Not all guitars are created equal

Posted by Brittens Team on

Steve Fitton, Brittens Music's New Haw Store Manager muses on why some guitars are like fine wines that mature and improve over time. And tells us why choosing a guitar is like choosing a wand from Ollivander's shop in Diagon Alley.

Guitar basics

Guitars work like most stringed instruments; sound is produced from the vibration of a string as it is strummed or plucked. On a guitar, this vibration is translated into the sound we hear as it passes through the bridge to the soundboard.

"Factors like length, tension and weight of the string create different speeds of vibration, which form the different sounds, or notes, we hear" Steve explains.

Furch Green OMC-CM
Just like with most things in life, you can spend a little or a lot buying a guitar. "Guitars are made from different species of trees, usually spruce, cedar, maple and mahogany. The ratio of solid tone wood to laminate is what determines the price" says Steve.

The main guitar types are classical, acoustic and electric. At Brittens Music, our prices range from around £150 for a basic Brunswick Acoustic, up to £2000 for a Furch, crafted from solid red cedar and Indian rosewood. Brands of guitar we sell include Brunswick, Rathbone, Furch and Faith. "All guitars that we offer at Brittens Music are made from sustainably sourced wood" adds Steve.

What's so good about an old guitar?

Why all guitars are not equal
Every guitar sounds different and over time this sound actually changes. As the wood ages, its natural properties change, it becomes dryer, lighter, and more resonant. How much the sound changes depends on how much it is played and on the type of wood and materials it's made from. In general, the more expensive the guitar, the more solid wood it contains. "Solid tone wood will always sound better and create a deeper sound" explains Steve.

Just like a fine wine, a good quality guitar improves with age. "Some high-quality woods are known to improve the resonance of the guitar as they age. Second hand guitars often fetch a higher price than a new guitar because they're already 'worn in', a bit like a vintage leather jacket! Steve comments.

The Wand Effect

The guitar is a timeless instrument and people often keep and treasure their first guitar. On a well-loved guitar, each scratch, dent and mark tells a tale. "I know ever scar on my guitar. I could pick it out of a line up!" exclaims Steve.

The magic of a guitar is that they are all different. They feel different, have a different sound quality and respond differently to different players. "Choosing guitars can be like choosing a wand at Hogwarts, you don't choose the guitar, it chooses you!" Steve jokes.

Want to learn more?

Why not speak to one of our expert team - we have many guitars on display in both our Tunbridge Wells showroom and our store in New Haw, Surrey. We'll help you find the perfect one for you! You can also take a look at our Guitar section of our website.

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