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How do you identify a good guitar?

I have been using a cheap 3/4 size guitar for a few weeks and I am finally going to go down to the store an buy a decent guitar. I am probably going to be getting a used steel string acoustic under $200. Any tips on what to look for?

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Related question: music.stackexchange.com/q/979/133 –  Anonymous Mar 2 '11 at 7:49
    
Check out this question and answers about what to look for in an acoustic guitar purchase music.stackexchange.com/questions/1496/… :) –  Ali Maxwell Mar 2 '11 at 13:09
    
#1 tip: avoid guitars with cranks on the side. :-) –  Anonymous Mar 3 '11 at 0:25
    
Shopping recommendations are off-topic. You could rewrite this to not be one, but I think there are other questions that cover this. –  Matthew Read May 28 '11 at 22:59
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marked as duplicate by Matthew Read May 7 '12 at 22:10

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Here's one to look for: a solid top. You want that a bit more than solid sides. And you look for that by looking at the soundhole. If the top is laminate, you'll see layers in the edge of the soundhole, but if the wood's solid, it will look solid.

Action is something that will kill you if you want to get beyond the cowboy chords. You want it somewhat high so the strings vibrate clearly and don't hit the frets, but if it seems like you can stick a deck of playing cards between the strings and the fretboard, that's way high.

There's a thing called a zero fret, sitting right after the nut. I've heard of some high-end makers using them, but by and large, I see it as a cost-saving measure by low-end makers, and I don't think I've seen one in some time. In your price range, it's more an indicator of low quality than not.

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Also: avoid electric ones: you are a beginner and don't need to amplify. Let the money go into the guitar not the electronics. Walk around the store without picking them up and strum every single one including the 2000$ models. Listen for the best tone, figure out what you like best, and then narrow down the field based on that. As a beginner, action is tough to judge and your fingers WILL hurt. –  horatio Mar 2 '11 at 15:36
    
And one more thing: the "standard" guitar size is the dreadnought, but the dreadnought and jumbo guitar sizes are the result of volume wars that were ultimately won by pickups and amplifiers. Pick up a guitar that's comfortable for you. I'm 6'3" and my dreadnought still feels too big for me sometimes. –  VarLogRant Mar 2 '11 at 18:30
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