The Best Guitars for Musicians

If you’re looking for a new guitar, finding the one that fits your budget and inspires you to keep practicing and playing can be difficult.  There are so many different models available that it can be hard to discern the true basics from the hype.  Here, you’ll find some information that can help make your search easier.

Acoustic guitars


Acoustic guitars have hollow bodies and come with either nylon or steel strings.  If you’re just learning to play, you might want to look for a model with nylon strings.  The nylon strings are softer than steel strings, which makes them easier on your hands when you spend long hours practicing.  Nylon-stringed guitars also have wider necks, making it easier to get the hang of correct finger placement.  The downside of nylon strings is that their range is somewhat limited compared to steel strings.

Many guitars advertised for beginners are either 1/2 or 3/4 of the size of a full-sized model.  The smallest (youngest) players might benefit from a smaller body size, but are likely to outgrow them quickly.  Typically, a full size guitar is the best choice for anyone who can comfortably hold it.

Electric guitars

electric guitar

Electric guitars come in solid-body or semi-acoustic versions.  Both types require an amplifier to produce the best quality sound.

Solid-body versions, as the name implies, are made of solid wood and do not contain a resonating chamber.  These are the most popular electric guitars as they are well suited to a variety of music types and are less prone to feedback issues that can be present in semi-acoustic models.  The quality of the wood and components that make up a solid-body electric guitar are critical to the sound created, so spending a little more to get high-quality construction may be necessary to get the most out of your investment.

Semi-acoustic guitars are aptly named, too.  They combine the more dynamic sound and responsiveness of an acoustic guitar with the amplified sound of an electric.  Feedback and distortion can be a problem, but many manufacturers now build semis with solid blocks inside their bodies to help combat this issue.

If you need to shop for an amp, too, finding one with a headphone jack means you can practice without disturbing the rest of the house, something for which they might be thankful if you’re just starting out.  Some amps are classified as practice amps or beginner amps.  The only difference between these and “regular” amps is that they’re smaller, which makes them easier to carry, and generally produce sound at lower volumes than their full-sized counterparts.

Accessories and other necessities

guitar accessories

Once you have decided which type of guitar is the best for you, take a look at a few other things that will help you get the most out of your new instrument.

Most beginners and some seasoned vets prefer to use picks rather than their fingers.  Picks come in a variety of thicknesses based mostly on music style and preference.  Starting with a medium thickness pick is probably a safe bet for beginners.

Sooner or later, you’re going to need new strings.  Having an extra set or two on hand can limit the frustration of a broken string with no backup.  Make sure to find strings designed for your guitar.

Until you get good enough at playing to do your tuning by ear, having a tuner is a must.  An out-of-tune guitar can lead to frustration and a feeling that your practice isn’t paying off.

Having a stand for your guitar can keep it handy and safer than leaning it up against a wall or furniture.

A shoulder strap certainly isn’t necessary, but can make standing while you practice a little more comfortable.

A capo can be attached to the neck of the guitar if you want to raise a song’s pitch without adjusting the original chord shapes.

When it comes to guitar prices, the cheapest models typically are of the lowest quality.  Spend too little and you could end up with an instrument that doesn’t keep your passion stoked.  As with all artistic endeavors, plenty of passion and practice are the only magic you really need.

Check out not because you plan to join a music class, but because you want to take a look at beginner acoustic guitar models.

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

If you’re a casual fan of wine, you may think that a wine tasting party is something reserved for connoisseurs only.  While there certainly are groups and clubs devoted to the study of wine, there’s no reason that you can’t host a perfectly enjoyable and educational wine tasting party of your own.  If you’re new to wine drinking or just want to learn more about various wines, a tasting party can be just the thing to expand your horizons and your wine vocabulary.

The wines



Send out your invites and decide what wines you’ll be tasting.  Smaller groups are ideal as small groups are better able to compare notes.  Choosing to limit yourself to one type of wine from various regions can be the best way to begin your education.  In other words, choose only white wines, but make sure they come from a variety of different geographical regions, regardless of the year.  This is referred to as a varietal tasting.  To compare different vintages, you can try a horizontal tasting.  Choosing several white wines from different regions, but all from the same year, for instance.  You might be very surprised at the differences geography and harvest year can make.  Limiting tasting to one particular type of wine is the best way to learn about these differences and characteristics on your way to choosing one or more favorites.  A wine selection limited to seven or eight bottles is easier to evaluate, compare, and contrast than a selection consisting of every bottle you could find.  Make sure to follow proper chilling and breathing guidelines for any wines you choose.

The setup

In order to eliminate brand biases, wrap each bottle in foil or otherwise obscure the labels and any other identifying bottle features.  Too often, our perception of how good or bad a particular brand is supposed to be can actually keep us from honestly assessing its true properties.  Blind tasting eliminates this bias and can lead to surprising finds.

Clear wine glasses are preferred in order to better appreciate and compare the color and overall appearance of the wines.  Glasses should be tall enough to allow tasters to swirl the wine around before tasting (more about that in a bit).  Having a white tablecloth is another way to better see the various colors.  While it is certainly allowable to drink all of the wine you taste, swishing and spitting allows for a longer tasting session.  You can offer guests opaque glasses or cups to use as spittoons and include an opaque jug for emptying the spittoons and glasses.

You also might want to offer guests bland crackers or bread to use as a palate cleanser between bottles.  Clearing one taste out of your mouth before moving on ensures a truer evaluation.

The tasting



Before tasting, swirl the wine around the glass a bit.  This releases some of the aromatic properties that affect our sense of taste.  After swirling and smelling, take a sip of the wine and swish it around your mouth a little.  This gives the wine a chance to reach all of your tastebuds and the aromas time to be translated by the brain into recognizable flavors.

The evaluation

Have each guest make notes about the wine’s color and clarity.  Next, note the aromas released by the swirling.  Then, ask everyone to jot down the flavors and sensations they get when tasting.  Lastly, have your guests note how long the taste lingers on the palate.  As you all become more proficient wine tasters, you’ll be surprised at how many subtleties you’ll find.  Getting a pre-party idea of the qualities to look for in various wines can help you identify flavors, aromas, and sensations that you might not be able to quite put your finger on.

Following your wine tasting with a meal accompanied by those wines extends the learning experience as things like time out of the bottle and food pairings can mean that so-so wines seem to get better and frontrunners lose some charm.

When all’s said and done, starting your own wine tasting group is as easy as a little research, a trip to the store, and a few friends.