Myth Number 1: Higher Prices Equal Better Quality
Most people assume that the more you spend on a guitar, the better guitar you get. While quality and workmanship and woods can and do cost more, that doesn’t always equate to a superior instrument. This is not to say that something like a $499 Chinese-made Eastman guitar is going to sound as good as an American handmade acoustic that cost $3,000, but there is a point of diminishing returns.
For example, an $8,000 guitar is most likely going to sound better than a $3,000 guitar. But you would have to ask yourself, does it sound $5,000 better? This is a question that is usually answered by your own personal economics. The household acoustic guitar builders, such as Martin, Taylor, Gibson, and Larrivee, are well known for building a consistently outstanding instrument. But this could easily beg the question, is a Martin better than a Taylor, or is a Gibson better than a Larrivee? Absolutely not.
Myth Number 2: The Same Model From Any Builder Will Sound the Same
First of all, every guitar is unique unto itself. If you play six of the exact same model from any of those builders, it’s likely you’ll find one that is superior in sound to the other five. Additionally, a proper set-up can greatly affect the sound and playability. Two guitars of the same model can have a slightly different set up and one might have older strings. It’s very easy to be deceived by these factors.
Myth Number 3: A Dovetail Neck Is Always Better than a Bolt-On
There are a lot of people in the guitar world who feel there’s nothing better for tone than hand-fit dovetail neck joint, this is because you have wood-to-wood contact in that dovetail joint which is believed to be the most effective way to transmit sound throughout the guitar. However, there are builders like Collings Guitars that have always done bolt-on necks and are considered by many to be some of the finest handmade acoustic guitars in the world. The bolt-on neck will always add a little more metallic brightness to the sound because of the metal joining the neck to the body. But when done right, this can be a very pleasing sound to many people. This ultimately comes down to what type of tone your ears prefer.
Myth Number 4: Adirondack Spruce Is Better Than Sitka Spruce
This myth comes from the golden era of Martin Guitars. The truth is at the time Adirondack spruce was the most readily available and the cheapest for Martin to purchase, hence it got used on most of their guitars. As time went on, and these old Martins became legendary, a lot of people believed it was due to their Adirondack top. But the reality is, the aging process and the amount of play-time a guitar has had is what contributes most to its amazing sound quality. A new guitar built with an Adirondack top will have a little more headroom and sparkle, but will also take much longer to open up than a good Sitka spruce top. Once again, the individual piece of wood and the individual guitar will dictate which one actually sounds better to you. The bottom line is: Don’t be swayed by specs and internet buzz.
In closing, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a good guitar. The one that’s right for you is not necessarily going to be the one that’s right for someone else.