What Kind Of Guitar To Buy

A little bit of information on guitar bodies and necks and the differences in types of wood used in making them.

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Ultimate Guitar
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What kind of guitar should I buy? Okay. Do you prefer quiet, peaceful, beautiful acoustic guitar music or loud, raunchy, rowdy, roof raising, electric guitar? I myself prefer the latter. There's a tip for the guys right there. Get a nice acoustic guitar and the ladies will swoon in appreciation (or so they lead me to believe). Back to the subject at hand. There are so many, repeat, so many guitars out there to purchase that it's nearly impossible for somebody other than you to pick one out and say, "This guitar is for you." All anybody or I can do is point you in the right direction. I can give some advice and pointers but actually recommending that you purchase a Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, Peavey, or any make or model is beyond the realm of realism. Guitar Bodies. Guitar bodies can be made from various woods, which include but are not limited to koa, ash, mahogany, poplar, and alder. Each type of wood gives a certain tone or sound that may be bright and punchy or warm. Some woods weigh more than others causing the guitar to be heavy and become uncomfortable for some. Here is a quick list of some woods used to make bodies. 1. Alder - a lightweight type of wood that produces a warm sound and is fairly inexpensive. Usually painted in solid colors due to the grain pattern. 2. Poplar - also a lightweight wood which has a sound similar to alder but lighter in color. Usually painted. 3. Mahogany - a hard, heavy wood with open grain and reddish in color. Sounds bright and provides good sustain. 4. Ash - medium weight with open grain and light in color. Sounds bright with a bit of punchiness in the bass. Makes a great wood for bass bodies. 5. Maple - generally used as a veneer for bodies due to their "flamed" and/or "quilted" appearance. Not good for a whole body. Guitar Necks. Guitar necks can be made from a variety of woods just like bodies. Maple is probably the most common. Rosewood, koa, and others can also be used with varying degrees of sustain, warmth, and brightness characteristics. Fretboards (also referred to as fingerboards) are usually made from rosewood, maple, or ebony. Rosewood is the most common in this category due to the highly accepted sounds it helps produce coupled with the cost. Maple necks with maple fretboards are generally one piece with the fretboard portion being finished in some fashion with a sealer. Rosewood has a more open grain compared to ebony and is more often than not reddish in color while ebony tends to run more of a black in color. I myself prefer ebony fingerboards due to their smoothness. So what should you look for in a guitar? What should be first and absolute foremost in your mind when looking for a guitar is feel and comfort. If the guitar is not comfortable to play, you won't want to play it. Does that make sense? Hey, I never said the book contained groundbreaking, earth-shattering, revolutionary thoughts out of left field! If the guitar that you fall in love with looks-wise is not comfortable to play, you may be able to push on and persevere and become an amazing player anyway. I just suggest you find a guitar that feels good in your hands and begs you to play. Try to be shallow at first and go with a guitar that looks cool to you. However, don't buy something just because your best friend thinks Johnny Guitarhero's the best so you should get his Wooden Wonder brand guitar with the killer apricot speckle finish. Try not to fall into that trap. The fact is that the company they represent is paying many guitarists and they may not even play the company's guitar but once a night because they aren't fond of it any more than you may be. Just be careful. I mentioned in the previous paragraph about being shallow in choosing a guitar. What I mean by that is try to find a guitar that you find irresistible. You see the guitar and you want to play that one! Go for looks first. Am I contradicting myself? Not really. My whole point is to find a guitar that you want to play because it looks so good to you that you can't help but pick it up! One area that is not common knowledge to many beginning guitarists (or even told to them) is the subject of necks. A guitar neck may be the single biggest determining factor in comfort. Guitar necks come in a variety of shapes from a thick, oval shaped neck (known as boatneck or V), to being extremely flat. When I say "shape," I'm referring to the backside portion of the neck. A flat, thin neck is usually preferred by players with smaller hands and thicker necks by people with bigger hands. A thin neck will make a larger hand tired prematurely to the point of pain and smaller hands will have a difficult time wrapping around thick guitar necks. There are necks that are wider (fretboard wise) than others and they are usually preferred by people with larger hands as well. Lower priced guitars are considered those that cost up to $500 (many guitar magazines have picked that price range and it's become accepted thinking). These will generally have lower priced materials (woods, tuners, bridge) and electronics (pickups, switches, input jacks). Higher priced guitars will usually have a better grade of wood for the fretboard and body, higher quality tuners, stronger pickups in the case of electrics, and possibly just better overall quality control when they were assembled. You can sometimes get a feel for the quality of an instrument just from talking with others that have owned a certain make or model, especially if they bought theirs new. Did they have to make major set up adjustments, if any at all, when they received their pride and joy from the factory? I know of one major company that produces a signature series line (you know, the guitar has the name of the artist) that when they arrive at the store, they require little or no adjustment by the store personnel before hanging it out for sale. That's quality control! Are there other companies that put that kind of effort into their product? I'm sure there are, so just do your research. Going back for a minute to the lower priced fare that's available, price doesn't always reflect quality. A $200 guitar manufactured and assembled properly can perform quite well. Many people bash guitars made outside the United States when the fact is many quality instruments come from outside the US.

243 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    damillion
    If you're buying your first guitar I wouldn't bother too much with what wood the guitar is built from. You probably won't hear the difference. Your ears arn't trained to hear the difference of pickups, wood, or even distortions when you start out. You will hear a greater difference the more you listen to it and the more you play. I'd reccomend everyone who starts playing to get an acoustic guitar first. Nothing fancy or anything, but for two reasons: 1. You build more finger-strenght (or at least so I've heard). 2. You don't bother with switching the tone of your amp, thinking about new effect pedals etc. like many people do when they get their first electric guitar. They get so distracted that they do more intonation than actual playing and it takes them longer to learn!
    krplnkinucoffee
    i second Richie Rocks. I bought a fender squier for my first electric, and it works great. I love my guitar to pieces. They look good, play well, yet isn't to complicated for a beginner. In my opinion it's the absolute BEST for a beginner. I'm still in that stage, I've only been playing mine since about January of this year, but buying that squier was a good move. I learned pretty quickly and I ain't half bad for a beginner. good article. I just think someone should put up something about first AMPS cuz mine is ***ing with me. not literally. :/
    Peter_Klim
    A 2 month old beginner, I have the Fender Statocaster. I think my hands are too big because I can never fret an A chord using 3 finger so I use just 2 and overlap my fingers. Also, like other people who've complained, the output jack always loosens (tightning it with a wrench so be easly cure that). But hey, it's my 1st guitar. And for $250, I know it's not the best. What do I know at this point of time what I want???
    fendergibson
    I think Fenders are some real good chunks of wood, but for a beginner, I think that a proper Strat is a bit too expensive, and they're better off with a Samick Strat Copy.
    cross101
    who are Filipinos Here???? Im going to buy my guitar right now here at bicol. Cummon where will i BUY????? Tell me Plzz. And also who has Gunz Online Hacks. Plzz refer to me the site where u got it ok. Thank You... Reply at my email at mgdeath02@yahoo.com plzz do tell me even here in comments ok. BB
    GuItArMaN64
    i am not an expert but i would take an epiphone over a squier without even thinking
    ellusive1
    my first guitar was a Gibson SG knock-off, played the crap out of it...2 months ago i bought a BC Rich Beast, mostly for the wicked look, but i'm happy with it. it sounds good to me(although i'm in the process of changing out the factory pickups in favor of a pair of Seymour Duncans)...i can't seem to put it down lol
    DemonCleaner
    I plan on buying a Gould "Eagle" les Paul replica. I've tried it out it seems ok and sounds pretty good, in my opinion. Just wondering wot u guys think of it before I part with my money. It's lime paintjob and is about 100 I think. PS My previous guitar was an old knocked up fender copy of some sort.... I hated it..
    THEunknown1
    Ibanez is the way to go for a good begginers guitar! I'm not a big fan of gibson or fender manly because so many ppl have them, and so many ppl tell you that they are good and bad. Now I'm not saying to go buy a damn 1,ooo RG series, mabye an AX7221 or GAX70. They are cheap enough so if you decide you dont wanna play you wouldn't put out 300 somthin bucks. plus, if your REALLY desperate and i mean REALLY desperate you can go down to Walmart and buy a first act guitar and amp for like 150 bucks!AND IF YOUR THINKING WTF!!!! Fender and Gibson sell guitars to walmart. Then walmart either replaces the neck or headstock so that it says FIRST ACT. I am not lying. If a friend has a strat ask him then go buy one and tell me if they are not the same guitar... AnyWay im done bitchin. Oh good article a few mistakes on wood and sound that they produce.
    iggy pop
    This was a good article and i think Ibanez is a good place to start. p.s acoustics do get the ladies goin
    Wazini
    The squire strat sucks, and the amp that comes with it sucks even more. If your going to spend $300.00 on the strat pack you might as well spend a little more and get something worth getting. You can get a mexican strat and a small Marshall for about $500.00 and then you will have quality and tone that you won't be bored with in 6 months. Oh yah, and also epiphone is not the same as gibson, a squire is not a real fender, a mexican strat is good but its not an american strat and there is a reason so many people play gibson and fender you just have too listen.
    xrtromarine
    That was a very interesting and helpful.Thanx.....,but can you give me ur personal preference or choice of which guitar I could buy if you'll consider $250 budjet,an asian market,A fairly decent brand & is open to modifications...I would appreciate it very much if u could send me a reply.
    xrtromarine
    I have already canvassed a cheap brand called Behringer V-tone II,but they say it was not good for expectations.Comments anyone please....!
    xrtromarine
    I think this article is still cool,never mind the bad comments,everyone is entitled for their own opinion but it would help me alot if you could also provide guitar brands pros & cons so that a beginner like me could actually know the difference'''Peace Bro!
    ka0tix
    Schecter. Period. If you want an awesome guitar, go for a Schecter. They're the cheapest guitars I've found, and hell, I'd compare my guitar (A Schecter C1 Plus) to my brother's friend's Les Paul. That's saying something. 500 bucks compared to a 1600 dollar guitar. And if you look, you can find guitars from Schecter about 200 dollars, so there's also some guitars for those looking for something that won't fall apart but plays. (Schecter guitars play well from my experience, even in their lowest ranges, so I doubt you'd be disappointed.) That's all I've got to say.
    earl_j13
    I've been thinking about starting off with an Epiphone SG -Special and i might get one within a month. Can someone advise me with this decision?
    fender_cro
    my guitar is 1064 kn what is about 129 it is an copy of fender.....and it makes a good sound
    Carvinplayer
    Hmm, There are different Squire guitars !! The affinety series is indeed crap,but the standard series is much better. But in the end you need to LISTEN before you buy.If you want a good second or third guitar be sure to check out Carvin !
    Ass_Goblin
    nice man. i am getting my first guitar later this week, and this guide was so awesome for me. thanks a lot!
    zep_hed449
    squire is junk, if youu want to buy a nice guitar for less money, schecter, Epiphone, Ibanez are all good brands relatively cheap. For someone beginning I would recommend something with a static bridge, not floyd rose or the junk they put on the squire. Reason being youll spend more time trying to keep your guitar in tune than actually practicing
    Blut.und.Ehre
    I bought a fender squier for my first electric and it seems fine sounds great aswell dad loves the sound he likes it better then his ibanez its basiclky what you yourself like no ones opinion matters and my dad hates epiphones
    Blut.und.Ehre
    for my first guitar i got the obey graphic series telecaster love the look and sound could care less what aneyone hase to say
    Peter_Klim
    BlueTintMonster wrote: You people suck as.s. First: SPELLING! You know!? that thing they taught you when you were five?! Use it!
    Use proper case ("That", not "that")
    Swinger
    Swinger wrote: I am a begginer I would prefer an eletric guitar over an acoustic anyday. This article was helpful. WAY COOL!!!!!
    Swinger
    I am a begginer I would prefer an eletric guitar over ann acoustic anyday. This article was helpfu. WAY COOL!!!!!
    clx
    my guitar doesn't even has a goddamn brand but it's better than the one liam uses!?!
    saggyass
    The guitarshops are going to hunt me down and kill me for this, but when looking for a decent guitar (ie a second or third one, and you have some years playing exp) a very usefull place to look is e-bay. No joke. Very classy 2nd hand guitars are readily available, and some people just let you contact them (like with ads). Take someone proffesional along, check the girl for quality, feel, weight, sound etc, and buy! (or leave it). This can easily save you 50% on the same guitar in a shop.
    guitar98765432
    I got a Squier Strat starter kit and the guitar is AWSOME everything else is crap, especially the amp, but the guitar rocks my next guitar is definetly a fender
    wattaf_ck
    i got a ibanez gax70 from the gio series. they are cheap but i gotta say that they re really a good choice for starting players. i`ve played it for 3 years, i got other guitars now, and i`m not the kind that treat them like a jewel (at least not a $200 guitar). this guitar has never let me down! you should give it a try before choosing a squier strat or epi sg.
    Striketalonx
    Good article. You should include pine as a wood. as many cheap guitars are made from pine, and not alder or mahagony. But I have to say, for beginners, Epiphones are the best deal. For multiple reasons. but mostly because of the fact that I am not the most fond of the three single coil setup. i prefer 2 Humbuckers (emg's preferably) or 1 humbucker 2 singles (again, emg's)
    soadownsyou
    I'm new to the guitar and know nothing about wich guitar is better than another. I got a Lyon by Washburn it seems really nice, on the body close to the begging of the fret board, there is a built in electric tuner. Please tell me if this guitar is any good, i just want to know out of curisosisty.
    soadownsyou
    I think if I pu the guitar it would help more, It's a Lyon D10SCE by washburn, it's around 500.00.
    fenux
    hey eddie im sry bt i dont knw bout that guitar bt u cud buy an ACOUSTIC- gibson venus special
    Ibanezownsu
    i have the same problem as xxxpeepaxxx, my strings rattle. I know its because i got a crappy guitar but is there a way to fix it. and are ibanez really worth the money because my friend thinx the pickups sux
    darkfall_13
    I played acoustic off and on for 2 years and decided to go electric in October and fell in love with a Schecter Damien EX. I picked it up for $320. I thought it played beautifully compared to the twice as pricey Jacksons at a different shop.
    xX Maverick Xx
    What I did was go to a guitarshop, went looking around and playing guitars until I found the right one. Usually guitars under $500 dont sound very good and dont last. And btw epiphone guitars dont sound as well as they used to. My guitar? LTD H-250 with a Spider 2 amp.
    Liam
    half on the fings you have put are irrelevant for beginners, they need basic tution on what guitar to buy! -they dont need 2hear bout what type of wood the neck and body is! -they dont care! they wanna jam out!
    DRoboWHOids06
    what kind do ebanez usally use? i got one and its me baby.kicks ass better than a damn squier.
    Rocking-Eddie
    Ok look, i COULD buy an ION guitar kit for 230$, but im not sure if its a good deal ((good guitar or not)) Should i take it?? if not what guitar ((and where in jonquiere)) could i get a good one ((for starter)) PLEASE HELP ME
    jj1565
    *HEy guys, if u have a question about which guitar to buy, take it to the Electric Guitar Section. this section is for user comments on the above article ~thanks.
    LoonLeader
    Thanks, this is helpful. I've been wanting to buy an electric guitar, but due to my age (11) I have a low price range and can't get anything of good quality. But this is helpful, as I said.