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wilhel1812's avatar

Any tips before buying an acoustic guitar?

Asked by wilhel1812 (2843 points ) August 15th, 2010

I’m starting on a folk high school this year, and I’m gonna take a guitar class in which I’ll need an acoustic guitar. I’m thinking of starting with something fairly cheap.

So I was wondering if any of you had any tips on what to look for and what to avoid. Should I get nylon or steel? Or should i buy whatever’s cheapest and change it myself? Any specific brands I should avoid?

All tips are welcome!

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12 Answers

gypsywench's avatar

Try not to get anything used if you’re starting off. Fender has a new line of affordable Starcasters. They seem to be decent.

Kayak8's avatar

I would get an acoustic with steel strings (personally) unless you are taking a classical guitar class and need the wider neck (nylon strings). The biggest thing I would encourage is make sure it has a truss rod that runs through the neck and is adjustable. You can usually tell because on the head of the guitar there is a long-triangle shaped piece that is removable and the end of the truss rod is behind it. That’s the place where the truss rod is adjusted.

I also happen to be fortunate to live in a town with a luthier. Here is a list of Luthier’s Guild members. A luthier will take the guitar and set it up for YOU. They adjust the action and straighten frets and play with the tension rod, etc.

Even an inexpensive guitar can be set up and the difference in playing is amazing. Use your guitar as it come (out of the box/case) for about a year until you learn some stuff, THEN go have a luthier adjust the guitar to your playing and playing style—amazing. You have to have a sense of how the instrument works before you can really talk with the luthier about what you need.

Cruiser's avatar

A dreadnought acoustic steel string guitar is your most versatile guitar I would suggest for a beginner. I would buy used as you can get some great guitars used. Stop in to a Guitar center and try them all and then look at the names of the guitars and then see what is available on Craigs list or Amazon.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Agreeing with @Cruiser, the Yamaha FG700S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar is highly regarded as a beginner’s guitar and is a bargain starting at $200. The Seagull S6 is rated higher but costs twice as much.
http://guitar.about.com/od/acousticguitar/tp/top5acoustics.htm

AC's avatar

Totally agree with @Cruiser that you must must must! give it a play before you buy.

Another thing I would do is slide my hand up and down the neck to get a sense of how it feels, oh and maybe even play every string individually on every fret to establish whether it has any horrible buzzes or not.

zenele's avatar

Don’t buy a classical and put steel strings on; don’t do the opposite either.

What kind of sound do you like/want to emit? Nylon classical and steel accoustic are very different sounds, and for different types of music (normally).

Do you have big hands or small hands? Ask about neck width and action (which can be adjusted slightly; neck width cannot.)

When I bought my first guitars 30 something years ago, I tried to get the closest sound to the one the musician/music I liked to play. Why reinvent the wheel – especially when you’re an absolute beginner. I played alot of 70’s stuff – bought a Fender and an Ovation.

What’s your budget like?

Go to the store after you’ve answered these questions, and the salesman should be able to recommend a few.

Now play, listen, feel the guitar. It really has to sound and feel right – for you.

And then, like marriage, don’t sweat it too much; it’s only the first one. The second one, when you have more experience, will be even better.

;-)

wilhel1812's avatar

Thank you all for great answers!
If it makes any difference I want to move over to an electric guitar later on, but for now it will have to be acoustic because the class demands it.
My budget is somewhere above NOK 1000, that’s USD 160, but the prices might be a little different here. I might spend some more if I need too.

Cruiser's avatar

@wilhel1812 That amount should buy you a decent even really good used guitar or an OK bottom tier new acoustic. Used will at least should get you a descent case with the guitar which is a big part of the equation!

jaytkay's avatar

After taking a class, when you have some hours of practice, you can play a guitar for a minute and know if you like it or not.

Before that, it’s a mystery, you cannot tell good from bad.

So if you can borrow or rent for a while, I recommend it.

josie's avatar

If you can find a used Seagull S6 you will be golden. New, the guitar is about $400 which is not cheap for a beginner. Used, probably $2–300. But if you are truly serious, it is worth it. It is tough as a beginner to evaluate a guitar, because they all hurt your fingers, and buzz until you get conditioned. But if you are committed, you will appreciate a little bit better instrument in the beginning. If you are truly committed, you will start getting the idea in about 6 months. If you have a total garbage guitar, you will need another one by then, and your piece of junk will not be worth a penny to sell.
BTW Ditto Yamaha. Also a good beginner guitar.
Do not bother with a classical guitar in the beginning. Learn the basics and scales on steel. Add classical when you get really good.
Here is a tip that is priceless-you will hate it but learn the scales. It is boring at first, but if you master the scales, there will be no stopping you.

zenele's avatar

^ Good advice – I don’t know specifically about that guitar – I think it just means ^ had good experience with it – there really are dozens of selections in your price range – don’t forget to listen and feel the guitar – but the scales part is a good tip, as is finding a guitar you like – and a btter quality one. Not classical.

YARNLADY's avatar

Discuss this with your music instructor, and visit several musical instrument shops. You should talk to the various managers and see what they will suggest. Do not buy until you feel you have enough information to fulfill your needs.

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