Choosing Your First Instrument|Acoustic Guitar

There are many different styles of music. There is the royal road band sound, neutral rock with a unique atmosphere and a mysterious sex appeal, heavy metal with a heavy bass sound and a denim and leather look, R&B and hip-hop that are now played on the streets as a matter of course, blues with a lot of tears in its roots, jazz, bossa nova, etc., to name a few. The list goes on and on.
However! When considering the essence of music and musical instruments, there is the most primitive part that all of them have in common. That is... live sound! So, although this is a bit of a forced approach, I would like to help those who are just starting out with the most popular live instrument, the acoustic guitar, which has a stable popularity and a large player population among live instruments that do not require an amplifier, etc., by showing you how to choose one.

If you are a beginner, you may be thinking, "I want to play the acoustic guitar! However, many people often say, "I've been playing electric guitars for a long time, but I don't know much about acoustic guitars..." As a band member, I have heard that "MTV amps are the best for acoustic guitars" and "MTV amps are the best for acoustic guitars. As a band member, many of you may want to start playing the acoustic guitar because of the calm acoustic sound, which is in contrast to the hard rocking sound of Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, KISS, Paul Weller, Nirvana, etc. on "MTV Unplugged". I am sure there are many people who would like to start playing the acoustic guitar because of such a stage.

Many people may want to start playing the acoustic guitar because of its calm acoustic sound, in contrast to the blistering rock music that is often seen on the streets. Finger picking that can be used for a wide range of playing, sometimes subtly, sometimes boldly. The classical guitar, with its soft tone and lyrical melodies... The acoustic guitar has many appealing styles. Now, let's take a look at some of the styles, from the beginner who is agonizing between hope and anxiety, "I'm new and I don't know anything..." to the shy, "I'm too embarrassed to ask now! Let's start our journey together to choose your first acoustic guitar.

When it comes to buying a guitar, there are many criteria to choose from: budget, good sound, looks, brand, and so on. The most critical of these criteria is the budget. The most serious problem of all is the budget. I'll even buy you a studio to practice in! Only a handful of families could afford such bourgeois exchanges.

Many of us face the first crossroads of "How much can I afford to spend on a new instrument? Many people face the first turning point of "How much can I afford to pay for a new instrument? When talking to customers in the store, some think "I don't know if I can keep playing so I'll just get a cheap one", while others are so confident that they can't help but say "If I buy an expensive one first, I'll have to keep playing it! There are many different ways of thinking when choosing your first guitar, from those who think "I don't know if I'll continue, so I'll just go with the cheapest one I can find" to those who are so confident that they can't help but be convinced.

However, I would venture to say, based on my own personal prejudice, that the first choice should be a low-priced guitar. I would say that a low-priced guitar, at least 50,000 to 60,000 yen, is a good choice. You can concentrate on playing without worrying about the price, and above all, it will be easy to move up in rank, which is the most exciting event in continuing to play an instrument. I couldn't help but raise my voice. Well, I hope you will keep my nonsense as a corner of your memory as a reference....

In addition, when actually looking for something in a store, there are times when you find something you like within your budget, and there are other times when, regardless of your budget, the moment you see it, hold it, or hear it, you say, "Oh, my God, it just hit me! There are also times when you just have to try out a lot of instruments at once. If you try many guitars at once, your ears may become numb and you may end up playing more and more. It is a good idea to choose a guitar that you feel intuitively before that happens.

And "new" or "used"? This is a choice that comes with every purchase of a musical instrument, not only when choosing for the first time, but also when buying a second guitar, or when buying an expensive one. Both have their charms, but it goes without saying that the main feature of a new instrument is its "good condition. The new one is so clean and shiny that you will be enchanted because it has never been used. The more you play it, the more it will become your color.

On the other hand, the most attractive feature of a used instrument is the "evolution of sound. The sound of a used instrument changes over time as it ages and is played. 20 or 30 years of drying time, or playing it for a long time, will improve the sound and make it sound more unique. The joy of encountering a guitar that produces your own unique sound is exceptional, especially with acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitars, as the changes in sound are more pronounced and the differences between individuals are greater.

Many people have the impression that used guitars are "scratched or dull. The answer is yes. In fact, there are some used instruments that have never been used, but in general, there are many that have light dents and pick marks, and some have been repaired, sometimes with cracks or other damage. However, that sense of use and the look of age is one of the main attractions of used instruments.

In fact, there are many vintage fans who are not interested in a guitar without scratches. Each and every used guitar has its own drama, depending on the environment in which it has been played, and no two guitars sound exactly the same. The moment you come across a guitar that has the sound and look you like among the vast number of vintage guitars available, it is surely a fateful encounter.
So, trusting in your budget, your intuition, and your destiny...let's go to the music store!

There are two main types

The first is the music store. When you enter a store and see a huge number of acoustic guitars, you may be at a loss to know which one to choose. To make sure there are no mistakes, let's start with the types of acoustic guitars. There are two main types of acoustic guitars. Folk guitars" and "classical guitars. Folk guitars, which use steel strings, can be used for a wide range of styles, from "playing along" to "finger picking" without a pick.

The term "acoustic guitar" generally refers to the folk guitar. On the other hand, the classical guitar, which is literally used for classical music and bossa nova, uses nylon strings and is basically played with the fingers without using a pick. While folk music has a jangly sound that makes you want to strum, the classical guitar has a soft, sweet tone that is perfect for a muffled atmosphere. The classical guitar is also called a "gut guitar. This name comes from the fact that gut strings made from sheep's intestines (gut) used to be used in the past.

Folk guitars and classical guitars look the same at a glance, but there are differences in the size of the body, the bridge where the strings are attached, the pegs on which the strings are wound, and even the width and thickness of the neck. If you understand these differences, you can avoid the mistake of playing "Jumpin' Jack Flash" on a classical guitar like the main character in a certain comic book.

Next, let's take a look at what to look for when actually selecting an acoustic guitar. What should you look for in an acoustic guitar? In fact, this may be the first and most difficult point. Many people ask me, "I'm new to this, what should I look for? I am often asked, "I'm new here, what should I look for? I reply, "I'm new to this. I say, "A guitar that is easy to play is better than one that sounds good. (← In actuality, of course, I am using honorifics.)

Yes, I think the most important thing to consider when choosing your first acoustic guitar is "ease of playability"! The first thing that comes to mind when considering the ease of playing an acoustic guitar is the "string height". String height is the distance between the strings and the fingerboard that holds the strings. In general, the lower the string height, the easier it is to play because you do not have to exert as much force when pressing the strings. Compared to electric guitars, acoustic guitars originally have higher strings, so even if you used to play electric guitars, you should check this area. If the acoustic guitar you choose is difficult to play, you may find yourself thinking, "Oh, my fingers hurt so much after practicing yesterday, I'm not going to play it today," or "My fingers hurt again after a little playing! I'll pass again today! "Oh, no! It hurts!" And then the acoustic guitar is buried in the dust.... We recommend an easy-to-play guitar so that you can continue to enjoy playing!

The next thing to check is the neck, which is closely related to the string height and is an important part that greatly affects playability. As you can see by actually holding the neck in the store, there are various shapes of necks, including thick, thin, semicircular (U-neck), and triangular (V-neck) necks. When playing, you grip the neck to press the strings, so you want to choose a shape that fits your hand, but everyone has his or her own preference as to which shape is best. Generally speaking, a narrower neck is easier to grip, so it may be a good idea to start with a narrower neck.

The next point to check is "body size. At first glance, acoustic guitars look the same, but in fact there are many different types. There are actually many different types of acoustic guitars, and each body size makes a big difference in sound, ease of use, and of course, looks. The first is the "dreadnought" type. The first is the "dreadnought" type, which is generally known as an acoustic guitar. The second is the "OOO (triple O)" type.

The second is the "OOO" type, which is characterized by its smaller body and is easier to play for women and small people. The third is the "Jumbo" type. As the name suggests, it is not characterized by a perfect back drop, but by a large body. The larger size allows you to enjoy a deeper and more profound sound. Please choose according to your preference for the characteristics and looks of each type. Generally speaking, the OOO type is suited for finger picking and the jumbo type for stroking, but everyone has his or her own style of playing. But everyone has his or her own style of playing. or "I want to play the jumbo type with a plucked fingerboard. Some may say, "I want to stroke on the OOO! Please do it. Finding your own style is one of the best parts of playing a musical instrument.

By the way, there is no such thing as a "type" of classical guitar, and they are basically the same shape. However, many classical guitars are handmade by guitar makers called luthiers, and the way they are made, the size, and the shape differ slightly depending on the maker, and of course, the sound is also different.

This is a typical acoustic guitar body style. As you can see, it has a deep and deep sound.

Easy to hold and easy to play. Overall, the body is rounded.

Difference in materials

Now, let's take a little detour to a quick explanation of the structure, woods, and parts of an acoustic guitar. The greatest appeal and characteristic of an acoustic guitar is its raw sound. As I have said many times before, an acoustic guitar basically produces sound with the guitar itself, without an amplifier, so it has a very good resonant structure. When you lightly bump it, it sounds a little exciting because it sounds like a cone even with that. Also, it is quite loud to play in a room, so be careful if you live in an apartment where the landlord is very strict.
The sound of an acoustic guitar is determined by the "wood" it is made of. An acoustic guitar is made up of four major parts: the top (faceplate), sides (sides), back (backplate), and neck. The sound changes depending on the combination of the top, sides, and back.

Top material:
Generally, spruce (pine) is often used for the top. To be more specific, there are different types of spruce, such as "Sitka spruce," "Ingleman spruce," and "German spruce," each of which has its own characteristics in terms of sound quality. Some specialists can determine the type of spruce by looking at the grain of the wood, but it is as difficult for an ordinary person to determine the type of spruce by looking at similar grains as it is for a person to determine at a glance whether he or she is a "Osomatsu-kun" or a "Choromatsu-kun". Spruce is characterized by its slightly hard and clear tone. It is said that the more you play it, the better it sounds.

Another commonly used wood is cedar (sugi). Compared to spruce, cedar has a softer, warmer tone and is often used for classical guitars. Like spruce, there are also "red cedar" and "white cedar.

Side and back material:
The same wood is used for the sides and back. The most common woods are rosewood and mahogany. Rosewood, which is characterized by its vertical striped grain, is the most popular side and back material for acoustic guitars because it has a good balance from low to high notes and leaves a beautiful aftertaste. Simply put, the combination of spruce and rosewood has the most acoustic guitar-like sound. Mahogany has a strong midrange and a crisp, clear sound. Personally, I prefer the tone of mahogany.  The king of the woods used for guitars is "Hakaranda". It is classified as rosewood, and what is commonly called "rosewood" is called "Indian rosewood" and "Brazilian rosewood" is called "Hakaranda. Since imports and exports are currently restricted and the wood is extremely rare, it is used only for high-priced guitars. Guitars with Hakaranda specifications have become the object of admiration for young and old alike, and can be called the Madonna of the guitar world, the Masami Nagasawa of the male world. (Only me!). By the way, using the word "Hakaranda" makes you sound like a bit of a player. Please say it all the time.  There are many other types of woods such as "Maple" which has a hard and bright tone with strong high notes, and "Koa" which has a warmth with a sparkling aftertaste and is often used for ukuleles. It is better to actually play and compare them.

Names of Parts and Components

The tip of the neck. This part is often marked with the maker's logo, but some models have beautiful decorations or engravings on it, which greatly affect the look of the instrument.

The part around which the strings are wound. There are a wide variety of types, including gold, chrome (silver), and plastic buttons, perfect for an introduction to customization.
There are a wide variety of types, such as gold, chrome (silver), and plastic buttons.

There are various types of nuts, such as cow bone, carbon, and plastic, and the sound varies depending on the material, making it a small but important part. It has grooves carved into it to prevent the strings from sliding sideways, and the depth of the grooves also affects the string height, making it the counterpart of the saddle.

Fret: A metal rod driven into the fingerboard that changes pitch depending on where it is pressed. When pressing down on the strings, it is best to press near the frets to produce a beautiful sound.

Sound hole:
A hole through which resonant sound generated inside the body by string vibration is released to the outside. This is the most distinctive part of an acoustic guitar's appearance.

Protects the top board from being scratched by a pick. Some pick guards are decorated with flowers, birds, or have unique shapes, and are one of the most fashionable features of an acoustic guitar. Note that pick guards are often glued to the top board, so they are not easy to remove and replace.

Next, let's look at parts. Among the many parts, the most important ones areSaddle.The saddle is the most important of all parts. I mentioned earlier that when you first buy a guitar, I recommend a low string height so that it is easy to play, but in fact, there is a way to change the string height by adjusting the saddle, even for a high string height guitar. Yes, this is the trick I was alluding to earlier.
Some of you may be thinking, "So, if I choose a string for its sound or looks, I can just adjust it afterwards without any problem? Some of you may be thinking, "Well, why don't I just choose one based on sound and looks? However! Adjustment in a word is not easy, and it requires craftsmanship to file the saddle down to the millimeter. If done incorrectly, it can cause sound deterioration and chattering, so be sure to consult with a store employee or repair store before proceeding.

This is an important part that transmits the vibration of the strings from the saddle to the body and also holds the strings in place. On a folk guitar, the strings are inserted into the holes in the bridge and held in place by the bridge pins. On classical guitars, the strings are usually wrapped around the bridge. If the strings are left taut, the tension may cause the bridge area to swell or the bridge to peel, so it is recommended to loosen the strings a half note to one note after playing. (This will also prevent neck warping yo...)


Now, have you found the guitar you are looking for? Have you found the guitar you are looking for? The rest is up to you.Go to the store!Go to the store!
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