Choosing A Good Guitar

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Today I’m going to help you choose your good guitar. One that is setup to its best to represent you; ie. who you are and what you want to do with it.

Do note that I differentiate choosing your Good Guitar from choosing your First Guitar. The latter is about getting to a good guitar of good reputation with a good resaleable value. I recommend in my other article to find something more ‘popular’. That is because although not impossible, chances are we don’t get it right the first time so a popular one retains its value to give you more when you resell it to buy your final Good Guitar. But you still don’t want a boring First Guitar as it should have ‘inspiration’ enough to make you want to play it. So jump right there if you are considering buying your first guitar.

For the rest of us looking for your Good Guitar amongst the heaps of different makes and models, step right in!

There are so many ways to choose your Good Guitar but I will not write what others have written. There are a wealth of information on the internet. One can just do what comes naturally to them, for example, to find a guitar to which style is good for you; Google “Best guitar for <Style>. You’ll then have a whole day of guitars to consider.

But I want to share with you another way. What I want to share with you is about the concept of a funnel. Choosing your good guitar is like choosing a good spouse or a girl/boyfriend, you need to have your top 3 criteria and use it as a funnel to get to the ONE.

What is the three most important thing for you to own a guitar? Focus on these to be fulfilled first before you proceed. Most advice on the internet forces you to consider guitars based on what is the most important criteria down to their least important ones. They set you off to go for finding the best guitar with the best value and almost everyone ends up with a typical guitar that is the best value but not necessary the best one that speaks “YOU”.

Today guitars are versatile, I’ve played jazz on a flying V and rock on an archtop with no issues. My style tends to be jazzy but I’m using very unconventional guitars for that and I love it!! This Epiphone Crestwood is my guitar of choice for jazz. When I discovered it, I went “where was I not to find this gem?”. Well it’s because of advice out there points you to a good guitar but not your good guitar. Instead of a boring O strat or LP or PRS, how about this Epiphone Wilshire? Not expensive but a rare undiscovered guitar that is versatile and plays amongst the best out there.

So to choose guitar according to these traditional rules doesn’t work. It works as your first guitar but not good enough to find your O’Guitar, the one that you own and play for life.

Shop for one according to YOUR CRITERIA

Which one will be your Good Guitar? Start with stating your top 3 criteria. Go shopping for your guitar according to your first criteria, then second and third.

What is yours?

1. __________________
2. __________________
3. __________________

Some of the criteria you can consider

Appearance, Feel, Vibe, Best For Your Style, Color, Loud, Soft, Quiet, Timid, Grey, Raw, Rugged, Cool, Gentle, Playable, Need to have a F-hole, Steel String, For Jazz, For Getting The Girls, For Busking, For Glamour, For a Pet, Traveller, Played Sitting Down, For a mean boyfriend, For a cute girlfriend, Exotic, Black, Sunburst, Stand Out, Traditional, Humbuckers, Single Coils, P90s, Road Worn, Shiny, Rounded Jazz Tone, Solid Metal Tone, Looks Good on Me, Sounds like me, Make my heart sing, Compliment my bike, my spouse, my dog. Fit the interior of my room, hall, toilet…. 

The list goes on. These criteria don’t even have to make sense as long as it makes sense to you. It’s your criteria and be serious about it. And often when you are serious about what you really want, it may sound weird to others. But its okay, you just need to think about what is your Top 3 criteria. For example, me was once

1. F-Hole Tele
2. Gives Me A Good Vibe
3. Double Humbuckers or Good Jazz Tone

2. Is it good for me?

After checking if it satisfies your second and third criteria, you would have narrowed it down to several types of guitar. So with each of these guitars, it usually comes with configurations like how is the body shaped, what is the different pickup configuration or neck profile, types of wood etc etc. if its a cutaway, double cutaway, or no cutaway

The question to ask is it good for me? Would it be an extension of myself? Choose if light or dark or natural wood be the right color for you. Choose the different pickup configurations if you want a 3 single, 2 double or 1 mini humbucker if its an electric guitar. Choose if you want cutaway to access the higher frets or without because you are a strummer. What sort of neck profile suits you?

Generally it is the question Is it good for me? Infact of all the configurations of that guitar, which is best for me?

3. Does it like me?

I’m serious. Hold it and you’ll know if the guitar likes you. If the guitar doesn’t like you. You’ll know. The guitar will be fighting you and you’ll fight it too and playing just doesn’t seem natural. Spend some time playing it. And this is very important. To make sure you make the final judgement of the guitar only after its setup properly and playable to its optimal hopefully with good and playable strings (not rusty ones).

There you go my 3 ways of finding your Good O’ Guitar. Remember it is your guitar. Yes, you may loose resale value or you’ll end up with a guitar that looks weird to others but hey, it’s going to be about you and what you want. So life’s too short to think about what people think you want. Go for what you want in your Good Guitar (Like I had in this Fender Jim Atkin)


Enjoy shopping and write to me to share what you think.

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5 thoughts on “Choosing A Good Guitar

  1. Nick

    Hey HT.

    My brother is really into guitars and I’m a piano player. Recently I”ve been thinking about transitioning to playing the guitar. My notes are basically the same so I figured id give it a try. I have used my brothers guitar and i just didn’t like it. It felt kinda odd and I didn’t know why.
    Well this was 3 years ago and the other day i stepped into a guitar shop with my girlfriend. I picked up a Fender and it felt completely different. I was shocked.

    You’re 100% right about guitars and the vibe you get from them. I’m convinced that my little brothers guitar just was not a good fit for me and probably didn’t like me very much.

    I’m happy to say i’m going back next week to purchase the Fender!

    Reply
  2. williamsb

    Great and useful content!
    Can you mention some common features what we look for when we choose a guitar ? such as playability, materials, tone ?

    And i will be glad if you can give me some examples of beginner acoustic guitars, in a small price range. Somewhere between $200-$300.

    And is it a good way to learn the guitar by yourself ? or it’ll be greater to find a person who learn you ? What you think ?

    Thank you about this post! Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. ht

      Thanks for your comment. There’s a lot you are asking here but I’ll do my best to answer you.

      When choosing a guitar, if your criteria is to achieve a certain sound, then the material will come into place. While certain wood exhibit certain characteristics, it’s not always the case as other aspects of guitar making affects the sound. One thing is for sure is, for example a rosewood fingerboard will always be warmer sounding than a maple fingerboard. Or a mahogany body sweeter and more pronounce midrange than say a spruce body which will sound brighter. 

      The size of the neck, the profile and the action height affects playability. While the action height can be adjusted by a setup, the size of neck (whether its wide or narrow) or profile (if its 50s, 60s, C or D profile) affects playability. A flat neck radius is better for shredding than a curved one (better for chording). The best way to know is to try it. Go to a shop and play guitars of different neck profile. The one you are comfortable with will be the one you need. 

      I can not recommend the Yamaha FS series as a good beginner guitars at your price range. Really great great guitar that is well build and sounds amazing.  

      Check out also 3 ways to teach yourself to play guitar . And seriously its always better with a teacher but find carefully someone who cares about developing you musically, not just someone who just want your tuition fees. It’s important to then set your own musical goals and communicate it to the teacher so you get to your musical goals and he/she doesn’t lead you to learn what they want you learn. 

      Reply

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