If you’ve been considering buying a new acoustic guitar but you’re not sure where to begin, we’re here to help. Whether you’re just starting out and looking to learn guitar or you’re a seasoned picker, Elderly Instruments has the expertise and products to guide you through purchasing your new favorite acoustic guitar. To start, stringed and fretted instruments are the sum of their parts. While each choice changes the sound, the overall sound quality of the acoustic instrument is the combination of the quality of the materials used, the design, and the skill of the craftsman. For each recommendation, we’ll be mentioning the following details and sharing how they may affect your playing and your purchase.
First, we’ll discuss the shape and size of the body. This is a good place to start as it determines the general feel of the guitar, and plays a very important role in how it sounds. While there are many guitar body styles you can choose from, we’ll focus on two of the most popular: the dreadnought and the 000.
The dreadnought body style is known for its big, booming sound, emphasizing bass and treble. This lends itself particularly well to strumming styles. If you're playing with other people unamplified, the dreadnaught is a good choice because its loud sound, projection, and bass response help it cut through.
000 and OM guitars have an hourglass shape, as opposed to the pear shaped outline of the dreadnaught. 000 and OM sizes have more midrange, and they have a quieter mellow tone that's more suitable for fingerpicking styles. In addition to the 000, there are even smaller body styles such as the 00 and the 0. On the other end of the size spectrum, there are even larger body shapes like the 0000, or the jumbo.
Neck Shape, Nut Width and Scale Length:
In addition to body size, there are a few other things to consider that affect a guitar’s playability or comfort: neck shape, nut width, and scale length. The neck shape is the profile of the back of the neck, whereas nut width is the spacing between the strings. Scale length is the distance between the bridge and the nut. A longer scale length puts increased tension on the strings, which can provide more volume. Scale length also impacts the spacing of the frets. A shorter scale length will feel like the frets are closer together, so it can be more comfortable for smaller hands.
Woods on the Back and Sides:
Once you’ve figured out your ideal build, an important question to answer when considering a guitar is whether the top or the back and sides of the guitar are made from solid wood or laminate woods. Solid wood is a single piece of wood, whereas laminate wood is actually glued layers of wood bound together. Since the top of the guitar is where most of the sound is generated from, we highly recommend choosing a solid wood top, as it is crucial for sound quality. Solid woods in the back and sides of the guitar are going to give you a more colorful and nuanced tone. Solid woods are more valuable given their ability to age and mature in sound. This allows the instrument to open up and resonate more freely over time.
When it comes to deciding what to look for when choosing an acoustic guitar, there are endless details to consider. Whether you’re searching for a beginner guitar, a new piece for a collection, your first guitar ever, or anything in between, we hope this simplified things for you and helps you find the acoustic guitar of your dreams. If you have any further questions, feel free to call us or stop by our showroom.
Looking for a starter guitar? We’ve selected some of the best guitar options we carry that are great for helping you learn guitar:
The OT22 from Farida’s Old Town Series is a 00-size guitar, and a great value. Inspired by sought after “pre-war” acoustic guitars, the OT22 has a solid Sitka spruce top, X bracing, and contemporary features that ensure a great playing instrument that will continue to sound better with age.
This Little Martin is great for smaller hands or as a songwriter’s companion. The LX1 has a solid Sitka spruce top for big tone, and a modified low oval neck shape for a comfortable playing experience. This guitar's smaller size makes it a great choice for travel or playing around the campfire, too.
This is a great choice if you’re looking for an acoustic-electric guitar. Built with sustainably sourced solid tonewoods and enhanced with Breedlove’s sound optimization process, this guitar offers incredible tone paired with stage-ready electronics at an impressive price. This model features a concert size (000) body with solid torrefied European Spruce top and solid African Mahogany back and sides.
Another vintage-inspired model, this 0-size acoustic guitar is a tempting option with its affordable price and throwback style. The smaller body size and “Thin C” neck shape profile may just be the perfect fit for you, too.
The Ortega R55 is a great entry-level choice for nylon-string guitars. It’s a full-size classical guitar with a solid spruce top for those that desire a fuller tonal response. Nice looking appointments complete the package.
A very popular nylon-string classical guitar, the C5 pairs a cedar top with mahogany back and sides for a warm tone and excellent clarity. It can be a great lifetime value, too - pair this with a HumiCase at check-out and the warranty is upgraded from three years to limited lifetime.
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