Acoustic guitars are pretty easy to master, and anyone can quickly pick up a few chords and perform almost any hit song. However, purchasing an acoustic guitar is not an easy undertaking, mainly if you are oblivious to what to know before buying an acoustic guitar.
Finding the perfect acoustic guitar can be a fun experience. With an assortment of excellent instruments vying for your attention, your selection does not have to be daunting.
How you intend to use your guitar (be it in-home recording gigging out) will help you narrow down your search. Fortunately for you, this article pieces all the relevant details about the things to know before buying an acoustic guitar.
What should I know before buying an acoustic guitar? (12 Things)
Here are some factors to consider when shopping for an acoustic guitar:
1. Your Budget
Playing guitar costs money. Generally, the more money you’re willing to spend, the higher the chances you’ll get a premium quality instrument, at least up to a point.
Spending more than $1000 on your first guitar is illogical.
Look for well-known manufacturers like Yamaha, Ibanez, Taylor, or Fender, which provide a broad spectrum of outstanding models at various price points.
You can acquire a decent basic acoustic guitar for roughly $100. If you currently own an acoustic guitar and want to learn and improve your abilities, spending at least $500 on a new one is a good idea.
2. Body Shape And Size
I bet you want an acoustic guitar that promises comfort when your fingers pluck the strings. Pros will tell you that learning a guitar is not a walk in the park, and the last thing you’ll want is to struggle while undertaking that exercise.
Acoustic guitars come in different sizes. They include:
Grand Concert– It is roughly 13″ and ideal for smaller musicians.
Grand Auditorium – A little larger space with a balanced sound and adequate volume.
Jumbo is slightly bigger than the Grand Auditorium and is ideal for country music.
Dreadnought — With a length of around 20 inches, this is the best pick for bluegrass and related genres.
Travel/Mini – Comes in different sizes, but often tiny and convenient for travel.
Different body configurations produce different sounds. When trying out diverse guitars, ensure your right hand reaches the strings and your left hand the headstock.
Additionally, check if the neck size is comfortable for you and create chords effortlessly.
Your best bet is to borrow a friend’s guitar and assess how it feels in your hands. Otherwise, ask about the model’s measurements and buy a smaller/more extensive version for yourself.
It is the wood used in crafting an acoustic guitar’s body, giving different models varied qualities in sound, feel, and build quality.
The sounds you enjoy and how you strum your guitar will determine which tonewoods are best for you. Fingerstyle players, for instance, will choose the wood that reacts to their delicate playing over wood that takes more effort to resonate fully.
Beginners would find it difficult to hear and point out differences between the tonewoods. While there are various tonewood options available, the following are the most popular:
The essential part of an acoustic guitar is the top, and having a tonewood that sounds excellent and is stable is crucial.
For tops, spruce is a common choice. Its stiffness and lightweight make it an excellent choice for clear tones.
Rosewood has long been the preferred wood for bridges and fingerboards on acoustic guitars.
Most acoustic guitars have rosewood backs and sides, however owing to scarcity, these are usually only found on historical instruments or very costly modern versions.
Rosewood is renowned for producing a crisp low-end tone, strong mids, and rich high-end tones.
Tons of resonance, robustness, and easiness to work with are some of the qualities that make mahogany popular in modeling the back and sides of acoustic guitars.
Mahogany-topped acoustic guitars offer a powerful “punchy” tone perfect for performing country blues. They have a high sound velocity which produces a lot of overtones.
An excellent Mahogany guitar to consider is the Jasmine 6 String Acoustic Guitar (View on Amazon). It has laminated Nato sides and back, a satin finish, six strings, and a light string gauge.
Cedar, especially Western Red Cedar, is a favorite top wood because of its warm, balanced tone. Fingerstyle players love it because of its trademark rapid response to their style of play.
Maple has a rich treble and readily breaks through the mix without the inclusion of excessive tonal coloration.
When shopping for an acoustic guitar, consider the neck for playability and comfort. The key to obtaining the right neck profile for you is to try out as many guitars as necessary.
The size of the instrument’s body and the number of frets on the neck determines the neck’s width. Broader necks suit for fingerstyle playing.
For chords and strumming, necks having thinner nuts are preferable. If you don’t have a preferred style, try something that can accommodate both.
7. Nylon Or Steel Strings
The tone and feel of these two alternatives are the most notable disparities.
Nylon strings are gentler and won’t tire your fingers out as quickly. Their sound is also warmer.
Steel strings make extended practice sessions increasingly unpleasant, but they also contribute to increased loudness and a clear tone. Listen to how both alternatives sound and choose the one that appeals to you more.
Nylon strings have a softer, more mellow tone. They come in handy in flamenco and classical guitar performance and certain folk music.
Performers commonly employ steel strings in country, rock, and pop genres. Acoustic guitars with steel strings provide a louder, more unmistakable tone often associated with the conventional acoustic guitar sound.
It’s worth mentioning that if you purchase an acoustic guitar with nylon strings, you won’t be able to install steel strings on it, and vice versa.
Rosewood and ebony are the most common fretboard materials found on acoustic guitars. The main contrast between them is that rosewood is rough, whereas ebony is smooth. Ebony is also more costly, and it’s commonly seen on more premium acoustic guitars.
Intonation dictates whether notes play in sync as you progress up the neck. If the fret spacing is incorrect, your instrument won’t play in tune, rendering it unusable in performance and recording.
10. Tuning Machines
Tuning devices enable you to fine-tune and maintain pitch. Enclosed machine heads are less prone to corrosion and airborne corrosives, requiring less maintenance and repair than open tuning machines.
Another factor that influences the tone of your acoustic guitar is the layout, which could be laminated wood, solid wood, or a hybrid of the two.
The sound of solid wood trumps that of laminated wood, thus explaining why it (solid wood) is more expensive. On the other hand, laminated wood is significantly cheaper.
Different sorts of finishes can impact how the wood vibrates. Guitar manufacturers often decide the kind of finish; more often than not, they get it right.
They include French-polish, lacquer, Tung-oil, varnish, Shellac, Acrylic-Lacquers, water-based lacquer, and polyester-finishes.
1. What Should I Know About Acoustic Guitar?
An acoustic guitar comes with frets and strings that create sound by vibrating over a hollow chamber. The vibrations go through the air and don’t need electrical amplification.
2. What Size Acoustic Guitar Is Best For Beginners?
The 38-inch guitar is ideal for beginners. Many smaller guitars feature narrower fretboards, making it simpler to reach the top and bottom of the fretboard.
Consequently, this characteristic makes playing chords a breeze.
3. What Kind Of Music Does The Acoustic Guitar Play?
Jazz, blues, country, folk, pop, and bluegrass are just a few genres that employ acoustic guitar. Many versions are conceivable, ranging from the conventional OO and Parlour to the massive Jumbo and Dreadnought.
4. How Much Does An Acoustic Guitar Cost?
The price attached to an acoustic guitar depends on the name of the manufacturer, the caliber of materials used, craftsmanship, and accompanying accessories. With that in mind, expect to pay between $100 and $500.
However, a lower cost doesn’t necessarily imply low quality. You can acoustic guitars sporting high-quality materials such as spruce and rosewood.
5. How Much Should I Spend On An Acoustic Guitar?
A decent beginning guitar ranges from $100 to $500. Underperformers abound in this price bracket, but there are some hidden treasures as well.
Mid-level acoustics priced above $500 boasts superior audio components. High-end acoustics exceeding $1,000, on the other hand, have it all and are of exceptional build quality.
6. Is Acoustic Guitar Good For Beginners?
For most beginning guitarists, acoustic guitars are their preferred instrument. They’re well-balanced guitars in terms of tone and performance, and they take the shortest time to master the fundamentals of playing.
Final Take On What should I know before buying an acoustic guitar?
Combing the internet for information on things you need to know before buying an acoustic guitar can be overwhelming. Still, I’ve attempted to condense a few valuable guidelines to consider.
Irrespective of your budget, you want an acoustic that will fulfill your musical demands and allow you to deliver top-tier performances.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should be my first acoustic guitar?
If you’re stepping into the wonderful world of acoustic guitars for the first time, might I suggest considering the Yamaha FG800. A long-standing favourite among many novices, the Yamaha FG800 continues to be a strong recommendation due to its fantastic value for money. This model strikes a perfect balance of affordability and performance, consistently offering a stellar performance that might surprise you, given its humble price. Keep in mind, selecting the right guitar is a deeply personal experience, but the Yamaha FG800 is undoubtedly worthy of your consideration.
Should a beginner start with an acoustic guitar?
If we’re talking about developing your ‘musical ear’, starting off with an acoustic guitar might be an ideal choice. The acoustic guitar’s clear and direct sound allows you to unmistakably hear each note, providing a valuable training ground for your ears. In my personal experience, I found that beginning to play with an acoustic guitar significantly enhanced my ability to discern different notes and accordingly, bettered my overall musical understanding. So, to all those aspiring guitar players out there, an acoustic guitar just might be your perfect starting point.
What are the qualities of a good acoustic guitar?
A good acoustic guitar has certain characteristics that you should pay special attention to. These might vary depending on whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, but in general, a quality acoustic guitar should have a solid construction, comfortable playability, and the sound, oh the sound! It should be rich and resonate well. When you strum a chord, it should ring out clearly and bright, without any buzzing or damping. The wood used in construction also plays a major role, with heavier woods typically offering a fuller, richer sound as compared to lighter ones. The guitar’s neck should feel comfortable in your hands and the action (distance between the strings and fretboard) should be suitable, making it easy to play the strings without much effort. Finally, and most importantly, the guitar should inspire you to play more. After all, the journey of music is all about the joy and comfort it brings to you.