Friday, April 13, 2012

Guide on buying guitars

Today's post will be about how to choose a guitar. This is part 1 so stay tuned for part 2!

Before i head on to the more technical sides of this topic let me put down a few ground principals:

Not all great guitarists was born with a 1959' Gibson LP in his room.

Some guitarists are lucky, some not, but we tend to believe that all of them started guitar at age 5 with a Gibson Lp in their room with a Marshall Plexi and an array of pedals to waste time with. Fortunately for you, this is untrue.

A number of them start with pretty much nothing, some with less cash than what you have now. For example today the "Number One" used by SRV would fetch crazy prices from fender custom shop, but if you were to spot a similar guitar in a guitar shop there is a high chance most of us will regard it as trash. why? it can be considered as a broken and worn partcaster, now there are some part-casters in the world but its definitely not a fender deluxe strat, LP Custom shop, etc etc etc. Don’t worry if you cant afford a ESP or a prestige - its normal.

Dont compare yourself with the gears of the greats.

First I said this before; no amount of vai signature equipment will make you vai. This is very true, you can get every JEM in town a matching amp and you would not achieve it. The best way to sound like vai? Learn his phrasing, how he does his notes and play them, it wont be perfect but you will definitely sound nearer.

The greats got gear that can buy you a car or even a house, they normally have stack effects, at least 1 guitar a year (mustaine got 11 guitars a year from Jackson), a team of legendary roadies and guitar tech. For you you probably get a guitar every 3 years and you need to save up for it (painfully), which comes to an advice get a guitar that suits you, not because malmsteem used his sweaty hands on it.

Some great guitarists also can lie about their stuff, these people are marketers mind you. EVH is quoted to fabricate information on his gear so that his guitar tech gets more business; even his 5150 amp is not the amp he used in his early van halen days. (EVH used a Marshall in those days, and made HUGE modifications to it.)

How to look at hot axes

You must always look at a guitar as a whole a sum of its parts not like how you see a computer and what specs it has. Guitars never work that way, you can have all the best specs in the world with shoddy workmanship or some strange means the guitar can still fail.

You also cant buy an Ibanez GIO and put stuff into it to make it “like” a prestige, it doesn’t work. Both guitars are made differently and you will find that at the end of the day buying another guitar would suit your needs more.

But this also means that, by some strange means cheap guitars and partcasters can be good. The number one was a good guitar while being cheap, it featured a neck that SRV loved, then theres the frankenstrat. You will also find a lot of cheap guitars around that are good, you just need a good ear and be very very picky.

Always get an axe that feels good to you. I personally hate thin neck profiles cause they don’t “feel” right, i can play on them but at the back of my head its always this is too thin the feel sucks. How you get the feel? Simple and cheap, go to each guitar shop in town and test their guitars, if they don’t let you test don’t buy, if they want to be snobbish screw em’ its your money.

Why don’t buy a guitar before testing them? First unless you like the risk, every guitar is different even by factory standards. Some shops i come across set their guitars with terribly low action making it “easier” to play, some set their guitar up with a very light trem bar so when you sway the guitar a bit the trem bar shakes, both of which can be irritating to the aspiring buyer. But there are other things also, the more major ones are like certain gibsons don’t meet requirements, just as certain fenders don’t too, be mindful of what you buy. While most times it comes out alright, there is a certain risk to buying a guitar which you have yet to touch before


  1. Nice tips, thanks for this guide!

  2. Yeah people tend not to realize that many started out with nothing. They just see their hero use it and think "oh it will make me good too" nothing beats practice and agree with testing. Great tips.

  3. That's a lot to remember. Then again, it is a fairly big investment.

  4. Very interesting thanks for the tips!