Morgan's Blogs
Guitar Brands & How They Stack Up
Article by Morgan Chambers
In terms of what to purchase when planning to dive into playing guitar, guitar type should always be your first concern. Since we are not talking about a huge range, but rather acoustic or electric, the choice should be easy.
I always recommend an acoustic to get started and here’s why. Acoustic guitars are a lot like the old plug & play devices. You pick it up and you play it. The feel of an acoustic offers a substantial artifact that can quickly become a part of your life. The wood, the inlays, the rosettes, and the way you feel when you hold it in your hands. These are all important factors that lead to how you play and how the instrument responds to your needs.

Acoustic or Electric
In opposition to the acoustic, the electric guitar takes much more knowledge and skill. First, unless you plug it into an amp, you will not enjoy any of its many features. When plugged in, it comes alive and opens up many avenues and choices. You will also need a few critical accessories that are generally not needed with your acoustic guitars such as cables, effects boxes, rack mount effects, tuners, guitar stands, and the list goes on.

Ovation Guitars
During the selection process, you will encounter one brand using a plastic backing that is not unlike the shape of a lute. Of course, we are talking about the exciting Ovation brand. I discovered Ovation a long time ago and loved the power in the volume it kicked out. Their addition of the unusual plastic back boosted the volume capability far beyond any of the traditional wood guitars with the possible exception of Martin and Taylor guitars.

When playing sitting down without a guitar strap, some say it feels like playing a bar of soap because the instrument may keep squidging out of your grasp due to its smooth round-shaped back. I have owned Ovation guitars for years and always use a strap with a strap lock system so I can jump around if I want to and enjoy the security of knowing my expensive Ovation guitar is not going to go crashing down onto the floor. The Strap Lock guitar system is essential equipment.

After over sixty years of playing the guitar, I find it interesting that in my opinion, all the manufacturers are not the same. A closer look reveals that Fender occurs to me as creating better electric guitars than acoustics and Gibson makes way better guitars than they do guitar amps. My views here are simply my opinion and what I have seen and heard over my long tenure in the music industry. Gretsch guitars are mostly acoustics although they do make electrics. When you go to a rock show you normally see mostly Gibson and Fender guitars, and Martin, Ovation, or Taylor acoustics. Of course, there are many others that the pros select and love but we’re talking about the consensus here.

Buying Your First Acoustic
A simple way to begin is to ask yourself this key question. Do you think you will stick with it? If yes, you must obtain a good quality guitar that supports your will to play and learn. Something that feels sweet in your hands and leads you to practice more.

This does not mean you need a Martin or a Taylor but just a guitar that is built well, has good action and plays well. You may find tons of used guitars on Craigslist or Reverb or even your local pawn shop that play great with names like Epiphone, Squier, Ibanez, Jackson, and even Yamaha.

If you remain uncertain regarding your dedication to learning the guitar, you probably shouldn’t slap down huge amounts of cash but worry not, when you get started, you may become hopelessly hooked and can always upgrade to a high-quality guitar at a later time.

Yamaha Guitars
Again, in my extensive musical travels, I have learned which guitars excel and why. For me, if I had to start over again today, there would be no contest. Yamaha would be my first choice. A long time ago I decided that Yamaha does not make a bad guitar and by this, I do not mean a bad model, but that all Yamaha acoustics play great.

The Yamaha company was first established in 1887 as a piano and reed organ manufacturer by Torakusu Yamaha as the Nippon Gakki Company, Limited in Hamamatsu Japan. Yamaha still proudly displays their original logo featuring a trio of interlocking tuning forks. That in itself is quite interesting since, at that time, they were building motorcycles. From its early beginnings, Yamaha made pianos and organs but in 1955 they created the Yamaha Motor Company, and then much later in 1966 the guitar shop was established.

In Conclusion
I theorize that there is a perfect guitar for everyone. Go to the pawnshops, local music stores, garage sales, and swap meets. It is much more fun to make your first guitar shopping event an adventure. Sometimes you might even spot an old forgotten guitar in a dingy back corner with no strings on it. It could be an old Kay Guitar or the guitarist's version of a diamond in the rough. Online shopping is not recommended as you don’t need to do that. You need to hold your first guitar in your arms and let all your senses feel that guitar. I’ve seen folks buy a guitar just because it felt good to hold.

As such, you should always check for cracks or other busted or missing parts. Sight down the fretboard and look for any twisting or bowing. Do this from both ends of the instrument. Look inside the sound hole and inspect the wood that supports the top. Check the hardware. Look at the body, the bridge, the saddle, the nut, and the bridge pins that hold the strings in place.

Also, if you are serious about your new guitar adventure, get a hard-shelled case and not the soft cases often called rag cases. Soft cases will ride up and down on your tuning keys and affect your tuning over and over. You do not want that!

In the end, your senses and emotions should come alive when you hold the right guitar. So get excited and get out there and get playing. You’ll be glad you did!