5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar

5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar

Hello dear readers! Welcome back once again to this lovely blog! Recently a friend of mine asked me how he should go about buying a guitar for his daughter. That’s exactly what I’m going to write about today! This subject may have crossed your mind some time and I hope that you find it super helpful, especially if you are considering buying your first guitar.  This blog is my take on 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

The guitar learning curve

Amazing and exclusive tips

These tips are amazing because you are getting them straight from (none other than) me! I must assure you that these tips are really nice and unique (hopefully helpful) and you may not come across them anywhere else. So they are kind of exclusive. I have put down these tips on paper based on my personal experience. But I must say that just owning an awesome guitar is not equal to being a great guitar player, in fact, the two are not directly related.

Owning a beautiful guitar always helps

To become a great guitarist takes hours and hours of hard work and practice for years. Nevertheless, having an awesome guitar always helps. Who doesn’t want a beautiful looking and amazing sounding instrument that is easy to play? Having said that let me share with you my first of the 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

Here go the tips to buy your new guitar

#1.     Buy the best guitar you can afford

I never thought I needed a guitar. In fact, I had no thoughts of buying one. However, in college, I had a number of friends of all kinds and nature. There three broad categories of people in college.  There were some who liked music, some who were good at games and others who were good with girls.  I was very much in the first category, hoping to do good in the second and wishing I could be in the third.

Girl relaxing
Image courtesy Lucas Pezeta @ www.pexel.com

Category one or three?

There was a friend of mine in category three who could either afford a guitar or a girlfriend. He decided that he could no longer afford the guitar that he already owned. This was because, if he did so, he thought he would remain single for life.

Givson or Gibson?

So he offered his original GIVSON guitar (a duplicate of the world famous GIBSON guitar) for me to buy. As I didn’t fancy my prospects very much in category three and I thought that I could afford a mere Indian Rupees 350, (about 12 USD at that time I think) I accepted the offer. At that time I didn’t have anyone giving me the 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

I bought my first guitar

So there I bought my first guitar. That was the best I could afford at that time. The guitar I bought lay around gathering dust for a long time. To start off, I was never a guitar person. It somehow didn’t make an impression on me and I’m not sure what the reasons are. The guitar continued lying in a corner.

A classical background

Maybe the fact that I was groomed in Indian Classical music, and in that specifically, the Carnatic style (which is the south Indian version of Indian classical music) led to this. It possibly kept me focused on what I was already learning and didn’t give me the time or opportunity to look at anything else. Moreover, it was a mindset issue I suppose. I felt, what’s so great about learning guitar and how could it possibly be better than what I am already up to.

Rusted Vs Warm

However, that perception of mine took a long time to change. I had made up my mind that the guitar is a difficult instrument to play. I kept seeing the guitar that I bought and had kept aside from time to time. It didn’t have “warmstrings”, it had rusted strings! I continued to find the guitar a difficult instrument to play and this thought prevented me from actively pursuing it at any level. And I wasn’t too happy to be associated with the funkiness that I thought came along with it.

Rock music and AFMC

I was not into rock music in a big way, but that was the most popular type of music you would get to hear if you were staying at the Hostel. I studied at the prestigious Armed Forces Medical College, Pune and the music buffs there will tell you that it’s either rock music or no music.

Nevertheless, whether I liked it or not, I was exposed to a fare bit of rock music. There would be loud blaring music playing all around and there was a reason for that. If your music wasn’t loud enough, it would drown right under your neighbor’s music.

“If you got to be heard, be loud enough”!

As they say “If you got to be heard, be loud enough”! So from the right of your room if you heard “the sultans of swing” from Dire straits playing, from the left you could be sure to hear “November rain” from Guns and Roses. And I would try to hard squeeze in some Carnatic classical music right in the middle. I can tell you that I was certainly a weirdo to be doing that.

Name and Fame

This rock music culture prevalent at the time in college contributed to a great extent to the craze for guitar playing. Playing the guitar often led to sky-rocketing of one’s name fame and reputation at college. People could upgrade themselves from category one to category three if they learnt guitar. One could rise to the top of the popularity charts. That was the perception at that time of course and it couldn’t have been anything but the truth.

The virtual path to guitar mastery


For a post on how best to learn music go here

https://warmstrings.com/how-best-to-learn-music/

My best guitar

Despite this, my friend sold me his guitar. Besides, it truly wasn’t the best that I owned, but it was the best I could afford back then. Later on in life when I decided to buy a new guitar my wife told me to buy the best guitar that I could afford and I bought a really beautiful guitar that sounded so amazing. It had astonishing looks and crystal clear sound. I loved it so much and I played the guitar a lot and it was a transition from rusted strings to “warmstrings”.

Summarizing tip 1

So tip #1 here is to buy the best guitar you can afford. If you have a lovely guitar, you will love to play it. It will keep you motivated to go back to it. Moreover, the sound quality is likely to be superior as the material used to make the guitar would in all probability be good. Never hesitate to spend on your guitar as you will be spending a lot of time with it. You don’t want to be producing noises and bad music. Go for the best. That being the first tip, let’s move on to the second of my 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

#2.     To buy an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar is a matter of personal choice

While all the cool guitaring that you see on the internet seems to be happening on an electric guitar, if you like to sing and strum along, an acoustic guitar is probably the best bet. Should you want to play around a bonfire with “your someone special” in attendance, it’s again the acoustic guitar that wins.

But if you enjoy lead guitaring and are fascinated by riffs and licks an electric guitar will be a better choice. Sometimes the electric guitar seems easier to play and the pressure on your fingertips may not hurt you so much.

Acoustic or electric?

With the acoustic guitar, you may have to press down on the strings much more to bring out some sound. It could be quite a while before anything that sounds like music emanates from your instrument.

This period can be a very prolonged time and frustrating and this is the time when a lot of people think whether they did a wrong thing in buying the guitar. Those who didn’t pass this stage in their guitaring career will eventually find the guitar hanging as a showpiece in their drawing room.

Fancy knobs on the electric

If you buy an electric guitar then you will find four knobs or sometimes three with numbers from 1 to 10 written on them. They seem so fancy and only a teacher will be able to tell you what they are for. I haven’t figured it out on my electric guitar. However I turn the knobs the sound seems the same, but some brilliant musicians may be able to tweak the settings to sound brilliant (or look brilliant).

Amplifiers

Remember your electric guitar will not play if you don’t have an amplifier. You need to connect your guitar to an amplifier via a lead and needless to say you need electricity to power the whole thing. Now that may not be a very good idea especially if it is rainy outside and you decide to play some blues. With the first thunder out goes your power and so does your session of blues guitaring especially if you happen to live in a place like Bangalore.

My personal bias

Moreover, I find the sound of an electric guitar more metallic whereas I find the acoustic guitar quite warm. Maybe a personal bias. So you can opt for a semi-acoustic guitar which is basically an acoustic guitar but can also be hooked on to an amp. Setting it up is very easy. The interface just needs a 9V battery and then you have the best of both worlds. However, be aware that your battery may drain out at the worst opportune moment. And should you want a semi-acoustic guitar, it may cost you twice as much as an acoustic.

Deconstructing tip 2

So go ahead and make your own choice. Any choice you make is going to keep you happy and going if you strike the right chord with your guitar. Now that we are through with tips no 1 and 2, here is no 3 of my 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

#3.     Size of the guitar is important

Guitars come in various sizes and shapes, much like people. As with so many things in life-size matters! And just as we are taken in so much by looks, specifically talking about guitars of various sizes and shapes, I think we must learn to love and respect humans of various sizes and shapes too.

That’s beside the point here though. The actual point is that as long as you have a guitar that sounds great the rest of the factors seem less important. Moreover, to be able to play the guitar well it is important to have it of the correct size.

Size is important after all

How is size important then? Imagine, if you had a big hand with thick fingers and you play on a small fretboard, your fingers may touch more than one string while playing and you will not get a clear musical note out of your guitar. Similarly, a youngster may find it quite difficult playing a big guitar. However, experts recommend that even children play big guitars as this helps stretch their fingers and helps better guitaring as they grow.

Guitar

For a post on the Bell effect go here


https://warmstrings.com/the-bell-effect/

Thickness matters

Even the thickness of the guitar matters. If you have a really thick guitar there would be a lot of strain on the Biceps muscle of your arm. They tend to get sore when there is a prolonged guitaring session.

So apart from the quality of sound, the guitar produces it is important to have a piece that’s comfortable to play. Moving on, after tip no 3, here is tip no 4 of my 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

#4.     Check the distance of strings from the fret board (action of your guitar) before you proceed to buy it

The larger the distance between the strings and the fretboard is, the more difficult it will be to press on the strings to create a good sound. Therefore this is an important consideration when you go in for your guitar. I bought a second-hand guitar a few years ago and the owner was selling it to me cheap. But I missed out on this aspect and realized only when I got back home. This happened because when I purchased the guitar it looked very good. But it had broken strings.

So I couldn’t find out the correct distance till I restrung the guitar and then It was too late. So when you buy a second-hand guitar ensure all the strings are okay and then check this distance.

Advice from Justin

Justin has been my favorite online teacher. He is doing a real service to guitar students. All content on his website is free and that shows how generous he is! Justin from justinguitar.com says that the ideal distance of the strings from the neck of the guitar should be not more than 3 to 4 mm. At the 12th fret, this distance shouldn’t be more than 5 mm.

Use a ruler

Justin recommends that you use a ruler to check this distance. He calls this action. Moreover, high action can be fixed to a certain extent by a luthier but not always says Justin. And finally, tip no 5 of 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar.

Spiky and the guitar
My pet Spiky with the guitar

#5.     Buy basic accessories for your help you buy guitar to get started

So having bought your first guitar, do you feel a sense is a real achievement in you because its always a special moment? The must-have accessories for your guitar if you already don’t know about it include a digital tuner, a plectrum or pick, a capo, a guitar strap and of course a guitar bag. You may also buy an extra set of strings just in case.

Conclusion

Therefore to summarize this blog about the 5 necessary tips to help you buy your new guitar, I’m trying to simplify the guitar buying process for you and that’s what I’ve written about in this blog. These are my best tips to buy an awesome guitar:-

#1.         Buy the best guitar you can afford

#2.         To buy an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar is a matter of personal choice

#3.         Size of the guitar is important

#4.         Check the distance of strings from the fret board (action of your guitar) before you proceed to buy it

#5.         Buy basic accessories for your new guitar to get started

Resources

I do realize that this article may not be all-encompassing. To make it an easier process to buy your guitar, I’m linking some resources here and you may find them useful too.

1             https://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation/acoustic-nation-how-buy-acoustic-guitar-guide-first-time-buyer

2             https://www.wikihow.com/Buy-a-Guitar

3             https://www.artistguitars.com.au/buying/7-common-mistakes-when-buying-your-first-guitar/575

4             https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-guitar-bc-011

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