I get asked a fair bit about what to look for when buying a new guitar.
For starters, I really don’t pay much attention to the technical details of a guitar, at least not until I have bought it.
I enjoy geek guitar stuff as much as anyone, but when in a guitar shop with a big range of guitars, knowing the neck radius, scale length, and other technical factors doesn’t help me.
I simply look for the following three things.
I want to find a guitar that:
- Plays nicely in my hands
- Sounds great to my ears
- Inspires me to play
Some guitars get rave reviews from others that I just hate and vice versa.
I remember trying an expensive Sigma a while back.
It just didn’t feel right to me at all, but there was no doubt it was a beautiful guitar with a great tone.
To someone else, it may have been a dream guitar.
I have found this to happen a few times too, even with guitars that shouldn’t suit me.
Honestly, I found I learn much more useful stuff about a guitar within one minute of playing it than I do in about 1 hour of reading about it.
There is a huge guitar store about 4 miles from here with a few other stores not far away, so I have some good choices.
Now, not everyone has the luxury of going out to a big guitar store and trying loads out.
If that is the case, doing a bit of research is a good idea but try out as many guitars as you can.
I always tell students to aim to try out at least 10 guitars in real life before buying one.
You will learn a LOT about the shapes, sizes, and tones of a guitar if you do, and most importantly, what guitar suits you.
If you are thinking about guitar shopping soon, take a notebook with you and give each one you try a rating.
I like to rate each one on playability, tone, and inspiration.
After trying loads out, get the top three rated guitars and put them in the “grand final” before picking the best.
If you are shy or self-conscious, it can be nerve-wracking, but try not to worry – you are in the shop to find a guitar for you – not play a gig for the manager, so don’t be too self-conscious.
Plus, no matter how raw and new you are, they will have heard rawer and newer!
Don’t be intimidated, especially by the annoying person blatantly showing off all his/her skills in the guitar shop for everyone to see – there is always one!
Anyway, that’s some simple advice on the three big things to look for when guitar shopping.
Go have fun when you next do it – it can be and is an enjoyable experience if you just go for it!
P.S. Have a little think about a setlist of songs to play before you go in so you are not on the spot!
It doesn’t have to be anything breath-taking, but it should give you a good idea of how the guitar sounds.
The pieces I teach in my membership programme are lovely to play and will give you a nice variety of things to try. You can check them out below.
P.P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.
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