Guitar Smith Online® Blog

The Secret Behind the Perfect Feel and Sound



Have you ever walked into a music store, pulled a guitar off the rack, and within seconds of playing it, said to yourself, “This is the guitar of my dreams! I’m not leaving here without it!” Without hesitation, you pass the exciting news on to the nearest salesperson and he immediately runs to the back to get you one that’s still in its box. Even better, you think to yourself, I’m getting my dream guitar that’s brand new AND untouched!

Fifteen minutes later, you pull up into your driveway and carefully carry it into the house where you unpack it and start playing. With a pick in hand and a few strums, your dream guitar quickly turns into a source of mind-bending disappointment. Not only does it feel and play differently than the one in the store, but also, the sound just isn’t there.

Lifelong dream turned instant disappointment…what changed in 15 minutes?

Let’s hit the rewind button and rethink about your time at the store.  Obviously, the guitar you brought home was not the exact same one as the guitar you played off the rack. Many shoppers may believe that like clothes, for example, a large T-shirt will feel and fit the same as all the other large T-shirts on a particular rack. If they are made by the same company with the same materials and patterns, then there’s no reason why any of them would be different, right?  Wrong! A major difference, especially with guitars, is that those on display have usually been setup and adjusted by store employees to play at their best. Even though they are setup at the factory, variables like weather, shipment to the store, and even the humidity in the store itself, can affect how a guitar plays.

The simple secret: Ask for that setup!

First and foremost, don’t turn your back to your dream guitar! Even though it may be a display model that other shoppers have played, consider purchasing that specific guitar. If, however, you’d prefer a guitar that’s boxed up and untouched, ask that it be setup before you purchase it. Setting up a new guitar is usually a simple process, and this extra step can have a tremendous impact on how it feels and sounds when being played.

For those of you who are considering an online purchase, I would suggest planning to pay anywhere between $40 to $80 for a good setup at your local music store. If this seems a little pricy, keep in mind that guitars are complicated instruments, and having someone with the expertise to do quality work for you will bring much peace of mind.

Your dream guitar can play like a dream, so don’t be afraid to ask for that setup!

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