What brand of guitar would most likely have strings close to the frets?

I’m getting a guitar, and my friend said that I should get one with lower strings since then I can move my fingers faster. Thoughts?

Chosen Answer:

You don’t say if you are just learning, but I gather that you are, from the way you worded your question. So, going from that assumption, (yes, I DO know how to break down that word!) here goes:

You are asking about the “action” of a guitar- how easy or difficult it is to press the strings down against the frets. Yes, lower strings- lower action- will make it easier to press the strings down, something attractive to beginners. Generally, a solid-body electric guitar will have, or be adjustable to, the lowest action.

But there is more to the issue:

NECK/FRETBOARD WIDTH: How wide the neck, and fretboard, are. A narrow neck/fretboard makes reaching to the strings on the top easier, but be careful- a narrow fretboard puts the strings closer together, so if you have fat-ish fingers, you will have difficulty keeping your fingers off the strings adjacent to the string you are trying to fret. If a narrow neck will benefit you, solid-body electrics and accoustic guitars will help.

NECK THICKNESS OR FATNESS: How “fat” the neck is, from the front of the fretboard to the back of the neck where your thumb rest to give you leverage to press down the strings. This is largely a personal preference- I find I love the feel of fat Gibson necks which do feel a bit like half a baseball bat, but some players prefer the thinner profile of a Fender “D” shaped neck. If you have smaller hands, a thinner neck will probably be easier for you to play.

“SCALE” LENGTH, which also determines NECK LENGTH: How far it is from the nut to the bridge. A longer scale means a longer neck (duh!) and if you are smallish (with shorter arms) you may find reaching “all the way” to the end of a long-scale guitar uncomfortable. In this case, a “student” guitar like the Fender Mustang might suit you well. If you are under about 12, a 3/4 sized guitar might be best, but you will outgrow it in a few years. A shorter scale length also puts the frets closer together, so if you have fat fingers, you will have difficulty getting all your fingers crunched together to make some chords.

STRING CONSTRUCTION AND SIZE: Beginners are often started on nylon-string guitars, with the belief that the nylon strings being softer, make for easier playing. Only to a point: the necks are quite wide, making reaching the top stings difficult. Better to deal with steel strings and narrow necks. Smaller gauge strings are easier to push down than bigger gauges, but the smallest wire strings can cut into new player fingers.

PLAYING TECHNIQUE: Really, the most important part. From the beginning, learn to push the strings down ONLY AS HARD AS NEEDED TO GET THE NOTE TO RING, INSTEAD OF THUMP. Learning this early will make you a better, faster and more musical guitarist, and will allow you to play longer without your fingers getting fatigued. Other proper techniques, like elevating the neck of the guitar a little (like classical players do) instead of holding it horizontal (like folk players do when sitting) will make for more comfy playing, too.

So to sum up:
If you have small hands: A small-body steel string accoustic or most solid-body Stratocaster type electric.
If you have large hands and/or fat fingers: Wide-neck steel string accoustic (Seagull S6 Folk, for instance) or Gibson-type electric, or nylon-string accoustic.
If you have a smaller body and/or shorter arms: Student sized guitar like a Fender Mustang.

IF THE GUITAR SEEMS HARD TO PLAY, ESPECIALLY IN REGARDS TO PUSHING THE STRINGS DOWN, ask a guitar technician if he can lower the action.

One last word of advise: GET A GUITAR INSTRUCTOR. Sure, you can teach yourself guitar, or your friends can, but guitar is such a technical (reliant on technique) activity, you can easily develop “bad” habits that will slow down your progress and/or playing. A good instructor earns every penny of his or her pay every time he or she helps you develop good playing habits, like minimal finger pressure on the stings/fretboard, holding the guitar, etc.
by: steveboudreaux
on: 12th March 09

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12 Responses to What brand of guitar would most likely have strings close to the frets?

  1. Zach S says:

    Any brand. You just have to get it set up with lower action.

    The neck style, however, is different with different brands.

    A Fender Modern C is the most comfortable for most players.

    Ibanez Wizard Necks tend to be flatter and thinner, and help shredders out.

    Semi-Hollows and Hollow Bodies have these big ol’ baseball bat necks. Why? I don’t know, to be honest. 🙂

  2. boxy b says:

    get any ibanez guitars if u want to shred. Lower strings and closer

  3. TG says:

    Any brand, just get it set up by a tech, usually about 30 bucks

  4. BUSTER BENDEM says:

    string height can be set on almost any guitar, I say almost because some of the El cheapo Chinese stuff out there there’s no hope for, and a good luthier wont even touch them. if your planing to buy online it’s a crap shoot as to what shows up on your door step, try a guitar shop.

  5. FALLEN says:

    Try a Dean

    I have played them at guitar center but I dont like how they feel because the strings are too close to the fret,
    It also depends what kind of bridge system you have.

    I would go for a dean Razorback or a V by dean like these

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Dean-Razorback-DB-Electric-Guitar-104378583-i1328231.gc

    or a Ibanez

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-GRG170DX-Electric-Guitar-512496-i1147802.gc

    you can tell a employee at Guitar Center to adjust your string height but the guitars I recommended are good for the occasion your looking for.

  6. Switch says:

    Fallen, The Dean Vendetta IV also kicks ass 😀

    http://www.deanguitars.com/summer06/vendetta4_floyd.htm

  7. we.are.broken says:

    any brand.
    that distance is called the ‘action’…you want a guitar with low ‘action.’
    to do this you need to get the guitar ‘set up’ right, meaning the bridge (the part that attaches the strings to the body of the guitar) to be very low and close to the body. its possible to do yourself but its easier to have someone do it for you. go to a good guitar store and ask them to set up your guitar with low action, it shouldn’t cost more than $75 dollars max.

  8. baxterville says:

    The best thing you could do is go to a guitar store and test drive a bunch of guitars, since each one will have its own feel. Ibanez guitars, both acoustic and electric, tend to have really thin necks and low action (the distance between the strings and the frets), which makes them very user-friendly. Fender electrics also have pretty low action and thin necks. Epiphone makes great guitars, but some people find them more challenging to play because the necks are sort of fat.

    On most guitars, the action can be adjusted somewhat, but certain guitars are just naturally designed to have incredibly low action. I’ve played Ibanez and Fender guitars, primarily, since I have small hands and find a lot of brands cumbersome. Gibson and Epiphone guitars are great, but I just can’t achieve much speed because of the fat necks and higher action. It’s worth trying a bunch of different guitars, since some will just feel really comfortable and natural in your hands. And you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great guitar that will last decades. For years, my primary guitar was a cheap Fender learner model that played and sounded great. Guitar snobs always made fun of it until they picked it up and played it and realized why I was in love with it.

    If you want to do some research before going to a store, I’ll post a link to the guitars at Musician’s Friend. You can search by brand, price or customer rating. Guitarists also post reviews that will give you a good idea which guitars play really nicely and which ones have “issues.”

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com

    Trust your instincts, since the more comfortable a guitar is to you, the more you’ll be inclined to play and the faster you’ll become a good guitarist. Good luck!

  9. Ian E says:

    I would get an Epiphone. Any guitar has adjustable bridges, so you can raise or lower the action as needed. But with Epiphone or any Gibson-type bridge, all you have to do is take a screwdriver to it. If a guitar does not have a whammy bar, it is a Gibson-style bridge.This is the guitar I learned on. Very easy to raise or lower the action as needed.

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-G-310-SG-Electric-Guitar-518280-i1149969.gc

  10. Breylin says:

    any good brand… just dont get squier or spectrum or crappy brands like that

  11. Thebettyfier says:

    Any guitar, as long as you can adjust the action with a truss rod. If the guitar doesn’t have a truss rod , forget it. I’d reccommend a guitar with a thin neck though, because they tend to be more comfortable for beginners like yourself.

  12. steveboudreaux says:

    You don’t say if you are just learning, but I gather that you are, from the way you worded your question. So, going from that assumption, (yes, I DO know how to break down that word!) here goes:

    You are asking about the “action” of a guitar- how easy or difficult it is to press the strings down against the frets. Yes, lower strings- lower action- will make it easier to press the strings down, something attractive to beginners. Generally, a solid-body electric guitar will have, or be adjustable to, the lowest action.

    But there is more to the issue:

    NECK/FRETBOARD WIDTH: How wide the neck, and fretboard, are. A narrow neck/fretboard makes reaching to the strings on the top easier, but be careful- a narrow fretboard puts the strings closer together, so if you have fat-ish fingers, you will have difficulty keeping your fingers off the strings adjacent to the string you are trying to fret. If a narrow neck will benefit you, solid-body electrics and accoustic guitars will help.

    NECK THICKNESS OR FATNESS: How “fat” the neck is, from the front of the fretboard to the back of the neck where your thumb rest to give you leverage to press down the strings. This is largely a personal preference- I find I love the feel of fat Gibson necks which do feel a bit like half a baseball bat, but some players prefer the thinner profile of a Fender “D” shaped neck. If you have smaller hands, a thinner neck will probably be easier for you to play.

    “SCALE” LENGTH, which also determines NECK LENGTH: How far it is from the nut to the bridge. A longer scale means a longer neck (duh!) and if you are smallish (with shorter arms) you may find reaching “all the way” to the end of a long-scale guitar uncomfortable. In this case, a “student” guitar like the Fender Mustang might suit you well. If you are under about 12, a 3/4 sized guitar might be best, but you will outgrow it in a few years. A shorter scale length also puts the frets closer together, so if you have fat fingers, you will have difficulty getting all your fingers crunched together to make some chords.

    STRING CONSTRUCTION AND SIZE: Beginners are often started on nylon-string guitars, with the belief that the nylon strings being softer, make for easier playing. Only to a point: the necks are quite wide, making reaching the top stings difficult. Better to deal with steel strings and narrow necks. Smaller gauge strings are easier to push down than bigger gauges, but the smallest wire strings can cut into new player fingers.

    PLAYING TECHNIQUE: Really, the most important part. From the beginning, learn to push the strings down ONLY AS HARD AS NEEDED TO GET THE NOTE TO RING, INSTEAD OF THUMP. Learning this early will make you a better, faster and more musical guitarist, and will allow you to play longer without your fingers getting fatigued. Other proper techniques, like elevating the neck of the guitar a little (like classical players do) instead of holding it horizontal (like folk players do when sitting) will make for more comfy playing, too.

    So to sum up:
    If you have small hands: A small-body steel string accoustic or most solid-body Stratocaster type electric.
    If you have large hands and/or fat fingers: Wide-neck steel string accoustic (Seagull S6 Folk, for instance) or Gibson-type electric, or nylon-string accoustic.
    If you have a smaller body and/or shorter arms: Student sized guitar like a Fender Mustang.

    IF THE GUITAR SEEMS HARD TO PLAY, ESPECIALLY IN REGARDS TO PUSHING THE STRINGS DOWN, ask a guitar technician if he can lower the action.

    One last word of advise: GET A GUITAR INSTRUCTOR. Sure, you can teach yourself guitar, or your friends can, but guitar is such a technical (reliant on technique) activity, you can easily develop “bad” habits that will slow down your progress and/or playing. A good instructor earns every penny of his or her pay every time he or she helps you develop good playing habits, like minimal finger pressure on the stings/fretboard, holding the guitar, etc.

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