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judyprays's avatar

Guitar shopping suggestions?

Asked by judyprays (1292 points ) January 13th, 2010

I want a gorgeous sounding, cutaway steel string guitar. Preferably well designed and used. Suggestions of how to buy one online?

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7 Answers

Tomfafa's avatar

As a ‘rock out’ aficionado… I would google tips online… but buying online… well… you really need to examine, even play at good volume when deciding. Check for rust and warpage, deal killers! Check the action. The best tip I can give (from experience) you is to be patient, patient and patient. Eventually… you’ll come across a dream at a good price. And also be knowledgeable! Research as much as possible. How long you been playing?

Judi's avatar

If you are set on buying one online, I would say to go into guitar center and play them all until you know exactly which one rings your bell. Then go online and find the best price. (But remember, like my friend above said, they are all unique. It’s sort of like saying you want to marry and Italian and then just ordering one up. You never really know if you will get along until you meet.)

sndfreQ's avatar

Yeah…second the going into a store and trying them out. Make sure you go in and say “I’m just researching today” or else they’ll hound you.

If you’re an experienced player, then you’ll probably be able to tell the difference in playability and action from the setting of the strings, and playing in the upper frets. Otherwise, try a couple of different makes to see the difference in tone, especially playing an open chord, and playing melodies (or even plucking single notes) both low and high up on the fretboard. Also, the action will be set lower on some makes/models and the string width is different from model to model as well.

Some brands I would steer toward (not sure of your budget or if you’re picking one for performance or just home enjoyment either): Taylor (if you have small hands the “Baby” Taylor is especially friendly for smaller people), Takamine ($$), Gibson ($$$), and Martin ($$) are all brands I’ve played and recommend. You can find “soundalike” brands that are decent (Yamaha, Ibanez, and even off-market knock offs like Sigma, which is made in Korea/Japan, but the same materials and construction as a Martin) that also sound decent.

I think the hardest thing to tell online is the sound-for obvious reasons. Best bet is to find some models you like in-store, and then research online. I have a bias toward Gibson and Martin steel string acoustics, but Takamine Guitars sound nice and bright and several have that synthetic back that actually brightens and projects the sound.

cyndyh's avatar

If you insist on buying online then be sure you’re willing to send it back. Liking the model doesn’t guarantee that you’ll like the individual guitar that you get. Make sure you’re dealing with someone reputable so you can get your money back if it comes to that.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It’s like shopping for a best friend to purchase online.
Five “identical” make and model guitars of the same age will sound different.

If you are serious about this guitar, treat the purchase like adopting a child.
Go to the guitar and hold it and play it and see if you makes friends with it.

sndfreQ's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence has made a good point-even the same make/model will yield different “sound” depending on the owner, the condition in which it was kept, and even the lot or batch of instruments made.

If you absolutely need to purchase online, I would contact the seller and make sure there is a return policy or money-back guarantee; they may or may not go for it especially if it is a private (individual) sale, but the more merchant-type storefronts would probably be more willing.

FWIW, I have bought three guitars online, and it was hit and miss each time. The most recent purchase was a Martin knock-off, a Sigma DR-28 which is a Martin HD-28 copy. I did a ton of research into the model, its construction, and the history of Sigma guitars (the quality varied greatly over the years-mine was at the end of the “Japan” years, and proved to be outstanding for the price). Basically a $1500 equivalent guitar (the Martin) for about $300.

Again it’s a very personal, subjective thing to buy guitars, so research as much as you possibly can!!! Good luck.

Cruiser's avatar

I just bought a killer Fender Active J bass on Amazon at 60% the cost of new and an insane Pacific drum kit for ½ the cost of new on Craigs list. The drum kit we drove and checked out before buying the bass I was able to see 5 good view pics before buying.

Just be smart about it. Check references.

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