Guitars are versatile and excellent instruments; they have a massive range of sound and abilities. You may have noticed that guitar players usually have a vast collection of guitars. That’s a common phenomenon among players, but why?
Some guitar players have so many guitars because each instrument sounds different. It’s also typical for each guitar to have a specific tuning, which makes switching from one to another easier for studio recordings or live performances.
Some guitar players may simply enjoy collecting guitars too. In this article, I’ll explore the reasons why guitar players own so many guitars. I’ll also explain why each guitar sounds different and if beginner guitarists should invest in more guitars.
How Many Guitars Does the Average Guitarist Have?
Guitar players are known for owning many guitars. It’s common to see these beautiful instruments hanging on walls or in a secure case. Guitarists create bonds with these guitars yet own so many, and the reasons vary from player to player.
The average guitarist has around seven to eight guitars and may collect or swap many more throughout their lifetime. Some want to own multiple guitars because they sound heavy or light, or are tuned a certain way. It can also depend on the guitarist’s mood.
Guitars are made by several different brands and come in various shapes and sizes, which offers a surplus of uniqueness. Guitarists pride themselves on having individual sound styles, which are further enhanced with their chosen guitars.
It’s more uncommon for guitarists to have one guitar than for them to have multiple instruments. Once someone learns to play, they begin experimenting with different sounds and tunes, until they’re able to find their own, unique style.
Owning multiple guitars is usually worth it for someone who anticipates using each instrument to create more effects to their music.
How Many Guitars Do You Need?
Some guitarists debate how many guitars one should own. There isn’t a set number, as some guitarists choose to own more than others.
The number of guitars you need depends on your ideal setup and the type of music you want to offer your audiences. Many advanced guitarists will benefit from multiple guitars that vary in sounds. At the same time, a beginner guitarist will likely only need one guitar to continue learning the basics.
Here’s the typical setup for advanced guitarists:
- One Small Body Acoustic
- One Bass
- One Large Body Acoustic
- One Single Coil
- One Electric
- One Twelve String
As stated above, this highly depends on your needs as an artist. Not every musician needs a bass. Some artists prefer the traditional sounds of an acoustic guitar over an electric one, so they forgo the latter. Other guitarists may only want one guitar for casual play, while those playing on a professional level may be looking to diversify their collection.
But, for these reasons, many guitarists will settle for two or three guitars to meet all of their playing needs.
And because every guitar has a different sound, feel, and personality, some players decide to collect guitars to have them tuned a certain way and easily switch back and forth. This can allow for ease when recording or mixing music.
Why Do Guitars Have Different Sounds?
Each guitar has its own tones and pitches that help express moods. Guitarists use these elements, in combination with chords and strumming patterns, to convey a sad or a happy feeling in their music. So, depending on a musician’s preferences and style, they will choose a guitar that can adequately emit their desired sounds.
Guitars have different sounds due to strings, design, vibration, and hollowness or depth. Acoustic and electric guitars also sound different, and many brands offer a range of guitars with ranging sounds.
All guitars are constructed differently, and the strings make a massive impact on the sound coming from your instrument. For example, if you prefer classical sounds, you may want to use nylon strings, which deliver soothing and welcoming sounds. If you choose an electric guitar, you may want steel strings, which offer a sharp and sleek sound.
However, not all acoustic guitars sound the same, as some can sound thin and flat, and others can sound warm and smooth.
Unlike acoustics, electric guitars typically have a similar sound from one guitar to another. The strings are the only difference that changes the sound from one electric guitar to the next.
Furthermore, some guitarists also feel that guitar sounds vary from brand to brand. More popular guitar brands, such as Fender, Epiphone, and Yamaha, make high-quality guitars but don’t use the same materials or building techniques to create their instruments.
For this reason, you’ll find musicians who often prefer using an older, vintage guitar, instead of a newer model.
Why Do Old Guitars Sound Better?
In the case of guitars, old doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. This is especially true of acoustic guitars.
Old guitars sound better because of the quality of materials used to make the instruments. As the wood becomes aged and loses structure over time, it causes the guitar to become lighter and retain less moisture. This can allow a better sound to vibrate off of the walls of the guitar.
Many guitar players remain adamant about using older guitars because the aging process helps create preferred sounds for their music.
In comparison, some new guitars can buzz or rattle, and many players will take steps to customize their guitars to match the sounds of older instruments. For example, some guitarists recommend coating the strings on a new guitar, which helps neutralize any unpleasant, metallic, or twangy sounds.
Most guitarists agree that newer guitars are like shoes; they need to be broken in before they start to feel comfortable and sound good. Sometimes, this process can take up to a year or so before you notice a difference in sound. Breaking in a new guitar requires you to play it often, so even if you don’t particularly care for the sound, you’ll have to play it until it feels right.
How Many Guitars Does a Beginner Need?
Beginner guitarists may look around at other people who’ve been playing for years and see a large variety of instruments, which can feel daunting. But beginners shouldn’t necessarily focus on the quantity of guitars, and instead concentrate on learning how to play.
A beginner guitarist only needs one guitar when learning the basics. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you can then experiment with diverse sounds and multiple guitars.
If you’ve just started learning to play guitar, you need time to adjust and become comfortable with the instrument. It’s not recommended to switch up guitars or setups right away until you understand how to play or become more experienced.
That can take years, depending on your dedication to learning the instrument. Because of this, beginners usually don’t need more than one guitar. However, if you are trying to play both electric and acoustic, you can consider purchasing both, depending on your commitment.
Are Guitars Worth Collecting?
Guitars can be a reasonably decent investment for a collector (go here if you’re wondering should I buy a new guitar?). Certain guitars and their backstories can have a high value for the right buyer. Not only are they worth more as they age, but depending on the brand of guitar, their value may increase over time.
Guitars are worth collecting because they retain their value even if currency fluctuates. Some guitars are sold for only a few hundred dollars, but they can appreciate in value to hundreds of thousands of dollars over time.
Not any old guitar is worth that much money, though. It has to be a particular brand, such as a 1956 Gibson Les Paul, worth about $80,000 just a decade ago. Investments such as these can be worthwhile to someone who understands the guitar market.
Inflation can also affect the value of a guitar. For example, if someone bought a guitar for $400 in 1970, that vintage guitar would be worth a lot more in 2021. It’s important to pick your investment wisely before purchasing a guitar for collecting purposes.
There are a couple of ways to know if a guitar might be worth something:
- Fame: If someone famously played the guitar for any amount of time, then it will likely be worth much more.
- Rarity: If only a few of the guitars exist, then they could have a much higher resale value.
- Quality: If a guitar has high-quality components or is made with unique materials, it can have a higher value than guitars made with cheaper materials.
Guitar players have a lot of guitars for many reasons. Some players just like the different sounds guitars make, while others decide that they want many guitars because of their high value or for collection purposes. And some want a good setup for ease and comfort when playing on stage or during recording sessions.
While adding multiple guitars to a collection can help diversify sounds, beginners should, ideally, stick to owning one guitar until they’re comfortable with the fundamentals of guitar playing.
Relevant article: how to keep a guitar in a hot car cool.