Author Topic: [muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic  (Read 650 times)

Right, I'm borrowing some cash because I really want a decent acoustic guitar, and a half-decent mic.  I'm planning on spending around 100 quid on the guitar, and it'll be second-hand as I know I won't get a decent new one for that.  And it has to sound great.  So, any advice or tips please?  Any makes to avoid or go for?  I figure I'll probably go down to Cash Convertors and try a few of the guitars out, I really don't fancy the idea of buying one off eBay and finding out it sounds like a piece of shit.  £100 should get me a good second-hand one, shouldn't it?

I want a mic to plug into the puter too, don't really want to spend more than £20 on that though.  I just want something that'll do for recording chord progressions and stuff at a good quality.  

Thanks in advance for any help you can give here.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2006, 09:15:28 AM »
Have you thought about getting one with a mic built in??? You don't have to worry so much about ambient noise then and it's much easier to play without having to worry about mic placement.

I wouldn't recommend a Santa Ana btw.

Ambient Sheep

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[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2006, 10:53:14 AM »
Can you still buy those PZM plate mics from Tandy/RadioShack?  Do they even still exist?

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2006, 11:47:08 AM »
I would look for the usual things that people tell you to look for, excessive fret buzz, warping of the neck (check it by looking along the length of it) loose tuners, excessively high action, is the body made out of lollipop stick wood etc.

Shoulders?-Stomach!

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[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2006, 02:59:34 PM »
You got any guitar shops nearby, Neil? They're bound to have a better selection than Cash Converters- Do they even tune them up before they put them on display? Plus most specialist guitar shops always have a decent selection of second-hand low price-range guitars. It'll be hard to get one that sounds great, but for £100 I reckon you could get one that'll more than fit your needs. I'm quite lucky because where I live I've got Northern guitars, Music ground and Rockshack all nearby, and they all do a decent selection of acoustics.

Guitars of doom
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2006, 01:17:30 AM »
The funny thing about guitars is that you could buy a really decent one for a grand and someone pops up at a jam session with a fifty quid car booter and it sounds better than yours. If you buy an acoustic and want it to sound good, you're best off disregarding anyones with an pickup built in as it compromisises the sound. Also have a look inside the hole as if a guitar has sloppy workmanship it usually has a bad sound (look for wood glue traces). And, this is really pushing the boat at your price range, try to buy a guitar with a solid wood back, rosewood, mahogany and not ply as ply tends to sound shit and stay shit constantly.
       You are doing the right thing by buying a second hand acoustic as the sound always gets better with age. Dont bother with the name, just go for the guitar which sounds right for you and happy shopping.

Re: Guitars of doom
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2006, 01:41:48 AM »
Thanks for the tips so far!

Quote from: "edwoodwoodstock"
Also have a look inside the hole as if a guitar has sloppy workmanship it usually has a bad sound (look for wood glue traces).


This is really interesting!  I've heard about looking down the neck etc, but never come across this tip before.

Quote
And, this is really pushing the boat at your price range, try to buy a guitar with a solid wood back, rosewood, mahogany and not ply as ply tends to sound shit and stay shit constantly.


Is there any easy way of telling this?  Apologies if that's a bloody stupid question.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2006, 03:04:24 AM »
Not really neil.
          The best way is to look at a sheet of plywood, I'm sure you could just type plywood into a google search and see. You see plywood is made out of layers of lesser woods layed back to back in five or on a guitar three layers for strength. But it tends to not have a great sound.
           What you are best tryring out is looking for a darker wood with a grain running upwards inside a guitar, some makers make this in two some three pieces, but if you see a light wood back in one piece and it feels rough on the inside its usually ply.
           But like I said in the previous post, just buy the guitar you feel is right for you regardless of any other thing, how it looks etc. Because every old guitar has blood on the strings and memeries, hopes and dreams locked into their grain and if that dosn't work for you they're cheeper.
          Good luck Neil please keep me informed of how the musical career is going, all the best.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2006, 03:27:58 AM »
Hehe, thanks once again, that's extremely useful and interesting to boot!  Much obliged.  Really looking forward to trying some of these out, and yeah, I had a notion that I fancied a nice black one, but I'll just be going for the one that sounds the best as that's the only thing I'm really after.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2006, 03:52:34 AM »
Here's another question...what about learning to sing, can anyone do it?  And without proper instruction, and preferably without having to buy books and stuff?  One of the first books I bought for the guitar said that you should just sing along as best you could, and your voice would eventually get better...  I've never really bothered, but it is something I'd like to get good at.  So is it that simple?  I mean, what about breathing techniques and all that hoo-hah?  Any singers with tips to share?  Anyone who's achieved a decent sound through teaching themselves?

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2006, 04:21:52 AM »
Your voice will definitely improve as you go, but you need to be able to tell if whatever note you're singing fits with whatever chord you're playing, and from there work on gaining strength in your voice. It also helps when recording to add a little bit of effects like reverb, and also to overdub a couple or three of the same vocal for added strength and to help cover "mistakes". Adding harmonies is even better, but can be hard to get right, especially if you have limited range.

As far as asking if anyone can sing, as long as you're not tone deaf you can with lots of practise. You could go and get lessons which might help, but I fear you could end up sounding like Enrique Iglesias or someone like that, I'm guessing that the vast majority of successful rock n roll singers (Dylan, Hendrix, Lennon, McCartney, Jagger, etc) never had formal lessons, and you can tell because they all have very distinctive voices. Most pop artists don't have very distinctive voices because they're all taught how to do things the same way. Learning some breathing exercises though, definitely a good idea, there's nothing worse than running out of breath halfway through a verse!

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2006, 05:19:09 AM »
Thanks!  Do you do any breathing excercises yourself then that you could share?  Should I just be basically trying to match my voice to the chord, and then when I get that down start picking notes from the scale to come up with a vocal melody?   Yeah, that makes sense now I think of it, it's the equivalent of playing lead over a chord progression.

Actually, do you do guitar drills regularly too, that's another thing I wonder about.  I have just been improvising on the electric for the last while, and got totally bored of it really, so I can't wait to get really stuck into rhythm stuff.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2006, 11:11:32 AM »
I can play guitar and sing in tune with it, though I'm not keen on the sound of my singing; the trick being to listen for the notes that you should be aiming for in the chords that you're playing - a lot of the time you will be singing the root note, the 3rd or the 5th of those chords, you will notice a lot of singers using little tricks to land on the right note, such as sliding up to it or kind of hunting for the note (eg, the guy from Embrace) it's almost like bringing a guitar string into tune with another one.

As far as creating your own music goes, I don't think there should be any  'should's, though a lot of the music you will hear can be broken down into a chord pattern with a melody on top of it derived from related scales. Everyone develops their own melodic sense/harmonic sense/personal aesthetics (eg, The Beatles using a lot of Sevenths) so I think you just have to find out how to make music that sounds right to you.

I'm not sure what you mean by drills on guitar (practicing scales?) but if it's boring you then it's the wrong approach IMO, there are a zillion other things you could be learning such as barre chords or just simple riffs like twelve bar stuff.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2006, 11:20:44 AM »
Thanks!  I know barre chords and all that stuff, it was just never much fun on my shitty electric.  I've got an ok acoustic to tide me over until I hopefully get a better one this week.  Regards drills, it's not even scales I mean, it's those excercises you see in instructional videos and books.  Speed drills and the like..just wondering if people have a set of things they always do, or a set routine they follow each day before they just start dicking around with the guitar.

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2006, 02:01:53 PM »
Quote from: "Neil"
Thanks!  Do you do any breathing excercises yourself then that you could share?  Should I just be basically trying to match my voice to the chord, and then when I get that down start picking notes from the scale to come up with a vocal melody?   Yeah, that makes sense now I think of it, it's the equivalent of playing lead over a chord progression.

Actually, do you do guitar drills regularly too, that's another thing I wonder about.  I have just been improvising on the electric for the last while, and got totally bored of it really, so I can't wait to get really stuck into rhythm stuff.


I've not delved into breathing exercises a great deal yet, but these pages have a lot of good info:
http://www.vocalist.org.uk/breathing_exercises.html

http://www.vocalist.org.uk/breathing101.html

There is a technique (which elevator music merchant Kenny G used to set a record for holding a note on his sax for 45 minutes) which involves being able to breathe in and out while you're singing (or playing a sax), it takes a lot of practise to figure out though.

I have to say I've never done a drill or practised scales in my life, I just get utterly bored with that stuff, although I know that if I had it would probably have taken me less time to learn guitar. For me, my guitar has always been just a tool I use to create music, rather something I just do for fun (the fun for me is hearing the finished music), so I tend to just learn things as and when I need them for a particular peice of music. I know fuck all about playing blues, for example, so if I ever fancied making a blues style song, it would be kind of like starting from scratch.

Incidentally, I have a Gibson Epiphone acoustic, which I got for about $100 (60GBP), it's pretty decent, albeit a little dull sounding

9

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2006, 03:20:06 PM »
Singing is just about practice, like anything else I think. Just singing along to your favourite tunes is a fun way of learning. I've got to the point where my voice sounds decent to me when I'm sitting on the couch strumming. Recording is a whole different story though!

When you get your acoustic make sure you play right up and down the frets and hold some barre chords at different points up and down the neck to make sure it's comfortable and that the guitar has no annoying ticks. Sometimes you'll be really lucky and find a cheapish guitar that has a really ace tone.

Best of luck Neil!

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2006, 06:45:43 PM »
I don't know if it would count them as a warmup exercise or what but there are certain chords that I seem to start out playing like F#m and whatever this chord is: 799800, the sort of chords that will sound nasty unless the guitar is nicely in tune, so I can check the tuning before I start playing.

I think if you want to improve on guitar, you have to make a point of practicing things that you find difficult; I bought a Drum machine recently, and after going through the (500) different preset rhythms and trying to play along with them I've become more aware that there are certain rhythms that I really don't know how to play along with on guitar, whereas others are very easy, so I guess I'm working on improving that at the moment. Mostly right hand stuff I suppose. Playing along to some kind of backing track is very useful If you intend to play in a band, though there is obviously no substitute for playing with a drummer (you could download some MIDI backing tracks)

[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2006, 06:54:03 PM »
I've got a stack of mp3 backing tracks, I really should dig those out, that's something I really don't practice anywhere near enough.  And you're dead right about trying to play beyond my current ability, that's the only way to improve fo' sho'.

micanio

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[muso] Need your advice please, regards buying an acoustic guitar and a mic
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2006, 01:33:42 AM »
If you want a good guitar for about £100, you can't go wrong with a Vintage V300 or V400 - cracking little guitars for the money.

The V300 is a folk guitar with a smaller body but a really nice sound - very big and punchy, considering it size. And they are usually well built and very comfortable to play.

The V400 is a standard dreadnought with the same tone and quality as the V300.

Both great value. We sell loads of these guitars and we've never had a problem.