Home Creative Buying an acoustic guitar: what you need to know

Buying an acoustic guitar: what you need to know


If you’ve decided that it’s time to invest in a new acoustic guitar there are several things you need to keep in mind if you are going to find that instrument that is a perfect fit for you. Not all guitars are made equally; they vary greatly in sound, material and quality so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic info before making a commitment.

Determine your needs and budget

Before you turn on your computer or head to your local music store, sit down for a few minutes and think about what your guitar needs are. Are you a professional musician or just starting your first guitar lessons? Do you need an instrument for recording purposes or for live performances? How much are you ready to invest in a new instrument? These questions will help narrow down your selection so that is doesn’t become overwhelming.

Choose a body type

Acoustics guitars traditionally come in three body types; dreadnought, jumbo and classic. These styles tend to vary from one manufacturer to the next but some characteristics remain consistent. The classic body style tends to give a well-balanced sound between frequencies and a medium sound projection. Popular with fingerpick style players, the classic body works just as well for strummers. Light gauge strings work best for this model.

For those who like a little more bass in their sound, the dreadnought style is the way to go. This style has an overall bigger sound, which carries the base and has almost a booming effect. Medium gauge strings have the best sound on these guitars but beginners can start with light gauge to good effect.

The jumbo style combines the best of both worlds. The jumbo has a similar body shape to the classic style but creates big sound like the dreadnought. Popular with performing artists, the jumbo also sounds its best with medium gauge strings.

Judging in-store models

You’ve made it to the store, you know your needs and budget, now what? As you make it through the store’s selection of merchandise here are the things you will want to examine on every guitar that you consider.

  1. Check for any cracks or dents. This goes extra is you are considering a used instrument but even new instruments incur some wear and tear before they are purchased.
  2. Examine the neck of the guitar carefully to make sure is not bent or warped in anyway.
  3. The action, or the space between the fret board and the strings should be checked. An action that is too high can make an instrument hard to play. Too low and it can create an unpleasant buzzing sound. If you love the guitar but the action is off it can be adjusted by any guitar repairman for a small fee.
  4. The fret board should be smooth and not extend over the neck of the guitar.
  5. Neck widths vary on acoustic guitars; make sure the model you pick is a comfortable fit for the size of your hands.

Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including learning to play the guitar. He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ guitar chord songs in HD.

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