Chemistry, Comfort and Compatibility: Finding Your Perfect Match

1956 Gibson J-200
It was beautiful. It was big. I sold it.


Many of us have been in relationships that had plenty of sparkle, but were painful much of the time. So it is with guitars. When I was fresh into the guitar world, my head was easily turned by beautiful wood, artistic inlays or an exquisite tone. In a moment of passion, I would commit to a guitar that was utterly amazing, but wasn’t right for me. In spite of a strong attraction, without the day-to-day ease that comes from comfort and compatibility, the relationship was doomed.

Although breaking up is hard to do, sometimes it is clearly the best move. The wisdom of experience coupled with the realization that there is no shortage of amazing guitars on the planet led me to healthy, happy (yes, even blissful!) long-term relationships with some great guitars. A little forethought can do the same for you.

Make a List

Before you begin shopping, write down your criteria for your perfect match. (Lists don’t lie!) Start your list with fundamental requirements, such as size, type (acoustic, electric, etc.), playability, quality of workmanship and price range. You can find information about guitar types and tips on guitar shopping and negotiating the deal in this article on how to buy a guitar.

Once you are clear on the basics, add in your personal needs and desires, such as kind of wood, decoration, tone and general appeal. This is the time to reflect on yourself and your music.

Know Yourself, Know Your Music, Trust Your Gut

It is important to consider your body type when choosing a guitar. If, for example, you are small or have a short upper body, you will play and feel your best with a small guitar. Never underestimate the importance of the size and shape of your guitar – a guitar that is too large for you can actually cause injury to your hands or arms!

Different styles of music call for different kinds of instruments. Is the guitar you’re considering built to bring out the sound of the of music that you will be playing on it? You may need to face the fact that you require more than one guitar in order to be effective with the different styles of music you play. (Hey, what guitar player doesn’t like an excuse to collect guitars?) Try to avoid excessive peer influence, brand bias or flashy sales gimmicks when choosing a guitar. When you find a guitar that really draws your attention, pick it up and play it. Tune in to the way it sounds and to how it feels in your lap. Play it some more. Is it your guitar?

Once You’ve Found It, Never Let It Go!

It’s a lot of fun to buy a guitar, but it’s even more fun if the guitar is a sweet deal and a good match. Once you’ve found that match, take it home, give it lots of attention and watch the relationship grow!


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