayable – we bought it from Amazon r’we just got a cheap one from Argos’ No No No!
Playing the guitar is not an easy thing to do, contrary to most peoples opinion, you can’t just pick it up and play, it takes dedication and a lot of practice. If the instrument you have is not of reasonable quality then it is already conspiring against you to make something that is already difficult seem virtually impossible.
There are several things to take into consideration, lets break it down.
An acoustic guitar has more variables that the average maths equation. I would strongly recommend that you go into a music shop and try as many makes and models as you can, especially when you are first starting out. The first thing to take into account is the physical size of you and the size of the guitar you are looking at, it is not good giving an eight year old a Jumbo acoustic, you would be lucky to see their head over the body never mind be able to play it. Every decent guitar manufacturer will offer a range of body shapes, Taylor for example offer the Baby Taylor range, you might have seen Ed Sheeran playing a guitar of this size. Other manufacturers offer Parlour guitars and other smaller body shapes. Also, look at the many Electric-acoustic models, these tend to have a shallower body, they don’t tend to have the richness of sound that a regular acoustic might have but that is a trade off that is sometimes worth making if the guitar feels comfortable. When you are trying guitars – feel the differences in the neck profiles, this means how round the neck is, some are like table legs and some are slim, more like an electric guitar. This may feel comfortable to you if you are buying your first acoustic coming from an electric guitar background. Again, try as many makes as you have available, in fact why not make a day of it and visit a ton where there are a few music shops so you can try as many different makes as possible, after all you are going to spend a lot of time with this instrument so best make sure it is right for you.
You are in the shop, you find a guitar that you like, probably something you would never have considered, or had even thought of, when you were internet shopping. It speaks to you, you don’t want to put it down, what now? – go home and search it for £50 cheaper on-line? – NO! – Buy the one in your have. Guitars are pieces of wood, they rely on this for their tone and feel, more so in the acoustic world. I have played two guitars from the same range back to back and they feel/sound totally different. The one in your have is the one for you, comfortable, sounds good, set up the way you like it. Don’t risk buying an instrument that you might not be happy with and have all the aggravation of having to return it via some two-bit courier service to the other end of the country.
These are a slight;y different beast. Although the electric guitar is made of a piece of wood, usually, this is not so crucial to its sound as it is an acoustic, by the time it has gone through an amp and a range of effects, the tone of the wood have long since gone. Look at Jack White – his guitar is made of plastic, nobody criticises him! The general construction and other components, pick ups, bridge/saddle materials, play more of a part in its sound. The first thing that you tend to be drawn to is the guitar your favourite artists play, for example, you are not going to find a jazz fan paying a flying V, they will head to the hollow body section and vice versa. I would still recommend going to a shop and trying a few different makes, the majority of companies offer guitars to cover most styles. Again, different manufactures will have different neck profiles, Ibanez tend to offer slim necks where are Gibson or Fender have chunky necks, some of the Gibson Les Paul’s have necks like a fence post, if that is your thing. Check the pick ups configuration – can you play with a pick-up in the middle position, I can’t. I love the sound of a Fender Stratocaster, but that middle pick up is in the way of where I play, I opted for a Telecaster instead, a compromise, but still single coil without the middle pick-up. Do you prefer a Humbucker, which is a fatter sound, or a single coil, which is a brighter sound. Try both, some humbuckers offer the option to ‘split the coils’ giving you an approximation of a single coil from a hum bucking guitar.
Well, you have the guitar you want in your lap, what not buy it there and them, try and haggle yourself a deal most music shops will give you something off, or throw in other accessories, lead, strap, strings etc. Or, if you are bothered about a few quid, you can go online and buy the same model you found to be favourite. Just be prepared for it not to be exactly the same as the one you liked in the shop, the chances are it won’t be set up the same so won’t feel as nice as the one you initially liked.
I have done both options with both electric, acoustic and bass guitars and I much prefer the action of going into a shop and trying them out, that way you will be 100% sure that you really like the instrument you are going to spend that hard earned cash on. Above all, enjoy your new purchase.