How to choose the best guitar for yourself?
How to choose the best guitar for your own? The answer is frequently asked when those who want to buy a guitar but even don’t know how to play. First of all, you should identify if you want to buy acoustic guitar or electric guitar. Here, we mainly tell how to buy a perfect acoustic guitar for yourself. Then we will discuss about material, kinds of guitar, how to make your budget ,etc to help you to have a clear idea.
Topics we discuss
- Materials for building of guitar
- Should you choose classical guitar or acoustic guitar?
- Which is the best, laminated, solid top or full solid?
- Which is the right size to choose?
- How to test the quality?
- Budget strategy
- Is online shopping a good idea?
- Does brand matter?
- Follow your heart
1. Material for building of guitar
We all know that wood material is widely applied in guitar building. What kind of material is normal in back and side? What kind is usually in building solid top? What kind is for neck and fingerboard? Questions like these we must to answer. To know main material of guitars is the first step to choose the best guitar.
Rosewood:is a normal material to build back and side. The best rosewood is Brasil rosewood, but it has been listed on CITES I since 1992 which means any kind of the material international trading is globally prohibited. So Cocobolo rosewood and Madagascar rosewood now is widely configured on high-end acoustic guitars,especially classical type to instead of Brasil rosewood. However, Brasil rosewood still can be found in domestic with highest price.For beginners, cost of Cocobolo, Madagascar or Brasil rosewood often beyond their budget. India rosewood is the most common material to build back and side. India rosewood performs plentiful sound with outstanding deep bass.Relatively, the cost is not as high as mentioned three kind of rosewood. India rosewood is often used to build fingerboard instead of Ebony for lower cost, proper hardness and good appearance.
Mahogny’s density is very high as well as stress.It is usually used to build neck of guitar, no matter solid top or full solid.The wood also contains certain sound characters such as warm mid-frequency sound and long damping time, so it is also often used to build back and side of acoustic guitar and electric guitar.When use Mahogny as material of back and side, besides, the price of Mahogny back and side is cheaper. It is better to use Spruce as solid top to balance the performance. To summary, Mahogny is a standard material to build guitar neck,it is also a cost-effective material to build back and side.
The best Spruce is from Europe, so it is also called European Spruce or German Spruce. This wood is mainly used to build solid top of acoustic guitar,classical guitar,etc.Spruce belongs to hard wood material.It has outstanding sound conducting and sensitive reflection character. Use Spruce as solid top,the guitar can play brighter,stressful and plentiful sound. But do remember that it takes time (half a year to one year) to meet the best sound performance of Spruce and to play sound with personal style. The color of Spruce is like white or light yellow, as time goes by, the color turn to be yellow. Classical guitar often presents its true color, but acoustic guitar often uses colorful painting, you need to ask the seller to confirm when you choose the guitar.
1-4 Red Cedar
When we talk Cedar or Red Cedar, we often mean Canada Red Cedar, because the best one is from Canada. The wood is softer than Spruce, so you should be careful when play or store to avoid scratching. This wood is also usually used to build guitar top.Guitar with Cedar top can fast reach its best sound performance and plays warm,soft and romantic sound.The color is orange or light brown. The color doesn’t change so much as Spruce. For the same reason, when choose acoustic guitar, you need to ask the seller for confirmation.
Spruce and Cedar are two kinds of material often to be used to build top.As far as we know, more people like Spruce top than Cedar top,mainly because of its beautiful appearance. Both are good material, you can make your own choice by your interest.
The best Ebony is from Africa, so it is frequently called Africa Ebony. Ebony is a hard wood, it is normally used to build fingerboard. Nowadays, the cost of this material is getting higher and higher, so for some of solid top guitars and low-end and mid-end full solid guitars, often use rosewood to instead. We also recognized that some manufacturers uses Ebony as back and side, we think that because Ebony also plays very bright sound. However, this kind of configuration is not a normal one. Please note that Ebony’s color is black and will not change as time goes by. Especially, some manufacturers may paint rosewood fingerboard to be black to pretend to be Ebony fingerboard.By this way, the color will soon be changed. You need to confirm very carefully.
Many people prefer Maple just because of its beautiful appearance. Because of its hardness, some also use it to build neck. But it is not a good choice for Maple’s sound is too bright. More often, it is used as a inlay material with other wood like rosewood to configure back.It can increase bright color of sound to balance the whole performance of guitar. And with Maple inlay, the appearance of guitar is more charming.
Walnut is more like Mahogny. It also plays warm sound.The wood material is often used to build back and side. The cost is lower.
Bone is more often used to build nut and saddle for its hardness,anti-wearing ability and high stress.Wood material and PVC is also used to build nut and saddle which the cost is low. For PVC nut and saddle, with this configuration, the guitar’s price is normally low as well as quality. So PVC nut and saddle is not so recommended.
We normally see decoration of abalone on rosette. For classical guitar, normally no abalone decoration on fingerboard; for acoustic and electric guitar, abalone decoration on fingerboard is frequently used.
Above is introduction of main material to build a guitar. To know them can help you to have a basic idea when chose the best guitar. There are many different configurations, to know the material can help you to do better comparing. Besides, there’s grade from A to AAAAA of wood material. This gradation is basically based on appearance,drying level,sound performance,etc.Knowing grade of material can help you to evaluate the price better.
2. Should you choose classical guitar or acoustic guitar?
2-1 Follow your interest
Don’t imagine to learn all kinds of guitar at one time if you just decide to start to learn guitar. Do believe that you don’t have enough time to practice all kinds of guitar well at one time. Basically, there are two types of guitar, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. And refer to acoustic guitar, there are folk guitar and classical guitar. If you are already a player, we are sure you know what you prefer. But if you are just a beginner, you must find out what interested you most. To find this, you can look videos and listen as much as possible. Once you find it, follow it and forget others. Then you can start to choose the best guitar for yourself.
2-2 Difference between classical guitar and acoustic guitar
Because electric guitar is so different and this time we mainly discuss about classical guitar and acoustic guitar, we don’t want to mention so much about electric guitar here.
As mentioned above, acoustic guitar includes classical guitar, so when we say acoustic guitar here, we mean folk guitar. There are some different points between folk type and classical type.
The size: classical guitar’s size is smaller, normally 36”,37”,38” and 39” ; folk guitar’s size is bigger, normally 40”,41”,42”,43”.
The fret quantity: classical guitar has 19 frets ; folk guitar normally has 21 frets.
The string: classical guitar uses nylon string ; folk guitar uses steel string.
Play style: classical guitar has strict rules in holding and playing; folk guitar doesn’t have such kind of strict rules.
To have more clear idea, you can refer to “Difference between classical guitar and acoustic guitar“.
This may help you to find which you are interested most.
2-3 Which is easier to learn?
Generally speaking, acoustic guitar seems more easier to learn. However, it depends on which level you want to reach.To learn classical guitar, you need attend systematically lessons and practice from very basic skill. To be a good player of classical guitar, you may need 3 years to reach mid-level.
Some people may think acoustic guitar is easier to learn because it seems that there’s no strict rules to play folk guitar. If you don’t want to play like shinning star or master, it’s fine if you just learn some simple score. But if you want to play as free as masters, you need to take time to practice hard.
Besides, both of them need knowledge of music score. This is the most important and basic knowledge you should learn.So from some point, folk guitar is easier, but there’s no easy way to learn classical guitar.
To know which kind of guitar you are interested most is very important for you to chose the best guitar. Unless you find out before start buying, it may waste you a lot of money. To know the difference between folk guitar and classical guitar will help you to make the decision, You ca n also refer to “Is Acoustic or Classical Guitar Better for Beginners?“
3. Which is the best,laminated, solid top or full solid?
According to material of guitar, there’s laminated type, solid top type and full solid type. Full solid is surely recommended, but the cost is surely higher. You need to be very careful when buying solid top guitar for the quality is vary.Laminated guitar’s quality is the lowest, even there’s some laminated with very good quality.Of course, laminated’s price is also the lowest.Before you make your decision, you need to know the difference between these three types.
3-1 Laminated guitar
This means the material of top,back and side is made of plywood.This character cause this type of guitar’s sound performance is already fixed and won’t change any more.We cannot deny that there’s laminated guitar with good quality, but to practice laminated type is still a great risk. It is very important for beginners to have good hearing ability to recognize good guitar sound. If use poor laminated guitar, the sound is not good,even not standard. This is the main reason why laminated is not a good choice.However, laminated guitar has low price, so you can choose if your budget is very limited.
3-2 Solid top guitar
What is solid top guitar? This means top is made of solid wood, back and side is made of plywood or top is made of plywood,back and side is made of solid wood. Top influences guitar sound more than back and side, so these years the first type of solid top is more popular.
Compare with laminated type,solid top surely performs better.Some good solid top guitar can even be used to perform in small party. You can refer to “Laminated Guitar or Solid Top Guitar“.
3-3 Full solid guitar
Full solid guitar means top,back and side and other parts are made of solid wood material.As mentioned material of guitar above, full solid guitar performs the best. And because of character of wood, full solid guitar’s performance may has large improving space.This kind of guitar is the most costly guitar. However, it is surely worthy having one full solid type.
You can also refer to “Full Solid Guitar or Solid Top Guitar“.
We talked about three types of guitar, which one is the best for you to choose is related to your budget as well. We will talk about budget strategy later.
4. Which is the right size to choose?
Classical type’s size is normally 36 inch,37 inch,38 inch and 39 inch.You can choose according to your age and body size. Remember that 36 inch and 37 inch classical guitar is mainly for children from 6 years old to 12 years old. 38 inch and 39 inch is suitable for adult. The scale length,size of neck(length and width),etc is along with body size of guitar,don’t worry you or your children plays guitar with different body size and other parts.
For folk guitar,the normal size is 40 inch,41 inch, 42 inch and 43 inch. The size smaller than 40 inch is not so common.You can choose mainly according to your body size. If your children is very young, then ask the seller if they have smaller size.
5. How to test the quality?
When talk about this point, many will say sound is the most important aspect to evaluate the quality. That’s true. A good quality guitar should basically play even sound. It may have deep bass, bright high tone and plentiful color, but if the sound is not even, nothing will get its meaning.
Well, there are some aspects you need see by your eye and feel by your hand.
First, check the appearance. Mainly notice that if any scratching or damage existed. And carefully check if any deformation appears.
second, smell the guitar,especially when you choose solid top or full solid types. If the guitar is made of good quality wood material, you can smell fragrance of wood.
Third, play guitar, but not only to hear the sound of guitar, but also to feel if the string’s height is proper and if fingerboard is smooth. Importantly, to check if string buzz existed, if so, this guitar is not a good choice.
Fourth, to check parts like tuning machine, nut and saddle,etc. To see if any damage or deformation existed.
Last, if you don’t know what kind of sound is good or don’t know how to judge if the guitar is well built, it is better to get a good player to go to the store along with you. Don’t just listen to what the seller told you.
6. Budget strategy
There’s a thing you should remember: to buy the best one you can afford. That means, if you can afford for a guitar worth US$100, don’t buy which the price is US$50. In music instrument filed, price mostly reflect the quality. Remember this rule will greatly save your time and money.
Generally speaking, when you make a decision of the budget amount, try to leave a space of ±10% for some supplier won’t give accessories like bag, belt,etc freely. This is a reminding.
For beginners, solid top guitar is proper. But please note that there are many with very cheap price and poor quality, so you need to carefully test the quality.For solid top, it is reasonable to choose from US$200~700 for folk guitar. The solid top classical guitar’s price will also be vary, but it is reasonable to choose from US300~1000.
Well, the pricing of full solid guitar is more complicated. It may cost US$1000 or it will cost US$10000 and even more. Especially, full solid classical guitar’s price is high. Obviously, this type is not so suitable for beginners unless you really can afford US$1000 and more to buy a full solid guitar. Some low grade full solid guitar’s price maybe lower than US$800, if it is affordable for you, then forget solid top types.
Normally, the seller provides accessories like bag,case,belt, etc freely, but not all of them can do this. When you do comparing, don’t forget to consider these auxiliaries. And here’s secret, the free accessories’ price is already calculated in sale price, but better little than nothing. If accessories are given, it at least save your time.
Laminated is not recommended as mentioned. The price maybe from US10~100. But is it really worthy taking a risk to use the instrument may destroy your guitar life forever? If you just can afford this level, please be very careful in inspection of quality and get the best as you can.
7. Is online shopping a good idea?
Well, there are tons of online store, why they existed? It is a trend that people do business through internet and computer more and more often. And some of them even give cheaper price for lower cost. And some stores really carry out outstanding service. So it is surely a good idea to shop online.
Bad news is that it surely take time to choose the best guitar online.Main reason is that it is difficult for you to check the quality with your hand before take out money from your pocket. So videos is very important to help you to confirm the quality. And nowadays, many online stores have money refund guarantee, that’s good. However, if you want to buy major brand like Gipson, YAMAHA,etc., online shopping can really save your energy and time.
If convenient, it is still recommended to go to your local store to see by your eye, to hear by your ear and to touch by your hand to make your decision.
8. Does brand matter?
We mean if major brand matters, not those minor brand you never heard about. Well, major brand like YAMAHA, Gipson, Fender,etc, earned its reputation for its quality. They are famous not only because of their competitive advertising strategy. It is a good choice to choose the best guitar from those brand.
But do remember that there are many good manufacturers make really good guitars though their brand is not so famous and even you never heard. Under the same condition and quality, guitars of those good minor brands are surely cheaper than major brand. And some of minor brands maybe listed in your local store.It is better for you to go and find it out.
9. Follow your heart
We talked a lot to help you to make the decision. Some times, what your heart tells you is the best. No matter how much you know about guitar, it is still not easy to choose the best one for yourself. And when you go to a store and be attracted by a guitar, and your heart tells you to try it. If this happened, don’t hesitate to try. If everything\s going well, we should congratulate you. If not, stay in the store for a longer time and try more.