So, now that you’ve got a bunch of chords under your belt and your acoustic duo is nearing a full set list, where do you go from here? Well, it’s probably time to step up and sling a new axe over your shoulder. But you don’t need to purchase a custom-made, high-priced acoustic to play out and sound great. There are so many good intermediate acoustics available which have all you need and won’t break the bank.
Intermediate acoustic guitars differ from their beginner counterparts in that the breadth and depth of options is far greater. While there is mild variation between beginner acoustics, you’ll find a lot more options in the intermediate sphere.
Tips for Getting a Good Intermediate Acoustic
It’s Electric! …Almost
At the intermediate level of guitar playing, it’s important to focus on a few key elements when choosing a guitar. First, if you’re playing consistently and have achieved a bit of proficiency, you probably want to go out into the world and show what you can do. Whether that comes in the form of recording an EP or playing an open mic night, is all up to you. But in order to accomplish any of that, you really need an acoustic-electric guitar.
Acoustic-electrics are very common. The electronics, which usually consist of a small, discreet pickup inside the soundhole, coupled with a preamp, are relatively inexpensive. They don’t add much to the cost of the guitar, but greatly increase the instrument’s utility, while keeping the price very accessible. Many intermediate acoustics have electronics which feature volume and tone controls, as well as a built in tuner, which is incredibly handy.
Rock Solid—or at least Wood Solid
As with any instrument, as the price increases, so does the quality. Nowhere is this more obvious on an acoustic guitar than with the woods used to craft it. Intermediate guitars do span a broad price range, but omitting the very low-end of the spectrum, you’ll want to assure the guitar is made with solid wood. While laminates are not bad, they don’t afford the same strength or richness in tone.
At this level, different varieties of tonewood pairings come into play. You don’t have to know the qualities of different tonewoods and how they may interact to make a choice about this. All you need to do is play a bunch of guitars until you hear a sound you really like. The same thing goes for the neck and fretboard. Put a guitar in your hands and see if the feel is right. If the sound is also right and it’s in your price range, you’ve found a winner.
Looks Matter a Little
Acoustic guitars don’t vary wildly in aesthetic schemes. They’re mostly based on the woods they’re made out of, with some darker or lighter shading. Subtleties like the rosette (the decorative ring around the soundhole) and inlays don’t have a major effect on the general look of the guitar, but do give it certain flair. Nonetheless, you should definitely pick a guitar that is visually appealing to you, provided it also plays the way you want.
How to Choose Your Instrument
- Visit a respectable instrument retailer. You won’t be able to find real intermediate guitars from anywhere else. At this level, you need a true guitar brand sold by a true guitar retailer. Tell the salesperson you’re looking to step up from a beginner acoustic guitar. Explain to them what your goals are as a player. They should help you narrow down your choices.
- Try out all the intermediate guitar models. To find the best guitar for you, you need to play all your options. Particularly, try out some of your favorite chords and riffs for tonal quality and feel. It’s also a good idea to plug the guitar in if it’s an acoustic-electric.
- Choose your price range. I’m sure you have an idea going in, but since intermediate is such a broad range and you don’t know what you’ll find, give yourself some cushion. Once you have an idea of what you like and you’ve capped your budget, you should be able to select the right guitar without issue.
You’ve Got This
As a final point, don’t over think this process. You’ve been playing guitar enough to know what seems right for you. Couple your musical understanding with the knowledge of an experienced salesperson and you should easily find what you’re looking for.
Before you know it, you’ll be stepping up to an expert acoustic.