Testing Your New Guitar

Try before you buy, no matter what type of guitar you plan to buy, following this simple guide will ensure you will end up with a guitar you will love.

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Buying a new guitar is a significant and major purchase and not one to be taken lightly. No matter what type of guitar you plan to buy, following this simple guide will ensure you will end up with a guitar you will love and is right for you. Take this guide with you when you go to buy your next guitar and I guarantee you will not get conned into buying a dud.

01. Play a variety of guitars in the store. Even if some are out of your price range, you will notice subtle differences between the instruments that you like and dislike. Compare the sounds and find one that best suits you. Different guitars will give you new ideas and challenge you in different ways.

02. When testing a guitar, make sure you can get your hand around the neck. It doesn't matter how good the guitar sounds, you need to be able to reach the frets properly and get your thumb over the top to hold the E string. The guitar must be comfortable for you to play.

03. Play a wide variety of pieces. Play your hardest song, your favorite song and your most expressive song. Does the guitar make these songs easier or more difficult to play?

04. Play the guitar with a pick, play with a capo, play fingerstyle and strum chords. Make sure the guitar is sounding good when played in a number of different styles.

05. When you find a guitar you think you might buy, make sure the guitar is in tune, play hard on it (within reason - don't try to break a string) and make sure it stays in tune while you're playing it.

06. Make sure the action is not too high. This means that the strings must not be too far away from the fingerboard, especially high up the neck. This may seem trivial but it is important. Over time, the extra effort needed to push further and harder on the strings to make notes will hurt your hand and will lower the quality of the sound. The action must be low, but most good guitar stores can lower the action for you if you wish. If you have your heart set on the guitar, ask the staff at the store if they can lower the action for you.

07. Compare the harmonic at the 12th fret with the fretted note. The notes should sound the same.

08. Make sure there are no dead notes or strings when you play up the neck.

09. Make sure the guitar can play a variety of sounds. Strum chords from the bridge to the end of the fingerboard. The tones should change significantly.

Once you are satisfied with your new guitar, make sure you have enough cash on you to buy it! Hopefully, this guide has enlightened you on some points you may have overlooked if you plan to buy a new guitar. Feel free to add anything I may have missed in the comments too.

119 comments sorted by best / new / date

    CaptainCrash
    Good stuff. Also, try it with different amps, tube and solid. See how the sound alters. Man, that makes me just want to go play some!
    Knight_Rider
    LoL bout not using your thumb...have u noticed hes kept quiet since....? ive not long started playin an even i know sum of the stuff here summ ppl have bin sayin is a load of crap i aggree most is common sence but some1 like me still wouldnt think of it! yeah good article i got my guitar for my Bday and its a heap so when i get some funds in ill look out Cheers
    cold_static544
    yea, for some it seems abit duh, but at least it gives a systematic list on what to do, practical article.
    mydirection
    i wish gibson would start makin L6-S again i have 1 from long time ago and it rocks must be 30 or 40 years old my dad 1st used it just remember if u find 1 get a L6-S
    uragooch33
    hey thats great advice.....but i want an electric guitar.....you dont deal with those now do you nostin?
    guitar_freak333
    great article, i bet a bunch of beginners would need vital info before spending 500$ on some Gibson, justbecause to be cool. Good advice
    Captain Colon
    Pretty common sense stuff, but always good to know...I wouldn't have even thought to try any thumb chords (then again I don't play them often so ) Much better than your last article
    GodPleaser#2
    Also there are now a lot more kids that are starting that can't even put there whole hand around the neck. I still give it a 5!
    m_unit_soldier
    ive read about a million of these articles and they are all the same. keep in mind that if you are buying a b.c. rich to be a metal powerhouse, you don't have to test it with a capo. not bad.
    Nostin
    pinkerton, if you say you "should only be concerned about being able to play what you play" and that you'll never play fingerstyle or use a capo, then you will simply miss out on a lot of great stuff you can do with a guitar. Plus, you wont go very far if you dont try playing new things every now and then. Aye, it's true, you will spend a while testing out guitars before you buy one. But if you are looking to sprint into a store and buy the nearest guitar without bothering to check the ones you like properly, then this article was not meant for you. When I buy a guitar I like to make sure it's as good as possible and I'm prepared to make the effort to ensure that.
    NirvanaFan
    Very nice article! But its a shame that when you're trying few or severel guitars its gonna last a looong time
    xhjbta
    i have 4 guitars and none of which any of you would consider to be good a have a 25 year old acoustic that sucks, a souverign electric which is unheard of, and epiphone Sg special and my newest is a jay turser les paul copy and i love it, its cheap but i have never seen a guitar play nicer, i can play racer x, metallica, megadeath and everything else on my cheap guitar and its because of the shit mentioned in this article, it suits me perfectly
    sm_reborn
    hahahhaa yeah very dumb.. anyways good article but it's gonna be a while for me before i get my second guitar lol.. don't have the funding.. hopefully i'll remember these pointers though..
    Shoestick
    [you need to be able to reach the frets properly and get your thumb over the top to hold the E string.] wow do u know how to play the guitar, cuz u really shouldnt b using ur thumb to play chords man That was incredibly dumb
    be-back
    YA PLAY THE HARDEST SONGS SUCH AS meshuggah AND BUY YOUR SELF 7-STRING GUITAR
    orcutt989
    Wow, nice i couldnt have thought to myself "Hmm HELL IM GOING TO BUY THIS STRINGED INSTRUMENT, AND I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS CALLED????!@?@?$?@" Why do people write articles about common sense, seriously, go to the regular forum, and post something there, instead of making them update this site with pointless articles that waste everyone's time.
    PAsistem
    i must say u've really redeemed yourself from the electric vs. acoustic guitar article
    silverstein16
    I didnt read all the comments so I dont know if anyone answered this: Spaced Invader: stupid, like you can't adjust the action on a guitar, have you ever seen a guitar before? [POSTED: 22 June 2004 - 13:17]| hey, have you ever seen a guitar? dont answer comments if you dont know what you're talking about, on most strat style guitars and some others too, there is a place on the head where you can put an allen wrench in and turn it, that adjusts the action, its really simple
    takamineNhamer
    good tips, luckily the guy *in the guitar shop* told me the exact same thing.. funny, youd think hed try to rip me off...
    Codonah
    Love the advice. I'll take it into consideration when I look for a new guitar 5 out of 5
    AtrocityWeek
    i agree, squires are terrible, fender have let their quality slip lately the *******s. oh, and good article.
    peaceablesavage
    dude, fender rocker16, youve got the right idea squires suck!!!.. sorry i meant to say youve got the wrong idea (i hate squires) although in all fairness there are a couple of playable ones.
    peaceablesavage
    Wow, nice i couldnt have thought to myself "Hmm HELL IM GOING TO BUY THIS STRINGED INSTRUMENT, AND I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS CALLED????!@?@?$?@" Why do people write articles about common sense, seriously, go to the regular forum, and post something there, instead of making them update this site with pointless articles that waste everyone's time. what a wank stain
    DaddyTwoFoot
    This article is good if you know how to play guitar, but won't help someone getting their first one if they've never played before. A total newbie to guitar would have no idea how to do some of those things.
    box_car_racer51
    i don't know much about guitars all i know is that i find the guy at my music store very attractive
    slash_andrew
    i think you always try to test first the guitars you cant buy... great article anyway, I think the guys in the store will never let you come back if you do all the things you say in the article and you leave without buying a guitar...
    fender rocker16
    ultradogfromhel: [you need to be able to reach the frets properly and get your thumb over the top to hold the E string.] wow do u know how to play the guitar, cuz u really shouldnt b using ur thumb to play chords man wow what a retard. i got two words. jimi hendrix
    fender rocker16
    Buying a new guitar is a significant and major purchase and not one to be taken lightly. unless of course it is a squier. sorry i couldn't resist
    strangled
    friggs just to busy thats why hes not here at least thats what he said in colums forum
    ckythc
    What the ***!! You can get booted off the sight for swearing too much in the forums? thats bullshit. Dammit.
    razzum
    This is all good advice i guess, Ive purchased 3 guitars in the past year. the result the squir is fine the new acoustic wants to bend and shift with the weather ive had the bridge raised already do to buzzing in the high e at the tweleth fret. you cannot predict how the ax will react to climate. my best purchase was a early 70s style yamaha acoustic cost me 55 dollars stays in tune and is time proven. my advice look for a good used one that wont be so easily warped and such. maybe i just got lucky but there are some great old guitars out there.