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The Best Acoustic Guitar For You

Jun 13, 2008
When buying anything, the first thing you ask is how you can find the best one. The same thought process applies to acoustic guitars. The answer is that there is not a "best" acoustic guitar to buy. Choosing the best acoustic guitar depends on the individual player and their needs.

Of course when you think about guitars, some common names come to mind immediately. Gibson, Fender and Ibanez are but a few of the ones that spring up. All have a quality instrument and each has low end models and high end models.

Gibson makes a really good guitar in all types. The materials, craftsmanship and overall quality are always there with Gibson, so based on a brand name only basis, Gibson would be a great choice. The same could be said for Fender and Ibanez as well.

There are other luthiers (builders of guitars) available like Takamine, BC Rich and Dean. Ovation makes a fantastic instrument in both acoustic and acoustic/electric models. Epiphone is a division of Gibson that uses Gibson trademark quality with a lower end price tag.

So with all these options and brands to choose from, what is the best acoustic guitar out there? As I said earlier, the answer to that question depends on the individual player. Like anything else, it is a pairing of souls you are looking for. In essence, you are looking for a musical soul mate.

The first thing you want to consider is comfort. To get this down, go to a music store and play a few acoustic guitars. You will find some with wide necks and some with narrow necks. This depends on the size of the body. Body sizes are typically classified, in order, as travel size (small), dreadnought and jumbo. Try one of each on for size to get a feel for what you need to play.

Playing should be natural and comfortable. If you have smaller hands, perhaps a travel acoustic will suffice and there are some very good ones out there. Most times, the dreadnought is the guitar of choice, though.

The next thing you want to consider is tone quality. This is going to depend on the material the guitar is made from. There are lots of different materials and, yes, this does affect the price. Obviously, a guitar that has an ebony neck is going to cost more than a rosewood neck. I wouldn't pay a whole lot of attention to the material. Just play it and listen to the sound of the instrument. A good tone will sort of ring to the ear.

One decision you will need to make is whether to use nylon strings or steel strings. Most of the time, nylon or gut strings are used for classical music. Steel strings are more common and provide a richer tone, in my humble opinion. Steel strings come in a variety of gauges from ultra light to heavy. The sound emitted is lightly affected by string gauge, but not dramatically. Other players will dispute this, but I have found this to be true more times than not.

Overall, you want to find an acoustic guitar that is comfortable to handle, has the right neck width and provides a rich, ringing tonal quality. The only real way to do this is to play them yourself. To pick the best guitar for you is entirely up to, well, YOU. You decide what is best for your playing style.

Don't be pressured by big names and flashy displays. Most importantly, don't just buy the first acoustic guitar you see. They are all pretty and will catch the eye. Focus instead on how the guitar feels, sounds and responds to you. When you find the one, you'll know it. That sounds a little mystical and it is kind of mystical. There is a bond between the player and the instrument. It's almost like looking for a mate.

Price is probably the biggest consideration, so here is what I suggest. Get a figure in your head on what you want to spend. Think economical and spend only what you can afford to spend. Acoustic guitars are available in a wide range of prices from as little as $150 to as much as $10,000. I have seen some $250 acoustics that sound just as good as a $1000 instrument. The idea is that you don't have to blow your life savings on a first guitar.
About the Author
Best Acoustic GuitarTupper Wheatley, a long time guitar picker, enthusiast and instructor. More information at his website.
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