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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / How do you decide which guitar to play?

Next 20 Messages  
Contributing Member

San Diego, CA USA

Apr 6th, 2019 01:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

I am a complete amateur who took up the guitar later in life. I play in a band with 5 other guys, all but 2 of whom are also relatively new at playing music and playing music in front of folks. This is a very basic question, but for you experienced players who have more than one guitar to choose from, how do you decide which one(s) you're going to play? At any given time do you have a "main" one that you settle on and play for a while, or is your selection gig specific, etc?

I'm still trying to figure out what "my sound" is, and with the limitations of my playing skills, I find that I get comfortable with a guitar, and if I move to another one I make more mistakes (even though I have set my guitars up very similarly) until I get used to that specific guitar. So I have a "main" guitar that changes, usually when I make something new or go back and modify something I have made before, and I don't change guitars during gigs.

I marvel at players who change guitars effortlessly and skillfully, but I often can't hear a difference tonally, and wonder what determines the changes beyond things like different tunings, etc?

Contributing Member

San Diego, CA USA

Apr 6th, 2019 01:23 PM   Edit   Profile  

my apologies- I did not realize that Peegoo had already moved this over on my behalf- thanks Peegoo!

Contributing Member

Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Apr 6th, 2019 01:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

No worries!

For me--it's all about the kind of tunes that I'll be playing. If I need a wang bar, I'll use a Strat or maybe something with a Bigsby. If it's straight-ahead rock, a Les Paul or a Tele. Punk and raunch? A Les Paul Junior. If I need a Gretsch to get that great Gretsch sound, I take a Gretsch.

Sometimes I take two different guitars to cover more ground.

There are many players that are happy with just one guitar for everything they do.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 03:52 PM, Apr 6th, 2019)

Contributing Member


Apr 6th, 2019 04:44 PM   Edit   Profile  

Although I am a rhythm player my Dean Evo has pups that go single coil to humbucker by pulling on the knobs of the pots.

I use one guitar and some basic pedals which cover me well enough. I have done gigs with guys with 5 or 6 guitars and to be honest it's more like a wardrobe change than a tone change when you consider effects

Do what works for you and continue to experiment at practice but note the time it takes to change axes

Doc Sarvis
Contributing Member

USA/Salt Lake City

Tuned Strings and Tight Lines
Apr 6th, 2019 05:12 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'm just a bedroom player but I have a lot of guitars and I think I'm a serviceable player. What I have found is that I play differently with my Les Paul than I do with my Strats. It may be conditioning based on my years of listening to music both live and recorded. Or, it could be that these instruments lead one to play different styles. I always pick up the LP if I want to play rock or Allman Bros type stuff. If I want to shuffle pick like SRV I play a Strat. When I pick up my ES-335 I play the blues. When I pick up a Tele I play darn near everything.

Contributing Member


Apr 6th, 2019 06:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

Doc said it well for me.

If I were playing out again Iā€™d take a LP and a Nashville Tele. For the blues/rock kinda stuff I play those two would do it all.



Say what one more time!
Apr 6th, 2019 10:37 PM   Edit   Profile  

With 3 guitar players in my band I try to fill a sonic void. Our lead guitar player plays a Parker with an S S H config. The other guy plays a Godin with HBs and will play a lot of acoustic too. I play a 2 humbucker tele with the ability to split the coils. I play most of the rhythm parts and try to cover frequencies the other guitars don't play. Sometimes I just want to play my Agile strat which is my backup guitar. I have been working on getting a tele up to speed because I love playing a tele and I feel like it would best sonically in the mix.

Contributing Member


Apr 7th, 2019 05:21 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have four American Deluxe HSS Strats that I use for most practices and live shows. I just rotate them.

At home I play whatever guitar suits what type of music I want to play, such as a jazz box when I feel like playing jazz or a Tele for country, etc.

I even own a 7-string for times when I want to play very aggressive rock and metal/shred.

Contributing Member

Manchester, TN

Ask me how I know!?
Apr 7th, 2019 05:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

In general, I prefer Gibsons. But if it's a place where I feel something might happen to the guitar, I bring my Epiphone LP. It ends up being the guitar I play the most.
Certain songs, as Peegoo said, require a tremolo and also, certain songs sound better with single coils, or that Strat out of phase sound, so a Strat is necessary in the arsenal, also. I often go back and forth between a Strat and a LP at gigs.

(This message was last edited by walshb at 09:55 AM, Apr 8th, 2019)

Contributing Member


too many guitars and not enough hands
Apr 7th, 2019 02:14 PM   Edit   Profile  

whatever guitar has 6 strings which are the least rusty!

Yep, I'm slack when it comes to string changes

Contributing Member

Wichita, Kansas

Drums = pulse, Bass = heartbeat
Apr 7th, 2019 02:54 PM   Edit   Profile  

What color shirt will I be wearing?


Arkansas, USA

Apr 7th, 2019 09:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

I take a maximum of two. The audience will never know the difference. One humbucker and one single coil is all I want to put up with. From 1986-2013 I took my only one. I only change at break, never during mid-set.

(This message was last edited by alnico357 at 11:34 PM, Apr 7th, 2019)



Why do I keep fixing things that work?
Apr 8th, 2019 08:36 AM   Edit   Profile  

Our band plays in standard tuning and I bring 2 guitars to a gig.
What we have done with our set list is break down the songs so that I just need to change instruments for the different sounds that require a different type of sound per the way the songs were recorded and this works out really well for me. I am the rhythm guitarist and enjoy playing the songs with the same type of sound that I've heard them recorded and it brings me to a level of confidence and feel to each of the songs in the set list.
So, basically I do one guitar change when performing.
So if you can arrange your set list to accommodate this set up, you'll be able to feel comfortable and hear the sound in your head that the song demands.
I find it very inspiring this way.
Just make sure that each guitar has its own strap and then its just a plug and play venue. Of course, I have to use a signal boost on my pedalboard to bring up the volume for the Strat, but that way I don't have to mess with my amp settings and just play.

Contributing Member

San Diego, CA USA

Apr 10th, 2019 11:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thank you all for weighing in on this!!!


Southwest Florida

Alone in my principles
Apr 10th, 2019 09:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

You have to play them all, or they get jealous šŸ˜Ž

Contributing Member

Vero Beach FL

Tbird Greg
Apr 11th, 2019 06:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

As themaestro said, it depends on what color shirt I'll be wearing at the gig. Light colored shirts call for a dark guitar, and black shirts make a white guitar really pop. I'm all about fashion - LOL big time!!

Contributing Member

Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Apr 11th, 2019 07:38 AM   Edit   Profile  

Just so you know--blue suede shoes go with everything.

Contributing Member

South Florida

Apr 11th, 2019 08:34 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have the 'big 3' of Les Paul, Strat and Tele.

I tend to default to the Telecaster. It has the advantage of simplicity and versatility. The tone and volume are generally dimed and all I have to do is roll off a bit of one or the other and my sound is the same no matter the amp. Also without a whammy bar it stays in tune.

The Les Paul is hotter and the notes really sustain but you do have to dial in your tone. My main issue is it starts out a bit darker and more muddy and I have to play around with it. But having said that I think Warren Haynes is a living God and whatever he says is good enough for me.

The Strat is lighter and more comfortable. Also you've got a greater variety of sounds. But to my ear a Strat is thinner than the other two. But the whole reason I started playing guitar was because Jimi Hendrix hit the airwaves in when I was in Junior High and I lost my mind after that.


Mesa, AZ

Apr 20th, 2019 03:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

My Mustang is it. Period. Luckily I don't need the Strat "quack"...no "Free Ride", "Sweet Home Alabama", Knopfler, Cray in my current repertoire.


Colorado, USA

"You play pretty good--for a girl"
Apr 23rd, 2019 02:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

For me it's easy...

If it's a jazz tune, I use the archtop, (Gibson or Epiphone)

If it's a rock/blues/funk tune, I use a Fender, (Strat or Tele)

If it's a bossa, or ballad, I use the Nylon-electric (Godin)

Next 20 Messages  

FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / How do you decide which guitar to play?

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