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Buying a Guitar

What should you be considering (other than price) when buying a guitar? Here is a breakdown of the main things to be concerned about.

Always Play the Guitar            

Seems kinda obvious now that I’ve said it, right? You MUST like the feel of playing a guitar before you even consider buying it! Holding it must be comfortable and (I have to say this, it’s important!) it has to look “cool”. Right, that’s not something about the guitar, more about the look that you want.... Also, when playing it (assuming you can already play), you shouldn’t find it awkward or particularly difficult. The guitar should be easy to play, and if it’s not, try a different guitar! If you can’t play yet, then you haven’t found what you prefer, so it won’t matter so much for you at this stage.

So what about the build quality? How do you know if something is seriously wrong with the guitar? Here are some things to look out for:


The guitars “action” is the distance between the fretboard and the strings, if it is too high it can make the guitar difficult to play, but if it’s too low it can cause the strings to “buzz” against the frets. The action is also linked to the intonation, so you’ll want to make sure that’s set up properly (especially if you’re buying a classical guitar, because on these it’s not easily adjustable!).

Lift the guitar up and look down it from the base of the body along through to the head. The neck should be almost straight and with only a slight curve- so that the strings are closer to the neck at the nut, and get slowly further away as they reach the 12th fret. There should be no “bumps” or “wobbles” in the neck, because this means that the neck has “warped” and requires a truss rod adjustment (classical guitars don’t have a truss rod).


You should like the sound of the guitar. Again, seems kinda obvious now that I’ve said it, but don’t forget: this is what you’re buying the guitar for. Make sure the guitar sounds good to you, and sounds how you want. Test the note at the 12th fret against the open string, and it should be exactly an octave apart (you might want to use a tuner for this!), if it isn’t then the intonation needs adjusting.

…and talking about the tuning…

Tuning Stability

This can be affected by incorrectly set intonation, but (more commonly) it’ll be a problem with the machine heads (tuning pegs). When you tune the guitar up, the tuning pegs shouldn’t feel extra stiff, or particularly loose, they should also be able to hold the string in tune whilst you play (known as “tuning stability”). If they are too loose, you will most likely have to turn them alot to get the string up to pitch! However, if they are too tight they make not be sensitive enough to get the string exactly in tune. You don’t want to be spending years just winding the strings up to pitch, but also I’m sure you want the tuning pegs accurate enough to get the guitar in tune! Looser tuning pegs may also “unwind” and detune the string slowly as you play- again, this is bad!

So, if the guitar seems to be OK after the above checks, then it’s safe to assume that it’s a pretty decent guitar. One thing I would look for also, is build quality. Make sure the guitar is well made (i.e. try to avoid unpolished surfaces or messy glue joints), all things you would look for in most wooden products (furniture, for instance). You don’t want the guitar to fall apart once you get it home!

From Chainsaw Guitar Tuition

Spotlight on Local Business - RGM Music

One type of shop that holds a special fascination for many people is the local music store. It’s one thing to be able to look at pictures on the ‘net and admire some of the guitars and instruments out there but when it comes to sound, feel or touch - pictures don’t quite do it. If you drop in at the local music store, you can hear and actually try out what you are interested in buying. And if the first guitar you try is not quite right for you, in RGM you'll find one that is.

You will also find an incredible range of other interesting items: accessories, music books, keyrings, badges, novelty plectrums and small percussion instruments....and loads of Christmas gift ideas.

 Both John Dixon and Michael Dixon, whose parents started RGM in 1983 and still own the business,  attended KA during the 90's. The 'boys' are now men and are doing very well - no doubt, a lot to do  with the quality teaching they received at KA!

Over the years RGM has served a number of local musicians who went on to enjoy success. These include the brilliant Biffy Clyro, whose 2009 album Only Revolutions reached no. 8 in the UK album chart and went Gold within days of its release - members of the band even did work experience in the shop. Another person who used to be a familiar face at RGM is the hugely talented guitarist Martin Waugh who played guitar with Sophie Ellis Bextor , and, earlier in 2009, with Lily Allen. He is currently in Mika's band and appeared alongside Mika in the recent Live from Abbey Road series.

In recent years RGM has sponsored many Battle of the Bands competitions in Kilmarnock and recently sponsored one such event in Ayr.

RGM has over 130 guitars on display: from quality budget acoustics to PRS electrics. The most impressive aspect of the guitars on display is the sheer range and variety - there really is something to suit every player and every budget. And as well as normal acoustics, electrics and basses, they have loads of other interesting stuff: 12-string acoustics, dobros, lap steel, mandolins, violins, ukes and other ethnic stringed instruments.

RGM carries an impressive range of strings, leads, connectors, straps, stands, tuners, cases, scratchplates, spares and whatever you need to make your music your way. The shop also has a wide variety of sheet music as well as hundreds of music books for a range of instruments and a choice of instructional DVDs. If you do drop in for a browse through the sheet music and books, don't be in too big a hurry as there is such an extensive stock to look through.

As well as having acoustic and electronic drum kits, RGM have a good selection of sticks, brushes, beaters, bass drum pedals, cymbals and drum skins. They have bongos, djembis, shakers and a range of other percussion instruments. Visit the shop and check them out!

 Billy Johnstone

 Billy has a keen interest in  stage and effects lighting.  Aware of the latest  developments in lighting  technology, Billy's the man  to see for all your lighting  requirements. He's also a  dab hand at guitar, banjo,  mandolin and keyboards.
 Tom McMaster

 Tom specialises in PA  and has helped many  customers set up the  ideal PA for their needs.  A prolific  guitarist, Tom  is RGM's  guitar tech.  From simple tune-ups  to the fitting  of  replacement parts,  Tom takes care of it.


RGM can install PA systems suitable for pubs, clubs, hotels, restaurants, live music venues and all manner of business and corporate premises. They have access to all the major suppliers of quality PA equipment and will design for you a system that fits your needs as well as your budget.

RGM can also provide for hire PA systems, lighting systems and DJ equipment. To find out more click here.

RGM have an in-store guitar tech (Tom) who will speedily carry out any repair or maintenance work your instrument may require.Whether you play acoustic, electric, bass or six string guitar, RGM Music will help you keep your guitar in tip-top condition. All at prices that you'll find hard to beat.

If you're having to purchase musical equipment and claim from your insurers, RGM can liase directly with them. RGM have extensive experience in dealing with insurance companies and will work to ensure that the process is speedy and uncomplicated.