Advice on Purchasing an Acoustic Guitar

Forget about the endless hours of frustration and finger soreness that could be avoided if only you knew how to choose the correct guitar and spot a bad one.

The shapes of acoustic guitar bodies are typically hourglass-shaped, while there are some differences in terms of size, colour, wood type, style, and additional characteristics. An acoustic guitar can be purchased nowadays that is so compact it can be carried in a daypack.

While there is a large price range for guitars, as with most musical instruments, you tend to get what you pay for when purchasing brand new. There is a significant qualitative difference between getting a bargain and purchasing at a low price.

The decision between new and used is ultimately one that should be made based on a number of variables, including the buyer’s preferences and financial situation.

If you buy something brand new, you should have some recourse if you aren’t happy with it or if it breaks down within a certain amount of time: a guarantee and, ideally, a return period.

When possible, it’s better to buy a used guitar because it’ll be cheaper and won’t need to be “broken in” again.

Typically, guitars sold in stores are mass-produced instruments. “Custom built” guitars are instruments that are constructed to the buyer’s specifications. A expert guitar maker will construct one just for you, based on your preferences.

The cost of a custom-made guitar can be significantly greater than that of a mass-produced instrument of “equivalent quality,” though this might vary widely depending on the level of expertise of the craftsperson you choose. Since no two custom-built guitars are alike, it’s difficult to estimate how much a custom guitar will cost in comparison to a mass-produced instrument.


Knowing the ins and outs of a guitar will help you make an informed decision when going through the Pre-Purchase Checklist.

The “BODY” is the section of the instrument that faces the listener and contains the sound hole. The strumming area can be of varying dimensions. Whether a guitar has a thick and warm tone or a thin and ‘twangy’ sound depends on a number of factors, including its size, shape, kind of wood, coating, and overall construction. The body is also the most common target of scratches, dents, and other forms of damage.

The NECK is the extended section of the guitar that begins at the body and terminates at the “head” or “machine heads” of the instrument. The strings are wound around tuning posts at the headstock after travelling from the ‘Bridge’ on the body, across the sound hole, and along the ‘Fret Board’ attached to the neck’s face. By turning the tuning heads by hand, one can adjust the string tension, or “tune,” the instrument. If you don’t take good care of your guitar or if you leave it leaning against a radiator or other heat source, the neck could bend and twist.

The Bridge is the structural support for the sound hole and is often situated in the front of the body on the side of the sound hole that is opposite the neck. Commonly, the strings are threaded through the bridge, then over the hole, and finally up to the tuning pegs at the head of the neck. In this way, the bridge serves as a pivot point from which the strings can be plunked down. Although metal bridges are preferable, most acoustic instruments instead use either hard plastic or wood. Over time, bridges can develop cracks and splits.

The fret board is attached to the headstock via adhesive. This is where you’ll press the strings in order to perform chords or solo notes. Fret boards can be built of wood that contrasts with the neck since they are attached with glue.

The guitar’s playability is affected by the distance the strings are from the fret board. The guitar will be difficult to play if the strings are too high over the fret board.

In order to play the guitar effectively, beginners’ fingertips need to be toughened up. If the guitar’s strings are too much above the fret board, a condition known as “high action,” the player’s fingers will suffer so much that they may get discouraged and eventually stop playing the instrument completely.

STRUNG: There are many different types of acoustic guitar strings. You can get them in nylon, brass, steel, or a hybrid of those materials. Since they wear more slowly and are less irritating to the fingers, nylon strings are reserved for usage on Classical and Student guitars. Their tones are warm and full.

There are various sized string sets available. Strings sold in a bundle labelled “Heavy” tend to be large in diameter and have a full, “beefy” tone. Light and extra-light strings are very thin and provide a brighter sound than heavier strings, but they are also quieter.

Your preference for a string will determine your selection. Lighter strings have a distinct tone than heavier ones but are easier to press. When strings are used frequently, they accumulate grime. When not periodically dusted with a cloth, their sound eventually becomes inaudible.


Unless the guitar is quite old, it’s probably not worth it to buy a secondhand one instead of a brand new one. Another option is to check internet auctions for the same or similar guitars to see how their used pricing stack up.
Be sure there aren’t any major flaws with the wood like cracks, scratches, splits, dents, chips, etc.
Look for flaws in the lacquer finish, too.

  • It’s important to look for any twisting or warping in the neck or fret board. A flat back position with the sound hole pointing upward is ideal for this. Raise the guitar so that the fretboard is flush with your face, with the neck pointing away from you. You should scan the body’s front and the fret board with your eyes. If the neck is bending or twisting, it should be obvious.
  • Put the guitar in tune, or ask the vendor to do so.
  • A minimum of five or six chords should be played if you can play at all. Ask the vendor to play them for you if you’re not sure how to play. Invisible to the naked eye, this test guarantees that the guitar’s neck is not twisted in any way. If the guitar is in tune but the neck is deformed, certain chords will sound fine while others will sound unnatural. If this occurs, retune the instrument. Don’t buy the instrument if the problem remains.
  • Have a look at the guitar’s bridge. Make sure there are no splits or cracks in the wood or plastic it’s composed of. The strings put a lot of tension on the bridge, therefore it needs to be quite sturdy.
    The tuning heads should be checked. I was wondering if they turn easily or if they’re very stiff and difficult to turn. Despite the intense pressure of the strings, a good guitar’s tuning pegs should be simple to adjust.
  • Examine the guitar’s “action.” How far away are the strings from the neck? Is it easy to press down on them anywhere on the fret board, or do you have to really work to get them to move?
  • Play the guitar, even if you’re a beginner, if you’re buying it for yourself and you know how to play.
  • Just how do you feel?
    To what extent does difficulty impact gameplay?
  • Is it easy for you to play chords because your hand is not too big or too small to fit around the neck and fret board?
  • Does the instrument feel right in your hands? Could you hold it comfortably?
  • Request a guitar strap if you intend to play the instrument while standing.
    How do you feel about the tone, hue, etc.?
  • If you can’t evaluate the sound on your own instrument, have someone else perform it for you.


When you buy a guitar from a brick-and-mortar music store, you may “try it out” and get answers to your questions before you commit to the purchase. You might save more money if you shop online or through a catalogue.

Your fingers, ears, and the people who join you at the campfire or at your concert will all be grateful if you take your time and know what to look for while shopping for a guitar, regardless of where you do it. Who can say?