What REALLY is a “good” guitar?
Most guitarists have actually never played a truly “good” guitar. That is because most non-professional guitarists do not spend five, six, or seven thousand dollars on a guitar.
The vast majority of guitarists buy guitars in the sub-1000 dollar range. To some a $2500 guitar is considered to be an “expensive guitar” and is expected to be a “good” guitar for that price. That expectancy can sometimes turn into a big disappointment.
When a guitarist finally does get to play a truly “good” guitar, it often comes as a surprise to them how very different playing a “good” guitar is over what they have become accustomed to. It can even be disorientating. Why?
Most guitars bought from a store do not have a high standard of playability even with a generic store setup.
Many guitarists go through the years playing these store bought guitars never knowing that there is better, and how better there is. Instead, playing the guitar hard, with brute force and attack becomes “the way you play a guitar.” This false premise leads to developing “bad habits” to overcome the guitar’s un-playability. And the person has no first-hand knowledge that it could be any other way. This is the situation a majority of guitarists are in.
Here is a good analogy: If a person has ridden a Shetland pony all their life and never a stallion, not only do they not know what it is like to ride a stallion, but they cannot even envision what it is like to ride a stallion or know what it is capable of, until they actually get on a stallion and ride one. When they do ride one they always discover that they have to learn or “unlearn” certain skills in order to ride it well. Often this can be a puzzling or confusing experience at first and maybe they will criticize the stallion or themselves for a while.
It is not a matter of whether you are a left-handed guitarist or right-handed guitarist. Right handed and left handed guitarists both get instruments from shops that are terrible to play at worst, and mediocre at best. The person doesn’t even know how bad they are because the person does not know better. We can’t hold that against them, though can we?
Professional guitarists, especially lead guitarists (“shredders”), for example, do not give their guitars hell and play their guitars hard – they might make it look like it (showmanship) but actually they are playing gracefully, accurately and making it look effortless BECAUSE THE FINGERBOARD, FRETS, ACTION AND SET UP ON THEIR GUITAR IS PERFECT. There is no need for them to fight with or beat up the guitar in order rip up the fretboard.
Accuracy and speed comes easiest when you don’t have to battle with the guitar to do that.
The colour of the guitar, how pretty the grain of the wood is, scratches, dents, or marks on the guitar are all irrelevant when it comes to the playability of a guitar. You buy a guitar to play it, don’t you? Not to hang on your wall and look at, right?
The difference between a “good” guitar and a “bad” guitar (assuming it has been built well) is ALL IN THE SET UP.
A racing car driver, no matter how good a driver he is can’t win a race in a car with a blown up engine.
The Gaskell Platinum Setup Service ( http://www.gaskellguitars.com )is an optional service which can be done on any Gaskell guitar resulting in perfect playability of that guitar. This is the degree of playability a professional guitarist would expect and what you would expect on guitars in the $5000 and more range. (Even then, some +$5000 guitars aren’t necessarily well set up!)
To the majority of guitarists this will be a whole new experience, and will require some change of habits and the refinement of skills, such as playing lighter, in order to get used to a guitar with perfect playability. This is how ALL the professionals do it. This is why a guitarist impresses you by making something difficult look “easy.”
Having a “good” guitar is essential to being a “good” guitarist.
A “bad” guitar is an effort to play. It is “hard work”, energy-consuming, and limits the ability of the guitarist. Any guitarist will never play as good on a “bad” guitar. Playing a good guitar is essential to becoming an incredible guitarist.
Statistics show that 90% of kids learning to play guitar give up. Why? Perhaps this information will help answer that.
About the Author
Kevin Gaskell is the business owner and designer of Gaskell Guitars which is a manufacturer of left handed guitars and basses, located in Sydney Australia. Gaskell guitars are available world wide. http://www.gaskellguitars.com
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