Alright, so I don't know if I'm the only person who hears people talking about "going to try out guitars" and wondering what in the world they mean by that other than going in and playing a guitar, but I'm pretty sure I'm not and I think its high time we do something to help the poor misinformed souls of UG such as myself.

This thread is dedicated to giving and recieving advice on how to efficiently spend your time test driving guitars. If you have advice, post it. If you have questions, let's hear them!

To get the ball rolling, could someone post just a basic routine for trying out guitars? (what to play, what to look for, etc.)
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Well I:
*see how the neck feels
*fret accessibility
*if the frets are leveled
*height of the action
*if the nut is cut properly
*if the neck joint is solid
*and if the electronics are proper
I suppose my only advice is that if it feels good, sounds good and plays good, it's good. I wouldn't worry if the action is a little high or low, or if the intonations out, cause that is easily fixed.

Try it through the same model amp as yours as well.

(Oh, and don't ask what you should play when your trying a guitar; play what you're gonna be playing at home, showing off usually ends in failing anyway)

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Quote by darkcheef
Well I:
*see how the neck feels
*fret accessibility
*if the frets are leveled
*height of the action
*if the nut is cut properly
*if the neck joint is solid
*and if the electronics are proper

*how it plays sitting and standing

After all that, see how much it can be adjusted because someone might have just been fiddling with it.
Just play it though, play what you play, play what you want to play, play what you practice.
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This sounds like a great idea. I guess I'll contrubuite.

First thing I look for in testing out guitars is price. If its got a $200 price tag, chances are its not all that great. But basically find a guitar that you've heard alot of hype about, and pick it up, and play it. With electrics, you should always play it acousticly first. It gives you an idea of how well the wood responds to tone. If its loud, its a good tone wood, if its kinda dim, and tiny sounding, chances are its not a good tone wood.

When playing a test guitar, you should not play metallica or some generic crap. Instead, try chords first. If its comfortable playing chords, move on to bar chords. If bar chords sound good and feel right, then move to scales. Play some simple scales to start with, I always use the penatonic scale to start, and if I'm comfortabe with it move on to more complicated stuff.

Try the guitar in all sorts of different settings. Clean, low distorion, medium distortion, and hella lot distortion. Plus, dont just play it on one amp, every amp will change the sound and playabilty.

Another thing when looking for a guitar is to look for something appesing. But this is the last factor in picking a guitar, you shouldent go on looks alone.

Basicly to sum it up, pick up a decent priced guitar, and pratice on it with different amps using different styles of playing. And if your confortable with it, bookmark it in your mind and go and try another one using the same steps. You might find one that you like even more.
I usually check pretty much the same things that darkcheef^ checks. I also check:

*Weight of the guitar
*Feel of the body contours
*Acoustic tone and amplified tone
*Sound of the electronics
*Neck contour and width when playing chords and leads
*How the bridge feels when my hand rests on it
*If the guitar has a double locking tremelo system, test out the whammy bar and see how it feels
*How the entire registry of the neck sounds, acoustic and amplified
*How it feels sitting and standing
*Fret size (a biggie for me!)
" When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."-Jimi Hendrix
Last edited by Warheart1188 at Oct 4, 2009,
it's all about feel. if you like how it feels, pick it up right there at the store, just dont tell the salesman that you like it. of course, you want to play it plugged in through an amp that you have at home, or something similar (like dont play at store through a tube amp if you have solid state at home). you might want to look at the neck to make sure it's not warped or anything, and check the tuning pegs to make sure they're not too loose.
It's all about feel

1) Play it acoustically and see if its nice.
2) See if you like the neck. This is probably the most important factor, along with the wood quality, because you can change anything else.
3) Plug it into the same amp you have. If you can't, just plug it into something decent.
4) Mess with the EQ, set it to what you usually run it through, then set it to something completely different, set all the knobs to 0, then to 5, then 10.
5) Bend the hell out of the strings, and see if it keeps tuning.
6) If it has a tremolo system, really abuse it. If it has a floating trem, do the flutter (basically push it up and down really quickly). If it keeps the tuning after a flutter and a couple dive bombs, it's good. For a strat trem, if it keeps tuning after a couple dive bombs its good, but if it doesn't, its not a big deal. Vintage trems don't keep tuning amazingly well or anything.
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Great advice so far everyone, thanks!

I suppose it would be ideal, since its what you'll be playing the guitar through most of the time, if not all the time, to take your amp with you to the shop to try the guitar though, right? I would have to do that if I wanted to know what it'll sound like through my amp since no one around me carries Blackhearts.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear

Quote by gregs1020

i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.

Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
from the stickies:

How to try out guitars

Before you select a guitar, there are a few things you need to think over.
-The style of music you play.
-A budget you can live with.
-How long you've been playing. If you've ever owned a guitar before.
We all gravitate towards the guitar that looks the Hawtest, but looks and color, shouldn't be your first concern.
Wood type, bridge type, pickup configuration, guitar weight, brand reputation, and UG member recommendations should all come into play.
You need to have in mind, a few guitars that suit you best, before you even walk into the store.

Walking into The Store:

Wait, you've already blown it! Are you sure you're in the right place? Most of us only have a couple of options.
Ideally you live in an area with large chains, and local shops. Keep in mind that large chains pay their workers with commission. A money driven worker will not be working towards your best interest, no matter how nice he seems. Local shops might be able to offer you a better deal, but they don't carry as large a selection.
It's good to get prices online, some stores will even match competitor's prices, but whenever possible, physically play as many guitars as possible. Keep in mind that in most cases, the recommended list price for a guitar, is about twice its actual selling price.
In addition, when you are trying to get more guitar for the money, It might be worth your time to look into local pawn shops, classified Ads or to check out Ebay. There are some good deals out there, you just need to know where to look.

Take a Friend:

Guitar stores can be overwhelming. When possible, bring a guitar playing friend with you, preferably someone with purchasing experience. You want him to be objective and to run interference for you, if you run into any pushy sales associates.
Start off by finding the models and styles in your price range. If you aren't happy with the choices, at least you'll create a basis for comparison.
If you have a favorite type of pick, make sure you have one in your pocket. You want to feel as comfortable as possible.
There's no reason to call over a sales associate just yet, because you should start off by playing your choices acoustically.

Testing a Guitar:

Once you're certain about the model, you're ready to test some guitars. Don't be afraid to ask for one off the wall. When they don't want one played, they will usually tag it, but it's a good idea to leave the top shelf guitars alone unless they are in your price range. Let the sales staff know you're serious and they will be more willing to work with you on a good deal.
To make things simple, I've made a checklist.
Before playing...
-Sit down in a quiet area and feel the guitars weight. Make sure it's balanced, and suited to your size.
-Move the knobs and switch. Make sure they are tight.
-Go to the input jack, see if it wiggles.
-Lift the guitar to your face. Check the headstock and neck joint for small cracks or chips.
-See if the neck looks straight.
-Shake the guitar. Listen for loose parts.
-Look at the fretboard. Make sure there are no wood imperfections, raised or crooked frets. Make sure the frets don't poke through the side of the board.
Before plugging in....
-Strum and fret each string. You're listening for fret buzz.
Keep in mind, guitars aren't always set up prior to placement on the selling floor.
Sometimes they aren't even tuned. Action and fret buzz are USUALLY adjustable, but the guitar shouldn't buzz and rattle everywhere.
-Check the guitar's harmonics. Compare tones at the 12th. See if the guitar is intonated.
-Make sure the board isn't too wide for you. See if you can reach the higher frets.
-Make sure the bridge saddles are level, with no sharp points.
-Make sure the tuners don't feel loose.
Amp it up...
-Ok, find the pain in the ass sales guy. You'll need a guitar cable, and an amp,
Don't Let him plug you into a $1,000 amp. You're testing the guitar not the amp.
-If possible, have a riff ready. If you're tagged as a complete noob, you'll get less respect.
-Use the switch. Select the neck pickup. Select the bridge. Listen for crackling noises.
Roll the knobs and listen for noise. Touch and lift your hand off the bridge, listen for buzzing that stops when you ground it. If you're into Metal, and are looking at a humbucker guitar, expect to hear less noise than if you were testing a single-coil guitar.
-Check the pickups with the amp on clean and with gain.
Questions to Ask...
-Hopefully you already know the wood type of your choice guitar. You need to make sure the salesman knows that you've done your homework.
"Do you have any other Mahogany guitars in this price range, you could recommend?"
-Let the salesman know that you've noticed any imperfections.
"I like this ibanez, but I'm picking up fretbuzz through the amp. Do your guitars come
-Spend a while playing the guitar. Look upset even if you like the guitar.
"What can I get this guitar for?" "Does this guitar come with a case?"
You want to walk out of there, with as many free extras as possible. Especially if you've found anything wrong with the guitar. Any minor flaw, might work as a bargaining chip.
- "What's your return policy?"
Final thoughts...
IF YOU LIKE THE GUITAR ON THE SALES FLOOR, TAKE THAT GUITAR, NOT ONE FROM THE STOCKROOM. Unless it's a floor model, you should still get a box for it. You just don't want to take the time to find the perfect guitar, only to end up with a lemon in the end.
Also keep in mind, stores make a lot of money off of purchase insurance. In almost every case, it's not worth it to buy protection on a guitar. Except for the neck, every part is easily replaced. In addition, any flaws would be apparent within the usual 30 day return time frame.

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Personally i just pick a guitar that i notice has a few specific features i'm looking for. For instance in general i gravitate towards Dual humbucker guitars with a hard-bridge (TOM, w/e), and very open high fret access. From there i look for the kind of guitar i actually need at the moment, for instance: i'm needing a newer shred-style guitar so i'm looking for high output pickups, a flat fretboard radius, and adaptive electronics (lots of configurations for different tones)

Beyond picking out guitars, when i find one that i want i put it through my 'versatility' test to see what it's good at. I start with it plugged into an amp on clean, play through some little wing and 'life without you' to see how it handles the clean bluesy stuff i play frequently, bump it up to a light overdrive/crunchy setting and play some twangier blues/country riffs and some roughed out hard-rock stuff, then push it into high distortion and run through some shreddy stuff (buckethead, satriani). See where it fits in in my playing spectrum and expand on that. I also look for how easily you can tap and alternate pick on it, and how responsive it's pickups are to harmonics.

From there you look at things like how it fits your hand, how it feels to play sitting, how it hangs standing, and how easy it is to reach each fret from both positions so you know what your limiting factors will be
1. Run my hand up and down the neck without playing anything, see how it is thickness-wise(Thick necks FTW!), finish-wise, feel-wise and how the fret job is.
2. Check to see if the lower cutaway is deep enough. The upper portion of the body isn't that important when it comes to fretsize for me since I have hands big enough that I could wrap them around a bear's head.
3. Make sure it's in tune and holds it.
4. If it has a tremolo, wankery time.
5. If they'll let me, remove the backplate and take a look, unless it's front-routed.
6. Spend some time on the floor model Blues Jr. having a good ole' time with it playing some improv to make sure I can work with it.

If it passes all this well and is still in tune after all the messing around, then I have a possible guitar. there are some guitars like my tele though that really hit home and that I can play to death more than most guitars that sweep most of these off their feet.

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In order:

1. See if it's in my price range.
2. Does it look gooood?
3. Read reviews if there are any
3. Pick it up and look at it taking materials and stuff used into consideration.
4. Hmmmm
5. Feeling up the guitar, neck n stuff.
6. Playing it - sounds, how the hardware holds up etc
7. See how many aesthetic problems i can spot
8. Hmmm...think bout it
9. Search for the cheeapest price possible!
10. Buy it
11. Go home and give it some fingering power