Choosing a Guitar from a Players Perspective 2

MD9A2174In the previous article I wrote about technical basics of choosing a guitar. The next step is to determine if that guitar sounds its best and the way you like.

The first thing that we notice about a guitar is the way it sounds. Picking a guitar that sounds the best to you, seems pretty obvious. There are however, some more details about the sound that we should concentrate on. First, pay attention to the balance of the instrument. Some guitars have very good trebles, but lack in the bases. Others have rich and deep bases, but suffer in the trebles. In some cases, you might be able fix the imbalance by using appropriate strings. However, it is better to choose the instrument that gives you good balance between all the strings without having to find special string combinations for it. Sometimes, the first string sounds great, but the 2nd and, especially, the 3rd string don’t compare in volume and balance to the rest of the instrument. So play different types of pieces on it; something with counterpoint to make sure that you can bring the voice that you want, something with a melody in the bass, also a melody in the higher register.

If you find that you like the sound of the guitar and it’s well balanced, then check the intonation. Even the best concert guitars can have issues with tuning. It’s true that intonation can be fixed to an extent by adjusting the sattle, but it is something that we should consider when choosing a guitar. First tune the guitar to the best of your ability and see if it sound in tune in all registers. Then to be more specific, play the harmonic and the fretted note on the 12th fret of each string, to make sure that they sound in unison. If something sounds off, like for example, the 3rd string fretted note at the 12th fret is sharper than the harmonic of the same string and fret, that means that the intonation of the 3rd string is off. It could be that particular string, but it could also be that the sattle needs to be adjusted to accommodate the sharpness and bring it down. If everything else about that particular instrument is to your liking, and the only problem is the intonation, then you can look into fixing the intonation.

The way the guitar sounds, reflects directly on how we play it. If the guitar doesn’t give you enough sound, then you subconsciously try to play louder on it by putting more effort into our playing. At first it might not seem like a big deal, but over time we might injure ourselves, pushing our hands to their limit. One of the things you might hear often, is that the guitar will open up in time. To an extent, that’s true… A brand new guitar that hasn’t been played, will need some time to open up and loosen up the wood before it reaches its potential.  However, we can’t always rely on that. We never know how much the guitar will open up or not. So if from the very beginning, the guitar sounds really tight and it’s hard to get any sound out of it, I wouldn’t recommend getting it with the hopes that in time it will sound better. Choose a guitar that from the start, shows you its potential. It will only sound better after that.

When you walk out the door with your new guitar, you should have an instrument that is comfortable for you to play, has the sound that is appealing to you as an artist and a player and also allows you to play different kind of repertoire. Since most of us do not have the luxury of owning a number of guitar, and even if we do, we can’t always travel with more than one, so it’s important to have one guitar that allows you to play counterpoint, luscious melodies, something very quiet, or very loud. And most importantly, it should speak to you since you will be the one playing it most of the time and hopefully enjoying what you hear.

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