The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Empire without hearing it is one such change. But keep a few things in mind when you do it and it can be a convenient way to score a good instrument at a good price.
There’s really two kinds of people who should be buying their guitars in Empire, experts or really serious guitar players and beginners. The first group knows exactly what kind of guitar they want, and at that level of price and quality they can be assured that that particular guitar will be terrific. Beginners don’t really care as much, so long as it has six strings and can play. The truth is each guitar is unique as its made out of a particular sheet of wood that experiences conditions unlike any of its fellow models at the factory. Each sheet is alive, and guitars can age with grace or misery depending on how they’re maintained. This needs to be kept in mind when looking at a store in Empire, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.
There are many things to consider when buying your first guitar. However, if you do your research you can come away with an instrument that will be a solid tool for starting your lifelong relationship with guitar music.
One of the first things to consider when buying your first guitar is whether you want an electric or an acoustic guitar. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and a large part of the decision comes down to personal taste and the type of music you want to play. First answer that question. What do the musicians you usually listen to play? Is that what you want to sound like? Pricing is not that much different between the two when you consider just the guitar. However, an electric guitar typically requires many more accessories (more on that later) which can rack up the price.
A second key issue to consider when buying your first guitar is whether to buy online or in a music store. I will say that each guitar is different and individual and this makes buying a guitar online a risky proposition. You have never gotten to touch or hold that guitar and there is no guarantee that you will like it. However, you cannot deny that the internet has become a great resource for comparison shopping and you can find some pretty great deals online. This is my "happy median" advice. Go into a local guitar store and play a bunch of different guitars.
Make a note of the model and brands of the ones that you like. Then go do a search online and see if you can get a better deal. Chances are, you will be able to. You can now order online with some degree of confidence that they guitar that will be sent to you is similar to the one that you played in the store. Sure, I may be talking about minute differences, but chances are you are going to spend a lot of time with this thing. So, you should like it.
Price range is a big factor to consider when buying your first guitar. This is largely a matter of the commitment that you plan to make to the instrument. If you are setting yourself up for a lifelong relationship, then invest and break the bank. You may never buy another guitar again. However, if you are wishy washy about whether you even want to play guitar, then don't sell the farm for the first one. You can get a good "intermediate" quality guitar for a few hundred dollars. I would not recommend going any lower in quality. Some of the guitars that you can get for $40 dollars in Wal*Mart are only appropriate for the most uncommitted individuals or for young children.
Another comment about pricing and budgeting: don't forget the accessories! These can add up. If you are buying an electric guitar you have to buy an amp. These can run you as much as the guitar itself. My advice on this is to always barter. Ask the shop owner if you can get free cords or tuners thrown in if you buy a package deal. This will be more difficult if you buy online, but you may be saving a substantial amount of money already anyway.
Finally, should you buy used or new? This question is akin to buying a car. You can get a great used car that will be reliable and will run for years because it is a decent car and the owner took care of it, but these take research and time. You can also get a vintage used classic that will run forever. This will break your bank. Don't buy any used guitar that is beat up or broken. Always be sure to buy from a reputable source if you go the used route.
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By far, the most important thing you can do to protect your
acoustic guitar is to control the humidity of its environment. Ask
any guitar repair person. They are the ones who see, time and time
again, the damage done to guitars and other fretted instruments by
humidity levels which are too low.
Most acoustic guitars are the happiest in a relative humidity (RH)
above 40%. In fact, most acoustic guitars are built in a relative
humidity range of 45%-50%. The greatest danger to your guitar
occurs during the fall, winter and early spring. In cold
temperatures you need to heat your home; and when you heat your
home, the air in your home becomes drier. It can often drop to less
than half of the RH of the factory in which your guitar was built!
When the RH of your (and your guitar's) home descends to lower than
35%, all kinds of terrible things can happen. Cracks can occur in
the top, the bridge can lift from the top and the neck angle can
change. The warranties of most guitar manufacturers will exclude
guitars that have been stored in an inappropriate humidity. The
necessary repairs can be quite pricey.
The good news in all of this is that the solution is quite simple.
Store you guitar in a hardshell case and keep and maintain an
in-case humidifier. There are a number of different brands and
types of humidifiers on the market, in prices ranging from about
$12-$20. Check with your music dealer for the best one for you.
Don't forget to check and add water as often as necessary. If you
really want to keep on top of things, purchase a hygrometer (a
humidity meter). These can cost anywhere from $50 to $150, but an
economy model will be accurate enough.
Another important factor in caring for your instrument is, don't
use strings that are too heavy (thick). Most manufactures suggest
that you use light gauge strings, not mediums. Some players balk at
this, but the fact is, volume and tone are often more a matter of
playing technique than of string gauge. If you have a vintage
guitar, you might want to consider extra-lights. Another route you
can go (which I do with most of my vintage instruments), is to use
"silk and steel" strings. I think these are just wonderful, for a
number of reasons: but one is, they put much less stress on your
guitar. Read my article, "Acoustic Guitar Strings--The Merits of
Silk & Steel" at:
One other important caution regarding the care of your guitar: If
you use a capo, do not leave the capo on the instrument when you're
not playing it. The capo, when clamped on the neck, holds the
strings down on the fretboard and creates extra tension on the neck
and the top of the guitar. All acoustic guitars are destined, at
some point in time, to have problems due to the tension of the
strings. Why hasten the process by leaving a capo clamped on your
Taking these steps to care for your acoustic guitar may seem a bit
burdensome, at first. But if you start applying these principles
now, your guitar will give you many years of playing pleasure.
Copyright © 2007 Lee Griffith. All rights reserved.
Over the last century, no instrument has come to prominence like the guitar. Once the choice of only folkies and cowboys (and nothing wrong with that), the guitar came to dominate the music world once the solid body electric type was developed. Now it was time to tell the horn blower to stand in the back, because we are going to rock, jam, and strum the audience into a frenzy!
As the guitar moved to the front of the band, so did the need to design and build guitars to fit different styles and genres. The industry has never disappointed. Whether it is electric or acoustic, solid body or hollow, jazz or rock there is a guitar that you can jam with. The best way to find one that suits your needs and your price range is to check out the online guitar stores.
The first thing you should do when you are looking for a guitar online is figure out what type of guitar you are looking for. You are not buying a pair of shoes or even a computer. You are buying a piece of yourself. I would not recommend going into this "cold." If you are new to guitars, find some friends or band mates and try out their equipment.
Remember that The Edge of U2 uses a couple of dozen different axes for every concert to get the right sound (An expensive, if artistically pleasing, solution).
The sound that you get from a Fender Stratocaster is different then a Gretsch Country Club, but each has its purpose. Do your legwork before you go to an online guitar store.
Once you have done your legwork, it is time to do your homework. That you can do online; and that is the beauty of an online guitar store. What you lose in actually seeing the instrument you will gain in variety, price, and knowledge. Do some research on whether your choice of guitar really suits your needs.
Think of some songs you want to learn. Find out what type of guitar they were made famous on. Search around for the best deal on the guitar you want. Read the reviews of the guitar and the retailer. And, as with anything on the internet, separate the truth from its variations.
Remember that for every Keith Richards, there are a ten million Keith Richard wannabes (show of hands everybody) who need to sell that guitar that has been moved from closet to closet over the years, hoping to help its owner recapture his youth. Look for a good deal on these true relics and you can be jamming in style. All the usual caveats apply when purchasing an item this way. You should seriously consider buying any used equipment through a reputable online guitar store. No dealer is going to lose his reputation over something that was stuffed in a leaky basement under a bowling ball and five lawn gnomes.
So check out your online guitar store. Whatever your skill or price range, there is no way that you will walk away unhappy. Get jammin' man!