In the wide variety of existing brands and models, choosing an acoustic guitar can now be quite complex. What are the quality criteria to consider? How to understand the differences between a guitar of good construction and one of little value? Here is the Dampi guide with some tips on how to choose an acoustic guitar, valid especially for beginners.
STEP # 1: LEARN TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCES IN THE HARMONIC CHEST
To choose an acoustic guitar it is important to have at least a preliminary knowledge of the differences between the various existing types. The main types of acoustic guitar are distinguished by the shape of the harmonic case, with three main models:
Standard: in this model the harmonic case has the typical 8 shape with the lower part only slightly more rounded than the upper part, as shown in the photo (an Eko NXT Parlor Natural guitar). These acoustic guitars have a more unbalanced sound on the treble, and are therefore ideal for solo roles.
Dreadnoughts were introduced in the early years of the last century by Martin, one of the historic companies in the sector. They are characterized by their massive dimensions, with the lower part of the more rounded harmonic case. This structure gives a darker and more full-bodied sound, with vibrant bass and in greater evidence. In the photo, a Sigma DMR-4.
the Jumbo are even more voluminous and the crowning of the lower part of the sound box is extreme. As a result they sound similar to that of the Dreadnought, with full and resonant basses, ideal for accompaniment roles. In the photo, a Sigma JR-40 ST Lucide.
Now that we’ve made a bit of clarity on the main types, let’s see in more detail how to choose an acoustic guitar.
STEP # 2: HANDLE ANALYSIS
Traditionally, the best acoustic guitar under 500 is different from the classical one for the metal strings, more powerful and resonant but also more difficult to play. In choosing an acoustic guitar it is therefore very important to evaluate its comfort, since it is easier to tire with this instrument. The most important element in this sense is the handle: first of all you have to try it, by embracing the guitar while sitting and making sure that the handle sits comfortably between your hands and doesn’t force you to perform unnatural movements.
The neck of the handle can also reveal whether the general quality of the guitar is good or mediocre: check that the fret of the keys (the thin metal strips that cut the handle transversely) do not protrude from the keyboard, creating small bumps. And also check the action of the strings (the distance between the strings and the handle) that should not be too high: basically, less than half a centimeter at the bottom of the handle.
Long scale or short scale? Another element of the handle that you need to know to choose an acoustic guitar, is the difference between short scale and long scale. The first term indicates that the handle protrudes from the body of the guitar by 12 keys, while with a long scale is meant a projection of 14 keys. The difference is reflected in the tension of the strings: the short scale is associated with less taut strings, therefore easier to play but also less resonant, while in the long scale the strings are more tense and harder to play, but give a clearer sound and net.
STEP # 3: VERIFICATION OF CONSTRUCTION QUALITY
Once the handle has been checked, it is time to review the sound box and the general quality of the guitar. Make a few small strokes on the back of the case to check its resonance, and make sure that there are no slits or necklines in the wood and between the various parts of the guitar. Try to carry out this check on different guitars, in order to perceive the differences and evaluate them in a more complete and objective way.
STEP # 4: LISTENING TO SOUND
The most important quality of an acoustic guitar is its sound. Weighing this aspect is perhaps the most difficult task, because evaluation unites subjective and objective aspects that have equal weight in the final choice. The secret, even in this case, is to try different instruments and feel how each guitar generates a different sound: in some models it will be more dull and closed, in others more vibrant and rich in nuances. Prefer the instruments with this second type of sound in choosing your acoustic guitar, and among these look for the one with the sound you like best, and that is more suited to the style you want to specialize in.