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.

Ultimate Guitar
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

    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. :/
    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!
    to abyssal- ..bull shit.. the squier is good for startes.. my first guitar was one.. the pick up selecter works fine.. infact i even did divebombs with it so i reccon you havnt played one recently enough to know this-- squiers are ok(not good! but ok) my point is that the pick up selecter is fine.. maybe he dropped it or something
    for my first guitar i got the obey graphic series telecaster love the look and sound could care less what aneyone hase to say
    You can read all the opinions you want, but it still comes down to your personal preference. And it's true whether you're buying accoustic or electric. Everybody's body (you) is different. Some will like a narrow neck, some a wide neck. Some a thick neck, some a thin. Hell, even the guitar strap makes a difference. For example, a slippery strap with an electric guitar that has a heavier neck and a light body will ALWAYS slip...the neck will always want to point to the floor. The absolute best thing to do is go to a well-stocked guitar store if you have access to one and spend a couple of hours playing all different kinds. Try NOT to focus on how the guitar looks first but rather how comfortable it is in your hands when you play it. For all those that bash the Squires, it only means a Squire was not right for them. For my kids, I bought a Squire mini-Strat. AND IT SOUNDS GREAT! I play it through a Fender Frontman 25. I also got the kids a mini-Martin accoustic. It also has a very nice tone to it, though it think it's a little over priced, but it sounds better than the mini-Taylor that sells for the same price. My first guitar I bought used. It's an Epiphone accoustic. I researched the serial number and found that it was made by Gibson in 1963. I only paid $75 for it and it has a very full, rich sound to it. My first electric guitar was an Ibanez GAX70, only $200 and has a fast action to it, a neck that is comfortable to MY hand and it fits into any Les Paul case. My second electric is an Epiphone Dot Archtop hollow body. Got it on sale for a little over $300. Plays well, sounds great. I play through a Fender Ultimate Chorus amp. I have a friend that's been playing guitar for MANY years and has a small collection of about 15 guitars. He's got a Les Paul, an SG, an ES-335, a Tele, a Strat, a PRS, and a bunch of othes. But the one he takes to jam is a very inexpensive Schecter. And he likes it a lot! So, play a bunch and see what feels comfortable to you and what fits into your price range. And don't think you have to spend a lot either. Same the real dough for when you know how to play well (at least better) and have developed a taste for a particular kind of music. That will help steer you when it comes time for a more serious investment.
    I got a fender squier and it plays well for beginners....u can go for better quality and all that but also a higher price....i think u should go with a cheap guitar if youre a beginner because it could turn out u dont like guitar or something....
    Hello i'm from Belgium and I want to learn bassguitar and I don't know what to do. I really wanna learn it. You guys wanna help me?Please?
    I know my English isn't very well but I try to do it right. Bye x x x
    im a real beginner and im starting with acoustic and getting an electric sooon.Thanks for telling me the woods and that.
    epiphone is the best to buy. dont bother with fender unless you hit up the high end models. my epiphone was purchased 2 years ago for 200 dollars new and i have had no need of switching pickups or anything and im a rough bastard on my stuff. marshall amps are the gods of amps. if u look at esp its good for u metal heads. ibanez is not a personal favorite i think the neck is to damn thick for playing but it is to u. just play every kind of music on the guitar before you buy, i do it and all my guitars sound awesome no matter what i play. oh and only boss pedals and rubber cables not the threaded fabric ones they tangle easily.
    i would have to say the best guitar i have ever played is an esp ltd ex, the cheapest one, its neck was just so fluid and slick
    Ok, Wait a minute - hold the phone. The article is really good information but it seems that the track here is too focused on how "the guitar" sounds. I've been playing guitar for 41 years and have a collection going back to 1967 and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that a beginner can't possible know what a good guitar really is. I've read this entire thread and there are a lot of great comments but no one has addressed style and technique. A great guitar player will make any guitar sound great just as a beginner will make any guitar sound, well, rough. My first guitar was a Montgomery Wards Airline guitar. I hated it because "I" couldn't get it to sound good. I was positive that it was the fault of the guitar but I learned different when a good guitar player in the neighborhood stopped by and played it. He sounded great! Of course, he didn't like the guitar at all because - the neck was too thick, the strings were too high, and the frets were too high. The point for the beginner here is (as many on this thread have stated) to go to the guitar shop and pick up and play a bunch of guitars until you find one that feels good to you. Forget about the brand. It's no where near as important as the next several years you spend practicing. Practice develops your style and technique. THAT"S what makes you sound good. Steve Vi would sound great on the cheapest squire. Once you have some mileage under your belt, you will start to realize the shortcomings of the guitar you've been playing. As you practice and develop, keep going to the guitar shop and playing - a couple of hours a month. You'll start finding the guitar that's right for you. I have a collection of 16 guitars (so far). They are all different and by themselves all sound different. It's me that sounds the same. PS- BlueTintMonster - I hope my spelling is ok. wow. Michael
    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
    You are trying to get onto people about their spelling. What about your punctuation and lack of ability to articulate speech. Instead of ranting on about what you feel is a cheap guitar, go out and spend some of that time on academics. I just don't feel that the negative vibe you give off does anything you say justice... I find it rather amusing that the "only guitar" to consider is a Dean. By chance are you a Dean representative. ( Look at the big word)
    BlueTintMonster wrote: You people suck as.s. First: SPELLING! You know!? that thing they taught you when you were five?! Use it! A squier stratocaster (not bloody stratecastor!) is most certainly not the best guitar to start with. It's an ok guitar, but like hell it's the best. It's waaayy to light, once you get something with mahogany you'll regret getting used to it, the heavier you start the easier it will be for you to hold guitars later on. The neck is odd, it's too thin and too wide. It's a crap bolt on and it bends easily. The pickups are so damn useless. And the frets are too thin. I could go on for quite a long time, but to make it short: A squier stratocaster is not a good guitar to start with. If you want to start playing guitar, start with an acoustic guitar. You'll build finger strenght quickly, look cool and skate all over an electric guitar as soon as to touch it. Plus, acoustics are gangster, no arguments. Also, b.c rich suck, they're horrible guitars, bad quality and too poky. Dean is what you should be looking at for spiky guitars, and they have some beautiful models too, like my treasured Hardtail in Flip Pearl. Don' get a Gibson Les Paul standard if you're still near the begginer stage, stick with a studio, much cheaper and it's the same thing, just lighter and with less eye candy. And fear the blue tint monster. It comes out at night from the blue tint lake. And crawls up the side of your bed. And you wake up with a blue tint coat suffocating you.
    i bought a fender squire strat... my first guitar. is that a good one to learn on?? i dont know much about guitars. just know i really wanna learn how to play.
    im a beginner and i need advice., i was thinking about getting an LTD AX-50 Or AX-250 and i was wondering if anyone has any thing to say about them.
    Good artical My first guitar was a squire strat. i have been playing it for the last 4 years and have got half decent and now want a new one, but all of the guitars feel really heavy and seem to have high action even at 500GBP! (my squire had immensly low action for some reason)it is an ok first guitar but if you can avoid it and get one of these 'Ibanez GRX-40 Jumpstart package' or an acoustic to build hand strength. Also, DO NOT get a Fender frontman 15G amplifier. If you turn it up past 2 it starts crackling if you look at it and the feedback drowns out the actual guitar!
    hi i started playing guitar a year ago and i got a washburn X series guitar the X10. I bought this guitar in Dubai. The problem is the head of the guitar i have is not similar to the one on the washburn website. The front of the head is coated with black and written Washburn and also the shape of the head. My guitars head doesent look like a hook. Also it doesent have the title x-series at the edge of the guitar. Im thinking right now is it fake ? pls answer.
    i like buying localy u should get a ashton (theyre an australian brand) ag131 guiatr pack . theyre not really 4 begginers but its good value
    I just bought an Ibanez GRX-40 Jumpstart package. It came with a 15 watt amp. with REVERB. Squier package does not even compare and cost's $60.00 more. I also bought my son a Silvertone Revolver package. He loves it.
    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
    what kind do ebanez usally use? i got one and its me baby.kicks ass better than a damn squier.
    I am a begginer I would prefer an eletric guitar over ann acoustic anyday. This article was helpfu. WAY COOL!!!!!
    Swinger wrote: I am a begginer I would prefer an eletric guitar over an acoustic anyday. This article was helpful. WAY COOL!!!!!
    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")
    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???
    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.
    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
    i am not an expert but i would take an epiphone over a squier without even thinking
    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
    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..
    This article and these comments have been very helpful One thing: would it be a mistake to order a cheap squire fender from a catologe as opposed to going to a guitar shop and trying out different guitars as many have already suggested?
    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