The journey to finding the perfect acoustic guitar is both exciting and daunting. With a multitude of options available, it can be difficult to determine the right instrument for your needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the crucial aspects of how to choose an acoustic guitar that’s perfect for you, covering everything from budget considerations to guitar types and more.
Determine Your Budget
The first step to choosing an acoustic guitar is deciding how much you are willing to spend. Generally, acoustic guitars range from $100-$2000 or higher depending on the material used. Assess your budget and decide how much money you can commit to finding the perfect instrument.
Price Range Categories
Before diving into the world of acoustic guitars, it’s important to establish a budget. Acoustic guitars typically fall into three categories:
- Entry-Level Guitars – These affordable instruments are ideal for beginners and typically cost between $100 and $300.
- Mid-Range Guitars – Offering a balance of quality and affordability, these guitars are suitable for intermediate players and range from $300 to $1,000.
- High-End Guitars – Built with premium materials and superior craftsmanship, these guitars cater to professionals and serious enthusiasts, priced at $1,000 and upwards.
Considerations for Your Budget
While setting a budget, prioritize the features and qualities most important to you. Keep in mind that investing in a higher-quality instrument may lead to better resale value and a greater potential for upgrades in the future.
Understand Acoustic Guitar Types
Acoustic guitar types can be broadly categorized based on their body styles and sizes. Each type offers a distinct tonal quality, projection, and playability. Here are five common acoustic guitar types:
This is a versatile and popular choice among guitarists due to its large body size, which delivers a powerful projection and a balanced tone. The dreadnought is suitable for various music genres, from country to rock, and is great for both strumming and fingerpicking.
Concert guitars have a smaller body size than dreadnoughts and are characterized by a brighter and more focused tone. Their compact size makes them comfortable to hold and play, making them well-suited for fingerpicking, solo performances, and players with smaller hands or shorter arms.
Also known as an orchestra model, the auditorium guitar shares similarities in size with the concert guitar but has a more pronounced waist. This design offers a balanced tone and comfortable playability, with a slightly bigger sound than a concert guitar. It’s a versatile choice for various playing styles and musical genres.
With its large body size, the jumbo guitar produces a deep bass response and strong projection, making it ideal for strumming and playing in larger settings or ensembles. Jumbo guitars often have a well-defined low end and are favored by country and folk musicians.
The smallest of the common body sizes, parlor guitars are known for their intimate and warm sound. Their compact size makes them perfect for fingerstyle playing, smaller performances, and traveling. Parlor guitars are often favored by blues musicians and singer-songwriters for their focused mid-range and unique character.
Assess Your Skill Level and Playing Style
As a beginner, look for an acoustic guitar that offers a comfortable playing experience and decent build quality. Brands like Yamaha, Fender, and Epiphone are known for producing reliable entry-level guitars.
For intermediate and advanced players, focus on guitars that offer better tonewoods, improved construction, and enhanced playability. Brands such as Martin, Taylor, and Takamine cater to the needs of more experienced musicians.
Keep your preferred playing style in mind when choosing an acoustic guitar. For fingerpicking, consider a smaller-bodied guitar, while larger-bodied guitars are often better suited for strumming.
Test the Guitar In-Person
While online research is helpful, nothing compares to trying out guitars in person. Visiting local guitar shops allows you to gain hands-on experience with various instruments and seek advice from knowledgeable staff.
When testing guitars, consider factors like body shape and size, neck width and profile, and action (string height). These elements can greatly impact your comfort and playing experience. As you try out different guitars, pay close attention to their tone and resonance. Listen for qualities such as projection, balance, sustain, and how the tonewoods impact the overall sound.
Choosing the perfect acoustic guitar involves careful consideration of your budget, skill level, playing style, and personal preferences. By understanding the various guitar types, and construction elements, and testing guitars in-person, you’ll be well-equipped to find an instrument that truly resonates with you.