There is hardly a better instrument for beginners to take up than the acoustic guitar.
It’s relatively easy to get a grip of, and anyone can easily learn a couple of chords and be able to play pretty much any popular song out there.
However, choosing the right one can be a difficult task. With so many different models on the market, it’s easy to get confused, demotivated, and ultimately, give up.
Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of the 5 crucial things you should consider when buying an acoustic guitar. After reading this article, you will have a better understanding of acoustic guitars, and picking the perfect model for your needs will be way easier!
1. Body Size – Comfort is your priority!
Actually learning to play, and advancing, is very hard, if not impossible, if the instrument you practice with doesn’t feel comfortable.
Various sizes also affect the sound, with different parts of the tonal range being more or less prominent.
When it comes to acoustic guitars, you have a couple of options to choose from in terms of size:
- (Grand) Concert – These come in at around 13” in terms of body size. Perfect for smaller musicians.
- (Grand) Auditorium – Slightly bigger in size, offers a balanced sound as well as good volume.
- Jumbo – Bigger than the Auditorium, great for country music.
- Dreadnought – Stand at around 20”, the best choice for bluegrass and similar genres.
- Travel/ Mini – Varying in size, generally small and practical for traveling.
Your safest bet is to try out a friend’s guitar, and see if it feels good in your hands. If not, ask them for the model, or simply measure the dimensions, and look for a smaller/ larger option for yourself!
2. Tonewood Choice – It defines the sound of your guitar
So, the bigger the guitar, the more projection and volume it can offer. However, that isn’t the only factor that defines the actual sound of an acoustic guitar.
Tonewood is the wood used for the body of an acoustic guitar. It gives different models various characteristics, both in terms of feel, build quality and sound.
While there are numerous different tonewood choices out on the market, let’s see a quick overview of the most commonly used ones, and how they affect the sound:
- Sapele – Fairly lightweight yet durable, very defined high range.
- Maple – Similar to Sapele, Maple is rich with treble and easily cuts through the mix when played alongside other instruments.
- Mahogany – Somewhere between Sapele and Maple, Mahogany makes for a strong and defined sound, with a slight boost in the highs.
- Cedar – Compared to the other tonewood types, it’s pretty soft. Just think flamenco in terms of the actual sound!
If you’re a beginner, getting the “wrong” tonewood type for your first guitar won’t really matter. But, in order to make a future-proof investment, try to make a rough sketch of the sound you’re looking for and choose accordingly!
3. Steel or Nylon Strings? What’s the Difference?
While many online guides suggest that beginner guitarists should go with nylon strings for their first acoustic guitar, there isn’t really a rule to be followed.
The biggest differences between these two options are in the sound and feel.
Nylon strings feel much softer and won’t wear out your fingertips that fast. The sound is also less bright and offers more warmth.
Steel strings, on the other hand, make longer practice sessions more painful, but contribute to higher volume levels and a crisp tone.
Listen to how both options sound on the internet, and go for what you find to be more appealing.
Just note that when you buy an acoustic guitar with steel strings, you can not put nylon strings on that model, and vice versa!
4. What About Acoustic-Electric Guitars?
Acoustic- electric guitars stand somewhere in the middle between regular acoustic and electric guitars. They have a pickup similar to those found on electric guitars, and give you the possibility to play through an amp!
Recording sessions and live performances are much easier if you play a guitar of this sort. So, if you plan on playing with other people in a band, or maybe even on the streets in the future, going with an acoustic-electric model is a great idea.
Just remember that you will have to spend a bit more money on this type of guitar!
5. How Much Money Do I Have to Spend?
It goes without saying that usually, the more you spend, the better the instrument is, at least to a certain point.
First of all, you should evaluate your skill level. Are you a beginner or a more advanced guitar player?
As an absolute newbie, you won’t be able to tell the difference between cheap and more expensive models. Having that in mind, getting a $1000 acoustic guitar as your first instrument just doesn’t make sense.
Look for popular brands such as Ibanez, Fender, Yamaha, Cort, or Taylor. Each of these brands offers a wide variety of great models with different price tags. It’s better to spend a little more than you originally planned for a guitar that’s proven itself worth the money, than going for an unknown, yet very cheap model.
For around $100, you can get a pretty decent beginner acoustic guitar.
If you feel like you need something a bit better, going up to $500 tops makes sense in most cases.
Anything more than that is generally a waste of money unless your life goal is to become a professional guitarist.
So, think about the type of music you want to play, the size that feels the most comfortable, and the sound you find most appealing. If needed, save up some extra money, and start playing!
We hope that you found this article helpful and that you learned something new about acoustic guitars!
As always, thank you for reading, and we will see you in the next one!