by Jim Hill Senseney Music, Inc.
In the last fifty years, the guitar has become one of the most popular musical instruments, so popular, in fact, that it’s become a cultural icon. Here are some of the things to consider in selecting a good guitar:
Guitar Consultant: First of all, go to a good local music store and talk to a knowledgeable salesperson, who should act as your consultant to help you select the right instrument.
Types of Guitars: The two basic types of guitars are electric and acoustic. The body on electric guitars is usually a solid plank of wood with electronics installed and requires an amplifier. The acoustic guitar has a bigger body that is hollow with more of a “box” shape.
Guitar Construction: Make sure the neck has an adjustable truss rod inside the neck to stabilize the neck and allow for adjustments to compensate for movement during seasonal temperature and humidity changes. Talk to your salesperson about the bow of the neck which is critical to how easy or difficult the guitar is to play. If you can feel the edges of the frets sticking out over the edge of the fingerboard then the wood in the guitar has dried out. If the angle
of the neck where it joins the body is too steep, no amount of adjusting or setting up will make the instrument play correctly.
Action and Set Up: The term “action” refers to how easy or hard the guitar is fret. The height of the strings from the fret board is the most critical aspect of action. If a player has a super light touch, the guitar strings can be set up a lot lower than if the player is very aggressive.
Intonation: Intonation refers to how well a guitar plays in tune with itself. If you play a chord in one position and then play the same chord further up the neck, it should still sound in tune. If the
guitar is not set up properly, it will not play in tune. This can be frustrating, especially to a beginning guitarist. Your salesperson will be able to help you check the intonation of the guitar you’re looking at.
Body shapes, Woods and Tone: Like aficionados of good food and wine, there are a lot of adjectives and phrases that guitar people will use to describe tone. Good tone is quite possibly the most important attribute of a guitar and the only way to judge it is to listen as you play or have your sales consultant play several different guitars. The shape of the guitar body and the wood that it’s made out of will greatly affect the sound of the guitar, especially on an acoustic instrument. An experienced guitar consultant will be able to tell you how different woods will affect the sound of the guitar.
Appearance and Finish: A beautiful guitar will invite and entice a guitarist to pick up and play it. Different woods will offer a majestic beauty to the appearance of the guitar. When selecting your new guitar, you’ll want to select with your eyes as well as your ears and hands. The main thing to consider when selecting your new guitar is the reason you’re purchasing it: fun, enhancement of your lifestyle, to make friends and create something beautiful and lasting. Enjoy the experience of searching for your new guitar and then, most
importantly, enjoy the lasting beauty and music you’ll be making.