Buying a guitar: Introduction
Prepared by Alan Humm
Since I only created a few of them myself, most of the images on this
site , as with the Jan Vermeer painting, are linked to the source.
As my sources are often commercial sites, it is, after all, only fair
that they should get a little advertising from me absconding with their
pictures. Of course, I don't think the Vermeer is for sale (at least not
the original). Neither is my grandson, on the next page.
Guitar is an instrument which is continuously evolving. This is not just
an historical observation, although you are unlikely to find anything
like the one in the Vermeer detail here1 at you local music
I am going to direct you to steelguitar.com if that
is what you are interested in, although with the caveat that I don't
really know enough even to know whether that is a good resource. It
looks like it is. I will talk about steel guitars, but this won't be
much of a buying guide, if that is what you want.
store. Among modern instruments there are a few major categories,
numerous sub-categories, and hybrids. The biggest division is between
guitars designed to be plugged into amplifiers (electric guitars) and
those that produce their own sound on a vibrating surface (usually
wood-acoustic guitars). The latter group divides into classical,
steel-string, and resonator guitars. So called 'steel guitars' (not made
of steel, by the way) have more in common with electrics, but less in
common with standard guitars in general (they have strings and pickups,
but the similarity ends there). This page on guitar buying will not be
of much assistance to those of you shopping for steel guitars.2
Johannes Vermeer: The guitar player
What kind of guitar you want to buy is also dependent on several
variables. What is your current level? Are you 'moving up' or just
getting started? How much are willing to spend? Are you concerned about
resale value? What style do you (hope to) play? Each of these questions
impact the answer, and I will approach them one at a time.
Since this ended up taking a lot more space to discuss this than I
expected, I suspect that only the most dedicated of you will want to
struggle through the whole group of pages. That is part of why I broke
it up. I do not promise, however, not to talk about things that you
might be interested in sections that you prefer to skip for the
most part. It wouldn't hurt you to skim even those parts, but if I refer
back to something and you are thinking, "Where did he talk about that,"
well, I will try to do some cross-linking.
Here's an outline: