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In the market for a new acoustic or electric guitar? Looking at guitars online make your head spin? Enter the 2017 JamPlay Guitar Buyers Guide. A simple gift from our team to help with one of the most important decisions of the year... which guitar will be in your hands for the next 12 months!
Whether you are looking to replace your starter guitar or upgrade, we have made it simple to find a guitar that will interest you. We focused on five popular
brands for acoustic and electric guitars, and selected a guitar which reflects the essence of the maker. We then compare guitars in three different price ranges for each style.
For example, you can look at Fender's Strat offerings ($399, $799, and $1299) and quickly learn the differences as you enter different price ranges. This way, you will get a feel for what your budget can get you within the particular style of guitar. This is intended to be a broad look at what your buck can do for you and a new guitar. Even if you don't buy a guitar after reading this, you will begin to notice trends and differences between the entry, mid, and premium editions of these axes.
When considering a new acoustic, it is prudent to think of guitars as “tools” in your workshop. Each will have it's unique purpose and be better or worse depending on the task required (and if Jeremy Clarkson is reading this, no.. a hammer won't work here). The same logic applies with instruments. Each guitar provides a different tone, timber, and feel that are outstanding at their “job”. Knowing your application can help you hone in on the perfect guitar that fits your needs, not everyone else's. This guide contains reviews from the following brands:
Martin Guitars have a very distinctive and pleasing mid range. Martin created the original “Dreadnought” style body. Over the past few decades, many other manufacturers have patterned designs off what Martin continues to deliver across their entire line. Martin's are considered to be the everyman’s guitar. They work well across genres and applications.
Taylor guitars definitely have their own sound. Thanks to their unique geometry, each of these guitars are bright enough to cut through a mix well without being “tinny”. They all have solid tops and an ergonomic body style. In addition to great note articulation and high frequency definition, the guitar will feel a bit smaller in your arms while still projecting quite well.
Takamine’s NEX body design provides a warm, full sound that is great for singer songwriters. It still feels small in your arms but sounds more like a slightly smaller jumbo guitar. Dig in with your strumming and you will see why so many artists prefer these guitars in a supporting role to vocalists. Each of these selections have acoustic/electric pickups included.
Seagull Guitars are known for their playability while still having an exceptionally balanced and pleasant tone. In terms of timber, they land squarely in between the “zing” of the Taylor and the warm, fullness of the Takamine. Seagull’s neck design ensures an extra degree of consistency in build quality and tone across all guitars and price ranges.
The best word to describe the tone of Guild would be “wide”. Guild’s Archback design helps to create a full, balanced tone that sounds like it should be coming from a bigger, heavier guitar. The timbre of the Guild guitars we have selected sound closer to Takamine rather than Taylor. The pickup systems are very good, but mic’d up is where these guitars really please the ears.
When considering a new electric, the same thinking applies as what we mentioned for acoustics (think of guitars as “tools” in your workshop), but holds even more credence. Involving electronics brings an entirely new set of variables to consider, so be sure to first think about your application, style, or needs when considering any of these instruments. This guide contains reviews from the following brands:
The Stratocaster has been one of the most widely used electric guitars of all time. Ergonomics and tone versatility make it ideal for beginners and professionals alike. The single coil configurations work exceptionally well in Blues, Classic and Modern Rock. That being said, these show up everywhere. Simply put, you can't go wrong with a Strat.
Much like the Fender Stratocaster, the Les Paul is a major piece of guitar history. It offers a beefier, meaner tone the traditional Strat cannot match. Thanks to its dual humbucker setup and beefy body, the Les Paul does well with higher gain lines and thick rhythms. It also sets itself apart with a full clean tone that is dark, smooth and tantalizing.
PRS gives you a similar tone to a Les Paul, but with a more modern vibe. The ergonomics are a hybrid of a Strat and Les Paul. The bodies are slim and feature a double cutaway like the Strat, but the scale and measurements play a bit more like a Les Paul. PRS Guitars are used in Modern Rock and Progressive Rock, but sound great in all genres.
Ibanez become prominent in the 80s due to their use of floating tremolo systems, wizard neck and “super strat” style body (allows for easy access to the upper frets), still make them a great choice for shredders and Hard Rock players alike. Ibanez makes a wide range of guitar styles, but we reviewed the style that they are most known for.
Schecter’s love high gain, huge rhythms and leads with lots of sustain. They are a favorite among Metal and Hard Rock players. They design a wider range of ‘hardtail’ guitars than Ibanez in their Rock-oriented offerings. These guitars tend to focus on simplicity and high-end components. The body styles are comfortable and the necks feel fast.