There are different types of guitars out there, and we constantly see folks with a huge collection of different variations. To the uninitiated, this might seem unnecessary. But how many guitars does one really need?
The number of guitars that anyone needs is subjective. One guitar will suffice for a newbie. An intermediate player may require about two or three types, while a professional guitarist may need an extensive collection of guitars to fulfill the many and varied demands of professional performance.
In the rest of this article, we will look at how different types of guitarists need different amounts of guitars. We shall also look, in general terms, at factors that should be considered when choosing a guitar.
The Beginner Guitarist
A beginner guitarist is someone who has just started learning to play the instrument. It makes no sense for such a person to have more than one guitar. Since they are just learning the instrument, they should have just one type of guitar so they can focus on learning to play.
The primary choice for a beginner will be choosing between an acoustic or electric guitar. We will look at this later in this article.
The Intermediate Guitarist
An intermediate guitarist has learned to play the instrument and is now performing and experimenting with different tones and styles. Given this, the highest number of guitars that an intermediate player can reasonably claim to need is 3.
In most cases, two guitars will suffice. This will comprise an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. The player can cover a wide range of music genres between these two.
An intermediate player can sometimes justify owning a third guitar if they dabble in classical music. Should this be the case, they may require a nylon (classical) guitar. Note, however, that in today’s musical landscape, aside from classical music, classical guitar can also feature in some other genres.
The Professional Guitarist
It’s difficult to put a professional guitarist in a mold. I’ve recorded several professional guitarists who switch guitars for different songs. They will tell you that a particular guitar gives them a unique tone that’s just right for that specific song.
Having played for years and developed a keen ear for nuances, slight tonal changes, and the likes, the professional player will usually have a wide variety of guitars. In addition to having a variety of guitars, you will also notice that professional guitarists often go for performances with backup guitars.
The backup guitar will likely be the same kind of guitar (or a similar one) as the main one. This will serve in case an emergency renders the main guitar inoperable.
Given all of the above, it is pretty difficult to give a definite number of guitars that a professional guitarist should have.
While discussing this subject, Marty of Theacousticguitarist.com, stated that he reduced his collection from 13 to 7. He found that seven guitars were practically sufficient for his professional guitar needs. This number will, of course, differ from person to person.
Some of the different types of guitars that a professional guitarist may claim to need will include the following:
- Acoustic guitar
- Classical guitar
- Solid-body electric guitar (like this Fender American Ultra Stratocaster)
- Solid-body electric guitar (such as this Fender Player Telecaster)
- Acoustic-electric guitar
- Semi-hollow body guitar
- Les Paul guitar
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Regardless of the reasons that professional guitarists give for having many guitars, I’ve always found that they end up playing one or two the most. Some of the other guitars are often gotten for emotional reasons rather than actual performance-related reasons.
Do I Really Need More Than One Guitar?
You need more than one guitar if you want more convenience well as tonal and performance versatility. However, you don’t need more than one guitar to start. You should get started with one and then add others once you feel ready for them.
Choosing a Guitar
Choosing a guitar requires you to consider a few factors. To simplify things, We’ll break this process into two main categories. The first will be a broad-level selection between an electric and an acoustic guitar, while the second will be a consideration of the actual features of the guitar.
Do I Need an Electric or Acoustic Guitar?
Unless you plan on buying two guitars simultaneously, the first decision you’ll be forced to make is the choice between an electric and an acoustic guitar. To decide between these two, you will need to consider the following factors:
How much you are willing to spend should be your first point of consideration. While you will find affordable and expensive options for both electric and acoustic guitars, you should note that an electric guitar will require additional accessories—amplifiers and speakers—to help you hear what you’re playing.
Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, will only require the basic accessories that all guitars will need. These will include straps, guitar picks, tuners, metronomes, etc.
Playability and Convenience
In terms of playability, electric guitars are softer on the fingers because their strings are generally lighter than those on the acoustic guitar. As a result, new players might find it easier to play the electric guitar, as it will require less force to hold the strings down to the fret.
The wider width of most acoustic guitar frets also means that younger players and those with small hands will hold chords more easily on the electric guitar.
When it comes to convenience, acoustic guitars are more mobile because they require fewer additional accessories than electric guitars.
On the flip side, you can play an electric guitar anywhere without disturbing anyone if you use a headphone amplifier. Meanwhile, people around you will always hear an acoustic guitar, making it impossible to play silently.
Music Genre Preference
Your music of choice is one major factor to consider when choosing your guitar. If, for example, you love country music, then you should, of course, go for an acoustic guitar. If, however, you want to rock and roll, a suitable electric guitar will be a better choice.
With the choice of electric or acoustic out of the way, we can now look at specific things you should look out for when choosing your guitar.
The most important thing to consider when choosing an acoustic guitar is the tonewood it’s made of. Since the quality of its sound is mainly determined by the tonewood, this should be the first thing to consider.
If you are willing to spare no expense to get the best acoustic guitar, then you should consider getting a solid top guitar. These can be pretty expensive. A more affordable alternative will be a laminate top one.
You will also have to decide on the body type, size, and string type (nylon or steel).
You can get a detailed guide in this video:
Choosing an electric guitar is a different beast from what we discussed above. The most important things to consider when choosing electric guitars are the electronics and body style.
The pickup system will largely determine the tone of your guitar and so should be a major consideration. The body shape is simply a matter of personal preference and convenience.
This video provides a comprehensive guide for choosing your electric guitar:
One option you can consider if you want to enjoy the benefits of both types in a single guitar is getting an acoustic-electric guitar. With an acoustic-electric guitar, you can enjoy the sound of an acoustic guitar with an electronic pickup system.
From everything we’ve discussed above, we can see that many of the choices made by guitarists are not necessarily based on professional considerations. A lot of sentiments and personal preferences come into play here.
No one can tell you how many guitars you should have. This is a decision every guitarist will have to make. What we’ve shared above is just a guide to get you started.