How to Really Know Your Guitar

Published by tgermann1962 on

How well do you know your guitar?

Do you know everything there is to know about it:

from how it’s made, to how all the controls work, to what kind of wood it’s made of, etc.?

Depending on what guitar you have, there could be quite a bit to know. And it can be a little intimidating or overwhelming.

So many of us choose to ignore that stuff. We just want to pick up the guitar and play songs! Knowing all those details isn’t really that important, right?


Look, you can certainly learn to play your guitar, a song, a riff, without ever knowing that stuff.

I can also just go start up and drive a new car without knowing anything about any of the controls in the vehicle. At least until I need to know specific things to improve my driving experience: “how does this A/C work, it’s getting hot in here!”, “which lever works the wiper blades?”, “how do you set the cruise controls?”, etc. I think you get the idea.

Well, it’s the same with the guitar. The more you know about it, the better your experience will be when you play it.

I recently read this excellent article from Beginner Guitar HQ about How to Choose the Best Guitar. You really should take the time to read it. There are a number of things to consider when choosing guitar, they go through each of them.

But, I also think the article is excellent for all of us who already have guitars. We need to have some idea of what we have so that we can have a better experience playing them.

Recently I made a video series called Pedal Power. While it was mostly made for electric guitar players, the first part of the series can equally apply to all of you acoustic guitar players. Check it out:

Too many electric guitarists (and many acoustic players) who purchase pedals make the mistake that the pedals are going to make their sound.

I have news for you: they don’t.

You may have heard the saying: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig

You can have all the latest and greatest effect pedals but with a guitar that is cheap, defective, or simply doesn’t sound good, your sound will never sound great.


I always advise students of mine, and people who simply call for advice, that before you invest in pedals, or even a decent amp, is to get a good guitar first.

It always starts with a good guitar. Notice I didn’t say expensive guitar. Price isn’t always the determining factor.

How is it made? How does it sound? How does it play?

These are things we all need to be looking for.

Then, when you have the guitar (as I am sure most of you reading this have one), you need to get to know what everything does on it.

How do the pickups work? How different are their sounds? What kind of strings do I have? Are they in good condition and the right size for me?

What condition is the guitar in? Does it have buzzing on the frets? Strings are too high (or low) off the neck? In these cases, take it to a professional who can set it up to be in optimal condition. It is amazing how much a setup can improve your playing! In fact, just like you should regularly get oil changes on your car, it’s a good idea to regularly take your guitar to a guitar professional to get it back in optimal condition. I like to do this twice a year (fall and spring) on some guitars.

And it’s funny, when you are truly familiar with your guitar (and amp for you electric players), you will have a better idea of what kind of effects will really work for you! For example, I know that some overdrive pedals work best with my guitar/amp setup. Whereas, for another guitarist with a different guitar (and/or amp), they will have better success with a different kind of overdrive pedal.

So think twice when you want a certain effect pedal just because someone else you know, or a guitar hero of yours, has that pedal, that you think it will work for you. Try them first. Then try others. You might find what works for you is completely different from what they use.

And that’s ok.

You are unique. Let it show.

I hope it helps!

Rock on until the next time!

Oh, by the way: Do your fingers need a workout? Here is a free mini course I made for you to help out with that. It’s obvious (just a click away), easy (just follow along the course with short videos), and satisfying (you WILL play better). Check it out here:

Or just click this link: Guitar Finger Gymnastics

Tony G.

PS: Here is my TOP 10 Favorite Alex Lifeson Riffs Video taken from his huge catalog of Rush songs. It was a lot of fun to make! Let me know what you think:

Best Rush Songs on Guitar

Closer to the Heart

PPS: Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscribers to more than 155 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and/or informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

6 String Corner

Memorizing the Notes on Your Guitar? Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!

Check out this proven 7 Step System to help you quickly identify where all the notes are on your guitar!


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