• We would like to remind our members that this is a privately owned, run and supported forum. You are here at the invitation and discretion of the owners. As such, rules and standards of conduct will be applied that help keep this forum functioning as the owners desire. These include, but are not limited to, removing content and even access to the forum.

    Please give yourself a refresher on the forum rules you agreed to follow when you signed up.

What are your guitar "must have" features?

rickboot

Forum Addict
When you are going to buy a guitar, are there any essentials/must haves that you look for in terms of features, whether at the moment or in the past?
I look to see how much money is in my checking account. :)

Seriously though, I have over 30 guitars now and I own lost of them because they are different, not because they are the same.
 

JoKeR III

Inspired
The only things that truly matter to me are quality construction and a straight neck. Everything else is on the chopping block and I have no qualms replacing pickups or hardware.

Having said that, there are expectations as to the tone and playability but they're never set so high that there's any major disappointment. At the end of the day, a guitar is just a tool, a very tweakable, personalizable tool. The music that's created is inside of the player, not the instrument.

That said, I do agree that there are guitars that just feel like home to each of us. We create an emotional attachment to something that inspires us no matter how inanimate it is. Because of this connection, the inspiration is often credited to the tool rather than where it truly came from; within ourselves, our soul, our being.
 

Muad'zin

Forum Addict
I listened to that Warmoth test clip and I could not hear a single shred of difference between the two. Just like I never hear one between tone woods. So for me it boils down to feel. What feels nicer to play. I've never given frets much thought, although I do prefer narrower ones, and even flat ones over jumbo frets. I once had a Gibson Explorer and it had flat frets and I really dug it.

What I look for in a guitar?
- 22 frets. 24? Meh. 21? Totally not interested. I want to be able to bend up to that high E with ease. There's no excuse for Fender to still build guitars with 21 frets.
- Thin neck. First thing I do when I appraise a new guitar is to grip the neck. Is it thick? Baseball bat? Burn it with fire! The thinner the better.
- Maple neck. Because I find it visually more pleasing. I hear zero difference whatsoever between maple or rosewood.
This is the only thing I like about Ibanez guitars. Which I otherwise shun like the proverbial plague.
- In the case of a Strat a large CBS style headstock. Purely cosmetic to me, but I just don't like the smaller standard Fender headstock.

And when I build my own guitars:
- Kill switches. A Les Paul style toggle switch for Tom Morello style kill switch action, and a push button kill switch for Jonny Greenwood style kill switch action. The latter is best used to interrupt your signal for a stutter effect, the former is best used to activate your signal only when you want it. Subtle but important difference.
- 2 stud tremelo as is on modern Strats. Or a Fender style hardtail bridge. Not of a fan of tunamatic bridges or the classic Tele bridge.
- No pickguards. I prefer to use a backrout for the electronics, as its SO much easier to adjust the electronics without having to remove the strings.
- Staggered locking tuners and only 1 string tree for the high E and B strings. I like to strum the strings behind the nut occasionally, and I prefer the sound I get when the D and G do not have a string tree.
- A neck that's fastened using neck bolt ferrules rather then a back plate. It allows me to better contour the heel. Not by much, but just enough to take the edge off already makes a world of difference in my experience.
- Single coil in the neck position. I might stick a humbucker in the bridge, or go the traditional SSS layout of a Strat, but I've always liked a single coil in the neck position. Although a P9 is also very nice there.
 
I tried to resist the urge to write this. I don't believe there is any "must have" feature. I think you are hurting yourself by imagining this category. Choose a guitar because it suits you, plain and simple. That might mean a totally different instrument from one person to the next, one gig to the next, or one minute to the next. Some people choose 10 of the same guitar. Others choose 10 wildly different instruments. About the only observation I have is that it is less likely for a mail order guitar to become as beloved as one that I picked out myself from a number of instruments on offer.
I don't believe I'm hurting myself per se by imagining a "must have" category, I just believe that sometimes, when people purchase a guitar, they either:

A) know what they like, and want to stick to that (in the case of a few people, they love SS frets, so they would never want to go back to any other type

2) Maybe already have a guitar that meets a certain criteria, so they are looking for something that's a little different (they already have a single coil guitar, so now they're looking for a HB guitar)

I probably phrased the question poorly, but I was just curious to see what people really enjoyed and what they liked looking for in a guitar...maybe "must haves" was the incorrect phrase, but rather "preferences" would've been the better choice of word :)
 
There's several features that are must haves that I can add aftermarket like locking tuners, cavity shielding, etc. But for me, I only have to 3 must haves from the manufacturer.

1. Either a thin c or u shape neck

2. And either a oil finish neck or an extremely thin satin finish

3. Stainless steel frets

Other than that, I don't really care. My taste are extremely varried.
 

shawnb

New here
@Muad'zin said [many things]...

It's weird, I don't hear much difference between woods either and also find Maple fretboards more visually appealing. I do, tho, hear a difference in tone on cleans between maple fretboard and not. I have two guitars, the same guitar only one is an ebony fretboard and the other is maple. Huge difference when playing clean stuff. Maple seems to allow the bass through more without being so muddy.

Beyond that, tho, for me its a visual thing. Most of my guitars are maple (even my banjo). If only I can get a spanish guitar with Maple...
 

Muad'zin

Forum Addict
@Muad'zin said [many things]...
If I have a failing its that I always use too many words. ;)

It's weird, I don't hear much difference between woods either and also find Maple fretboards more visually appealing. I do, tho, hear a difference in tone on cleans between maple fretboard and not. I have two guitars, the same guitar only one is an ebony fretboard and the other is maple. Huge difference when playing clean stuff. Maple seems to allow the bass through more without being so muddy.
It could be any combination of factors. I once I had two identical Strats, exact same model, both MIJ. Both rosewood fretboards. And yet I always favored one over the other. There might me more deviations in your guitars then you realize.

Beyond that, tho, for me its a visual thing. Most of my guitars are maple (even my banjo). If only I can get a spanish guitar with Maple...
:D
 

ksandvik

Veteran
Supposedly maple has a more snappy sound and redwood emphasizes midrange -- but after going through tens of pedals, cables and pre-amps and backplane amps I doubt anyone would hear much differences. So it's more about the feel when playing the necks.

BTW I have both kinds, both are good.
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
I basically look for three things.

1. A resonant body.
2. A comfortable neck.
3. The feeling that the guitar has some SONGS in it.

Sometimes you pick up a guitar and it’s like “naw man...I’m done...no music here.” And some guitars you pick up just make you play the craziest things or they make the simplest chords feel weirdly satisfying. Without that feeling, it doesn’t matter what hardware or specs it has, you won’t play it after the NGD honeymoon phase is over.
Maybe the 1st 2 lead to the 3rd, but the 3rd is BY FAR the most important thing. If I pick up a guitar, and I'm suddenly doing things I was not doing before (whether tonally, or playing new ideas are flooding in), I know that I've got a contender. It basically demands that I play it.
 

Mark-B

Inspired
A single coil or a north-coil split at the neck position - series/parallel switch for any bridge humbucker - medium frets+ don't care which, though been re-fretting my worn necks and rebuilds with Jescar Evo Gold fretwire - it provides a more tactile feel than stainless steel and has much-less drag and is harder wearing than the nickel wire. . ..But, off the shelf, after a good setup and beam-leveling and re-finishing the frets, I don't really care.. As long as it plays good and sounds good, I'm good to go! :cool:
 

lauke-lux

Forum Addict
I tried to resist the urge to write this. I don't believe there is any "must have" feature. I think you are hurting yourself by imagining this category. Choose a guitar because it suits you, plain and simple. That might mean a totally different instrument from one person to the next, one gig to the next, or one minute to the next. Some people choose 10 of the same guitar. Others choose 10 wildly different instruments. About the only observation I have is that it is less likely for a mail order guitar to become as beloved as one that I picked out myself from a number of instruments on offer.
Totally agree with this, except for one f....ng squier surf strat I got over Thomann; just got the happy one; none other squier got this sound right out if the box. Some guitars just have that thing. Tried another one changed mics pu etc, but it never got that sound and resold it after 2 years.
 

Bman

Veteran
The volume knob has to be able to clean up when I turn down. If that means a treble bleed circuit has to be added then so be it. It baffles me how hit or miss the volume pots can be.
 
Top