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Buying an Acoustic Guitar – What You Should Know

There are some things you should consider when going to purchase an acoustic guitar. Don’t just go buying any old instrument, you need to have a good idea of what’s a solid investment and what might be a liability. Read on to find out a lot more right now.


Buying an acoustic guitar – especially if you’re a beginner to playing the instrument – can be a daunting choice. With so many options to pick from, most sounding relatively similarly, why are there such huge price gaps – some guitars can cost a few hundred dollars, while others can set you back several thousand? Let’s explore the different types of acoustic guitars on the market, and see what you should be looking for in different price ranges.

Types of Acoustic Guitars

Generally, there are two types of acoustic guitars – nylon string and steel string ones. Nylon string guitars are simpler and tend to have fewer variations to their designs, with most of the differences coming in the construction of the guitar’s body. On the other hand, steel string guitars can be quite varied in their design, with some examples being guitars with cutaways, as well as incorporating electronics and advanced materials for the body.

Nylon String Guitars

Nylon string guitars traditionally see the most use in classical and Latin music – with some rare exceptions in pop tracks. These guitars are normally played with the fingers directly, without using any pick. The guitar usually has a wide neck that makes it possible to precisely pick out your strings with your fingers, and the guitar usually sounds more relaxed and quiet compared to steel string guitars, due to the nature of the sound produced by nylon strings. This is what makes these guitars so popular in flamenco, where the nylon string guitar is seeing an extensive use. If the musical styles we’ve outlined so far are your kind of music, this is the type of guitar you should be looking into.

nylon string classical guitar

Nylon string classical guitar
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Steel String Guitars

On the other hand, we have steel string guitars, which can be further broken down into numerous variations – but most generally speaking, the most basic types are just three:

Six string guitars – these were the original steel string guitars, and have evolved immensely since their original inception, coming in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Some more recent changes to the design have included cutaway bodies (similar to electric guitars), which provide access to some higher frets.

Twelve-string guitars – with this design, you have six pairs of strings, which are fine-tuned in their octaves in order to give you access to a more complete sound range. This type of guitar can work very well for certain kinds of songs, but aren’t so suitable for general use, especially when it comes to tracks that require a single string playing style.

Acoustic/Electric guitars – the guitar has changed quite a lot from the simple instrument it once was, and modern designs incorporate all sorts of additions to give the musician more direct control over the sound output. Today you can find guitars with built-in preamps and equalizers, as well as pickups. You can use a guitar like this to easily play with a live electric band, without having to worry about the problems associated with playing an acoustic on a microphone.

steel string acoustic guitar

Steel string acoustic guitar
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Price Ranges

Before you begin your shopping, you should know what price range you’re aiming for – don’t think that just because a guitar costs less, it’ll sound worse than the other one with the heftier price tag. In many cases, the cost difference comes mostly from cosmetic additions and different types of wood and finish in the guitar’s design.

It’s very possible to get a guitar that sounds good and not have to pay a lot of money for it, but you’ll have to be patient and shop around as much as possible. But if you’ve got some extra money to put into it, don’t spare it and get a high-grade guitar with a wonderful sound. This will give you a lot of joy when you’re playing it and will be well worth its money.

$500 and below

Guitars in this range are considered “budget” or “economy” models – you’ll have to swallow your pride and accept some compromises in the hardware’s quality, as well as the grade of wood used. You will frequently find guitars with a cheap finish and laminated tops in this price range – and don’t be surprised if the tone is lacking a bit. Still, it’s not impossible to find a good-sounding guitar in this range.

$500 - $1000

This is the middle range, where you can get some models that balance very well between quality and price – it’s not hard at all to get something that sounds very well for this price, and even though it still won’t be a deluxe model, it’ll still work very nicely. You will commonly find guitars with higher-grade wood and a satin finish here, and the tones will definitely sound better. Electric guitars are to be found as well.

$1000 and above

If you’re willing to put more than a thousand dollars into your guitars, you’ll be guaranteed to get something that sounds excellent and offers a good number of features. Hardware with golden elements, Ebony fretboards and fretboard binding, as well as finely designed inlays and “deluxe” signature models. All of this doesn’t make the guitar sound better in most cases, but it goes a long way to provide you with the extra edge in playing it. Additionally, guitars in this range are very durable.

Shopping Tips

So, let’s cut to the chase – the actual shopping. The best way to get an acoustic guitar is to just head into a music store and give a few a try. Forget about the price tag – try to not even look at it, just keep trying out different guitars. Never stick to a certain price range – actually, try to play some of the highest-grade models to find out what they are like. And don’t forget to ask the salesperson as much as you can – find out everything there is to know about the guitars you’re buying and what you can expect from them. If you’re not feeling comfortable playing the guitars yourself, ask the salesperson for a demo.

And don’t forget that a quality guitar shouldn’t just sound good, it should have nice looks to it – some things to be on the lookout for include rough fret edges, gaps in the joints, as well as uneven elements on the neck. If you look down the neck from the bottom of the guitar’s body, there shouldn’t be any twists on the neck, or any bumps and irregularities.

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