What to Look for in Buying a Guitar

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Guitar buying attributes

When you’ve made the decision to invest in an instrument, it’s important that you know exactly what you’re looking for from the very beginning – this will not only make your search a lot easier, but it will also help narrow down your choices of shopping places. There are a few factors to consider in general:

Feel – it’s important that the guitar just feels right when you’re holding it. It’s not easy to describe this in a summarized way, you’ll just know it’s right when you find a good one. You must be comfortable holding it, it mustn’t be too heavy for you, and the neck must have an appropriate width. You should also be able to effortlessly move your fingers around the fretboard. If you already have some playing experience, you should immediately recognize a guitar that’s made for you from the moment you hold it in your hands for the first time.

Acoustic guitar

What to look for when buying a guitar.

Sustain – this basically describes how long notes “linger” before they fade away, and it’s not difficult to test that. You just have to fret any note and pick the string – and then just let the note ring out until it naturally fades. Test this on as many notes as you can, ensuring that they’re all even; if some notes drop away sooner than others, then this is a red flag telling you to look at another guitar.

Action – this refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard, and to test it, you should hold down the high E string just behind the first fret, and pick it. You’re listening to check whether the note buzzes or sounds muted, which could indicate some problem with the action. Try this with all six strings, and additionally, if you encounter difficulty in placing the string down, this may indicate that the action is too high.

Intonation – last but not least, intonation describes a guitar’s ability to play in tune properly. One way to test this is to pluck a string at the 12th fret, and then play that same string open. The notes should be an octave – if you’re still a beginner and can’t distinguish an octave, you can use an electronic tuner or bring along a more experienced musician to help you out. If the guitar isn’t in tune, this will definitely affect the intonation – so make sure you tune it properly first.

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