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Arlen Roth’s Tips on Choosing a Guitar

Arlen Roth
|
09.28.2012
Arlen Roth

Getting the right guitar for your own style of playing can be an arduous task, or it can be an endless and fun ride for sure! The instrument you choose will not only be the result of how you play it, but it will also help shape the way in which you play, and will definitely play a role in making who you are as a player.

I know from the moment I held my ’52 gold top Les Paul in my hands, my playing was not only going to change forever, but it finally had the chance to be elevated thanks to the help of a truly great instrument. A lot goes into the designing and perfecting of a guitar, and certainly, many models such as the Les Paul have evolved over the years into many variations. This is a good thing though, because the guitarist has never had so many choices as they do now, and the neck shapes, appointments, pickups, various woods etc. all go into the final decision that you must make as the buyer/player.

It’s also true that now with the advent of so many self-employed luthiers there is also a kind of renaissance in the world of hand-built and custom-designed instruments, many of which are plays upon the classic themes of the great guitars of the past and present. I also love the fact that a great and large guitar maker such as Gibson can actually have a Custom Shop where instruments are really “built to order”. This is great, since more than ever before, you can get what you’re looking for, and what you specifically want, taste-wise!

Imagine all the possibilities, even just when it comes to the venerable Les Paul model. Never has there been such a revered guitar, with so many variations made upon the original theme. I find all the selections within the LP world truly inspiring, and each one has its own distinct reason for existing, and its own personality, playability and of course, sound.

They all look pretty for sure, and some prettier to you than others, but I really believe you must actually play the instrument you are looking to buy, so you can know if your choice is really correct! They all vary somewhat, but the good news is that the consistency of quality and build is much better these days. Even though those vintage guitars have a feel and vibe that is undeniable, the new guitars take all that knowledge and push it forward into current-day standards, which are very high, for sure.

So, take your search for a new guitar very seriously, but try to find a “happy medium” between loving the guitar, and letting it love you!

Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.


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