Today we'll go over the process of buying your first guitar – a big day for every wanna-be guitarist.
What should you look for? How do you make sure you won't regret the purchase due to a sudden defect you haven't noticed before? How to get the best bang for the buck?
When you go to buy a guitar, you may have some idea of the kind you want, but whether you do or not, you'll need to take a good look at all those that are in the store. You start off by choosing the one you like the look of.
Then if it feels comfortable to hold, you need to hear how it sounds. Playing the guitar in a shop may make you feel a bit intimidated, but you really do need to actually play the thing before you decide to buy it.
If you are buying an electric guitar, make sure it's plugged into the same kind of amp that you plan to use; otherwise, the sound will be different.
When you are playing it, strum the open strings hard so you can hear the sustain, and listen for any problem like buzzing strings. Play each fret on the neck to make sure there are no fret buzzes.
Don't be afraid to ask if you can play it in a quieter room if there is too much surrounding noise for you to hear properly.
If you don't know anything about how to play the guitar, take along someone who does.
It's a good idea to write down all the details of each guitar you try, or you are likely to get them mixed up. If you write down the make, model, price and what it looks like, you'll remember when you get home.
To make the right decision, spend as much time as you need in the store and thinking about each guitar afterwards.
Once you've narrowed down your choice to two or three, start an online search for those makes and models. While the brand name websites will be pushing their own brands, you'll be able to find out more details than the shop assistant would know.
This way you can get vital feedback from other experienced players. Standard Guitar Notes The standard notes on a six-stringed guitar are easy to remember if you think of a piano keyboard. Find middle C and go to the second E note below it. This is the low E on the guitar's sixth string.
The next A-note (going up) on the piano keyboard is the A-note that the guitar is tuned to in standard tuning. Continue to the right-hand side, and the next D note on the piano is the guitar's D-note and so on up G, B to high E.
That is, the E-note just above middle C on the piano is the high E on the guitar.
If you are not familiar with a keyboard or piano, then they can be described like this:
- E is the first string (skinniest string-highest pitch),
- B is the 2nd string, G is the third string, D is the fourth string,
- A is the fifth string, and
- E is the sixth string, (thickest and lowest in pitch).
Each line and space represents one note of the musical alphabet; A through to G. Starting from the bottom line and going up on the lines only, the notes are E, G, B, D, F. Most people remember them by saying, “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”
Also starting from the bottom, the spaces are similarly identified as F, A, C, E, which is easily remembered because it spells “face”.
Only that also has another staff for the left hand printed underneath the right hand one.
Each of the standard music notes will not be represented by a letter, of course, but by notes of various shapes that depict how long the note is to be held for.
A single hollow oval with no stem is called a whole note, while a hollow note with a stem is a half note. If the oval part is solid and it has a stem, it is a quarter note.
Each note has a rest that belongs to it, depicted by a specific shape so that we know when to play a note and when there should be a pause in the music.
If we need to write or play more than the eleven notes available on those eleven lines and spaces we can add extra, shorter lines either above or below the staff.
They are called ledger lines, and the letters of the notes are simply repeated, either an octave or two higher or lower.
There are many kinds of guitars, and they all differ in various ways. The two most significantly different guitars are the acoustic and the electric, but within these two types, there are many others.
Acoustic guitars are made from wood and depend solely on their body shape and strings to produce their sound.
They don't need the power to run them, though it may be used — for acoustic-electric guitars.
They don't need effects boxes of any kind, as does the electric guitar. They have a hollow body and usually have nylon strings.
Of the many acoustic guitars there are:
- Classical — the choice for most beginners. Usually played in a sitting position.
- Flamenco — similar to classical but thinner with a crisper sound.
- Steel-top — has a larger body than the classical and it is reinforced for durability, has a warmer tone.
- 12-string — each of the standard 6 strings has another one, set an octave higher. The semi-chorus effect is very harmonious.
- Resonator — similar to the steel-top but has steel in the center of the soundboard that resonates. Variations of the resonator can be played on the lap like organ or piano, frequently used for playing blues.
- Arch-top — often preferred by jazz players, but can be extremely expensive, has an f-hole design.
- Acoustic bass — usually 4-stringed but can have 5 or 6, and played without electronic pick-ups.
Electric guitars depend on being played through an amplifier for their sound.
- If they are not plugged into an amplifier, you can hardly hear them.
- They are also used in conjunction with various types of sound boxes that make different sound effects.
- Control knobs are used to change the tone or volume and are used to shift from treble intensive to bass intensive.
- Whammy bars are used to create so-called “crying” sound but are not advised for use on cheaper models as it can make the guitar go out of tune.
- Electric guitars have thin, steel strings that are closer to the neck, thus needing less effort to push them down.
- The amplifier is an essential part of the whole set-up. Electric guitars have solid wood bodies that are smaller in size, but heavier than the acoustic.
- They can be shaped in a variety of ways; in fact, some have been carved to look like hands. They come in both 6-string and 12-string versions.
- While some acoustic guitars are also electric, the reverse is not true; electric guitars are never acoustic.
Alright, by now picking your first guitar should be a little easier. You don't have to know everything about guitars to pick a good one – just a few rules of thumb.
It's good to also talk to the staff as they are usually quite knowledgeable. Usually, but not always – that's why you have to do your own research beforehand.
Here is a video to make things easier – especially for visual learners!
Liked this little tutorial? Well, there are many more here on Blue Buzz Music – make sure to stick around, and you'll end up learning a ton!