Author Topic: What To Play In The Guitar Shop  (Read 1405 times)

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Offline Bob Zimmerman

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What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« on: February 11, 2017, 09:25:01 pm »
Hi Everyone.

I am thinking of upgrading my 20 year old Fender DG-4 starter guitar.

I went to the Guitar shop today and played a few electro-acoustic guitars by Aria & Crafter, I found them all much easier to play than my current guitar but wasn't really sure which I liked the best.

I am going to go back in a week or so & also go to another shop that sells Yamaha & Ibanez guitars. I think I need a kind of routine to use on each guitar however I am not that good a player so I cant do that much. Should I play stuff that I find easier to play, or play challenging stuff & see if its easier to play.

Also should I wait a while until I am a more competent player?

Thanks for listening.
Bob :)

Offline Buckeye1971

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2017, 10:06:41 pm »
I say play what you can play and pick the guitar that feels most comfortable for you. If you are concerned about how the guitar sounds you could always ask someone there to play something more difficult for you so you can decide which one sounds best to you.

Offline jtbrown1

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2017, 07:13:30 am »
Every guitar board, this is one of the top questions.

Just like I tell my kids when they were learning instruments, you should always have a repertoire ready to play, regardless of your level. If you're at the level of Row Row Your Boat, then that's what you should be playing at the guitar store.

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Offline Drubbing

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2017, 07:55:07 am »
Play what you can play, and see whether you like the difference.

What the guitar is capable of playing, with someone of a different level playing it, is not helpful. Because you'll never play it the way they do.

Offline Johan217

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2017, 08:04:25 am »
Do play everywhere up and down the neck, even if it is something as simple as 1 2 3 4 etc. This is to check that the notes do not "choke out" anywhere, and there are no protrusions along the sides of the neck. Play as loud as you normally would, and try out all switches and knobs. If you can, also try a few bends to check how the guitar stays in tune.
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Offline KasperFauerby

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2017, 08:25:19 am »
I'm probably the worst guitar shop player ever ;)

Whenever I pick up a guitar in a shop, people must think I'm the rawest of beginners. But that's ok - I'm not there to impress anyone, I'm there to thoroughly test out the instrument I'm considering buying.

For me such a test will always be fairly systematic, and not necessarily pretty sounding. You need to test/inspect as many aspects of the instrument as possible, so you don't get any nasty surprises when/if you take it home. I would probably do something like this:

1. Strum some simple chords, for example an open A. Just a single strum, then let it ring. Really, really listen to how that chord rings out. Does that sound speak to you? I do this acoustically even with electrics, because for me personally the basic acoustic tone is so very important. You're looking at an acoustic, so of course this is also important to you ;) Just be aware that string brand can make a world of difference on an acoustic guitar...

2. Tuning. Before even starting to decide if I like a guitar or not I'll be checking out how it holds tuning. This is the number one deal breaker for me, if a guitar has tuning problems. Doesn't matter how it otherwise sounds..
Tuning problems can be many, and some are very very important to check especially on cheap guitars, because they are caused by some of the ways manufacturers cut costs - hoping that beginners won't notice, because the cheap components often doesn't look different from the more expensive ones.
  a) Machine heads - do they hold? Tune up the guitar, do some wild bends (if your fingers are not strong enough, simply pull up the string rather forcefully). Check if the strings go flat. If they do it can be because it's new strings. But if you tune up, pull, tune up, pull, tune up, pull... and they are still flat. Then perhaps the Machine heads will cause you problems.
  b) The nut - now this is a quite tricky one, that many beginners will have a hard time spotting. Is the nut cut correctly? The usual (and common) problem can be this: tune up the open strings so they are perfectly in tune. Now play an open E chord. Check each of the fretted notes against the tuner (B,E,G#) - are they in tune? They should right? But they aren't always, if the nut is cut incorrectly. If they are not, try tuning up the string so the open E plays correctly. Now fret an open D and check those fretted notes (A,D,F#) - are they now in tune? You'll find that with a poorly cut nut it might not be possibly to reach a tuning where both of those open chords play perfectly in tune! All open chords should of course ring out perfectly in tune ;)
  c) Does the strings stick in the nut slots (if they do, this can at least be fixed somewhat easily)
  d) Check intonation (can also be adjusted, so not a deal breaker if it's a bit off...)

3) Check the fretboard. Check if there are any fretted notes that causes a buzz. If there are, again it might be possible to fix with a setup. But could also be an indication of poor/uneven fretwork overall.

4) Sharp frets at edges of fretboard? When you glide your hands all the way up and down, feeling both the top and bottom side of the neck - do you feel the frets sticking out?

5) Sharp frets on top of the fretboard? Very hard to test in a shop, but if the fretwork is too cheap the frets might not be rounded enough and have sharp/rough spots. This can cause strings to break if you bend near a sharp fret. Very annoying problem...


.... and of course - just play the guitar for a while and see if you enjoy playing it ;)

Offline close2u

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2017, 09:07:35 am »
To add a bit more ...
Play songs with barre chords for a while. Always a good test to see if the neck shape is a good fit for your hand.

Offline 8livesleft

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2017, 02:25:01 am »
Excellent tips. But like others, I usually don't play any song. What I do is play chromatic scales all up and down the neck to check for fret buzz - a sign of poor setup or uneven fretwork.

Then just listen to basic chords while playing with the knobs and switches to make sure the electronics are ok (for electric).

Guitars at the price range I usually shop at are rarely perfect so I give some allowance when it comes to woods/pickups/finishing.

I will not accept poor fretwork, warped woods/neck, loose hardware, noisy/faulty electricals.

For that, I never need a "song list" to play. Just basic chords and the chromatic scale and maybe some bending.

That's stuff any guutarist can do.

Don't bother trying to sound like Joe Satriani. It doesn't matter in this context.

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Offline bo-jingle

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2017, 10:32:02 pm »
I suppose all of the above is good advice.  ::)

You also need to factor in adaptability - that is your adaptability.  :o

Continuity as mentioned in above posts is important, but your adaptability is also pretty darned critical.  :P

Does it feel good, is it too heavy, off-balance and I suppose the biggest two: do you feel you can play it right and does it make sweet noise?  :-[

For example if someone offered me an Ibanez RG 30th Anniversary J. Custom guitar in natural for free I guess I'd adapt to the burden somehow.  ;D

Remembering that as a learner adaptability is pretty critical even if difficult to define.  :o 
Keep on jangling!

Offline LievenDV

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2017, 08:55:21 am »
I'm probably the worst guitar shop player ever ;)
Whenever I pick up a guitar in a shop, people must think I'm the rawest of beginners.

I'm not buying this, you already made name as a good player here :)

all good advice here, there are many aspects you have to check.

also, if you can, take your old guitar and somebody extra along to stand in front of you to hear the sound. that's..extra-prepared...more prepared than I am :). it is of course not up to them to decide but let him/her compare it with your current guitar. Besides your own ear, feel for playability, comfort, inspiration, quality control.... how does it compore to your old one? having it with you makes it easier to compare sound and feel, als for your spectator

don't be nervous; play what you know. When I'm in a guitar store, UI bash chords in random orders, play little parts of melodies and songs ..just to focus on how it feels and sounds. I do, indeed as described, do runs that sound silly but aren't so silly; doe some 1-2-3-4 runs on every string and location, some penatonic improvistions all over the neck. the stuff you do on auto pilot. If that's bashing A-D-E that's cool because you'll be playing that alot -anyway-!

you've got to fall in love with that guitar as you play it, no matter what or how. Nothing else matters...but don't play "nothing else matters" in a store :)


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Offline Bob Zimmerman

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2017, 05:31:36 pm »
Thanks everyone for all your helpful replies. I haven't bought anything yet, but I have been checking out loads of guitars in all the local shops, so I will let you know when I pick something up.

I think I might end up with a Yamaha, & I am hoping to buy something on my next payday!

Online Cue Zephyr

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2017, 05:38:59 pm »
Blackbird, More Than Words, Stairway to Heaven, Wish You Were Here, Wonderwall. Something like that. :P
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Offline 12-string_Doug

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2017, 06:57:01 pm »
  "No 'Stairway'? Denied!"

  Thanks for the opening, CZ.  ;D

Offline Nosugrof

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 12:34:55 am »
I like to handle a lot of guitars when I'm in the shop but the one thing that is consistently appreciated is when I tell them I don't need a pick. They always smile and then open up and let me play as much as I want. I suspect if I was wailing away marring up the instruments they would be looking for a way to get me out of there. We're all there to check out the instruments but we should also remember this is their livelihood and we need to be respectful and appreciative.

Online Cue Zephyr

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Re: What To Play In The Guitar Shop
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 02:26:37 pm »
I don't even have pick marks on my own guitars. ;D
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