So you want to impress that girl next door? Want people to know your name? Want to play a million notes a second like your favorite rockstar?  Whatever your motivation may be, this article will help you get the best out of your first guitar purchase.
The thing that many of us tend to forget as guitar players, is that every guitar is unique. You can have two guitars lined up, manufactured one after the another, same wood, same electronics, but if you pay attention to detail, you’ll feel the difference.
There are two roads you go by, when you’ve decided you want to buy your first guitar. The first one is Recommended. You can get yourself a hollow body acoustic guitar, or you can get a solid body electric guitar.

The sound produced by an acoustic guitar relies on the hollow,empty part (soundbox) of the body for amplification, whereas the electric guitar is equipped with electronic “PickUps” (a.k.a. pups) to transmit the signal through a cable, then requiring a guitar amplifier and speaker to produce intelligible sound.
Electric guitar is not usually recommended ¬†for beginners, because the way it “spoils” your playing potential early in the game. Acoustic guitar is the recommended way to go here.
While making the purchase, it is essential to remember that sometimes, it’s not the name that matters, it’s the feel. ¬†These days a lot of different guitar manufacturers have come up with bizarre shapes, which can potentially impede the sound, natural feel and reachability of frets on a guitar. So the recommended way to go here, is to take your cash along, telling your guitar dealer how much money you have, and ask him what guitars fall within your price.
After trying a few guitars, you’ll know what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t keep aimlessly wandering for brand names, many have hit the pole following that light. Some decently priced guitars can match up or atleast keep up with the mid range branded guitars.On the contrary, companies like Ibanez do manufacture really good entry level guitars.
Here’s a check-list of things you must check before you make your final purchase:

  1. COMFORT| Make sure the guitar is comfortable to use. A good guitar becomes great, if it feels like it’s an extension of your body.¬†The guitar should feel equally comfortable for use while standing up.
  2. Frets| the frets should be clean, and when looked at from the neck down, frets should be properly aligned.Play all notes on all strings and make sure you don’t get a buzz when you play any note throughout the length of the guitar neck
  3. Action| “action” is defined as the height of the guitar strings from the fretboard of your guitar. It is adjusted through the bridge, and this should neither be too high, so as to make it difficult to play on, or too low to cause buzz on certain frets.
    Play around to find your sweet spot, and choose a guitar that doesn’t take much effort to play on.
  4. FEEL| This is probably the most important thing associated with your guitar. If your guitar feels great, chances are you’ll play more and play better.
  5. Intonation| (This is slightly advanced stuff, but will go a long way in pushing your interest in more advance playing) Your guitar is no good if it isn’t in tune with itself. Play any open string, and before the note fades out, play the 12th fret of the same string (One octave higher). It should sound the same, no weirdness to it.
  6. Noise(for electric guitars)| If you’re trying out an electric guitar, make sure that it is free from any noise. Try playing around with the volume and tone controls on your guitar to check if there is any noise induced when increasing or decreasing either.

Remember, if your guitar tech doesn’t co operate with you in your testing process, take your business elsewhere. Have a happy buy!
image Courtesy: Sheila Smart

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