Which to buy as my very first guitar

BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member
edited August 2016 in Guitar Chat
Hi... Still struggling a bit with which guitar to buy as my very first one. I'm leaning towards a semi acoustic electric as I like the sound they make . One thing that is confusing the issue is I have large hands and setting up big fingers for playing chords I'm finding the fret boards a wee bit tight for space .  But I have found an Amp that I think would be fine. I have a large study at home where practice will take place and have kind of settled for an Orange crush 35 RT Combo. Not mega expensive but having seen and heard one I think its a good start point.  Any advice welcome.  Charlie.

Comments

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    That's a fine amp, but be aware that to get the best out of it you will need to play it loud. Hope the rest of the household (and the neighbours), are understanding. 5 watts is about right for using in the home.

    As for the size of your fingers, we all adapt our fingering style to suit the size of our hands. I have met dozens of accomplished guitarist with fingers like sausages. The main thing I would say is, be prepared to change your guitar as your skills and abilities change. Don't spend an inordinate amount on your first guitar, so if it doesn't suit you can change it without a huge loss of money.

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member
    Originally Posted by Jocko:

    That's a fine amp, but be aware that to get the best out of it you will need to play it loud. Hope the rest of the household (and the neighbours), are understanding. 5 watts is about right for using in the home.

    As for the size of your fingers, we all adapt our fingering style to suit the size of our hands. I have met dozens of accomplished guitarist with fingers like sausages. The main thing I would say is, be prepared to change your guitar as your skills and abilities change. Don't spend an inordinate amount on your first guitar, so if it doesn't suit you can change it without a huge loss of money.

    I have been looking at a Hagstrom Viking.. To be honest it just seems to fit me. The neck is 14 inches in circumference V a 2014 Gibson Les Paul special edition Studio at 12 inches. Both are or to me are very nice. The Gibson is used but mint and has been upgraded. The Hagstrom is brand new. I love the sounds that the Hag gives.

    i haven't lost sight of the fact I'm an absolute beginner ! But I am a very determined and driven person and when I take up a hobby I stick at it .

     

    i definitely don't expect that the first guitar I buy will be exactly perfect in every way. So I fully expect to end up changing or owning more than one... 

     

    Thanks for for the input ! 

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    The Viking is a nice guitar. I have an Aria TA-50.

    Aria TA-50 11-8-12

     

    I also have an Epiphone Les Paul Custom.

    Epiphone Les Paul Custom 10-8-12

     

    I find that the larger the radius (flatter) the fingerboard is, the easier it is to play. I have a pair of Shine SIL510's, with 20" radius boards and I love them. 

    My Shine twins 18-7-13

  • Ninja_RebornNinja_Reborn Posts: 124Member

    IIRC the CR series have a voicing that's modelled on the Rockoverb; which can only be a good thing.


    I converted to Orange amps this year after years of messing with other amps and frankly it was the best move I've ever made.  Aside from tone the build quality is superb - even on those made in china. 

     

    Don't worry too much about the size of your fingers - especially as a beginner as it is very easy to get hung up on things like that and not make progress.

     

     

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    As I said before, I think it's likely you'll find the fretboard becomes less tight for space with time and practice. I can remember clearly having that same experience when I was starting out - sometimes it would take me minutes just to get my left hand fingers arranged so that all the notes of a chord would ring out clearly. It's amazing how it does get better, and after a while, one doesn't have to think about it anymore, and the brain just takes care of it. I do take your point re having large hands, but there have been plenty of great large-handed guitarists using standard guitars, to make my point. Be careful about how you practice, fussy about getting things right, and stick at it, and the results will come with time.

     

    A good semi-acoustic guitar would be an excellent, and versatile choice, and I've admired those Hagstrom Vikings myself, so I don't blame you at all for considering one. Get a guitar that's going to inspire you I think. I guess I'd say best to try one out if at all possible, as sometimes the idea we have in our heads of how a guitar will feel to play, is not the same as reality.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Jocko made the point that the flatter the fretboard the easier it is to play for him.  That might not be true for everyone.  There's several considerations with fretboards.  Sometimes the old tight radius (many Fenders were 7.5 inches radius) can have a tendency to choke off notes on bends, especially if they are not properly set-up.

     

    Flatter fretboards can be easier to play for some people, and I'm one of those that prefer a flatter fretboard.  To a point.  There's a compromise I have to make, which comes down to my individual physiology.  If you have bony fingers like me, with no fat on them, the flatter the fretboard, the more difficult it is to play barre chords (that's where you use the index finger like a capo across the fretboard and use the other fingers to form chords above it - sorry if you're not that much of a beginner and know this!).

     

    I find I have to apply undue pressure on flatter fretboards to properly play a bar chord without buzzes or damping because my bony fingers, with little padding on them, won't lie flat across a flat fretboard.  Therefore the compromise I make, because I otherwise prefer flatter fretboards, is I use higher frets that means it's easier to play a barre chord.  But I have to then adapt my playing to have a lighter touch and not depress strings all the way down to the fretboard otherwise the notes will go sharp.  On the other hand, once that lighter touch technique is mastered, it does make for faster playing.

     

    Guitars are a series of compromises, and I'd say it probably took me about 15 years to really understand exactly what I wanted.  There again I'm probably a bit slow on the uptake.

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member

    Many thanks for the info guys I really appreciate it ! I have read every word and will read it again !

    I honestly think for me the Hagstrom Viking is a good start point. It may not be to everyone's taste or style but as a first guitar I think it will be just fine. Iam going into the shop just to sit with on on the knee and strap one more time and will place the order then.

     

    The Viking comes in three models. The Viking. The Viking Deluxe which has only wider inlays on the fret board rather than dots. And the Super viking....

     

    I would appreciate if anyone could advise which is the best of the three. I may have missed a point on specification despite staring goggle eyed looking at the specs.

     

    Thanks again ! Charlie. 

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    Look here and you can see all the specs.

    There are a range of different pick ups fitted and the Super Viking has split coil pickups. (by push/pull knobs you can introduce more tones)

    Without really knowing what sound you want I cannot advise. Best shot would be to listen. Take your mate along to try them out.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    I wish they would give a bit more detail about the pickups fitted to the various Viking models. The coil split function on the Super is something that could be useful, but they don't really say how the pickups sound in comparison to the Standard and Deluxe models. And they don't say a lot about how those sound either, although they do state that the standard & deluxe Vikings are great all-rounders, covering rock, blues, jazz & fusion. Possibly the Super Viking has more specialized sounding pickups, perhaps higher output, aimed more specifically at rock - but I'm only speculating. The Super does have a longer 25.5" scale length I notice, which will tend to increase string tension, for the same gauge of string. Personally, I think I'd prefer the shorter, Gibson-style 24.75" scale on the standard and deluxe models. I'm not so keen on the looks of the Super version either - the pickguard doesn't have the nice and individual shape as on the other versions for one thing, and I like the engraved "Hagstrom" logo on the standard and deluxe pickguards. That's perhaps a small consideration, but I do like my guitars to look pretty... image

     

    So FWIW, if it was me I'd probably choose the standard, assuming no difference to the deluxe, other than the fingerboard inlays. I would be able to modify the guitar with different pickups, and fit a coil split switch anyway, if desired, although I do appreciate not everyone is in a position to do that. I do have a humbucker-equipped guitar that doesn't have coil-splitting though, and to be honest, I just don't feel the need to change it anyhow. I used to be into the idea of guitars with lots of switches and different tones from the pickups by splitting, wiring in series/parallel, phase switches etc., but now I tend to feel that the basic standard tones are the best - so use a humbucker equiped guitar for humbucker sounds, and maybe a strat or tele type for single-coil pickup sounds. No need to complicate it really. Just my opinion (at the moment) for what it's worth though. image

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member
    Originally Posted by Jocko:

    Look here and you can see all the specs.

    There are a range of different pick ups fitted and the Super Viking has split coil pickups. (by push/pull knobs you can introduce more tones)

    Without really knowing what sound you want I cannot advise. Best shot would be to listen. Take your mate along to try them out.

     Ace link ! Thanks for that. I didn't know there were so many ! But help me here. Which one would you go for ?

    The Super seems to have a solid Maple body where the others have a laminated Maple one. How important is this ? 

     

    The coils again are push pull on the Super.. The list goes on and to be honest it gets a but confusing.

     

    On one hand I don't want to spend money just for flash.But then I would rather spend the extra on day one if its worth the outlay ? 

     

    Cheers ! 

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    Just read the bit where it says the Super Viking delivers a "numbing assault of tone" - that does sound a bit like it has higher output pickups, designed for rock. These often do lack some of the warmth and sweetness of a lower-output, more vintage style pickup. Of course I don't know this for a fact re the Viking models, but if it was me, without having tried them, I'd plump for the standard or deluxe version.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    Guitars are like women. What turns me on might not turn you on. (Apologies to any ladies reading this) I tend to be a bells and whistles buyer, hence the reason I have a huge guitar collection and have ended up skint.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    Have you had a look at Gretch? I had a look at a G5420T, earlier this year, but didn't have the readies.

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,314Member

    I have only tried the Hagstrom Viking Deluxe of those Hagstroms you're wondering about. "A numbing assault on tone" mentioned as seen by Graham does make the Super Viking sound rather a different beast to the Hagstrom Viking Deluxe. Which is my longest serving guitar, and it is absolutely a "must not sell" guitar in my collection.

     

    The lack of push-pull coils etc maybe make it less versatile but I'd rather a guitar does what it does best at a high quality level, than be a jack of all trades and master of none. But this view maybe because I've not yet experienced any pickups I liked that have this feature .

     

    The Deluxe is a very solid build - it might be semi-acoustic but it does not feel flimsy at all and tips the scales at 8 lbs. The neck is wonderfully comfortable - their special design of truss rod means they've been able to avoid needing as much chunkiness - it also allows for a very low action if needed. The fretboard is a composite material and is very silky smooth to play on - durable too by all accounts.

     

    If it did have any weaknesses, other than me as a player(!), it would be that the stock pickups could be better - but that applies to all guitars in this price range in my view.With those it is still a very good guitar though.

     

    I now have Seymour Duncan / Seth Lover SH55 pickups in it and it has turned it from being a very good guitar into being an excellent one.

     

    I've listened back to old recordings with the original pickups in it and my memory is right - it did sound very good even then, If you're wanting to play music in the blues / bluesy area it's most certainly a great choice of guitar.

     

    It's my go to guitar for that type of music. Like this recent recording of mine:-

    Holly Wouldn't Blues

     

    I remember being impressed with a couple of Matt Thorpe videos that demo'd the Deluxe, The results when I played one for real myself did not disappoint other than the playing quality being somewhat less!   Here's one:-

     



     

    But I could be biased on this guitar. It was the one that kick started me being serious about playing and was the one I used on my first uploaded on-line recording. If I had not made an error in my registering on this forum I would have the same VikingBlues user name as I do on other guitar forums.

     

    And Jocko is right - personal taste means a guitar I like will be hated by someone else and vice versa.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    Nice bit of Blues there, Mark.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    I think there's some great advice in the previous posts, including Jocko's suggestion of looking at a Gretsch - I have a bit of a soft spot for their designs despite not owning one.  But that's more of a case of the heart ruling the head, which is often the case with guitar acquisition anyway!

     

    As for the Viking, as a new player, the shorter Gibson scale length and resulting lower string tension will help a beginner.  And if that Super Viking does end up being a bit of a noise monster, as others observe, it's likely to be more of a one trick pony, and possibly only show it's true colours when played louder than might be considered socially acceptable within the environs of a house.

     

    If you stick with playing guitar you'll want more than one.  That much I can guarantee.  Therefore, if the Super Viking is more expensive I'd put the extra cash in your back pocket for your next guitar purchase, and go for the Standard or Deluxe model as others have suggested.  If you can't choose specwise between the Standard and Deluxe, let your eye and your personal sense of aesthetics make the final decision.  Oh, and I wouldn't worry about the Standard and Deluxe having a laminate vs solid maple top on a thin semi-acoustic.  If really isn't going to make much difference to the sound of a thin body semi (assumption there as I couldn't find body depth in the specs, or any body dimension on the Viking website, which I consider a bit poor), and it would probably end up being more stable than a solid top anyway.

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    I've just listened to the sound samples Thomann records for the standard Viking model here:

     

    http://www.thomann.de/gb/hagstrom_viking_tc.htm

     

    and for the super version here:

     

    http://www.thomann.de/gb/hagstrom_super_viking_ma.htm

     

    and I have to say, admittedly just going by that limited evidence, I much prefer the sound of the standard - there is a brightness and crispness which seems lacking for the super. Of course it does depend how the recordings were done, and the settings used, but still...

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    I did that yesterday, but as they only had the two, not very great, samples, I just ignored them. The Standard would certainly be my choice if they were all I had to go in. My Gordon- Smith has split coil pickups, but I seldom bother with the split coil option.

     

    1985 Gordon Smith Gypsy 2 25-10-11

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member

    Awesome advice... I will I think go for the Deluxe.. The Super it seems is not the weapon of choice given the usage.

     

    All advice is and has been genuinely appreciated  . Cheers !

     

    Charlie. 

  • SteerSteer Posts: 132Member

    I second the recommendation for a Gretsch Electromatic. I love my 5420. Its the best guitar I have ever owned. Looks sounds and plays well, and very versatile.

     

    I have also been lusting after a Hagstrom for quite some time too, so would be interested to see what you go for in the end.

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member
    Originally Posted by Jocko:

    Have you had a look at Gretch? I had a look at a G5420T, earlier this year, but didn't have the readies.

     

    Can you tell me more ? It looks an amazing guitar that's for sure. How about that fret board width ? How do the components stack up against the Hagstrom ?

     

    I will be going into the shop once more and intend to place an order. I cant wait to get started now but impatience is a cruel mistress !

     

    Thanks ! 

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    This is the Orange one I was looking at (match your amp!). This is a review of the range. I loved it, as did my grandson who almost wore out the one in the shop!!

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    I would have thought the Hagstrom probably a bit more of an 'all-rounder' than the Gretsch. Gretsch has a strong association with classic rock n roll, rockabilly, and also country styles. Nice guitars though.

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member
    Originally Posted by Jocko:

    This is the Orange one I was looking at (match your amp!). This is a review of the range. I loved it, as did my grandson who almost wore out the one in the shop!!

    Long day and I'm knackered ! I just cant find those to me important neck dimensions...  I feel rightly or wrongly the slimmer but wider neck is just a good bet. I do have exceptionally large hands ! I know I know I will get used to it but it rammed firmly in my head ! 

     

    Cheers !

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    One thing I do think Charlie, is that there is no substitute for actually trying a guitar, to know what you really think of it. Ordering something without doing so is always a bit of a shot in the dark - a calculated risk at best. Saying that, some of us on here have ordered guitars that way, and done well, but I think we've generally had the advantage of experience of guitars, and the ability to read between the lines of advertising blurb, to be able to minimise the calculated risk. So, with respect, in your position, where you don't have that experience, if possible I really would recommend trying out as many guitars as possible, to get some kind of idea of what the various brands are like, and what's out there. Certainly at least try to have a go on any model/brand that you're considering to order, just to be sure it's not going to be a mistake. image

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    By the way, the large hands should actually become something of an advantage in the end, allowing an increased reach on the fretboard, and the ability to cover more frets without changing position on the neck. Jimi Hendrix had very big hands, also some of the greatest jazz guitarists did - Tal Farlow, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, to name three. Tal and Jimmy could play some chords with stretches that the average guitarist can only dream of being able to do.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    Gretch has a shorter scale length than the Hagstrom but the same neck width, 43 mm. Same width as a Gibson Les Paul and slightly wider than a Strat

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member
    Originally Posted by Megi:

    One thing I do think Charlie, is that there is no substitute for actually trying a guitar, to know what you really think of it. Ordering something without doing so is always a bit of a shot in the dark - a calculated risk at best. Saying that, some of us on here have ordered guitars that way, and done well, but I think we've generally had the advantage of experience of guitars, and the ability to read between the lines of advertising blurb, to be able to minimise the calculated risk. So, with respect, in your position, where you don't have that experience, if possible I really would recommend trying out as many guitars as possible, to get some kind of idea of what the various brands are like, and what's out there. Certainly at least try to have a go on any model/brand that you're considering to order, just to be sure it's not going to be a mistake.

    Yes I agree.. I can and have tried the Hagstrom.. I feel it was that bit better than anything so far. The Gretsch has the looks though. The Hag is a bit fussy where the Gretsch looks the business. 

     

    I was was set to go try the Hag one more time then get one ordered. Then I go look at that Gretsch and I'm hesitating . I may have to find a dealer and go have a look. 

  • BonydalBonydal Posts: 63Member

    Well after much deliberation and another visit to the shop I went for the Hagstrom Deluxe in Amber sunburst. Amp chosen was the Orange Crush 35RT. 

     

    The neck on the Hag is as expected just a wee bit wider but slimmer so I am able to articulate my fingers round the strings so much easier than the other guitars I've tried. This I feel will be far better if only for the confidence it has inspired. 

     

    image

     

    The amp was in stock so I bought that home and the guitar is to arrive on Tuesday so will go and collect it then.. 

     

    Many thanks for the input on this thread it really genuinely has helped ! Cant wait to get started and will be booking my first lesson for mid week !

     

    Charlie.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,191Member

    I'd have to say that's one handsome looking guitar you've picked there Charlie, and if the one you tried did feel just that bit nicer to play, it has got to be a good sign (despite what I said earlier). A fine choice anyhow, and I'm sure the investment will pay off in the future - paying a little more for quality is always good value in the long run. Just looked up the Orange Crush 35RT, and that looks to be a lovely little amp as well, I'm sure that will do you proud. Big congrats on the purchases anyhow, and I do hope you'll stick around on the forum in the future. image

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