How do I choose my guitar

When you want to learn how to play the guitar you have to know that you will need a guitar that you can practice on at home. During lessons, the teacher explains and shows the student what to do, following that the student will then repeat from one lessons to the other for skill training.

If you want to buy a guitar from a store, than you have to go to a music store. The classical guitar has 6 strings, the first 3 of which are made of nylon.

Depending on the student’ s age and physical development, different guitars should be chosen:

6-8 years old: guitar size 1/2

9-12 years old: guitar size 3/4

Over 12 years old: standard guitar 4/4

The first thing you should take into consideration when choosing a guitar is to be careful not to have any visible construction defects: scratches, wood cracks, deformation of the neck’ s plane, bumps in the wood, problems woth the polish layer. It is good to check the tuning keys, so that they have a smooth, uninterrupted course.

Another important aspect concerns the plane of the strings which must be uniform. All strings must be at the same hight relative to each other and also have a unitary tension. Therefore, once you visually check the plane of the strings at the rosette, you should gently press your palm against the strings to feel that the tension is equal on each string.

The appearance of the instrument is less important (color, drawing around the rozette od distinctive markings) and should not be a purchasing criterion.

The instrument should always be tested before purchase. It is also good to try at least 2-3 different instruments so that to have comparison points of reference.

Since testing an instrument involves certaind knowledge and skills, it is good to go with someone who has experience to this concern. This will give you the chance to make the right choice.

The following criteria will be considered:

  1. Sound quality

The sound quality refers to the specificity of the sound and the maximum degree of sound that the instrument can provide when it comes to different ways of plucking the strings. Sound quality considers several factors including:  clarity of sounds, their ability to form a unitary resonance, richness in harmonics.

  1. Testing the positions on the guitar fingerboard

In many cases it is possible that the the sounds in the first positions of the fingerboard, on different strings, may not be heard correctly. It is a phenomenon quite common that, when a sound is articulated in the first positions, it is possible to hear the buzzing effect of the strings. This is usually caused by the touching of the pressed strings with the next fret positions.

It is also very important to test all the positions on the fingerboard so that there is no danger that in some positions the sounds may not be heard correctly or even can not be emitted due to construction defects.

  1. The ability to be tuned

An especially important aspect is that the instrument can be tunned perfectly. An instrument you can not tune at the moment of purchase, regardless of the degree of string usage, can not be an option. The ability to tune the instrument is an essential element that can not be overcome.

  1. The sound proportion between trebles and basses

A qualitative guitar will have profound basses and sharp trebles. The balance between the basses and the trebles is very important in order to keep the proper proportion between these two resounding instances, the purpose of the basse being to support and highlight the trebles.

  1. The sustain – the duration of the sounds from the moment of articulation to their extinction

The extinction of the sounds after the moment of plucking must be achieved gradually. Ideally, the sustain of the sounds must be uniform on all frets, so that all sounds last as long as possible.

  1. The brightness of the sounds on the first string

The first string is generally responsible for leading the main melodic line. That’ s why it is good to make shure that the sound on the first string is clear, open and bright.

  1. The color uniformity of the strings

Each string should sound in the same manner, so that there are no major differences in perceiving the sounds when plucking two different strings. For example, it is possible that the first string will have a bright sound and the second string will have a bump resonance.

  1. The sound intensity

Since the guitar is an instrument with a relatively weak sound compared to other instruments, it is necessary to consider the instrument’ s dynamic range (how does the guitar sound in piano, forte, fortissimo etc). Moreover, one must observe the resonance capacity of the soundboard of the guitar, which can be felt not only auditory, but also physically, effectively through the body and arms. The sound projection is another aspect to be noticed, that means the degree in which the sounds are projected from the inside of the soundboard to the listener.

  1. Quality and duration of the harmonics

 Harmonics can be played in different positions on the fingerboard – the most common positions for natural harmonics are: III, V, VII, IX, XII. The harmonics played in these positions must sound clear, consistent and should last long.

  1. The range of tone colours:

Depending on the placement of the right hand to the rosette when pluking the strings, the sonority can be different: the plucking of the strings near to the rosette (naturale), near to the bridge (sul ponticello) and close to the XIXth fret (sul tasto). These differences mut be very clear.

Taking into account the above criteria, you will be able to purchase a guitar to be pleased of. You should of course consider the buget you are willing to allocate according to the purpose you are buying the guitar (hobby or performance, beginner or advanced level, short or long term acquisition)
For those studying the guitar for performance, luther guitars are the best option. They are superior in quality versus serial guitar and they can be custom made taking into account the characteristics and requirements of each player.

Once you’ve chosen the guitar, you will need some accessories, such as a guitar case, a footstool for the left leg and a stand for the scores.

Frequently asked questions and recommendations

1. How many times a week is it recommended to take lessons?

HOBBY: Depending on everyone’ s desire and passion, classes can be scheduled several times a week. The minimum frequency is 1 hour per week.

PERFORMANCE: To achieve performance, a sustained practice program is required as well as a constant meeting with the teacher. The recommended frequency of classes is 2 times a week.

2. How much time is it apropriate to spend practicing?

HOBBY: It is good to be aware that an instrument, whatever it is, does not play by itself. Therefore, the passion for playing the guitar must be sustained by a minimal constant study program through which one can evolve from one lesson to another.

PERFORMANCE: For beginners, the study program will include a part of the technique (30-40 minutes) and a part of playing the pieces (about 1 hour). Overall, a 1 hour and 30 minutes daily study provides the beginner student a satisfactory evolution in order to achieve performance.

For intermediate and advanced levels, the technique programe will last between 40-60 minutes and the study of the pieces will take between 1 hour and 30 minutes and 2 hours. Thus, an average study program may last between 2 hours and 4 hours depending on the motivation of each student.

3. How do you relate to guitar lessons?

HOBBY: Students learning the guitar as a hobby wants to spend their free time in a constructive and enjoyable way. They are interested in what they can learn and consider this activity as a link between the desire for recreation and the seriousness involved in the study of any instrument.

The student who plays the guitar as a hobby has an active attitude about what he can do nicely through music, being open to interactive with other people who have the same passion. Thus, by studying the guitar and by knowing a new language, one can open a horizon that leads to the emergence of a sensitive but extroverted personality and to the appreciation of quality music, both now and in the future.

PERFORMANCE: The performance students are happy to practice on their own initiative and have the curiosity to discover new ways of performing. Technical difficulties are seen as challenges that can be overcome through work and continuity in practice. The performance students have the certainty that they can succeed and are aware of their emotional state in order to be able to control their emotions on stage and wish to value the talent they have.

4. What kind of strings do you have to buy?

HOBBY: With regard to the type of strings, it is important to choose those for classical guitar, that is, the first three to be made of nylon. If the student uses the strings just for practicing at home, without stage performances, then study strings are sufficient – D’ addario.

PERFORMANCE: For performance it is a good idea quality concert strings for both practicing and giving recitals. This will allow the student to achieve as much as a qualitative performance also within the study program. Strings should also be changed regularly, at least once a month and before each stage appearance – D’addario sau Savarez.