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My knowledge being zero and most everyone else's right up there...I'm interested in buying a guitar for someone special as a gift. He's a beginner. What kind acoustic guitar should I buy, are there any really good books that he might use to learn, and what other equipment would he need to get started? Oh, and 300-400 bucks is what I want to spend, max...any help from some one of the musical persuasion would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Ever Curious on Jun 05, 2000 08:31PM

Wazup Amity girl??? How you doin!!! Being the drummer i may not know....no, I DON'T know as much as clint or cody do about guitars....but i can tell you what I DO know... Alrighty, i know Cody's new acoustic, that he bought two years ago while living at my house, was very close to around 300-400 dollars. So money wise if you're looking for something nice...you got the right price range. I would say go to a place like daddies junky music or some sort of equivalent and see what they have for used equipment. I mean "used" may not sound as fancy as "new" but who says you gotta tell the guy you're gettin it for. Besides that, a used guitar in really nice almost perfect condition will "probably" cost you about half the price as if it were new. So its always nice to see what used equipment you can buy. When you're in the store...pick it up. Feel it, hold it, see how comfy it is. does it sit nice in your arms? Strum the chords...you may not be a "guitar specialist" but you know what sounds nice...especially if you pick up a few and try a couple...you'll find the one with the sound you like the best. Take a look at the frets (the metel bars going all the way up the neck) make sure you dont see any or too much ware on them. If there is ware on them you should be able to tell just by looking...they'll look like some one has just been rubbing them down more and more. The problem with worn frets is the more they get worn the more strings start to dig into them as the years go on and cause divits...eventually the strings will start naturally falling into these divits when you play chords and will give you more of a "twangy" kinda unpleasantish sound. Some people try to make that sound some times...but when you're not trying to....it sounds pretty bad! Also I'd get some picks. There's tons of different types. Heavy ones medium ones soft ones...they're all different hardnesses and shapes, plus these are cheap as hell, so i wouldn't worry too much about these, just grab a handfull. When it comes down to the book to help you learn: Clint and cody may be able to help you with an actual title to buy, but seen as i can't If i were you...this is for a begginner right? Well if you were a begginner learning guitar, which book would you buy...go take a look at them and read the table of contents...read the back see what it offers. Also, they've got lots of "learn to play the guitar in 30 min." type of vhs video tapes. maybe not really 30 min, some are learn in an hour tapes...lol. BUT if you get one of those dont get discurraged if you can't play guitar in a half hour. BECAUSE if you are a begginner you're gonna have to work on your finger muscles...and its gonna hurt a little when you start off. Also you may experience a little bit of sensitivity on your finger tips. See I say every one should play the drums....they're only a teenie weenie bit more expensive!!!
posted by StU aRt on Jun 13, 2000 10:24AM

Mr. Stu is correct. I'd definitely look into a used guitar if I were you. A lot of musicians out there take really good care of their instruments, especially acoustic guitars, and in some cases modify them so that they're better than when they were new. If you know anyone who plays guitar, you may want to take them along for a concurring opinion before you buy 'cause you can never entirely trust every music store salesman- although I've met a few that really know their shit. If you're looking for someone really knowledgable I'd go to a smaller store. Daddy's is cool if you know what you're looking for, but they have more of a corporate atmosphere and I've gotten a few people that have given me some not-so-straight answers (possibly inadvertantly). Also, music order catalogs are a good place to start. You can pick up a lot of stuff from them and get a good idea of what kind of prices there are out there, however you probably won't find used equipment. Good luck.
posted by Clint Phipps on Jun 13, 2000 02:03PM

Thanks guys.
I must say, buying used hadn't occurred to me yet and it's likely to save some bucks.
How about one of them guitar tuners? Any recommendations?
posted by Ever Curious on Jun 13, 2000 05:23PM

Used guitars are THE way to go for beginners. You could follow the mentality of Kurt Cobain and use ONLY used gear (if you wanted to).
In my expecrience, many used instruments "play easier" and have a "warmer feel" than brand new instruments. Especially instruments that have really been played a lot, but also taken care of. Good players will keep instruments in the best possible condition, if they truly respect the instrument. So the used guitars in the best condition that play well are usually good bets.
Some tricks and tips. ALWAYS look at the straightness of the neck of the instrument. You want a slight bow, if any curve at all. A bow, using the cody definition, would be a curve of the neck in which there is a SLIGHTLY (very slight) larger space between the neck and the strings at only one point on the neck. Completely Straight is usually prefered.
However, keep in mind that these are not rules. Nothing written here is a rule. Music and its instruments can have no rules.
So in the spirit of my bros who've written earlier, I must say that the FEEL of the instrument is the most important aspect of the instrument. If it feels good to you, it is good for you. I've met some great players out there who play instruments that I personally think are set up like crap. The instrument may be great, but to me, it feels like crap (setup of instrument can be changed, but I would advise that a novice leave that to a professional luthier). But here's this guy getting great sounds out of it! Obviously, he wants it to feel and play that way. So, again, the feel is VERY VERY important. What feels good to you, may feel like shit to me, and vice versa. So use your OWN judgement, and I would suggest using the judgement of the person you are thinking of buying it for too...
posted by Cody Phipps on Jun 29, 2000 05:15PM