Buying A Guitar

by Chris Fiore

Buying a guitar can be an exciting process, especially if you’re a beginner. The objective of this article is to take the stress out of the decision. Remember, there is an instrument out there waiting for you—the one you are meant to play.

First and foremost, when shopping for a guitar you want to look for one that feels right and sounds right. You do not have to spend a huge amount of money to get a quality instrument, but make sure you avoid poor craftsmanship at all costs. If the instrument isn’t fun, doesn’t feel good to play, and doesn’t sound good chances are you are not going to be playing it that long.

Before you begin shopping, do some research beforehand to learn what you are getting yourself into. You want to choose a guitar that’s right for you, not just a random one off the shelf, so be prepared. There are plenty of resources online where you can check out guitars and take some notes. Any information you find can provide helpful hints about certain guitars as well as direct you towards the guitar that might be right for you. Make sure to bring these notes to the store when trying out the guitars in person.

Choosing between Electric or Acoustic:

Regardless of what you wind up getting, acoustic and electric guitars are both guitars. Many skills can easily be transferred between the instruments. Keep in mind that guitarists move from acoustic to electric and vice versa. Remember you can always rock out with an acoustic, and you can still mellow out on an electric.

The difference comes down to ease of play. This is due to several reasons. On electric guitars, the height of the strings above the fret board (called the “action”) is typically closer to the frets, making them easier to push down. Also, since the electric guitar has pickups, you can get a nice clean sound using only minimal pressure on the frets. The body and neck on many electric guitars are much smaller than acoustics, making it feel easier to play too. Keep in mind, however, that an electric guitar will require an amp and cables. This may complicate your budget considerations.

When thinking about the two different guitars, consider the music you want to play. If you want to play rock or metal and your favorite guitarist plays an electric guitar, you should consider getting an electric, seeing how the electric guitar is critical to these genres and that you might like to imitate your favorite musician. If you listen to more acoustic music or have an interest in being a singer/songwriter then acoustic would be more for you.

The decision comes down to what feels and sounds right to you!

Testing Out Guitars

If you’re not comfortable playing the guitar yet, you should have a friend or music store salesman demonstrate the instruments for you.

Be sure to test out all different brands and not just “named” brands. A good instrument is a good instrument.

If you are looking for an electric, be sure to play in an amp that is similar to the one you use. Although it may be tempting to plug into a Marshall stack and a board of effect pedals while you’re at the guitar store, play through a small practice amp if that’s what you have.

Check that all the electronics are secure on the instrument—no loose parts, knobs or switches—and make sure the pickups sound good and are not overbearingly noisy.

When you pick a note on the guitar, listen for any strange noises such as fret buzz. Some of these problems may be able to be fixed with a quick adjustment to the instrument, so let the salesman know if something doesn’t sound right.

Some other tips:

· Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Feel free to ask a friend that plays guitar, a music store salesman, or your guitar teacher for advice.
· Make sure you stay calm and in control. Do not be intimidated by a salesman. Don’t let them push you around to purchase things you do not need.
· Make sure you take your time even if it takes an extra trip to the music store.
· Be patient!

Questions you want to ask yourself:

· Is the instrument comfortable?
· Is it easy or hard to play notes on the guitar?
· How does the guitar sound?
· Do you like how the instrument looks?
· How is the quality of the guitar?

“If you pick up a guitar and it says, ‘Take me, I’m yours,’ then that’s the one for you.”
- Frank Zappa

About the author: Chris ‘Fury’ Fiore is a professional guitarist, composer and recording artist from Long Island, NY. For more information check out the official website

© 2010 by Chris Fiore. All Rights Reserved
Used with Permission

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