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Teach Yourself Guitar – Do you need to buy $2k Guitar? | Teach Yourself Guitar Now

Teach Yourself Guitar – Do you need to buy $2k Guitar?

Do You Honestly Need To Buy A $2000 Guitar To Play Blues?

By Jim Bruce

It’s really commonplace for folks to think that the kind of acoustic guitar a performer uses to play blues music is really crucial to the sound. When I’ve performed well in public, or post a song on my Youtube Channel, I very often have questions of the nature “nice performance – what make of instrument do you play?”

This raises the very obvious question – how important is the guitar to a professional’s playing? Obviously, the guitar style is not the most vital component, but plays a major part. When inquired what kind of guitar he played with, Muddy Waters replied “Doesn’t matter at all – just give me some old guitar and I’ll make you weep!”

One can find wonderful film clips on Youtube of the legendary blues players giving incredible performances making use of just ordinary boxes, for example, Mississipi Fred McDowell playing a cheap Stellar guitar. In fact, when the guitar masters were young performers,no one had the money to lash out on a great guitar, and they perhaps played an inexpensive Stellar,bought from Sears (like Elizabeth Cotton) or second hand store. In my case, my favorite guitar when I was beginning to perform for people was a 000 body size Yamaha made from laminated wood. It was loud and played well, which was just what I wanted.

But of course the manufacture of the guitar makes a difference?

This is surely so, and you need to evaluate the value of that difference in your case. The variance in quality of sound when comparing a $300 instrument and another priced at $2000 isn’t so huge these days, particularly in view of the inexpensive, excellent quality guitars manufactured in the Far East. Except for the variations in the quality of sound, the major component is playability.The top line ‘made by hand’ modes are a joy to play. A guitarist can do the same sounds using a inexpensive guitar, but it will take more work. As well as this, generally the sustain and harmonics of the notes using the less expensive guitars is not so satisfying. Softly pluck the bass string of a high end Martin to hear what I mean. It seems to sustain for a couple of minutes!

Which Instrument To Choose?

Logically, some styles are better suited for a particular style of performance, in concert with string height above the sound board adjustment and what kind/size of string to use. A big body Gibson has deep bass sounds and projects the sound far and wide – wonderful for picking with the fingers using plastic and metal picks, strumming or flat picking. Ragtime blues players tended to use guitars with small bodies, like a Stellar or Gibson parlor kind.

Parlor instruments are starting to be manufactured again and are increasingly sought after. Although not really parlor size, the 000 body size is becoming the type of standard kit for picking blues on an acoustic guitar, like the Martin 000 28EC.

Your style.

Do you play softly or using a hard approach? This can also be a major thing in your choice of guitar. Some instruments don’t take kindly to being played hard, but some thrive on it! Ideally, the top of the range instruments(which are usually the most expensive) will play happily with many styles of playing. My counsel for guitar searchers is ‘go out and play some!’

Don’t think that the most expensive is obviously better either. A few time ago, Gretsch brought out a range of instruments named the ‘Americana’ Series which cost around $95 when brand new. The four instruments in the range were in various colors and featured stencils on the bodies, such as cowgirls, cows and UFOs! Even though sold to be a novelty instrument, these small guitars were very good (they were manufactured by Gretsch when all said and done) with all wood manufacture and a solid sound board. They are not manufactured nowadays, and it’s difficult to acquire one – just another example of less expensive being good.

Jim Bruce is a working blues man making a living playing blues guitar. His acoustic lessons are fast becoming the standard to reach for acoustic blues guitar picking lessons.

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