PonyOne started a thread about over-rated and under-rated guitars that brought out some interesting points.
1. The guitars with the big reputations (and price tags), don't always deliver the goods.
2. The supposedly 'good-only-for-a-door-stop' guitars are sometimes worthy lifetime companions.
The worst time to buy is when you're jonesin' with the GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)! That's like grocery shopping when you're hungry. You may come home with a gig-bag sized lemon. :o
Take your time, browse around. You should have some basic characteristics in mind, but don't predispose yourself towards any particular brand. Pull a likely candidate off the rack at one of your local shops, and putz around on it without plugging into an amp.
If it sounds good on its own, it only gets better through an amp. If it doesn't
sound good on its own, it only gets louder
through an amp.
Intrinsic characteristics like sustain and intonation have nothing
to do with the pickups. A guitar should have a solid, 'carved-from-one-piece' feel to it. No buzzes or rattles allowed.
Make sure that it is tuned properly. Some shops drop the pitch from E to Eb or even D in order to make their guitars seem more playable.
It should feel comfortable to play. The scale length and neck width should position the notes where your hands expect to find them. That sounds strange, but a guitar that is well matched to you does
seem to anticipate your next move.
Play it sitting, standing, kneeling, slumped against the wall. If you're still enthralled, and you want to play some more, this could be the start of something good.Now
you can plug it in. As I said before, the pickups can't fix a guitar that doesn't sound good unplugged. The good news is that pickups are easy to replace. If your luck is good, you're going to like what you hear, but even if its merely OK, this may be 'The One'
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