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Choosing a Guitar 101


Rue
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Okay - likely a dumb question best answered on a guitar forum...but I'm sure someone on MN knows...

Disclaimer: I know nothing about guitars - be kind.

Two years ago I traded a violin I wasn't playing - for a guitar.

Goal: Learn the basics (no rush) so that:

A ) I can strum a few chords to be able to sing for the entertainment of my parrots or - if I ever got good enough - accompany easy fiddle tunes.

B  ) I can pick -  enough so I can amuse myself with Pachelbel's Canon...

I was advised to get a nylon string guitar and came home with a very nice classical guitar.

Well - I find the guitar too big and unwieldy. Enough so that I don't muck with it as much as I'd like to.  Plus I don't really want to learn only classical either. Gotta learn Smoke Over Water and Bohemian Rhapsody too...

On Thursday I discovered that there is a crossover guitar! Who knew? Narrower fingerboard...and designed for general use - sounds like what I actually need!

Now what? For as little as I use it - get a different guitar? Trade the classical for a crossover? Would it be worth it? Am I missing any other key bits and pieces?

I know I want acoustic and not electric and that I don't want laminate...and am wondering about truss rods...:wacko:

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Everything of any decent quality that you purchase in a steel string acoustic these days will have awn adjustable truss rod. The rod is used to adjust the "relief" in the neck which is the same idea as the scoop in a violin fingerboard.

Nylon string guitars, whether traditional classical or some sort of nylon string cross over usually will not as the strings are so low tension the rods are for the most part unnecessary.

You think picking a fiddle is confusing........? you just opened a big ol can of  "Okay,, where the heck do I start".

Pick a price range.... go hold and try 'em out..... Wait a minute it is like fiddle finding......

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Yeah, probably not the forum, but what the heck.  Your first step, really, is to find examples of the kind of guitar playing you want to do and get a guitar like the people who play that style play.  I have never heard of a "crossover" guitar, and I know something about guitars, but someone will sell you anything and call it whatever.  Narrow neck, nylon-strung...sounds like a pre-1930s "parlor guitar" or its modern descendants.  For rhythm playing ("strum a few chords... or - if I ever got good enough - accompany easy fiddle tunes"), that's probably a steel-string guitar and if a classical guitar struck you as being too big (usually the necks are big, but the bodies are fairly small on them), then you will want a small-bodied guitar.  Perhaps a modern "parlor style" guitar braced for light-gauge steel strings will do what you want.  It would sound good being a continuo instrument for Pachelbel too, actually.     

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5 hours ago, Rue said:

 

Well - I find the guitar too big and unwieldy. Enough so that I don't muck with it as much as I'd like to.  Plus I don't really want to learn only classical either. Gotta learn Smoke Over Water and Bohemian Rhapsody too...

Sounds as if you'd need an ukulele (concert or tenor size)B)

 

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I just can't see Smoke on the Water sounding good on a nylon string guitar. If there is a shop near you I would recommend taking a few lessons through a guitar store where you could try different guitars with a teacher showing you different things and you can see what kind of guitar best suits what and how you want to play. Teacher may also help show you different ways to hold the guitar or position your hands to make it less unwieldy (don't know if you mean the body or the neck). 

FWIW I think small bodied Taylor guitars are probably the easiest acoustic guitars to play, at least for steel string. Some people also really like Breedlove but I have never loved the sound of them. 

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9 hours ago, Rue said:

I was advised to get a nylon string guitar and came home with a very nice classical guitar.

Find a player of classical guitar in your neck of the woods and maybe just ask them to convince you that you should keep your guitar just by having them play yours for you.  You'll know soon after if you want to continue that journey or not.

  You have an advantage over most players and that is that you can actually read music - don't forget that.  

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What's the size issue for you? Greater stretch lengthwise between notes vs violin, width of fingerboard for barring chords or  reaching your arm around the body to get your right hand in position?

Different scale lengths are available without having to drop from an acoustically decent sounding box down a plunky, tinny travel size. A guitar that sounds yuck isn't going to encourage practise any more than a yuck violin.

The only crossover I ever tried had close nylon string spacing on a crowned fingerboard. Didn't really work for classical. Probably a reason different styles of music have gravitated to different styles of guitar.

I like glebert's recommendation. Some of your discomfort may be self induced. And a teacher conversant with multiple styles could probably help you zero in on an instrument.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Michael Jennings said:

...

You think picking a fiddle is confusing........? you just opened a big ol can of  "Okay,, where the heck do I start".

Pick a price range.... go hold and try 'em out..... Wait a minute it is like fiddle finding......

^_^

11 hours ago, palousian said:

...  I have never heard of a "crossover" guitar, and I know something about guitars, but someone will sell you anything and call it whatever.  Narrow neck, nylon-strung...sounds like a pre-1930s "parlor guitar" or its modern descendants.  ...

https://lichtyguitars.com/what-is-a-crossover-guitar/

I don't know if a parlour guitar is the same thing or not...I'd have to compare specs, which is always difficult when you're new to something...

6 hours ago, Blank face said:

Sounds as if you'd need an ukulele (concert or tenor size)B)

 

Nope.  Have one.  Been there, done that.  Don't like ukeleles...although they're adorable to look at...

4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Maybe.  I don't know.  Which is why I'm asking.  Don't want to bring home a succession of guitars trying to find the right one.  I'm willing to do it one more time...but that's it! :ph34r:

4 hours ago, glebert said:

I just can't see Smoke on the Water sounding good on a nylon string guitar. If there is a shop near you I would recommend taking a few lessons through a guitar store where you could try different guitars with a teacher showing you different things and you can see what kind of guitar best suits what and how you want to play. Teacher may also help show you different ways to hold the guitar or position your hands to make it less unwieldy (don't know if you mean the body or the neck). ...

I play a mean version on my bassoon.  Sounds awesome!  On the guitar - I just need to be able to blow 16 year old boys out of the water, all for my own personal confidence building...

I have a guitar teacher! She's the one who advised me to get a nylon string guitar...

And yes...when I have time, I'll go for another lesson...

2 hours ago, bengreen said:

What's the size issue for you? Greater stretch lengthwise between notes vs violin, width of fingerboard for barring chords or  reaching your arm around the body to get your right hand in position?

...

Yes.

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5 hours ago, Felefar said:

There's also the Classical Period Classical guitar - confusing I know. But they have much smaller bodies than the "modern" classical guitars, which are Spanish style. Paganini would have played something like the one shown here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romantic_guitar

 

Yes!  I am confused! ^_^

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20 minutes ago, Rue said:

^_^

https://lichtyguitars.com/what-is-a-crossover-guitar/

I don't know if a parlour guitar is the same thing or not...I'd have to compare specs, which is always difficult when you're new to something...

Nope.  Have one.  Been there, done that.  Don't like ukeleles...although they're adorable to look at...

Maybe.  I don't know.  Which is why I'm asking.  Don't want to bring home a succession of guitars trying to find the right one.  I'm willing to do it one more time...but that's it! :ph34r:

I play a mean version on my bassoon.  Sounds awesome!  On the guitar - I just need to be able to blow 16 year old boys out of the water, all for my own personal confidence building...

I have a guitar teacher! She's the one who advised me to get a nylon string guitar...

And yes...when I have time, I'll go for another lesson...

Yes.

Ouch. That looks to me like a hybrid combining the worst features of both - and if that picture isn’t reversed, I would consider it unplayable. 

«Our Crossover offers the tone and balance of a classical guitar with the playability of a steel string». In my opinion the steel string guitar wins on tone and balance, while the classical wins on playability. I sold my steel string last year, it wasn’t getting played. 

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Beside that there are a million different sized forms of the classical "spanish" guitar to choose from - the body more broad or slender, the ribs more high or flat, the necks broad, narrow, thick or thin, rounded, triangular or squarish - you would have to like the idea that you're holding a rather big and vibrating wooden box close to your body. If you aren't comfortable with this idea, maybe you aren't meant to play it?:ph34r:<_<

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Either some of the pictures are reversed or they are of guitars for left-handers.  I have a nylon Yamaha silent guitar which has the narrower radiused fret-board and a cutaway.  It's OK but I prefer the standard width fretboard and with the cutaway you lose the reference point of sliding your hand up to  body at 12th fret. BUT, if you switch the Yamaha to max reverb and put it through an amp rather than headphones you'll sink the 16 year olds.  But Smoke on the Water used to be banned in the London guitar stores, along with Stairway to Heaven, Sunshine of Your Love etc.

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5 minutes ago, Blank face said:

... have to like the idea that you're holding a rather big and vibrating wooden box close to your body. If you aren't comfortable with this idea, maybe you aren't meant to play it?:ph34r:<_<

You could be right!  But I'm not going to let that stop me from trying!  ^_^

2 minutes ago, Muswell said:

... you'll sink the 16 year olds.  But Smoke on the Water used to be banned in the London guitar stores, along with Stairway to Heaven, Sunshine of Your Love etc.

...my parrots like all of those...:wub:

2 minutes ago, reg said:

Yup go for a genuine Spanish (not cheap) guitar used for flamenco by Ramirez. These are smaller in build and have a lovely sound. Apart from the genuine article, Admira make a good range up to £400 approximately

...I will take a look at those too...

I suspect I'll be Googling away all my spare holiday time...:ph34r:

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14 minutes ago, Brad H said:

Check out the Cordoba C10 crossover.   I have a spruce-topped C10 and think it has more punch than a typical nylon string guitar.

That's the one I saw on Thursday that had me all excited!  But by the time I saw it, I had to leave...lol...so I didn't get to see how well it fit my hands.  If you think it has the sound quality, I'll look into it further.  Thanks!

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6 minutes ago, Rue said:

Anyone happen to know why cutaways always seem to have electronics?  I can't seem to find a totally acoustic cutaway.

Seems to be "market forces" these days... everyone is going to have the opportunity to perform in front of 100s/1000s so obviously going to need SOUND REINFORCEMENT!:rolleyes:

Cutaways ore a bit overrated unless you're going to be playing a lot way up there.....

However lack of a cutaway never seemed to hamper; Segovia, Williams, Parkening, Barrenburg, Rice, Watson, and on and on.

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Oh yes! I have looked! Beautiful work! :wub:

Sadly, I can't justify budgeting quite that much for an instrument I can't play. I'm already stretching my dollar in order to get tonal quality (just in case I turn out to be some senior prodigy... heaven forbid the instrument holds me back from achieving my potential.)

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