What Kind of Acoustic Guitar Should I Buy?
“What kind of guitar should I purchase?” This is the burning question that I am most frequently asked. It is a very important question because if you purchase the wrong guitar, you could be setting up yourself, your loved one or your friend for failure even before you or they play the ﬁrst note. Here are the questions that you should consider before deciding on that perfect acoustic guitar.
- For whom are you buying this guitar?
If you are buying for a child, a full sized acoustic guitar is not a good option. They will struggle to reach around the body of the instrument and also to reach the end of the neck. You want them to have fun and be able to enjoy their instrument. Generally, a half sized guitar works best for small children up to nine or ten years old. The much smaller body and shorter scale neck will make playing much easier for them. Good quality 1/2 sized guitars can actually be more expensive than full sized guitars, but they hold their resale value well, and your child is worth the extra $100 or so dollars. Children 9-12 years old are great candidates for a 3/4 sized guitar. This guitar still has a smaller body, but the neck is normal length (long scale). These guitars are very comfortable to play, and they offer a sound quality upgrade from the half sized guitars. Teenagers generally can handle the full sized guitars just ﬁne.
- What type of guitar do I/they want?
The two main types are nylon string (classical) guitars and steel string guitars. By far, the most common type is the steel string guitar. The steel string guitar offers so much ﬂexibility in the different styles of music for which it can be used. They have an amazing sound and are probably the guitar you hear played most often. The only drawback of a steel string guitar is that the strings can seem a bit difﬁcult to press down at ﬁrst. Within a short time of practice however, this feeling quickly passes, and playing on the steel strings becomes 2nd nature. Nylon string guitars are primarily but not exclusively played in the classical genre. They are generally plucked with the ﬁngers, and they offer a soft lovely tone. The nice thing about nylon string guitars is that the strings are very easy to press down. The drawbacks are that the nylon string guitar is not nearly as ﬂexible in music styles as the steel string, and the neck on a nylon string guitar is very wide and thick and can be difﬁcult for players (especially those with smaller hands) to wrap their hands around. The choice of which type of guitar you purchase is completely up to your personal taste. I own and play both types (steel string and nylon string). I do personally prefer the steel string for most situations, but there are those times that a nylon string guitar just ﬁts a song perfectly.
- What is my price range?
There is truly a guitar for every budget. You can ﬁnd a new starter guitar online for as little as $40. Now, before you start online shopping for that cheap deal on a guitar, let me warn you that purchasing an inexpensive guitar will cost you in the end. Inexpensive guitars compromise quality of construction and sound. I ﬁnd that the two biggest problems on inexpensive guitars are that the tuning gears on the headstock often quit working properly very quickly and that the bridge begins to be literally pulled up from the body by the strings. All of this is caused by poor quality parts and poor construction. Generally new guitars under $125 are very suspect in terms of quality, and I feel that it is a good rule of thumb to make that amount your minimum. You’ll be glad you did. I recommend that you check out Lag Guitars. Their entry level guitars are the best I’ve ever played. If you’ve been playing a while and want to upgrade, there are some tremendous guitars in the $500-$1000 range that are being produced. In fact, I’ve played some guitars in this price range that will rival any $3000 guitar. Two of my favorite models are the Taylor E110 and the Martin D15. If ﬁnger-style guitar is your passion, I would recommend the Taylor E110. If you are all about ﬂat-picking, the Martin D15 might suit your taste. Both of these guitars will sound great though no matter what style you play. If you’re looking for a high end guitar, the shopping gets tough because there are so many good models out there. The prices of these guitars can be anywhere from $1000- $5000. At this level, much of it depends on your personal preferences and how much you want to spend. The most important thing is to ﬁnd the guitar that sounds great to you—that one guitar that you just fall in love with. You will generally ﬁnd that these guitars are the best sounding and the easiest to play.