#1
a lot of people who come to this board asking for help finding a guitar seem very focused on looks when it comes to choosing one. they have particular colors in mind, or want a cutaway because of how it looks rather than that they want to play the upper frets. and while some guitars do look better to me, i would never buy a guitar based on looks - and i've been playing for audiences for many years.

looks are literally the last thing i consider when buying a guitar. the best sounding guitar i've ever played is the martin eric clapton madagascar rosewood. it's a very plain guitar, with a finish and look i would never look at twice. even worse, since i hate the entire idea of signature models, is eric's signature on the highest fret. i once decided against an al dimeola at sam ash, even though it sounded amazing and was $800 cheaper than gc and mf sell it for. but al had personally signed the front, and i felt that signature was a deal breaker. and yet the eric clapton madagascar would be the guitar for me for sure if i had the bucks.

http://cachepe.zzounds.com/media/quality,85/brand,zzounds/000-28MEricClaptonsun-e08ffe45fc6998cc33e93527407210df.jpg

you know what? it plays and sounds better than any guitar on the planet, including guitars that cost lots more. it even sounds a little better than the goodall gc at mccabe's, and that's saying something. i'd buy it if it were even marginally something i could afford on layaway.

a few times i've been tempted by a guitar's stunning good looks, but i realized that playing is not as easy and not as fun if the guitar isn't as easy to play and comfortable. and i come off much better in front of an audience when i play the best i can on the best sounding guitar. and of course, the guitar that sounds better is going to work best for the listeners.

or that's my opinion.

what's yours - how important are looks when you're choosing a guitar?
#2
looks are pretty important, but playability is the most important

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#3
It's not all I decide by but I wouldn't buy a guitar I thought was ugly. There are enough options that I could find one that plays right and looks good too.
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#4
I must say, I'm extremely shallow when it comes to guitars. If its rubbish, Then I won't buy it of course, But It would have to be an amazing guitar to get me to buy it with a finish or body I didn't like. I wouldn't really be comfortable performing with some I didn't think looked good.
#5
I'm not really too fussed about looks, but I do have standards. I wouldn't play a Daisy Rock, par exemple. But sometimes, your look can be iconic. Take Hendrix. And Jimmy Page.
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#6
I just use looks as a way to see if I can get a sense for the quality so I can skip over the cheap ones.
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#7
i find the aesthetic of the guitar can tint my playing style on that guitar, like i wouldnt write or improvise the same way on a strat the same way i would on like an LP or RG.
#8
i don't agree there are that many options. there is usually one or two guitars in any price range that sound much better than the rest, and often only one guitar that both sounds and feels better than the rest. if you click the link in my above post, you'll see the best sounding and feeling guitar i've played in several decades. there is not one guitar that sounds as good to me - literally not one - but there are many that look much prettier or sexier.

i think my rickenbacker bass isn't attractive, and i don't know many people who feel they're beautiful. but there is not one other bass that feels and sounds like it - and i played every bass i saw in every price range.

Quote by justinb904
It's not all I decide by but I wouldn't buy a guitar I thought was ugly. There are enough options that I could find one that plays right and looks good too.


but usually the highest quality guitars aren't the ones that look the best. in fact, in the under-$500 class, i'd say the best looking guitars are all the lower quality ones. dean and ibanez come to mind here as they are all fairly crappy.

Quote by guitarsftw
I just use looks as a way to see if I can get a sense for the quality so I can skip over the cheap ones.
Last edited by patticake at Dec 10, 2009,
#9
An "ugly" guitar would have to make me play like Steve Vai (insert your favorite guitarist here) in order for me to purchase it. I think that the visual aspect to being a musican or in a band is a very big part of the picture.
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#10
Looks aren't something that I focus on too much. Although I do value them highly, comfort and sound are tops.
#11
The most important to me is how it feels in my hand/on my lap/whatever. But bad looking guitars don't feel right playing them weight wise and playability wise. So in that sense looks matter.
#12
I'm with you. Looks are the last thing I think or care about when buying a bass. I don't give a crap what it looks like. It could be a peice of ply wood with a short neck and hole. But if it sounds amazing I'm getting it.
#13
Holy ---- man! You say that clapton signature is nothing to look at? That's why you don't care about aesthetics, because you're blind!
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#14
Quote by catrolean
Holy ---- man! You say that clapton signature is nothing to look at? That's why you don't care about aesthetics, because you're blind!



What are you on about? That's like the definition of a plain guitar.
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#16
The most important thing is the feeling i have with the guitar, the way i feel "her" in my hands, the way it sounds.. then.. after i would care about the look. I really like the look of the Eric Clapton because it is very similar to the Standard J-45 which i'm going to buy and which i really like . For the sound, i played it too and it's really good, i have to admit it sounds better even than other high-end guitars
#17
Looks are important. Even if it posessed the holy grail of tone, I doubt that many people here would want to own and gig with a guitar that looks like a wheel of cheese.

If the above statement does not apply to you, you have bad taste


Anyway, on a more personal level, looks matter to me as much as tone does. I'm in love with the Taylor 614ce; however, I dont see myself owning one in any finish other than honeybrown. I wouldnt want the natural or any of the other available colors. If I found a great deal like say $1000, I would consider a different color, but other than that I'm going to be very picky about a $3000 guitar.

Which brings me to my next point. Budget affects whether or not looks matter. Cheaper guitars = lower grade woods, even if they are solid woods. This is going to affect a person's ability to be choosy. A potential buyer with a low budget often cant be a chooser. Someone going through a company's built-to-order type program can choose almost anything they want in terms of sound AND looks.

I also find that looks are what initially draw me to a guitar when I browse through a store. It's a matter of marketing and image. I'm going to pick up all the pretty guitars AND filter my options by brand name as well before I pick up something that doesnt catch my eyes immediately.

Ok, I've written way too much on this topic and I'm beginning to realize how pathetic I am so I'm gonna stop myself here lol
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#18
Looks are at the bottom of the list of important things. That being said, I wouldn't buy some extreme shaped electric no matter how good it sounded. That would just look silly with me playing on it.
#20
If a first act played and sounds good I'd play it. Looks are at the bottom of my list without a doubt. That being said if two guitars sound and played exactally the same with the same price tag, same options, I would obviously choose the one I thought looked better. Sound comes first and I know most of you say feel comes first but guitars can be adjusted to suit your liking on feel so that comes second. This of course is to an extent if the strings are an inch off the frets then I'm obviously not going to play it long enough tohear it well or even pick it up in the first place. Looks come dead last.
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#21
sound is the most important thing to me, but it better look good too. i was pretty fortunate and found a guitar with the sound AND look i want. but i'm ok with a plain top and gloss or matte finishes. it's more about the headstock than anything with me. if i hate the headstock i won't be able to stand the guitar my weird guitar pet peeve i guess. there are too many decent options out there to settle for something non-satisfactory.

for example, i love the takamine smaller headstock, but cannot stand the bigger one. i'd love the tak sitting in the music store close to my house, but if it had the bigger headstock it would be off my list in an instant, regardless of sound.

and i really hope you're kidding about the rickenbacker bass being ugly. they're easily the most beautiful basses out there!
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#22
I prefer plain looking guitars. Much less chance to get it nicked when travelling around.
If I had something like this, I would even be afraid to pick it up


I think more focus should go into the music and less into the instrument. Good musician can make 100 dollar guitar sing beautifully.
#23
i bought a seagull when i felt that they had 2 of the ugliest headstocks around - the other being the blingy blueridge headstock. but in the $400 price range at the time, there was no other guitar i could try in the stores i went to that really met my needs - full sound with a lot of life, wider neck and short scale, at least a semi gloss finish. the cedar top was also a plus.

and i'm very serious about the ric. i guess that shows that everyone has different tastes. on the other hand, when i'm playing it, my ric sounds and feels absolutely beautiful

Quote by LifeIsABullet16
sound is the most important thing to me, but it better look good too. i was pretty fortunate and found a guitar with the sound AND look i want. but i'm ok with a plain top and gloss or matte finishes. it's more about the headstock than anything with me. if i hate the headstock i won't be able to stand the guitar my weird guitar pet peeve i guess. there are too many decent options out there to settle for something non-satisfactory.

for example, i love the takamine smaller headstock, but cannot stand the bigger one. i'd love the tak sitting in the music store close to my house, but if it had the bigger headstock it would be off my list in an instant, regardless of sound.

and i really hope you're kidding about the rickenbacker bass being ugly. they're easily the most beautiful basses out there!
#24
For me it is how it sounds , plays and looks. If any of the three are not right then I would not buy it.
#25
Obviously nobody but an idiot would buy a guitar *just* because they love how it looks.

But at the same time those guys who are obsessed with telling everyone they bump into that looks aren't even on their list, are total bullshitters who seem to think that it makes them look either more intelligent or somehow uber cool...

Im willing to predict that these are the same people who insist on pointlessly argueing on YouTube videos about who is best, Govan or Holdsworth (or some equally pointless topic).

/rant
#26
Quote by patticake
i bought a seagull when i felt that they had 2 of the ugliest headstocks around


yeah i can see why some people would hate the seagull headstock. but i think when you make something that small you know people are going to love it or hate it. my favorite headstock on an electric i've had would have been my peavey wolfgang, so i guess i just go for the smaller headstocks
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#27
Not important at all. Everything else is way more important.


Then again, if I were getting a custom commissioned, I would definitely go for the best looking rosette, binding, purfling, and inlays possible.
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#28
I don't really care about looks but I would prefer my guitar not be that yellow/orange color that you see sometimes. Same as I don't typically care for rosettes. I do really like pretty abalone inlays and stuff like that though.
Overall though, its about sound/comfort/quality rather than addons that make it look pretty...
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Last edited by Chaos Nil at Dec 11, 2009,
#29
i know LOTS of people who bought guitars based only on looks - and i mean lots. a lot of them aren't idiots, they just don't know any better. that's one of the main reasons i start threads like this. so that they will know a little better, and might perhaps make a decision that will continue to make them happy after the buyer's high is over.

i don't actually care whether you think i'm bullshitter or not, and i don't think i'm uber-cool - far from it, in fact. btw, i don't argue about youtube videos - or even talk about them. i only discuss things that are important to me. guitars is one of the few such things.

btw, for those who keep bringing up ugly guitars, there are very few REALLY ugly guitars out there. i said i don't buy for looks - which i don't. on the other hand, i've never seen a truly hideous guitar that had the quality and size i look for. you'd have to go way out of your way to find a really ugly guitar.

Quote by Wesbanez
Obviously nobody but an idiot would buy a guitar *just* because they love how it looks.

But at the same time those guys who are obsessed with telling everyone they bump into that looks aren't even on their list, are total bullshitters who seem to think that it makes them look either more intelligent or somehow uber cool...

Im willing to predict that these are the same people who insist on pointlessly argueing on YouTube videos about who is best, Govan or Holdsworth (or some equally pointless topic).

/rant
#30
Might I add that even though looks are at the bottom of my list, I'll take a Petros Tunnel 13 any day. Best. Sound. Ever. Period.
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#31
I'd say looks come last. Sound comes first, and feel comes second. You can always adjust your playing to make a guitar comfortable, it just takes time. Unless of course said guitar is an Esteban acoustic with 1-2 inch action..

Looks on a guitar are just not... important. It's a guitar, what's it gotta be pretty for? Especially since most of the bozos who say looks come first will never play anywhere outside of their own bed room..
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#32
For me, it's a tie for comfort (playability mostly, I can play just about any shaped guitar) and sound (I like my Alvarez for example). Looks do count a bit, for example, I like Abalone and shiny bindings and stuff like that, tree of life inlays, etc. But if you look at my Alvarez, it's fairly plain; the binding isn't Abalone, It has one inlay (12th fret, which is my 2nd favorite style of inlay), but it sounds pretty nice. But I don't really want to own something that looks like someone set the thing on fire and dragged behind their truck on a dirt road....the only way I'd own a guitar like that is if the wear was wear from owning it for so many years done by me really.

And that martin with all the inlays and stuff....I'd love to own something like that, although I do think it's a bit over the top...
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#33
Quote by Chance125
Especially since most of the bozos who say looks come first will never play anywhere outside of their own bed room..

That's a nice quote. Looks should never come first, but I can understand if they weren't at the bottom.
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