…and why, as an acoustic guitar player, you should consider an electric guitar!
Choosing an acoustic guitar can be a little nerve wracking. You may have read reviews from pros and amateurs, looked at the ads and talked to friends. There’s lots of information and advice out there.
Before we go further, I want to make clear I have no financial interest in any brand or manufacturer, or type of guitar, or the companies that make them. I don’t own stock in any of them or any associated industries. In fact, it’s kind of the other way around - I subscribe to some of the industry magazines and websites and there is no shortage of things they want to sell to me.
That said, how to go about choosing? My acid test is fairly simple: Does it fit and feel good in my hand? In this case the hand is mostly my fretting hand. Does the neck fit in my hand? Is it comfortable? Can I find the frets quickly without constantly looking? Can I move my fretting hand up and down and across the fretboard comfortably? My strumming/picking hand should find a position over the strings a little to the bottom side of the soundhole (but that can be a matter of personal preference, too). “Bottom side of the soundhole” in this case refers to the lower end (where the end pin/strap button is) of the guitar body if it were standing up, not the physically lowest part of the when it’s in a playing position.
All of that means you have to physically hold the guitar in your hands, usually sitting, and place your fretting hand on the fretboard, and your strumming hand over the soundhole - in the familiar pose of a seated guitarist, in other words. Is it comfortable? Can the tips of your fingers reach all the strings without bending your wrist too awkwardly?
If you can hold the guitar comfortably, you’ve gone a long ways towards finding the right guitar for you. You can hold and strum a friend’s guitar or head to your locally owned guitar shop (I avoid the big chain guitar store- you know who I’m thinking of- at all costs!) to try out different guitars.
There are many different sizes and styles - try the ones that fit your build best. I’ve included a link to a graphic that depicts the sizes of different guitars and their “designations”, which can be very confusing. Different manufacturers use different names or letter/number combinations to describe the size, materials, and characteristics of their products.
For a lot of people, a Dreadnought (large) bodied guitar may be the right choice - the style is the most common, but don’t be afraid to try a smaller size such as an “OM” (Orchestra Model), or an “000” or “00” body style. Some guitars have a cutaway body style so the fingers of your fretting hand can reach farther toward the soundhole and more easily use the frets farther “down” the fretboard. Choose what feels best in your fretting hand and most easily positions your strumming/picking hand over the soundhole.
At some point, this always comes up, so let’s avoid it with as much clarity as possible. That sounds contradictory, but it’s really a Chevy-Ford argument (or pick any product with competing big names that people identify with - beer, sports teams, jeans, whatever), and people will have their favorite brand they’ll defend in a bar fight. Avoid the argument with the “fits my hand” standard.
I’ve owned a fair number of guitars representing a number of different manufacturers. If the guitar didn’t “fit my hand” I sold it or gave it away. If it fits, or better yet “challenges” my hand while fitting pretty well, I keep it and play it. Challenging you to learn the individual attributes of a guitar is a good thing, but if it just doesn’t feel right in your hand and you’re fighting it all the time, it’s probably time to try a different guitar. Back to the locally owned guitar shop or music store.
We’ll talk more about guitar choices as we move along with this newsletter, but I want to leave you with a consideration before I insert the guitar size/designation link. As you become more comfortable with finding and playing chords on your acoustic, consider an electric guitar with a practice amp as a second guitar. The reason is this: as you continue your acoustic guitar journey, you’ll inevitably encounter my nemesis - the barre (bar) chord.
Barre chords are easier to play on an electric guitar and as you advance, they become more necessary. Plus, electric guitars are good fun and fun to play and get a range of sounds you can’t easily achieve on an acoustic, especially an acoustic with no electronic pickup (we’ll talk more about electronics in acoustic guitars in the future - if your guitar has them, great, if not, no worries- there is always a solution!).
That’s all for today, folks - if you found this useful, subscribe (it’s free!!) and share with your friends. Comment with questions, suggestions, etc - if I can’t answer or implement, I’ll tell you, if I can and I think it’s useful to everyone, I’ll include the response in a future newsletter. Thanks for dropping by, hope we meet again here next week!!