I want to learn to play guitar. What would be a good accoustic guitar for me to buy?

I’m looking for something nice but not very expensive.

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8 Responses to “I want to learn to play guitar. What would be a good accoustic guitar for me to buy?”

  1. tigercub1 said:

    you want to learn to play.what if you cant.what if its too hard.ask your music teacher that works in your school or anyones school and rent one.guitars can be expensive.rent one till you know you will keep at it.

  2. faifai143 said:

    I would recommend going to http://www.musiciansfriend.com. They are a branch of Guitar Center but I find that the prices on Musicians Friend are still a bit lower. The only problem is that you wont have a chance to try it out first. So What I would recommend you do is to go to a guitar store, try out the guitars that you might be interested in and then buy it online later. Another option is to go to http://www.craigslist.com and buy a used guitar. Good luck on your mission and have fun with it

  3. sarge927 said:

    There are several guitar manufacturers who make good-quality instruments at a decent price. Here is a list of some:

    Yamaha
    Fender
    Washburn
    Jasmine
    Epiphone (but some are very expensive)

    Check out the following website for some of the best prices anywhere on guitars and other musical gear:

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/

  4. Mr. Diamond007 said:

    100.00 one at k-mart, or go to a pawn shop…you don’t want expensive at this time…you might change your mind later…i’m a teacher..(i know)….lol…..short neck..light strings…steel adjustable rod…metal machine heads…(covered) steel frets..ivory nut and bridge…with “pegs” that hold the strings…easy to change….lol….

  5. mickeymann said:

    Go for as expensive as you’re willing to go. Believe me. Playing a cheap guitar, especially learning on a cheap guitar is like walking on a sunny day in galoshes instead of tennishoes. They’re unwieldy. Maybe go for the lowest end Fender — or a little higher than lowest end. I bought a $400 Fender 15 years ago, and it’s like new. I think guitars cost more back then, though, and it was a high, mid-range quality. I think for $250 you can find something good. Martin is very good (that might be by the Fender company, though). And, –however tedious the repetition of beginning lessons, do them diligently. It will pay off in the end.

  6. chessmaster1018 said:

    I suggest to all my new students to buy a Yamaha acoustic, you can get them for under $200.00, even less at the Guitar Center on sale, and their very good with dropping the price, just ask for a deal. I went there one day to look at their classical guitars, and played around with this Yamaha and I was so surprised at how nice this one sounded for the price, now remember they may all look alike but they all sound a little different, so make sure that you try them all out…..especially for action and sound. You’ll see this is a great little guitar…..not only for starters…..because I bought one myself to play with my students !!!!!!

  7. Rachel_S165 said:

    Don’t go for the $100 one at K-Mart.

    Really cheap guitars are a waste of money — they sound like crap, they often don’t stay in tune very well, and set-up on anything you buy from K-Mart (or Wal-Mart for that matter) is non-existent, so its likely the strings will be way high up off the fingerboard and trying to play it will be like trying to play a cheese slicer. You’ll get discouraged and quit. Don’t go there.

    I wouldn’t advise buying a used instrument from e-Bay unless you’re already very familiar with different guitar brands and have a good eye for evaluating used instruments — and you’re willing to take a risk on getting a guitar that’s not what it was advertised to be.

    Go to a music store to shop for a guitar. At least there you’ll have some reasonable expectation that the instruments in the store will have been set up to play well before they were put out on display. Entry-level brands to look for: Washburn, Yamaha, Johnson, Blueridge, Alvarez. If possible, bring a friend who already plays guitar with you to help you evaluate the different instruments. If not, get one of the store sales people to play the different guitars while you listen with your back turned and see which one sounds best to you. If you have more money to spend (over $1,000) and want a really good instrument – Martin, Gibson, Guild, and Ovation excellent names to look for.

  8. Guitar World said:

    The acoustic guitar may be the ultimate musical instrument. Small, lightweight and portable, it’s as versatile as a piano, yet it can be played anywhere. Whether you want to perform as a solo instrumentalist, gig with a band or accompany a singer, an acoustic guitar can do it all, and it’s ideal for playing just about any style of music you can think of.
    Every guitarist, from beginner to experienced pro, should own at least one good acoustic guitar. Even if you perform onstage with an electric guitar, regular practice on an acoustic guitar can help improve your technique and chops by encouraging you to play more cleanly and accurately.

    An acoustic guitar is also a useful tool for writing songs, allowing you to hash out ideas in an instant without having to set up a bunch of gear and spend time dialing in tones.
    As recently as 35 years ago, buyers’ choices for acoustic guitars were limited primarily to expensive custom and production models and cheap imported instruments built from laminated mystery woods. Only a few decent guitars were available in the middle range. Today, buyers can find great guitars in almost every price range, and there are more choices than ever. Quality has increased by leaps and bounds, and you no longer have to shell out thousands of dollars to get a guitar made from good materials.

    The incredible range of instruments available today can overwhelm first-time buyers long before they even set foot in a music store to try a guitar out. If your guitar-buying knowledge comprises nothing more than a list of random features you overheard from that guy on Home Shopping Network infomercials who looks like the lovechild of Zorro and Roy Orbison, you might walk out of the store with a decent instrument, but you certainly would do better armed with solid knowledge of what makes an acoustic guitar sound the way it does.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t take multiple advanced degrees in physics and musicology to understand the major features of acoustic guitar design. Once you know how various woods affect a guitar’s tone, which body styles are best for which styles of music and what the advantages of the various available options are, you’ll be able to choose an instrument that will provide a lifetime of playing satisfaction.

    NYLON OR STEEL?
    Years ago, most guitar teachers recommended nylon-string acoustics for beginners, mainly because nylon-strings are easier on uncallused fingers. Of course, back then most affordable steel-string acoustics had action one inch off the fingerboard, and fretting a chord on one could cut tender, inexperienced fingertips like a Ginsu knife. However, nylon-string guitars typically have wider fingerboards and thicker necks than most steel-string acoustics, which presents a challenge to beginners.

    Ultimately, the choice between a steel- or nylon-string instrument comes down to a matter of what style you want to play. Nylon-string guitars are best suited for playing classical and flamenco music, and many jazz guitarists play nylon-string guitars when they go unplugged. Of course, several guitarists have developed their own unique styles playing nylon-string guitars, like country artists Willie Nelson and Jerry Reed and new wave rocker Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera. For players of rock, metal, blues, country, and most other pop music styles, a steel-string guitar is a better choice. In this article, I’ll be focusing on the features that characterize a steel-string guitar, although some of these features often apply to nylon-string guitars as well.

    SPRUCED UP
    The sound of a steel-string guitar is influenced by several factors, such as the instrument’s size and bracing technique. The materials from which the top, back and sides are constructed define a guitar’s tone in broad strokes, whereas most of the other factors refine it in detail. I’m not suggesting that a hundred-dollar import hawked by Zorro will sound almost identical to a $3,000 Martin if it’s made from similar materials, but you will notice that guitars made from certain materials will sound warmer or brighter overall compared to instruments made from other materials.

    The classic combination for most acoustic steel-string guitars sold these days is a spruce top with rosewood back and sides. In fact, the majority of steel-string guitars sold these days feature a spruce top (or soundboard), although cedar tops are gaining popularity. Less commonly used top materials include mahogany, koa, redwood and walnut, with the latter three usually appearing on high-end custom models.

    Spruce remains the first choice for most guitar builders because it provides the ideal combination of flexibility, light weight and strength that guarantees good dynamic response and volume while it withstands the pressure exerted by steel strings. The acoustic qualities of spruce also help a guitar deliver full, round and balanced tone across its entire frequency range. Several varieties of spruce are used to construct tops—including Sitka, Adirondack (or red), Engelmann and German—but unless it costs several thousand dollars, chances are the guitar you’re considering has a Sitka spruce top.

    Many guitar builders use cedar for their soundboards because its strength is similar to spruce and it’s not as stiff. As a result, the guitar’s tone is warmer and richer, and it can produce impressive volume with enhanced bass when the strings are played softly. However, guitars with cedar tops are usually not as loud as spruce-topped guitars, and the tone may “overload” and become muddy more quickly when the strings are played forcefully.

    Softwoods like spruce and cedar remain the preferred soundboard choice for most guitar builders, but hardwoods like mahogany and maple are gaining popularity. Guitars with mahogany tops were common during the Thirties and Forties (Gibson and Martin produced several models), but they nearly vanished by the mid Seventies. Today, they’re making a modest comeback thanks to the efforts of companies like Martin and Taylor. A mahogany top gives a guitar a very strong, punchy, but not especially complex or rich, tone that’s ideal for blues, country and folk music. Both Bob Dylan and Judy Collins started their careers playing mahogany-topped guitars.

    One important consideration when choosing an acoustic guitar is whether it has a solid or laminated top. Solid tops generally provide superior tone, with enhanced projection and greater resonance, but they are also more expensive. The main benefits of a laminated top are greater durability and lower cost, but guitars with laminated tops tend to sound more one-dimensional and less complex than guitars with solid tops.

    MATERIAL GOODS
    While a guitar’s top needs to be flexible so it can vibrate and amplify the sound of the strings, the back and sides generally need to be more stiff and solid to project the top reflections that shape the guitar’s sound and resonance. Hardwoods like rosewood, mahogany and maple remain the primary choices here, although cherry, koa, walnut and redwood are also popular.

    Rosewood is the most common material used to construct an acoustic guitar’s back and sides because it delivers a broad range of overtones, with an emphasis on low frequencies. As a result, guitars made from rosewood are usually quite loud and rich sounding, with an attractive darkness and warmth. Many builders consider Brazilian rosewood the ultimate tonewood, but it’s extremely rare and expensive these days due to importation bans enforced to discourage the deforestation of Brazil’s rainforest. A Brazilian rosewood option alone often costs more than an entire guitar made from high-quality materials. Indian rosewood is a much more affordable and plentiful alternative, and this is what you’ll find on most guitars with rosewood construction.

    Mahogany is another excellent and versatile tonewood, but its density can vary considerably, which means that guitars with carefully chosen, high-grade mahogany sound considerably better than those with lesser grades of mahogany (which are usually softer, less durable and less resonant). Good mahogany can make the treble sparkle, and it’s a great material for dreadnought guitars because it helps focus the bass response and makes the guitar’s overall tone more balanced. The Martin D-18, a dreadnought model with mahogany back and sides, remains one of the most popular guitars for this reason.

    Guitars constructed with maple or walnut backs and sides tend to have a bright, dry tone with a fast attack and crisp treble that allows the tonal characteristics of the top to dominate. These materials are often used on jumbo body guitars to help keep the tone from being overly boomy and reverberant. Cherry wood can sound similar to maple, although it tends to accentuate the midrange.

    Other tonewoods like ash and zebrawood are gaining in popularity and can be found on a variety of affordable models, while koa and redwood generally remain the exclusive domain of expensive custom models. Several major companies are experimenting with sustainable woods and high-pressure laminates. In addition, Ovation/Adamas have built guitars with synthetic composite backs for over 40 years, and RainSong offers acoustic models with stable and durable carbon bodies and necks. Each of these materials offers its own distinctive tone qualities, and they can be great choices when you want a guitar with a slightly different personality and voice than the bulk of spruce/rosewood instruments available on the market.

    SIZE ME UP
    The second most important factor that determines a guitar’s overall tone is its body size and shape. Like the feminine form that influenced its design, acoustic guitars come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from jumbo to petite, and with round or square shoulders, slim or narrow waists and buxom or slender curves. Over the years, acoustic guitar body shapes have become somewhat standardized, although many manufacturers have their own nomenclature to describe the different body sizes they offer. For example, in naming body sizes from smallest to largest, Martin uses designations like “0,” “00,” “000,” “OM,” “D” and “J,” while Taylor uses terms like “Grand Symphony,” “Grand Concert,” “Grand Auditorium,” “Dreadnought” and “Jumbo.”

    Small-bodied guitars (which include those typically called “grand,” “concert” and “auditorium”), were very popular during the 1800s and early 1900s, but when Martin introduced their dreadnought models these guitars slowly vanished from the market. Today, small-bodied guitars are making a comeback as players rediscover their unique tones. Some of today’s most popular small-bodied guitars include the Gibson Blues King Modern Classic (modeled after the 1930s Gibson L-00), the Seagull Coastline Cedar Grand and Martin’s limited-edition 00 models. These guitars are full-sized instruments with standard scales and are not to be confused with “baby,” “little” or “travel-sized” guitars, which are usually scaled-down instruments with shorter scales and downsized proportions.

    Small-bodied guitars are often favored by fingerstyle players because they provide sparkling treble and warm, understated bass that doesn’t dominate the guitar’s tone. Many blues players like small-bodied Gibsons not only because many classic blues guitarists favored these guitars during the Depression years (in the Thirties, models like Gibson’s L-00 were low-cost budget guitars) but also because they provide excellent single-note definition for playing solos or with a slide. A small-bodied guitar seems like a great choice for child who is learning to play, but the scale and neck dimensions are often identical to those of larger guitars. A “baby,” or 3/4-scale instrument, such as a Taylor Baby, may be a better choice for kids.

    Medium-sized guitars, like Martin’s 000 and OM models and Taylor’s Grand Concert, offer enhanced midrange and greater volume output than small-bodied guitars. A well-designed medium-sized guitar produces exceptionally well-balanced tone and output across the entire frequency range. These guitars are the preferred choice of many fingerstyle players, but they’re also great for recording, as they don’t produce the excess bass frequencies and overtones that can make a recording sound muddy. Many acoustic-electric guitarists are turning to medium-sized guitars as well, because the smaller body dimensions and lower bass output make them less susceptible to feedback.

    Ever since Martin started producing its own dreadnought model guitars in 1931, this body style has dominated acoustic guitar design, and it remains the most popular guitar body style to this day. The dreadnought’s deep bass response makes it an ideal rhythm instrument, and its exceptional volume output makes it a great choice for solo performers or players who want to compete with electric instruments. A dreadnought guitar also responds exceptionally well to forceful playing with a flatpick, which makes it a good choice for electric players who want to make the transition to acoustic without having to alter their playing style too much. With its ability to handle flat-picked bass lines and leads, strummed chords and fingerstyle equally well, a dreadnought is a versatile guitar that’s suitable for playing nearly every style of music.

    Jumbo guitars, like the Epiphone EJ-200, Guild F-50, Washburn J28 and Takamine TF250, have huge bass and commanding volume output, which make them impressive unplugged rhythm instruments. To compensate for the excess bass that a jumbo body can produce, most jumbo guitars are built with maple backs and sides, which helps accentuate the treble and midrange produced by the top. However, some players prefer the canyon-like reverb produced by a jumbo guitar with mahogany or rosewood construction. The sound of a jumbo guitar is definitely not understated, which is why rockers like Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Noel Gallagher often choose jumbo guitars when playing acoustic.

    NECK TO NECK
    While good tone is a primary concern, it’s not the only feature you should consider when buying an acoustic guitar. An instrument’s playability is equally important. Whereas you generally focus on a guitar’s body shape and materials when judging tone, the neck is the main factor to examine when evaluating its playability. Many features of a neck, such as its profile, scale length, fingerboard material and fingerboard width, are a matter of personal taste. However, certain construction details, such as fretwork and wood quality, can make or break a deal for almost anyone.

    You don’t need to be an experienced guitarist to spot a poor fret job. First, examine the edges of the frets by running your thumb and fingers along to outermost edge of the fretboard. The frets should feel smooth and even. If the edges feel sharp or they stick out too far from the fretboard (or don’t quite reach the edge), consider another instrument, as the guitar may need a fret dressing or replacement that will significantly add to the guitar’s expense; or it may have problems with an unstable fingerboard that expands and contracts too easily. This is also a good time to examine each fret. The surface should look shiny and smooth, with no marks or sharp burrs from tooling and no pointy edges that can cut your fingers. Run your fingers along each string up and down the fretboard to check if the frets feel smooth.

    Acoustic guitar necks are usually made from mahogany or maple, and most players don’t have a preference between the two. The profile of the neck is more important to most players, and this is one feature where you’ll need to determine what feels right to you. Necks come in a wide variety of shapes, such as flat, rounded or V-shaped. Many fingerstylists and rock players prefer a flat neck profile, as it makes it easier to move up and down the neck and fret notes with little resistance. Many traditional-minded players prefer C- or U-shaped necks, because the extra neck mass enhances tone, and many rhythm players like to have a little extra “meat” to anchor their hands on. A V-shaped neck provides a balance between the fast playability of a flat profile and the tone of a rounded profile, but some players don’t like the way the somewhat sharp edge feels in the palm of their hands.

    You may have noticed that most guitars come with either rosewood or ebony fingerboards. Some players prefer one wood over the other, but for most acoustic guitarists the choice comes down to a matter of cost and appearance, with ebony being the more expensive and attractive choice of the two. The tighter, denser grain of ebony can enhance a guitar’s tone, but some guitarists find that an ebony fingerboard feels too slick and slippery beneath their fingers. If your fingers look brown or dirty after you run your fingers across a guitar’s fingerboard, don’t buy that instrument. Some manufacturers stain inferior woods, such as pine, to make the fingerboards look like rosewood or ebony, but these mystery materials may warp easily and wear out quickly, leaving you with a worthless instrument.

    Many acoustic guitars feature cutaways that provide access to the neck’s uppermost frets. One drawback of a cutaway is that it decreases the body’s size and makes the body shape asymmetrical, which can affect the guitar’s bass and treble response as well as its volume output. Guitarists who like to take advantage of the instrument’s entire range are willing to make this compromise, but if you don’t ever plan on playing any higher than the fifth fret, you should stick with a noncutaway design.

    DETAILS, DETAILS
    By now you should have found a guitar that sounds and plays great, but several other details need inspection before you lay down your hard-earned cash. First, examine the quality of the tuners by loosening and retightening the strings. The action should feel smooth, and the strings should tighten up without slipping. If the tuners don’t seem up to snuff, it’s not necessarily a make-or-break deal, as long as you’re okay with shelling out a few extra bucks for an upgrade and installation.

    Next, examine the nut, saddle, bridge and end pins. Each string should be evenly spaced across the nut, saddle and bridge, and make sure that the nut and saddle aren’t chipped, a sign of inferior material. The strings shouldn’t cut too deeply into the bridge between the saddle and endpins. If they do, the strings will likely cut even deeper over time, causing the strings to slip and negatively affecting tone.
    Also, examine where the bridge meets the body. The bridge should lie flush against the body, and the saddle should be positioned perpendicular to the strings. If the saddle leans forward or backward, it has probably come loose and will need to be reinstalled. Make sure that the endpins don’t mount too deeply inside the bridge, a telltale sign that the either the holes are too big or the bridge material is too soft. Eventually, the strings won’t stay anchored in place, which will cause severe tuning headaches.

    CODA
    Although there are many other details you could examine when purchasing an acoustic guitar including the finish, workmanship and bracing techniques, tone and playability will always remain the most important factors to any player. A guitar simply has to sound good and play great. Ultimately, that decision comes down to a player’s taste and preferences. If you stumble across a $500 guitar that truly inspires you to play, it will be a better choice than a $10,000 instrument that you just want to hang on the wall and look at. What matters most is whether the guitar you choose is right for you, and the best way to decide is to try as many guitars as possible before you lay out your hard-earned cash.




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