How To Buy a Guitar Part 1

You do not have to be an expert guitarist to get a good deal on a good guitar. What you do have to be is a disciplined shopper. For many guitarists, especially novices, trying out a guitar in a music store can be an intimidating experience. Invariably, there are several other guitarists in the store who feel the need to show off their skills on the instrument, by playing all their most impressive licks. Understandably, this can be scary, but you'll need to focus on your goal - finding the best instrument possible, for the least money. Scan the store until you find an instrument that appeals to you. Make sure you are given a good stool, and a pick (although I suggest you bring one you're comfortable with). If you're playing an electric guitar, make sure you're plugged into an amp similar to the one you plan to use. If you've only got a small practice amp at home, don't allow the guitar to be plugged into a Marshall half-stack through a rack of pedals. A lot of beginning players and first time buyers who go to a music store usually will play very quietly in fear that someone else would hear what they sound like. This is especially true if their not comfortable with their playing. It’s a perfectly natural instinct, but realized that it’s the silliest thing you could do. In order to really hear the tonal qualities of a guitar (either electric or acoustic), it needs to be played at a reasonable volume. Do not be afraid to strum the open strings hard - listening to the guitars sustain, and keeping an ear open for problems like buzzing strings.

If you're having a hard time hearing (due to other guitarists in the store, etc.), ask to play the guitar in a separate room, or in a quieter part of the store. If the music store owners glare at you for turning up the guitar a little, or strumming an acoustic vigorously, my recommendation would be to hand them the guitar, say thanks, and take your business to a store that allows you to find out what the guitar sounds like before you buy it. I urge you to do this... these people are obviously not very familiar with the way guitars work, thus not the best stores to deal with anywayHere’s a common mistake, you have your instructor teach you something cool to play in music stores. Wrong approach, when you’re demo-ing a guitar, you should be playing things you're comfortable playing, and concentrating on the guitar, NOT on who is listening to you. Try playing each fret on the neck, slowly, making sure there are no fret buzzes. Be sure to check the guitar's. If playing an electric guitar, try all of the different pick-up combinations, and listen for unwanted pick-up noise. Spend time trying many guitars in the store. Ask questions, and make notes on every guitar you play. Write down the manufacturer of the guitar, the model number, and the price. Ask what type of wood the guitar is made of. Note any special likes or dislikes you have about each guitar. When you feel like you can't stand to be in the store another minute, thank the salesperson, and head for home.

So, now you've played a bunch of guitars, and hopefully found a few that you really like. It's time to do some research on all the guitar companies whose instruments you are considering. Use the links resource in the member section of the site to get familiar with what each of these companies has to say about their instruments. Most guitar company websites provide specs on each of their guitars, so you can find out additional information on the instrument you're considering. Search their website for warranty information, make note of that also. You can even call or e-mail them if you have any additional concerns.

Part 2 Tomorrow!

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