Just One More

I just put an order in for a new custom guitar with Gray Guitars, and I’m super excited about it - been a while since I bought a new one – at least 18 months!

So how many guitars should you own? How many is too many and when is the right time to buy a new one? Well, Einstein got it right with his magic formula of F = X+1, where F is the optimal number of guitars and X, is your current number of guitars :) A simple formula but effective and hard to argue with.

Let’s start at the beginning… when you get your first guitar, I would recommend people start on electric. Some may argue, but that’s my opinion (maybe a debate for another column?) but if that is the case then after some months of playing you are likely to feel the itch and find yourself looking at reviews of guitars and wondering what should come next. But real beginners I think should stick with one guitar and learn to play it before adding to the collection – spend your time playing and not browsing reviews. When you’re better, you’ll know more about what you like to play and make better judgments when playing potential new guitars.

I think having an acoustic next would be a logical next step (or an electric if you started on acoustic!). They’re very different to play and useful to have both to explore and have fun with. It’s possible at some point you might settle on playing mainly one or the other, but better to have explored both and figure how you feel about them.

One thing I would add here is that it’s a good idea to buy a decent acoustic as the really super cheap ones are often very difficult to play and might put you off. Another reason to start on electric… and buy a nice acoustic when you’re confident you will stick with it!

But what comes next? There are so many styles, so many shapes and colours and options? How on earth can I choose just one?

Remember that the guitar is YOUR connection to the music, and I think it’s important that you love everything about your guitar, so a lot of it is feelings! What grabs you – what do you love when you browse lots of guitars? What do your hero’s play? You don’t have to limit yourself to just one more either… I’ve narrowed my ‘personal’ list to 3 essential types plus 5 other almost essential… but even then I have trouble with GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) and have a few of each type now – but no I’m not into triple figures as some have suggested…

The Essential 3 for me are an OM shaped acoustic (1), a classic Strat type (2), and a Les Paul type (3). With these, I can cover most sounds I want to hear, and each are very distinctive. But then I need to add some more ‘almost essential’ to my collection which would add a Tele type (4), a hollow body like a 335 (5) a thin neck high output rock guitar like an Ibanez (6) a nylon string acoustic (7) and a dreadnought shape acoustic (8).

But unfortunately for your credit card, it doesn’t end there… you might also need a big-bodied jazz guitar like a 175 (9) a resonator guitar (10) a ukulele (11) and perhaps even a lap steel (11) and that before you get into variations on a theme… a thinline Tele with humbuckers (12) and Strat type with a bridge humbucker (13) a Gretsch type rock n roller (14), a parlour acoustic (15) and then there’s that one that you really like because…

You can see it’s pretty easy for it to get out of control, right? And while I’d recommend not borrowing to buy guitars, the guitar is a much safer and cheaper hobby than many others (motorbikes, flying planes, mistresses etc.). Your guitars can be enjoyed by the whole family (your kids can look at them), they’re sometimes a good investment (you can tell your partner), and I think the buying, selling and collecting is all part of the whole enjoyment of learning guitar! Happy guitar hunting!

Food For Thought