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Some Things to Look for in Purchasing a Guitar

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When buying your first guitar, you should distinguish whether you are going to purchase an electric or an acoustic guitar. The big question we hear at Chris B's is whether or not a beginner should start on an acoustic guitar or an electric one. There are several differences:

  • 1..An acoustic guitar does not need to be plugged into an amplifier, thus it does not require as much of an investment
  • 2..The style of music to be played has a lot to do with this choice in types of guitars
  • 3..If you plan on playing rock music, your learning progress would benefit most by purchasing an electric guitar and amplifier, rock music is more suited to be played on an electric guitar.
  • 4..If you want to just learn how to strum a few chords..an acoustic is fine..plus..it is very portable, able to be played just about anywhere without the need for electricity.
  • Price is always a factor..

    A beginning acoustic package could run from $149 - $500. A beginning electric package could run from $299 - $700.

    One of the most important parts of the electric guitars sound are the pickups. The pickups are what allow an electric guitar to be amplified through a guitar amplifier. There are many different types but the two most popular styles of pickups are:

    • 1.Single Coil - Known for a thinner sound, think more of a bluesy sound.
    • 2.Humbucker - Known for a fatter sound, more of a crunchy, heavy metal sound.
    • 3.An electric guitar, such as the Ibanez GAX 70 is a good choice, it has both types of pickups, thus offering a wider variety of sound choices within one guitar.

    • A factor in determining the quality of an electric guitar is the type of wood used for the body of the guitar. Less expensive guitars may use poplar, as opposed to a more expensive guitars which may use alder, basswood, Mahogany or Ash. The type of wood affects the tone and the look of the instrument.

      Some electric guitars offer Tremelo systems or whammy bars. These systems can help the musician be very creative, yet some of the systems can be very complex and hinder the beginners ability to change guitar strings or tune the instrument.

      For good quality starter electric guitars check out our Johnson Electric Guitars

      Important factors in the sound of an acoustic guitar are the type of wood used and the body size. A larger body size will usually produce a fuller tone. A small body acoustic will usually have a pick up and be intended to be used amplified through a speaker system.

      Spruce is a common wood used for the top of an acoustic guitar. A solid top will age better than a laminate top (pieces of wood glued together to form a guitar top.). Common woods used for the back and sides are rosewood and mahogany. These are harder woods and help project the sound through the sound hole. A good example of quality woods used in an acoustic guitar is the Takamine line A great example of a budget friendly solid top acoustic is the
      Johnson JG615 Series Guitar

      Probably the biggest difference between a $300.00 guitar and a $1,000.00 guitar, is craftsmanship. More time and care is taken to build a more expensive guitar. The playability, sound, and look, should reflect this.

      Buy a guitar that feels comfortable, sitting and standing. The strings should not be too far off of the fretboard; Easy to play. This ease of play is known as the action. The guitar should also be able to give you the sound of the music style you wish to play. This makes learning easier, more fun, and more rewarding. The most important thing to consider is how the instrument feels to you You do not have to buy the most expensive guitar on the planet, or the most widely known name brand. While higher quality guitars will be more pricy, a beginner who feels comfortable with an entry level guitar should stick with it..more money is not going to make a better player!

      Of course, you could always try building your own do it yourself guitar kit


      When buying your first guitar or bass guitar amplifier, budget, size and sound are probably the biggest determining factors in your purchase.

      Most manufacturers have a complete line of amplifiers, starting from entry level unit combinations (combo) to full size double stacks (2 separate speaker enclosures with the amp on top). Solid state (transistors vs. tubes) are most common choices and affordable at all levels. The sound a person s is the determining factor between these two choices.

      Guitar amp size usually starts with an 8" speaker and a 15 watt power amp, "all in one" unit (combo). The amplifier control section should have channel switching (clean to distortion by pressing a switch or a gain & master volume control that can be overdriven for distortion). The amp should have at least 3 tone controls (Bass-Mid-Treble) to obtain a variety of sounds. A headphone input is also a useful feature, especially if you live in an apartment or like to practice late at night.

      Bass amps are more simple in design. Usually they have a volume control and 3 tone controls. Entry level are usually 20 watts with an 8" speaker. I recommend going with a larger model, as bass needs more wattage and a bigger speaker to "kick out" a good sound.

      If you are jamming or going into a band you should be shopping in the 50 watt & up with a 12" speaker range. Bass players should be looking at 50 watts & up with a 12" - 15" speaker (and a graphic EQ if available).

      Price-wise, guitar amps at the entry level will start at about $99.00 & up. Bass Amps slightly higher at $119.00 & up.

      In short, determine your budget & size requirements. Choose the one that sounds and feels right for you.


      Buying your first instrument can be a difficult task. You're not sure what to look for, how much to spend, and on and on. Here are a few tips to ease your pain.

      First, have a budget in mind before you go into the stores, so that you won't be dazzled by the flash and splendor of the "SPGX5000VR"!!!. With today's instruments you should be able to find a good, playable instrument for between $250 & $500.

      Second, look for simplicity. Basses with tons of controls and gold hardware add to the price and are a distraction from the goal...to learn to play bass guitar. Watch for easy to understand control layout and straight forward hardware (tuning keys and bridges).

      You will run across two different types of pickups, the single coil & the hum canceling

      Single coils are usually about 2 cm wide by 9 cm long and offer a brighter sound. Hum canceling pickups are made up two coils each 3 cm wide by 6 cm long. They are set up in a staggered side by side format and produce a darker, beefier sound.

      Third, ask the salesman about the materials the bass is made from i.e., the woods for the neck and body. Some $250 range instruments have bodies made from plywood that don't produce as nice a tone as many solid wood basses do. The neck of the bass is the shaft where a player presses the strings down against metal bars called frets to produce different notes and sometimes chords. Necks are typically made of maple wood and their fretboards may be either maple (known for a brighter sound) or rosewood (known for a mellower tone).

      Finally, avoid obscure brand names no one has heard of unless there are undeniable good qualities that show you that the instrument is an excellent deal. Recognized brand names will help you when either you decide to upgrade because you're getting so good! And you want to trade your bass in or you decide bass isn't for you and you want to sell the instrument.

      With all this in mind, make sure that the instrument is comfortable to play, hold, wear on a strap, etc. Don't be afraid to ask the salesman to correct things like strings that are too high off the fretboard or buzzing, rattling frets. If you've noted these points you should come away with a great first bass and ential for a lot of enjoyment.

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