What makes a guitar good?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Reignerrr, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Reignerrr

    Reignerrr SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2018
    Besides of pickups, what are the things that makes a guitar sound better?

    for example if i got a 7 string guitar, poplar body, rosewood fingerboard, bolt on, it is good?
     
  2. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,009
    Likes Received:
    640
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Location:
    Near San Francisco
    The trick with woods is: there's no such thing as "better". There might be woods that might help shift tone one way or another, but they are just differences: not reductions or increases in "goodness" or quantity of tone. There's no such thing as another wood giving you "more tone". And even if a wood might accentuate certain frequencies, who's to say that it's "better" or "worse"?

    Rosewood as a fretboard is sometimes found on lower-quality instruments, just like bolt-on neck construction...on the other hand, high-quality rosewood and a really well-built bolt-on can be magic.

    Poplar is sort of an ugly wood because it is plain and can sometimes have a greenish or pinking hue to it, which is why it's often covered with opaque paint...but there's a reason why basswood, alder and poplar are used even in very expensive instruments: they have desirable tone, when you get good pieces.

    Tuners that can hold their tuning. Usually this means most any name brand, as long as they aren't cheap knock offs (Grovers are knocked off by the millions). Generally, the higher the tuning ratio (19:1 vs 14:1), the better, because they will usually not "loosen up" as easily, and they are easier to get fine adjustments when you are turning the knob.

    High-quality nut and saddles that let the strings sing. Shitty materials can make a guitar sound dull.

    Taking the time to adjust the pickup height. Raise them to increase output, but too high and the magnetic pull can kill sustain.
     
  3. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,437
    Likes Received:
    843
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2015
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    -pickups

    -settup of the instrument... pickups height, frets dressed (so theres no dead spots on the fretboard), intonation,

    -construction of it, having a tight neck pocket, types of neck joins, chambered boddies..... size of the guitar?, not sure if this affects the tone?... like a LP vs and explorer?

    -anything that the strings comes in contact with...... nut, frets, bridge material..... picture a string vibrating on a rubber band vs on brass

    -bridge construction and material, type of bridge

    -woods.... they affect tone, how much of it is up to debate

    -electronics
     
  4. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon Party’s over

    Messages:
    1,179
    Likes Received:
    913
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    Location:
    The belly of the liberal beast
    If you’re a total beginner, price point will more than likely dictate your scope of guitars, play different guitars in your price range and settle on something that feels good and looks to be of good craftsmanship and free of defects. You can always upgrade electronics...it’s hard to pinpoint what’s “good” in the beginning due to endless factors -you’ll learn what’s good for you as you play more. Brands and preferences vary wildly so it’s hard to guess on that broad of a scope...you’ll learn that most of it is in the fingers
     
    Defmelonn likes this.
  5. PunkBillCarson

    PunkBillCarson SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    569
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Location:
    Paragould, AR
    I'll put it this way... If it sounds good to me and play good and it doesn't fall apart, to me, it's good and I can use it. Sometimes you find diamonds in the rough, sometimes you find a stinker in would should be a group of diamonds. It comes down to each individual guitar. If you like it for what it is, buy it and play the shit out of it.
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    29,262
    Likes Received:
    7,708
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    This question comes up every so often, maybe once a year or so.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter if a guitar is objectively or subjectively good or not. What’s important is being able to tell for yourself.

    How do you tell? You have to play everything you can get your hands on. Everything. Even if you think it’s ugly or you hate the spec sheet or someone you don’t like uses them. Play play play play. Go to guitar stores, go to local shows, talk to people and meet up, look at local listings, anything you can to play as much as you can. Eventually you’ll start seeing patterns and get a feel for what’s good and what’s less good.
     
  7. PunkBillCarson

    PunkBillCarson SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    569
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Location:
    Paragould, AR
    I'll put it this way... Earlier this year, I broke almost every single rule I had for buying guitars. It was a bolt-on Iron Label, made of basswood and had EMG's in it. I played it for the hell of it and now it's one of my main axes. So like Max said, play everything.
     
  8. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,437
    Likes Received:
    843
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2015
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    same. I always hated Fender, yet I end up buying a Squier strat because it felt more comfortable to play than my LTD Eclipse at the time.... which I always loved the idea of a LP, reason why the Eclipse but I jsut couldnt cope with it. The fender scale felt more comfortable to me, same with the neck and feel the guitar on my lap. Wasnt happy wiht the electronics layout but I liked better than the Eclipse, plus Iw as planing to mod it and change that part
     
  9. Andrew Lloyd Webber

    Andrew Lloyd Webber Super Duper Moduraturr

    Messages:
    827
    Likes Received:
    1,321
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2017
    Who’s playing it?

    Feel free to disregard the following tip for sifting through guitar myths:

    Read a few threads on https://www.reddit.com/r/guitarcirclejerk, then read the responses in this thread as if they too intended as facetious, and hopefully you’ll get a sense of who’s being helpful and who’s just bragging about the prejudices they’ve accumulated without ever having to leave bed.
     
    FILTHnFEAR likes this.
  10. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    673
    Likes Received:
    288
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2018
    Location:
    Ohio
    If it fits all of your criteria and checks all of the boxes for you, then it is perfect. I have guitars where on the spec sheet they are an A+, but I notice I like qualities of other guitars from different manufacturers.

    You just need to find what you like from multiple guitars and then have a luthier or Custom shop build it with a few exceptions in specs and such and then I guess you have the ultimate guitar for you
     
  11. Opion

    Opion Sir Mattafer

    Messages:
    822
    Likes Received:
    103
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I had this conversation with my cousin recently and I explained it to him this way. We were talking about the minutia of how different guitars of the same make and model can sound different and I explained it to him this way... A great guitar to me boils down to three things:

    1. Quality materials
    2. Skilled craftsmanship
    3. Tried and true design

    For example, you can have the best woods available you to, best hardware or pickups etc. But if you don't know how to cut the nut right, set the neck in the pocket correctly, all these other variables that go into making the guitar actually play well, it cancels everything else out.

    On the same note, over the last few years I've been making my own Strats and Tele's from different parts and putting them together. This might be where my own bias comes into play, but these guitars have been around and played on countless records for over 50 years for a reason...so in my eyes, these guitars possess the mojo right down to the design. Even the worst sounding Tele's still possess that twang and the most basic watered down Strat copy will still make your ears perk up with that Strat quack.

    This may all sound like a bunch of nonsense to someone else, but I've done some thinking on this lately as I've slowly started to settle on the guitars I own and what really gets the job done for me in terms of sound, versatility and quality that I prefer to have in my instruments. I own a guitar that is absolutely beautiful and to me, on paper, the specs were there, but there is one flaw in the way the bridge system was designed (a one-off Ibanez artcore model that was discontinued, for good reason maybe) that just makes it never able to stay in tune and the feel is just...not there. It's a shame, really. It's otherwise a fabulous instrument.

    So there, that's my 2 cents on the topic. Maybe when I start building guitars on my own this list may change or become moot. But 15 years of playing has given me I guess some sort of insight and informed opinion on this topic so, take it what you will.
     
  12. Sogradde

    Sogradde SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    467
    Likes Received:
    498
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Location:
    Germany
    Wow.
    Is that a joke forum or are the people who post there genuinely retarded?
     
  13. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

    Messages:
    22,800
    Likes Received:
    4,379
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Yes.
     
  14. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

    Messages:
    787
    Likes Received:
    74
    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA, US
  15. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    2,836
    Likes Received:
    530
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2013
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    In my mind only a few things make a guitar good aside from pickups. Geometry and surface finish being big ones. Geometry of your neck profile, body contours, fret height, overall setup, fretboard radius, etc...

    All these things, along with surface finishes, affect how the guitar feels in your hand.

    The ultimate guitar to me would be one that is ergonomic as all hell, low maintenance (composite fretboard and SS frets), durable with no compliance is construction, easy to setup (no truss rod like how Vigier guitars does it), and easy to experiment with (add some sort of quick change pickup system, and an easier way to try different nuts/string gauges).
     
  16. elkoki

    elkoki SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    99
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2017
    What'll mostly make it "good" is if you like it and it's what you look for in a guitar. Everyone has different preferences, some people like thin necks other fatter, etc etc...

    Besides all that stuff, what makes a guitar worth keeping for me is if it has the sound that I want and it's built well, and ofc plays how I want it to play...

    It would probably be easier for someone who knows how to play guitar decently to realize these things, if you're a beginner and you're just learning basic songs and you only play basic songs, you really won't be able to test the guitar to it's fullest.

    In the end I guess what every guitar should at least be able to do is, stay in tune, not have too much fret buzz, and sound good to you... A higher priced guitar isn't always a sign of a "better" guitar.. I've had more expensive guitars and I hated their tone, even with countless pickup changes..
     
  17. Reignerrr

    Reignerrr SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2018
    so the conclusion is that the only things i can change to improve the guitar sound to the best in my guitar is electronics and pickups? maybe the nut and saddles? (these last two i don't know if they are really bad)
     
  18. Curt 8771

    Curt 8771 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    12
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2018
    What makes a guitar good is how it feels to you and how comfortable you are playing it
     
  19. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

    Messages:
    22,393
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    London ONT
    Get it set up.

    Also, put in practice time. Great players can make entry level gear sound good.
     
    NateFalcon likes this.
  20. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

    Messages:
    4,035
    Likes Received:
    519
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Location:
    Worcester, MA
    Kinda-sorta, if the condition of the nut or saddles are somehow negatively-affecting the sound. I mean, the question is kind of a wide net. If this is about a guitar you already have, is there something about the sound you're getting that you don't like? Are you having issues with buzzing, rattling, or noise? If this is a guitar you're looking to buy, what kind of sound are you looking to get from it?

    The mention of electronics/pickups is key here- for an electric, the instrument itself is only going to be part of the equation- it's going through cables into pedals, amps, or whatever AxeFX# they're on. There are a lot of variables that go into the resulting sound which makes it important to have quality at every point in the signal chain.
     

Share This Page