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First Guitar

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am taking a guitar class for my fine arts requirement. I figure it's a way to learn on my parents dime. I have read a few threads here and at other places and have decided to go acoustic first. My limit is $300. I am looking for the best quality I can get in this range, along with being noob friendly. lol Are there any guitars that right off the bat come to mind?

Thanks in Advance!
post #2 of 14
I'm sure that others will have a lot more to offer, but my personal suggestion would be something from the Godin line -- Seagull, Art & Lutherie, and Simon & Patrick. I'd also suggest the Washburn D10, which Samash has for $199 shipped right now. Whatever you decide to get, go for a solid top guitar. Go cedar for a warmer, lush sound great for fingerpicking and spruce for a brighter sound that is usually preferred strumming.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenaciousO View Post
I'm sure that others will have a lot more to offer, but my personal suggestion would be something from the Godin line -- Seagull, Art & Lutherie, and Simon & Patrick. I'd also suggest the Washburn D10, which Samash has for $199 shipped right now. Whatever you decide to get, go for a solid top guitar. Go cedar for a warmer, lush sound great for fingerpicking and spruce for a brighter sound that is usually preferred strumming.
Thanks! I think cedar may be the way to go from your descriptions. So samash would probably be the best place to order from online?

Thanks,
Richard
post #4 of 14
I would advise against purchasing a guitar (especially in this price range) without playing it first. You never know what you are going to get. The set up might be terrible, the guitar might have serious flaws (a twisted neck, poorly set bridge, loose braces, bad frets, etc.), or it just might not sound good at all. Be sure to play before you buy! If you are in a college town I'm sure there is a small, local owned guitar shop nearby (support your local shops!).

If you MUST purchase by mail, be sure to do so with a reputable store like Elderly Instruments or Mandolin Bros. or Gryphon.

Be sure to let them know you are a beginning guitarist and ask/beg nicely for a good set up before the guitar ships. Maybe they will throw in some strings and a polishing cloth as well.

Places like Sam Ash and Guitar Center will not give you the personal service you deserve as a new player. Especially over the phone.

Good luck! Guitars are great fun!
post #5 of 14
Alvarez makes some excellent acoustic guitars at that price point. I play my girlfriend's beat up Alvarez Regent more than any of my other acoustics, and it was muuuch less expensive.
post #6 of 14
This is from a post I wrote years ago about how I generally purchase guitars. It is incomplete, but there are few things you might look out for. The best advice I can give is to start out with a borrowed guitar! Learn to play a little bit on a guitar you are not committed to and then you can make a much more informed opinion later. By then you will know what you like in a guitar.

"I beg of you: Don't buy your guitar at Costco.

Another vote for Yamaha if you don't want to spend a lot of money. Be sure to play it first. Also, just because it looks cool with abalone and pearl inlays all over it and gold plate, etc. doesn't mean it sounds better than a guitar with simple adornments. A very plain guitar with solid top will often sound better than a fancy guitar for the same price but with a plywood top. A plain guitar never goes out of style! Neither does good sound. Remember that any extra materials or adornments are going to cost you either way, either in quality of manufacture and tone (if it is the same price as a simpler-looking guitar) or in $$$.

Things to check for:

Straight or *very* slightly bowed neck. No humps or high spots on the fingerboard/frets. If you can, use a long straight ruler and lay the sharp edge along the fingerboard over the frets and check it. Or, hold down the low E string at the first fret and the last fret and use the string as a "guide" to see if there are any humps in the fingerboard. A twisted neck is an absolute no-no. Guitar companies will often let guitars leave the factory with terrible, terrible flaws. I own a $3500 guitar whose fingerboard had to be completely re-shaped. Luckily it was under warranty, but it took almost three months to repair.

Clean fret work. Run your fingers along the sides of the neck and feel for burrs or sharp edges on the frets. A couple of scratches or cuts from bad frets will make you put the guitar down for a long time and never pick it up again. With all the time it takes to develop skills it is something that should be a pleasure, not a danger.

Look for a solid wood top. A solid wood top will continue to sound better and better over time. Plywood tops are pretty much one sound for the entire life of the guitar. If you think HP burn-in is significant, wait until you hear the "burn-in" of a solid spruce top guitar. It takes longer, but it never stops sounding better!

Tap the guitar *lightly* at various places on the top and back while holding the guitar by the neck. Listen for rattles or dull thuds. This will indicate the condition of the braces. Rattles or thuds indicate loosened or poorly glued braces. It will thud toward the top of the soundboard because there is not enough space for the wood to resonate. But near the bridge, there should be some open reverberation.

Check the action. If the saddle height looks normal and the action on the strings is too low or high this means the neck was not set properly and will cause you problems over time.

Do your research. FRETS.COM Acoustic guitar instrument care, repair for players, luthiers is a good place to check out some basics of guitar buying and selection. Gryphon Stringed instruments Gryphon Stringed Instruments Home is in Palo Alto. Is that near you? They will probably not steer you wrong. There is also a nice repair section that will show you some of the problems you might encounter if you don't care for your guitar.

Obviously play the guitar. Look for one that is easy to play without any buzzing on on fretted notes. Any guitar will buzz if you mash the strings. I'm talking about normal plucking, strumming strength. Also, buzzing on open strings is unacceptable. Be careful of "sales people" who act like they know what they are doing. Don't buy on your first visit. If you find a couple that you think you can live with, ask them to re-string them so you can play them with good strings. Sometimes the less expensive guitars can be left with old, dead strings on them and you can't really get a good idea of the tonal quality.

Guitars are extremely inconsistent. It is really hard to find a good one at your price point, but if you have patience and do your research you will find one that will last you forever. Again, these things are made of wood and glue. They change according to humidity and temperature as well as all kinds of other factors (people also abuse them at the stores).

I'm probably forgetting a lot of stuff, but this should get you started. Do a quick google search for acoustic guitar buying guide and you'll find some good resources.

Often, used is better than new. Your guitar won't be perfect forever unless you never play it. It is a living, breathing thing that is handled a lot. Don't worry too much about nicks and the like unless you spend crazy $$$.

Finally, try to borrow a guitar from a friend and play it for a while so you can get somewhat acceptable technique. Sometimes when testing a guitar, the sound flaws that one attributes to the guitar can be attributed to "user error"! So make sure you are fretting the guitar properly when you play it.

In fact, try to find a guitar to borrow to find out of you like it at all and then save up so you can spend at least $400 for your first guitar. There are A LOT of $400 guitars that can last a lifetime and will stay with you even if you become the greatest guitarist in the world."
post #7 of 14
I agree with others here that you should try to play the instrument first if you can, but I don't think that online shops are bad as long as it's at least something like musiciansfriend or samash (and the other sites mentioned above)and not ebay. I've purchased two guitars from musiciansfriend, and they both came in great shape, but I bought an Alvarez RD20 off ebay, and it was apparent that it had never been humidified. Plus, I believe musiciansfriend and samash have pretty good return policies so the risks are minimal.

Guitars at b&m shops have been hit or miss in my experience because I found the guitars had been handled quite a bit and humidity control wasn't very consistent. I ended up buying my current guitar at a really nice shop in Chicago, but that was before visiting 3-4 really crappy guitar shops.

I'd suggest visiting some guitar shops in your area if you can to get a feel for some of the guitars. Test out a spruce top and then a cedar top to get a feel for which sound you prefer. Maybe even ask someone with some experience to tag along. If you find a guitar that you like that's in good shape, go ahead and buy it, but if you find that a lot of the guitars are in crappy quality, avoid that store.

Again, go for a solid top guitar for best tone, but solid top guitars need to be cared for almost like a plant so make sure the guitars don't have symptoms of low humidity (sunken top, sharp frets, fretboard hump, really high action, etc. - do a google search if you're confused). Also make sure to pick up a humidifier.

If that sounds like too much work, I do have a suggestion for a laminate top guitar that is a great bang-for-the-buck. (You don't have to worry about humidity control for laminates as much). The guitar is the D100 from Washburn. I believe musiciansfriend has a version of it for $129 right now. Both my friend and my sister have one, and although it doesn't sound quite as nice as my $350 Simon & Patrick, it still sounds really nice. In fact, I'm thinking about selling my guitar and downgrading to the D100 because it's such a bargain. And I guarantee that the D100 will blow away any other similarly-priced acoustic at a b&m store.

Finally, I'll echo tjkurita's advice to do some research. Research like crazy so you know exactly what to look for. You may want to check out The Acoustic Guitar Forum.

Good luck!
post #8 of 14
if you know someone knowledgeable about guitars, drag them to a shop with you, as a salesman is just as liable to pawn off a piece of crap to you if he senses you don't know any better.
failing that, i would also recommend a solid top Yamaha acoustic. they make good quality guitars in that price range.
post #9 of 14
my friends seagull is one of the nicest sounding guitars i have heard/played. I have played 20+ yrs and worked in a guitar shop in my teens. I have played a lot of guitars in that time, but I have always remebered that one.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info guys! I think I will definitely order online because I do not know what to look for and believe that a good sales rep can easily dupe me. lol I will purchase from a reputable dealer. This guitar does not need to last me forever because my dad has a couple gibsons(worth over a couple grand now) that he will be giving me(one of them) for graduation. So I basically want something that is not a piece of crap that will be great to learn on.

If you had to purchase a guitar in each of these three categories, which one would it be and why?

1) Under $200
2)Under $250
3)Under $300

Right now the seagull s6 looks nice, I'm just not sure yet if I should pay $400 for it.
post #11 of 14
You need a guitar playing friend to go with you and look at used $300 instruments. Seagul is a good brand, so is Dean and a large number of used guitars. You will not be able to tell if the neck is straight, the action is good and the guitar sounds ok. If you take a playing friend with you, all those questions can be answered at almost any guitar store.

Pawn shop guitars are almost universally crap. Vultures snap up the good ones the instant that they come on the floor, so all that's left are no-name dregs of the guitar world.

Here's wishing you another great hobby in guitar playing.

Dave
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Can anyone pinpoint the differences between these two guitars besides finish and the design missing from one?

SEAGULL ENTOURAGE RUSTIC DREADNOUGHT - Elderly Instruments

Seagull The Original S6 Acoustic Guitar and more 6 String Acoustic Guitars at GuitarCenter.com.

I think I am going to go with elderly as recommended earlier.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by number1sixerfan View Post
Can anyone pinpoint the differences between these two guitars besides finish and the design missing from one?
The only significant difference is the width of the nut (the white piece between the first fret and the headstock / tuning pegs). It's Seagull's "Slim" nut, 1.72" versus their typical 1.8". This means that the guitar's neck will be a little thinner than normal.

A thinner neck is great for small to medium fingers and hands, but if you have large hands, you might take that into consideration. But for a beginning guitarist, it probably won't matter either way.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, I grabbed a Seagull S6 Original for $350 from a local shop. I have 7 days to return and I'm going to let my teacher inspect it on friday. THanks for all the help!
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