Choosing the right guitar when you are an absolute beginner can be a difficult task, simply because you don’t know which one would be best for you given the large variety of guitars available on the market.
Let’s begin with size.
Not all guitar are created equal and not all guitar players are created equal.
If you are a smaller person, a teenager, a woman, a dreadnought size may be too big and uncomfortable to hold and strum. If you have big hands, you might want to look into a guitar with a wider neck like a 1 and 3/4 instead of 1 and 11/16.
Most commons sizes from large to small
This is the guitar most rock and bluegrass player choose. It has a pretty wide lower bout and a very loud sound with great powerful low end. Mostly used for strumming and accompanying vocals.
It is also pretty uncomfortable to hold when standing and when sitting down.
Slope Shoulder Dreadnought
A variation of the dreadnought but not so thick so it’s a bit more comfortable (but not too much)
OM (Orchestra Model)
Quite a bit smaller and much more balanced in sound where bass and treble are at the same level of sustain and intensity, this model is preferred by women, smaller men and fingerstyle players.
Grand Concert and Grand Auditorium
Similar in size with the OM but usually with a cutaway to allow easy fretting of the higher frets. Balanced sound and usually features a on board pickup that makes it acoustic electric.
OOO, OO and O
These three sizes are smaller and fairly easy to hold and manage. The OOO being the larger and the O being the smaller. Balanced sound with a drier sound and less sustain. Preferred by blues and fingerstyle players.
The smaller of the bunch with a pretty small body and only 12 frets to the body. Usually features a thicker, beefier neck and a wider fingerboard. Preferred by blues and fingerstyle players.
Usually a bit bigger than a 3/4 size, these guitars sound better when they have a solid top versus a laminate top. Because of the size they are usually quieter. Usually people who already own one or two guitars like to add one of those for when they travel.
3/4 and 1/2 size
Mostly children use these guitars as it wouldn’t be advisable for a young child to begin learning with a regular size guitar.
The next thing you want to know is the difference between a laminate soundboard versus a solid soundboard.
The soundboard or “top” is the most important part of the guitar when it comes to the sound.
The bigger the louder and more bass, the smaller the quieter and more balanced.
Laminate top tend to all sound alike. No matter what fancy wood veneer on top of plywood, typically the sound is decent and perfect for an entry level player.
Solid tops are louder and much better sounding with more sustain and more range of bass and treble.
Most solid tops are made of spruce or cedar because those two woods are the ones that respond best to the string vibration.
Some guitars have a mahogany top and those usually have a drier, warmer sound.
Back and sides
Most guitars will have either a mahogany (drier and warmer sound) or rosewood (brighter and louder) back and sides.
Other materials used for back and sides are Koa, Acacia, Maple and other fancy looking exotic woods.
Glossy versus Satin
Sound wise it doesn’t make a difference if the guitar features a glossy finish or satin as long as the finish is not too thick and allows the soundboard to vibrate freely when excited by the strings.
Typically glossy are a bit more durable and scratch resistant than the satin but they’re also more expensive.
There you have it!
You should now be able to make a better and more informed choice when buying your first, second and maybe third guitar.
One more thing.
Buying and owning a guitar does not make you a guitar player. Learning how to play an instrument is a big commitment that requires a lot of time, dedication and patience. In other words, it’s not an overnight thing.
You can learn how to play a few chords and melodies within the first weeks of playing the guitar but it takes a much longer time and sometimes a lifetime to master the guitar.
Musician, Instructor and Owner at Penny Lane Emporium