I've been looking for a guitar to buy. I'm a noob, playing for just shy of 3 months and I've gone to play guitars 4 times (I know that's not a lot). Each time I think I'm getting closer to understanding what I want, .. And then I realize that what I thought I liked or disliked had nothing to do with the guitar. At my last trip I thought I was getting somewhere but then I realized that when a guitar has that "jangley" new string sound,,. I hate it.

And most of the guitars have that new-string sounds. And I don't think I notice anything else about the sound,.. That's all I hear.

How does a noob hear past the new string sound and hear the sound qualities of the actual guitar?
Are noobs simply doomed to these mistakes?
Will it click after more visits? Does it take long to distinguish the characteristics of the actual guitar?
(I feel bad using their gear to "train my ear".. Especially at a smaller shop.)
Go to a shop where they barely change the strings (I hate that).

What you should really do though, is find a guitar that is comfortable. You can worry about sound once you advance in skill and shop for a better instrument.

get what you feel OK in your hands, I've found that what you like in tone terms will go from side to side in the future, but what you like in comfort terms, what and how you like, mostly stay the same since the beginning.
I think that is a really good question. I often go into guitar shops just to try guitars, and I'm very often left with the impression that they sound thin and stringy. - Thin because I mostly prefer 12-13s and stringy because they put coated strings on so they will last a reasonable time before going dull. At the other extreme are old guitars that haven't had their strings changed in months. I don't know what the answer is for a beginner, except to try and figure out what the strings are doing to the tone. If the guitar has a hang tag that says "Elixirs", I would expect it to sound brighter than I like, for example. A guitar that sounds too bright can always be mellowed, at least to some extent, but it might not be possible to make a guitar that sounds too dull any brighter if the strings on it seems new.
me, i don't buy a guitar that's too bright OR too dull. btw, a too-dull can be brightened up with DR rare phosphor bronze strings nicely.

btw, when i was less experienced i bought a number of guitars that over time didn't suit me. i think that's normal in the scheme of things. and when i was just getting back into playing guitars, i spent hours every week for months playing everything in the many guitar stores we live near (we're in l.a. and there are lots of them).
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
In my experience of 5 years (not long I know, but I'd say I have a decent appreciation for tone), I've listened around to many different people playing on an acoustic guitar. It took a long time to figure out what I liked myself. Then I realized that every wood produces a different tone. Then, even a different finish (if you have extremely honed ears) can make a difference on the tone.

These ingredients on a large scale makes a difference to the tone of the guitar:
1. Shape - The bigger, the more bass. The smaller, typically the more articulate, and if it's made of really high quality woods, it can still deliver bass.
2. Wood - The denser, the brighter and more pronounced and projected. Solid is preferred, but probably out of your budget (as opposed to laminate aka layered).
3. Bracing - Depending on the bracing of the acoustic, you can have a different sound.

But it's not just the sound of the guitar that makes it nice. How does it feel? Can you (and I know this sounds hippy, but think of like Hendrix, etc.) feel the music? Really (again, hippy) connect to it? That's probably really weird, but you do get into the music as you play more.

So, just to repeat what the other guys have been saying, go into the store to try it out. Listen to guitarists all over. Figure out what you're going to play (leads? rhythm? instrumental? fingerpicking?) and decide which body shape and wood will be best. Here's my assessment as far as shapes:

1. Dreadnought: Good for strumming. The notes typically melt together a little better. Probably what a noob will need.
2. Grand Auditorium/Symphony/Concert: All good for fingerpicking, etc. The smaller body makes it more comfortable and makes each note more articulate.

So again, just listen around - do you like bassy, but still articulate, or do you like warm notes that meld together - and then go and try to find the guitar that fits your style.

Hope this helps!
*le me *le forum person
Agree with comfort. Go for comfort and then after comfort, play the instrument you are actually buying. Don't let them bring you out a new one in a box.

On the instrument your buying, take a tuner, and play the open note and the same 12th fret open note. Make sure the note rings the same in both spots and you don't have any fret buzz, ect.

Make sure the action is right for you, not too high.

More money doesn't mean better. For my daughters guitar we bought a used taylor at the store and it sounded better than guitars that were 300 dollars more. Figure your price range and play as much as you can in that range then decide based on what you like the best.
Last edited by boyd98 at Dec 29, 2014,
Quote by boyd98
...[ ]....More money doesn't mean better. For my daughters guitar we bought a used taylor at the store and it sounded better than guitars that were 300 dollars more. Figure your price range and play as much as you can in that range then decide based on what you like the best.
I suppose that depends on the Taylor in question. Most of them would be considered a bit above "mid-line" in price to begin with. That said, we're dealing with a fair amount of depreciation with a used guitar.

I would start to worry if the used Taylor didn't sound better than some new guitars that cost more.
I would just find people who have the make of guitar you're looking for, listen to how it sounds.
Strings aren't the only thing that affect sound. My favorite thing about my guitar is the wood, because as it ages, the tone of the guitar gets deeper and deeper.

You just have to hear older examples of the guitar you're looking for.
Comfort's huge on an acoustic, I think, but without a setup you won't have an idea of how the action will figure in. All too common these days to walk into a store and they just pull the instruments out of the boxes and throw them up on the wall. As far as tone... well this is gonna sound bonkers but I listen with everything other than my ears. Your ears will give you that initial sound, which as stated above can sound thinner or duller because of strings and whatnot. What I do is I listen with my hands and my body. Can I feel the thing resonating? Do the overtones sustain out (kind of like a piano)? A good amp will rattle my knees a little, a good acoustic guitar will feel alive and in motion if I let the notes ring out.
I'd suggest getting something that feels good now, but don't spend too much money. It will take you a year or two (or more if you only play once a month!) to really understand what ytou want. Do a lot of reading on tone, woods, pickups, etc too. when you read about what the differences are you will start hearing things different and that will help you to figure out what you want. It may sound a bit negative, but you need to know what you like *and* what you don't like. Anything is going to have compromises, as long as you know what you are comprimising on you won't have a big surprise once you're more knowledgeable down the line and find that something you gave up becomes a big issue.
Guys, .. I'm so sorry for taking so long to respond... I truly appreciate all these responses and I hope it doesn't seem otherwise when I'm quiet. I just keep learning new things and what I think I should respond and do keeps changing.

I actually went to a store on Sunday and the guy said what I'm hearing is the difference when you play very lightly.

Now I didn't think I was playing particularly lightly. Usually I'm practicing at home so I guess I do try to be not that loud... but on the guitar I'm playing NOW .. loud and soft sound the same. But on the all-solids when you play lightly you get "light resignation" which sounds weird.

But when he played it for me, loudly, those jangleies just sounded sounded like a well resonated guitar. Then I started playing loud - and many of the guitars I hated sounded AWESOME.

So I guess this thread is just a product of nood ignorance. It's funny.. I've been playing for almost 3 months and I thought it would take a year or more to sound as good as I think I do. (my goals were probably very modest because piano took a full year to sound 'decent'). Don't get me wrong - I know I'm a total noob - but on the other hand "you don't know what you don't know", which is why a noob doesn't always "feel like a noob",.. and it was kind of nice and very positive to get a "picture" of my still noob-ness.
Actually after that last visit I REALLY loved the Martins. When played correctly, (even when I played them as correctly, ie loudly, as I could) I kind of got it. I have been looking at the all solid performing artist martins for $1,350. But I even loved the HPL's for $800. For $700 it's a close call between the Seagull and the Martin...

But this leaves me with a question (for another thread that I will start),.. does the fact that I like to play quietly affect the guitar I should get. I like to play while my wife and I watch TV... or while we're sitting and talking. Or when I'm supposed to be "social" (which I don't always like). It keeps my head out of my ipad (which is one reason why I love playing).
The other thing to consider is resale.

I think a martin guitar would be easier to sell than a seagull. Not that it matters. I really hate selling my guitars. I just know if you starting out, you'll likely GAS for new gear and if you decide to sell on craigslist at some point, resale can be important.

More people will go with a Martin, even though the Seagull may be a nicer guitar; just my opinion.
Right,.. I don't think I'm likely to ever sell a guitar.. (ironically I'd be more inclined to give one away which makes no sense.. )

(For instance, I've been to a guitar store at least 6 times trying to see what I like,.. in general I get attached to stuff I own, so I take the view that I buy 'keepers'.)
Quote by Stevuke79
Right,.. I don't think I'm likely to ever sell a guitar.. (ironically I'd be more inclined to give one away which makes no sense.. )

(For instance, I've been to a guitar store at least 6 times trying to see what I like,.. in general I get attached to stuff I own, so I take the view that I buy 'keepers'.)

Oddly, I'm the same way. If i gave one away, it's because I want the person to have it. If it trade or sell I always have sellers remorse -
IMO, the thickness and material of the pick also has a significant affect on the sound of an acoustic guitar. My preference is .60 mm tortex.
Right,.. I'm sort of learning the kind of pick I like,.. Actually it keeps changing . But until recently it was 100% limited to how east it was to play with. Now I'm appreciating sound more.

Actually this past Sunday, for the first time I heard and appreciated how different guitars sounded,.. I'm making progress.
I remember playing lightly when I started. As I gained confidence I started playing harder. Playing softly isn't really a problem, you just need to make sure that the dynamics match whatever you are playing. I like playing with Stairway To Heaven (no worries, I only play it privately!) when playing with dynamics, it stars really soft then slow gets louder as the song builds up.
It's funny,., learning to play loud has opened up worlds and I'm finally hearing what guitar sounds like. It's also attuned me to sloppiness in my technique that I thought I had worked out. (Thank goodness it seems correctable,.. I've already improved some of it.)

But it's so much more work - I miss playing softly!!

And I remember in the beginning controlling dynamics was super hard - and now it's hard again. Oh well!! as long as I'm still having fun.
I'm the opposite, a heavy strummer. I'm still learning to tone it down and play softer. I tend to whiff on some strums when I try to play soft.