I'm looking into buying my first guitar, and have some questions beyond the basic "what model should I get."

I'm planning on dropping by the Guitar Center on monday and seeing what they have, trying out as many of the ones mentioned in the best guitar under $300 thread among some other recommendations I've picked up as possible, and just finding something I like the sound of (the ones I'm most interested in so far are the Alvarez RD20s, Yamaha 730s, Washburn D10s and D30s, Ibanez AW40NT, and the Seagull S6).

I plan to use it for both picking and playing with just my fingers, mostly just tabs I pick up online for stuff that interests me and such (and possibly eventually taking some classes).

I'm staying away from e-bay and other online stores on the basis that being able to play it before you buy it and the extra peace of mind obtained by that is worth even a sizable premium on the price.

After finding something I like (and I might also call up a friend of mine who plays guitar and ask her if she's willing to come down and give it a go as well), my questions are these:

Set-up is something that I've seen mentioned quite often. Some people buying guitars such as these have said they got theirs set up from the factory, and other people are saying you need to have it set up at a local shop. How do I know if it's set up already (and set up well) or not? Will a salesperson give me an honest answer if I ask (I'm assuming that s/he will at least know what I'm talking about and have some idea of the answer/how to find the answer)?

The intonation on the current guitar I have on loan from an uncle (a nylon string sierra model 1588 based on what's written inside, if anybody is curious) is pretty bad to my ear (if I tune it using the 5 fret up on the string below method, each string becomes progressively sharper), so I'm looking for something to vastly improve on that and that will keep me happy for years to come.

I'm thinking I should probably pick up a new set of strings to put on it right away, and maybe a spare set as well. Looks like the best type might be d'addario, martin, or elixir mediums (.12?), with elixir being twice as expensive but likely to last longer? I see one post mentioning that he uses elixirs over the others because his hands sweat a lot. Anybody else that think the elixirs are better for people with sweaty hands (I would include myself in this group).

I'm thinking I'll pick up a hard case of some sort, and possibly a stand as well. Seems like a reasonable investment.

Can anybody think of anything else that I'm forgetting, any comments on what I've said, or anything else that I should know before going in? I like to be as prepared as possible for these things. Helps keep me from having to decide stuff on the fly.

Thanks for any help you guys/gals can provide, and I'm looking forward to spending some time here once I make my purchase!
hey i suggest getting a korg tuner where you can drop tune easily, and um if you plan on taking a logn trip and leaving your guitar in the case then get something that absorbs moisture, um when i first got my first guitar i had them tune it that wya i could easily drop tune it, but guitar center wont do that, umthe strinsg i first got were Dardario xl 10'sa and theyre not very slippery if you have sweaty hands but that was about 3 years ago,and a monster rock cable! for sure they keep that screatching noise from your amp, either when your to clsoe to electronic( tv. computer monitor etc.) or standing very close to the amp, thats what i did and my stuff is still in good condition and i play for 12 hours a day
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Thanks for the reply!

I actually already have a Korg tuner (and a trigger capo, for that matter), I just forgot to mention it.

I'll keep the moisture management and string suggestions in mind.
Its refreshing to see such a well thought out topic. Most first time buyers are not as cautious as you and I applaud you for that. Most people on this forum will tell you to probably go for the Yamaha, Alvarez, and the Seagull, however, I would tell you to just play as many guitars in the store and pick the one YOU like. If possible, you can bring a blind fold (or if you trust yourself, keep your eyes closed) and have a friend hand you guitars. This is a sure fire way of picking the guitar you're sure to like the sound of.

About the string situation, I myself use D'Addario EXP Phosphor Bronze. I've tried Elixir Coated Strings and didn't really like them. D'Addario EXP's are pretty much the same thing as Elixir's (coated for longer use) except they are a few dollars cheaper. I found that my first pair of Elixir strings broke awfully fast and they were a little slippery. D'Addario has yet to fail me so I swear by them now. So consider using D'Addario EXP's.

Good luck on your purchase.
I personally love Dean Markley Alchemy GoldBronze strings......they have some really good sound but are a bit expensive ($11.95-12.95 is what I buy them for).

Also Dean Markley Blue Steel is another good choice!
BTW I am an Ibanez fan too. I love my PF5 acoustic, which has VERY good sound for an Ibanez acoustic, which people usually stay away from.

I like Guitar Center but I usually go to House of Guitars (Rochester NY) to look at new guitars!
I think I may end up heading over there by myself, trying everything out, and then calling a friend in to help after I've tried everything out for myself if I think I have some good candidates (less pressure as far as time/feeling like I need to walk out of there with something goes). The blind playing test is a good idea.

Both those string options sound like good ones, so I guess I'll see what they have and what looks good when I'm ready to buy.

I'd love it if I had a place like House of Guitars near here, but unfortunately I'm on the opposite side of the continent from them, which presents a minor inconvenience as far as visiting goes.
One thing is for certain. The guitars at GC have not been set up and they don't offer the service. Try to find a guitar w/a good action w/no buzzing that sounds good. You can get it set up somewhere else later.
Well, I went in today, and spent about an hour and a half playing around with various guitars. They didn't have the alvarez or seagull, but they did have various yamahas (fg 700, 720, 735, 750) and a bunch of ibanezs (including the AW40NT).

I'm definitely getting a new guitar, I loved playing the ones there.

I liked the sound of most of the ones I played, but the one that really kind of not so much blew me away as surprised me when I noticed I'd been playing it for such a long time (the other cheaper guitars I kind of played a couple of things, and then decided to move on, this one I must have played at least 2 or 3 times as long, and kept coming back to it all afternoon) was a used martin DX1 (mut, aut, something like that afterwards, maybe?) for $440 (they also had a new one for 570 or something).

That guitar seemed like it had much less of a kind of forced sound than the other guitars, the treble didn't stand out as much, but boy did that thing project, and it kept on going forever. I swear it felt like it was playing itself most of the time. It was in pretty much perfect condition as far as I could tell, too.

The only issue I had with it was that if my ring finger/pinky wasn't in perfect rounded position pressing down firmly the highest string or two tended to buzz a little. Any opinions on if that would be fixable? It's also possible that it's just my bad playing I guess, since I did have this issue on a couple of other guitars as well (including a new DX1 and a yamaha 750, so I'll get a friends opinion on it tomorrow:P

I also played a taylor 110E and yamaha 750 something or other, but didn't care for the taylor much (I found it difficult to play). The yamaha seemed nice, but I think I liked sound of the DX1 better.

So I'm hoping to take a friend back with me tomorrow, and get her opinion on that and all the others, and likely end up with a guitar at the end of the day (I figure it's likely the DX1 if it's still there, unless she can talk me out of it).

Edit: Could the letters after the DX1 have been MAH, meaning mahogany? The wood on it seemed quite noticeably different from that on any of the other guitars I looked at.
Last edited by LuckyLefty01 at Sep 4, 2006,
I dropped into a store and played an Ashton SL29CEQ (Australian Brand) the other day, it was about as budget as they come, well under 300 US. However it had a very impressive tonal range and brilliant bottom end. It was actually IMO, the best acoustic they had in the place. Granted they didn't have much of a range but it was a helluva lot better than some of the higher end Fenders and Epiphones they had around. Maybe I just played a particularly good one, but if I was in the market for a budget acoustic, i'd be looking at one over some of the bigger brands.
Last edited by Battery Chicken at Sep 4, 2006,
I bought a Yamaha FG 750 in June and there hasn't been
a day gone by that I haven't picked it up. well maybe one
day. But I love it and can't get enough of it and not to mention
I haven't had to tune it ever. I always check and it never moves.

I haven't tried some of the other guitars your talking about....but
I have nothing bad to say about my Yamaha.
I have a martin DX1 and I really like it a lot. The only thing about it that I don't like is that it sounds better when you play it louder, I think it's not as loud as some of the other guitars I tried. But the sound was really good and I like it more than other more expensive guitars.

Anyways one more thing. Get the guitar that YOU like is the best advice. Have you ever noticed that there are virtually no guitars with less than 4 stars on most websites? It's cause everyone likes different things and they only buy what they like, so you cant go wrong
Zakk Wyld Epi
SD-1 Overdrive
Martin DX1
I got the DX1, and I think I'm in love^^. It sounds so clear, and the harmonics sound absolutely awesome on it (and it's much easier to play the more obscure ones, as well, compared to my old guitar). While I was in there, I even had a guy who was in there just playing the guitars and who had been playing 50+ years come up as I was playing around with it and recommend it to me as a great guitar at an awesome price (and this was when I was already pretty much sold on it).

I know some of you hate guitar center, but quite honestly, my experience couldn't have been better. While I was playing around (for 2+ hours over the two days) I only had somebody come up and ask me if they could help 3-4 times, and the one time I asked the guy if he thought the guitar was flat (most of the ones there were quite flat), he offered to tune it for me and then offered me his (store brand) pick (I had forgotten one).

When I was getting ready to buy, and asked the price on a hard case, the women who quoted me the price asked if I was buying the guitar, and when I said yes, basically gave me what amounted to a ~10% discount on everything I bought ($50 or $60, total). So basically I got the used guitar, stand, hard case, and two sets of d'addario EXP strings for $20 less ($550) than the base price for a new DX1 ($570, I think).

The only issue I have is that the B string still buzzes a little bit when played on the lower frets, but if changing the stings doesn't help, I'll take it in to a local shop and see what they can do.

So basically, I had a great time, and now have a great guitar, and now all I need to do is to figure out how to become a great player:P.

EDIT: One other thing I have to say is that I love how plain the DX1 is. None of the fancy shiny inlays/woods or glossy finishes like those on the vast majority of the other guitars I saw.
Last edited by LuckyLefty01 at Sep 5, 2006,
you should go with the seagull s6, its a great guitar for the price you cant go wrong

i was unsure when i bought mine but i love the sound and always get compliments on it
Quote by Michael Tobin
you should go with the seagull s6, its a great guitar for the price you cant go wrong

i was unsure when i bought mine but i love the sound and always get compliments on it

This is an ancient thread. Watch your dates when posting.