How to choose guitar?

After playing the guitar for 20 odd years, many a times friends ask me help to choose a guitar for themselves or their loved ones and my attempt here would be to pass on that knowledge down to others so that they don't make the same mistakes and benefit from a guitar that gives them the same joy that my guitars have given me.

So if you are a beginner looking to buy your first guitar… Read on!

Before you even think about budget, brand, wood, neck, pickups so on and so forth…..FIRST take a good look at your hands.

Do you have small hands, big hands, small fingers, long fingers, etc, this is the first step in choosing a guitar, cos if you small fingers and you are choosing a wider fretboard, chances are it will be unplayable (Especially in case of children), you will need to put in extra effort and modify your playing technique to accommodate a wider fretboard. And vice versa for large hands and small fretboard.

Also if you are buying an acoustic guitar, it is also important to understand the climate in general of the place where you live eg is it too humid? Or is it too dry?

How is it relevant to a guitar you ask? Have you noticed that during rains our home doors get swollen and get stuck while closing? Similarly a guitar since made of wood will absorb moisture or dry out…So buying a hygrometer will help you understand the moisture levels and keep your guitar healthy.(A much more detailed topic all together)

Post the physical examination, the next step should be the budget, don't allocate the total budget to the guitar, but keep some for the accessories (Many a times a bag/carrying case/tuner may be included) like a guitar maintenance kit, picks, guitar strap, stand, this will help you make a complete package.

Research – there are many online resources that give in-depth information on tone woods, guitar body types, etc. Do your research on the type of guitar that you would like to go in for and the one that would be suitable for you. Also whether you will be using it mainly at home or jam with others or perform. Which will then help you arrive if you need an acoustic, electro-acoustic or a solid body electric.
Buying - Choosing a guitar is primarily like buying a car, you would like like to test-drive before you buy, but if you are not able to do it, then buy from a reliable and trusted site like this one, I personally didn't like a uke that I purchased and my money was refunded, so it was a good experience.

So once you have done all of the above and you have received your guitar, conduct the following checks…

Check the guitar in general – check for any cracks,scratches,dings,bumps in the body, check the joints of neck to body, gently shake the guitar to see if anything is rattling inside ( I once found a silica sachet inside), check if the paint/Finish is even and there are no bumps.

Check the fretboard - Are the frets leveled? You can do it with a metal scale. Are any damaged? You will have to eye-ball this one. Are any frets sharp? Run you palm across the neck of the guitar and check if any of the frets have sharp edges, as these can cut you while playing. Also check for fret buzz

Check the Action - What's the "action", you ask. Action is the space between the fretboard and the strings. You'll want this to be as comfortable as possible. The better your action, the better your "playability" some like the action higher and some like it low. Don't adjust the truss rod if you don't know what you are doing, you may end up damaging the guitar.

Check the pick-ups – (assuming its electro-acoustic) – Check if they function well, no buzz, unwanted sounds etc. Connections are good. Take and flashlight and check inside the guitar body and check all the electrical connections.

Finally, if the guitar passes all these tests, you are good to go and Rock on !!!

Remember that if you treat your guitar with love and take care of it, it will love you back ....

and do take it to a luthier (Guitar repair Wala) from time to time for setups.

This isn't a comprehensive list, so if you have any questions hit me up in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Hope this helps you find the dream guitar and make lovely music together….Cheers


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