WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!
Whenever a customer comes into the store looking for an instrument, they usually have an idea of what they want to buy and other times, it can be very vague. What a customer NEEDS can be a lot different from his or her WANTS. The customer's preference of certain features of an instrument can also be divided into two categories: practical and non-practical. In this article, I'm going to reveal all those little details running through your head when you are buying a instrument.
PRACTICAL: Acoustic or electric? If you are just starting on guitar, this is the first thing question you will ask yourself. Ask yourself what type of music do you want to learn. If Hawaiian slack key or Latin music interests you, then acoustic guitar is the way to go. If the heavier music of Metallica or Korn is your passion, then electric guitar is a better fit. Parents... while you may not share your child's taste in music, keep in mind that the music fuels his or her desire to practice regularly. Later on you might be surprised to find out that they have "discovered" the oldies music you like to listen to!
NON-PRACTICAL: You don't care what kind of guitar it is...as long as it has six strings on it, and it's cheap! No instrument is a good deal at any price if it doesn't stay in tune or if it is not structurally sound. Hey, some of you might luck out and get Dad's old Gibson or Martin to play on! But even old Gibsons and Martins need some kind of refurbishing, especially if it's been in storage for a few years! Aside from that, look to spend about a couple hundred dollars on your first guitar. If you opt to buy that Yamaha acoustic at Costco for $150, be aware that you will probably have to shell out another $30-50 for setup work. New guitars rarely come out of the box playing perfectly. That's why we offer free setup adjustments when you buy an new guitar from us.
PRACTICAL: The cost of the instrument will depend on your budget. There are two ways to do it. The first way is to establish an amount that you would like to spend on the guitar. Once you do this, then do some shopping with this price range in mind, and try and find the best instrument you can for your money, regardless of brand. The second way is more rigid and defined. You want a specific brand and model of guitar. You go do your shopping and find out that guitar is going to cost you around $2000 and you've only got $300 to spend. Then you ask yourself how many dinners are you willing to skip in order to get what you want.
NON-PRACTICAL: I want to buy this guitar because my mother's, brother's, uncle's, daughter's son said it was a good guitar! In Hawaii, we trust the opinions of our family and friends for just about everything. While I'm all for getting a second opinion, sometimes you forget about the opinion that matters most....YOURS! After all, you're the one who's will be playing the guitar, not your relatives! I also have had customers come in looking for a guitar and say they need help because they are "tone deaf". I tell them you have to give yourself more credit in your abilities to discern things. You have to trust in what their ears and their hands tell you.
PRACTICAL: What kind of guitar do you want to play? Take a good hard look at what you would like in a instrument. List down features, body sizes, and colors. See which items you really need to have and which ones you can do without. Remember, more features will cost you money.
NON-PRACTICAL: Some people buy with their eyes, instead of their ears. In the old days, the image of Joe Rockstar playing a Gibson Les Paul or a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar (strapped on, way low, down by his knees) was the ultimate fantasy. C'mon now, guys....admit it...you've stood in front of the mirror with your axe and did your best Jimi or Eddie impersonation! In fact, I'm told that is why you see mirrors in retail establishments. Cause if you don't sound good, at least you can look good doing it!
Anyway, I've seen people buy instruments strictly because of the color. Black guitars are particularly popular. Guitars with lots of pearl inlays find favor with stage performers. Remember, good looks are only skin deep. You can hide a lot of imperfections under a coat of paint. Don't get me wrong....it's possible to get the great looks you want with quality construction and materials. But you usually have to pay for it! My point is that to keep in mind on what exactly you are paying for.
Example: Brand #1 has a black finish, pearloid inlays, cutaway, a pickup system, and costs $300. Brand #2 has a satin natural finish, plain dot inlays, no cutaway, no pickup, and costs $800. And Brand #2 has a much better acoustic sound than Brand #1.
So which one would you choose? Put these priorities in order: price, features, playability and sound. If you need an acoustic-electric guitar and only have a budget of $300, Brand #1 is the obvious choice. If sound and playability is more important to you, then Brand #2 is for you. If you like Brand #2, but only have a budget of $500, then your decision becomes harder and some sacrifices have to made.
Take your time, look at all your possible choices, and most of all, trust your instincts and your ears. Because in the end, the salesman is not the one who is going to play the guitar you buy. It's gonna be you! And that's the only opinion that really counts in the end...
To be continued....
ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF FASHION...
You've probably seen them in your town. They've extended their reach beyond the Hawaiian Islands, across the United States, Canada, Japan, and the world! People have traveled great distances to acquire them. Tourists buy them by the dozen to take home a little Hawaii with them.
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