Author Topic: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!  (Read 1603 times)

Lichen

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Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« on: November 24, 2017, 02:20:24 PM »
Back story: My son needed a one credit class next quarter to maintain a full course load, so he signed up for guitar lessons. He's been talking about trying to learn guitar, so this is cool with us (we cover course fees/supplies). He was planning to buy a guitar, but we decided it would be a good holiday gift since he only put things like socks on his list. (He's very mustachian!)

We are looking for a used acoustic, entry level, and honestly, relatively inexpensive since we don't know if he will stick with it beyond one quarter. I'm figuring from the amount of craigslist ads I see we can find something relatively decent either via craigslist or at one of our many pawn shops or music stores in town. Any advice on what to look for? What to avoid/beware of? A good price point to watch for?

All advice much appreciated!

GuitarStv

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2017, 03:06:25 PM »
There are a lot of people who advise learning to play on your typical steel string dreadnought acoustic guitar.  I'm not one of them.  Acoustic guitars have higher action, and thicker strings.  The most common shape (the dreadnought) forces the you to hold it at certain angles that can be pretty far from ergonomic.  Typically they've got smaller frets too, although that's not universal.  This means that your finger tips will get sore faster, you're more likely to be uncomfy from the way the guitar body presses into you, and your hands will hurt more than learning on a nylon string classical guitar or an electric.  Less pain means more practice which means quicker progression, less frustration, and greater likelihood to stick with things.

All that can be overcome if someone is determined enough and really loves the sound of their instrument though.  What kind of music does your son like to listen to?  You need to involve him in this decision since he's going to be the guy playing it.



OK, back to attempting to answer your question:

Your best bet is to find someone who can play a little to try it out and give you some feedback on a used guitar purchased privately.  Strumming a few chords, tuning the guitar, doing a few single note runs, checking the action, checking the intonation, all of these things will take seconds for someone who is used to playing and are vitally important to getting a good guitar.

Obvious stuff that anyone can check for:
- The neck should not be straight and not curved up or down towards the tuning pegs.  (A little bow forward towards the body of the guitar is OK, and should be present on a well set up guitar.)
- Look for fret wear (little divots on the frets under the strings) because this can make it impossible to play notes cleanly
- Speaking of clean notes, it should be possible to fret each note on the fretboard without hearing any buzzing (and without a tremendous amount of finger effort).  A nice clean note should ring out every time.
- No buckling around the bridge area on the top of the guitar (sometimes happens when someone puts strings that are too heavy on an acoustic, happens often on a 12 string acoustic).

As far as guitar brands, I've played good guitars and real stinkers from most of the major manufacturers.  You want something that plays well and that sounds good to the guy who's going to be playing it.

About a 500$ price range will give you lots of options for excellent quality instruments.

mozar

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2017, 03:32:13 PM »
I got a comfy classical guitar for 100 bucks at my local music shop.

Lichen

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2017, 10:13:42 PM »
Thanks for the replies so far!

Guitarstv: He has eclectic tastes, everything from old swing and jazz to 80s punk and modern pop.

As for experience, he is a total guitar newbie, but not a musical newb. He plays piano, reads music, and was in a marimba band all through high school -- just no strings. Wife also plays several instruments including piano, bagpipes, and the concertina, but she hasn't picked up a guitar in about 10 years -- she figures she can still tune and pick out some chords.

Telecaster

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2017, 12:08:39 AM »
I'm with GuitarStv here.  Electric guitars are easier to play, especially for new players.  And electrics are more likely to be used in old swing and jazz to 80s punk and modern pop.  So my general advice is to get the guitar that similar to the ones his guitar heros like to play.

Simpli-Fi

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 12:46:31 AM »
Find out what he was planning to buy...call a local instructor and ask for help.  Every instrument I have is used, typically you can negotiate a pawn shop deal and then ask the instructor/shop to set it up properly.

My experience with pawn shops has been good as you can also get an amp if he was planning on electric.  Same treatment, ask a shop to look at the scratchy pots, wiggly patch chord static issues...sometimes as simple as a touch of solder and some blasts of keyboard cleaner.

Lichen

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2017, 10:55:01 AM »
Unfortunately, an electric guitar isn't an option, since that is what he would likely prefer. He is taking instruction through his college (its a for-credit class), and an acoustic is all that is allowed. Colleges being what they are, their recommendation is to rent one for a ridiculous monthly fee via their bookstore program. He's going to try talking to the instructor on Monday to see if he will provide any guidance beyond the base college rental advice!

Mikila

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2017, 04:06:31 PM »
Kona.

You can buy one for around $100 on Amazon.  They are a pretty solid beginner's guitar according to my husband who plays.

meghan88

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Re: Calling all guitar peeps, I need advice!
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2017, 07:32:04 PM »
Why not buy a used acoustic on Craigslist, using GuitarStv's most excellent advice re. straight necks and fret wear?

A nylon string classical would be easier on the fingers for a newbie, but a steel-string acoustic has a brighter sound.  A steel string acoustic guitar also toughens up the fingertips, big time.  Calluses are pretty much required in order to play it properly.  String sets come in different gauges.  Lighter-gauge (thinner) strings are easier on the fingers.  Heavier-gauge (thicker) strings would be brutal for a newbie, but they'll help to develop the calluses faster.

There's lots of advice online re. how to toughen up the fingertips.  Just google "calluses from playing guitar."