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Arlen Roth’s Tips on Choosing the Right Guitar

Arlen Roth
|
08.16.2012

Guitars come in all shapes and sizes, and in all levels of quality, too. The funny thing is that one man’s awful guitar could simply be golden in another man’s hands, and that is also what has made so many “orphan” guitars into collectibles, with sought-after sounds. Now, I feel that playability is really just about the most important thing in Gibson Hat on a Gibson Guitarselecting a guitar, and what makes it good or bad for you. Most of the time, the playability problems can eventually be taken care of. Warped necks, bad bridges, too high or low action and other bothersome things can really be cured, and you needn’t hate an otherwise perfectly good guitar for it!

There are definitely some guitars that far exceed others in quality, but again that is often a subjective opinion. But no question about it, there’s nothing like a truly well-made guitar, especially one that is made to last! The choice of woods, the aging of them, the combination of the woods, and also the metal components used in the guitar’s construction all factor into the overall sound and feel of the instrument.

When looking for real quality in a guitar you also must be aware of certain intangibles that somehow give a guitar its uniquely special kind of quality. This is a hard thing to quantify, but I can tell you that after so many years of looking at instruments, I have developed a kind of sixth sense and feel for when a guitar just has that special something. Different kinds of guitars and different levels of guitar quality and playability will definitely affect and even change what you may play on them. That’s another thing to be aware of, as well as a guitar’s sweet spots, where that particular instrument has a certain area of the neck where it really seems to just “sing” and feel better.

The search for real guitar quality and that “perfect” axe for you should most of all be a fun experience, and it should be full of great discoveries that help you develop a better understanding of the sheer variety of instruments available to you. As you go through this process you will totally broaden your horizons and outlook about the various guitars, and also just what that word “quality” really means to 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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