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acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby Portland Guitar » Tue Sep 22, 2020 5:48 pm

I'm a luthier in Portland, Oregon by the name Portland Guitar.

When deciding if I've finished an acoustic or electric guitar I'll go over it a look for around 15 things related to musicality, playability and quality. I thought I'd turn that checklist into a guide that others can use to evaluate instruments. I aimed this as a guide to explain to someone looking to buy a guitar what to look for. There's a lot of text, too much for this post. So here is the list below and you can check out more here: intermediate acoustic guitar buying guide

The list that I go through is:

Top quality , back and sides quality, tuning ease, bridge pin ease, fretboard buzz, fretboard dead spots, neck shape preference, action preference, measuring stiffness of the top and back, mass consideration, evenness of finish, craftsmanship details, intonation quality, pickup quality.

Let me know your favorite things to check out before buying a guitar!
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby Kwackman » Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:34 pm

Portland Guitar wrote:Let me know your favorite things to check out before buying a guitar!

This forum.. :D
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby shufflebeat » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:38 pm

This is a tough one because the last time I considered a checklist before buying a guitar I went out and bought something completely different.

This was a departure from my usual carefully structured policy of buying something I don't need on a whim if something takes my fancy.
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby Portland Guitar » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:17 pm

haha it's the ear and the heart that's the final judge
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby John Egan » Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:24 pm

Portland Guitar wrote:
The list that I go through is:

Top quality , back and sides quality, tuning ease, bridge pin ease, fretboard buzz, fretboard dead spots, neck shape preference, action preference, measuring stiffness of the top and back, mass consideration, evenness of finish, craftsmanship details, intonation quality, pickup quality.

Let me know your favorite things to check out before buying a guitar!

How about sound?
Regards, John
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby CS70 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:55 pm

Portland Guitar wrote:I'm a luthier in Portland, Oregon by the name Portland Guitar.

When deciding if I've finished an acoustic or electric guitar I'll go over it a look for around 15 things related to musicality, playability and quality. I thought I'd turn that checklist into a guide that others can use to evaluate instruments. I aimed this as a guide to explain to someone looking to buy a guitar what to look for.

Good stuff!

:thumbup:
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:41 pm

Sorry, my last comment didn't address your request very well although it was true.

One thing I noticed on your text was that the intonation check suggests playing at the 1st and 12th frets. Unless there's a different nomenclature where you are should that not be open string and 12th fret?

Personally I find the 12th fret harmonic and the 12th fret fretted to be much easier to judge but that might get a bit word-y in explanation.

Nice work though.
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:41 pm

I prioritise sound and looks, all the rest should really be a given...*

* Not to say it's not important mind you...
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:24 pm

Sound, neck feel, general mojo and tuning for me. The rest is bonus if well executed.
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:30 pm

I inadvertently found a good technique for choosing guitars when i bought my main acoustic a few years back.
My wife was wandering around the shop bored as i tried plenty of different models out.
I bought the one that made her turn around and say, "That sounds nice!" :)
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby Watchmaker » Sat Sep 26, 2020 3:13 am

I carefully assess fit and finish, then weigh the heft of its soul.

Nice guide though needs another round of editing. :thumbup: I look very closely at necks, sight down from the bridge to see how clean the fretwork is, play harmonics and pinch harmonics too to see how the guitar responds. I'm also an inveterate neck bender and expect a good acoustic to handle a pitch drop of at least a semi-tone without issue, i.e. stay in tune, not mess with action or intonation. This often frightens guitar salesmen. I also tap upper and lower bouts and tap along bridge and bracing while listening for tell tale buzzes or oddments. Tapping is also a technique for getting sounds from the instrument so the tones across bouts should balance/complement each other.

I have one higher end guitar without a truss rod so maybe that's something to address?

Nice work, good intentions. +1
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:23 am

blinddrew wrote:I inadvertently found a good technique for choosing guitars when i bought my main acoustic a few years back.
My wife was wandering around the shop bored as i tried plenty of different models out.
I bought the one that made her turn around and say, "That sounds nice!" :)

Does she travel?
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Re: acoustic guitar quality checks

Postby gustavowoltmann » Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:48 am

Hi,
we have tons of low quality and cheap guitars on the market now a days. However, you must know what to look for or what questions to ask when you go to buy a new guitar.
while buying my guitars i usually look at these points.
does the body suits my chest and strumming arm?
does my chord hand moves comfortably?
does it's unique style fit my preference?
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