Opinions: What's More Important? Appearance Or Playability?

Skintaster

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Might seem like a stupid question, but I'm honestly interested in what forum members think.

Most guitarists have come across a really beautiful axe that "felt" awkward or didn't sound as good as it looked. Most of us have also stumbled upon ugly guitars that played and sounded great.

Now I know that ideally we want one that's beautiful AND is effortless to play, but I think that most of us have made a compromise at one time or another.

Some guys I know LOVE beautiful tops. Not my thing specifically, but I can understand that. I've had a friend or two that bought a guitar because it looked great, even though it didn't play that well out of the box. I also have plenty of friends (And I've done this myself) that have bought butt ugly guitars because they felt good to play and sounded really good.

I'm not making a judgement call that one is better than the other, let's face it, in the case of high end Gibsons or Fenders there are lots of people that are primarily collectors who might not play much at all... To them, appearance is probably the most important thing. On the other end, there are guys that want a guitar that sounds and plays great that don't care what it looks like.

There's also the issue of desirable vintage models. I've bought guitars that were pretty lousy to play because they were from a "good year" and brand before... I'm sure I'm not alone in that?

So let's assume that a perfect balance is rare, where do you compromise first? Playability or appearance? I'm probably guilty of both on different occasions... How about everyone else? :)
 

River

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Playability is paramount. I would never buy a guitar on looks alone, unless the playability problems were easily fixed. And a lot of people think my best-playing guitars are ugly.
 

ElectricGuitarist33

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Put it this way... I like the Gibson, I love the shape of a Les Paul. The arch top, is probably my favorite feature of the guitarr, I love the look of the Gibsons, and they generally sound and feel great, they are obviously quality, but I like the Les Paul, mainly because of it's looks.
 

Last

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Playability is paramount. I would never buy a guitar on looks alone, unless the playability problems were easily fixed. And a lot of people think my best-playing guitars are ugly.

Agreed, can always change the way she looks much, much harder to change the way she sounds if you're lucky enough to do it @ all.

Yes different pups will help as will electronics but some guitars are just lookers but totally dead to play on.

I've known a few girls like this too. :hmm: :laugh2:
 

Skintaster

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Playability is paramount. I would never buy a guitar on looks alone, unless the playability problems were easily fixed. And a lot of people think my best-playing guitars are ugly.

I'm in a band with a guy that basically builds all of his guitars from spare parts... Often from very cheap "donor" guitars. He somehow makes them sound and play great. I'm amazed at how good in fact. They're all ugly as hell. He actually makes fun of me spending big money on the guitars I play.

I should've also said that I don't consider basic issues that a good set up would fix to indicate that a guitar "plays badly"... But I've played some really nice looking guitars that were really neck heavy, or just didn't sound good... Stuff that couldn't be easily fixed.

Me? I try to strike a balance. I actually favor guitars with "plainer' finishes like my Gold Top. As long as there aren't any major blemishes or bad workmanship issues, it just has to sound good and play well for me. I'm not willing to fight a guitar just because it's pretty.
 

Fracture

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Most of us are drawn to a guitar because of it's looks.
LP's are gorgeous, the shape, the implication.
But if you pick it up and it's "not right" put it back down.
Another will come along, I like individuality in a guitar, but if it's not right, no sale.
 

mudfinger

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Appearance can mean alot of things. If I don't like the look of a guitar, I don't pick it up. If I pick it up and it doesn't sound good, I put it back.

I sure as hell wouldn't buy a guitar that didn't sound good, so I'd have to say it's the only thing that really matters.
 

River

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I'm in a band with a guy that basically builds all of his guitars from spare parts... Often from very cheap "donor" guitars. He somehow makes them sound and play great. I'm amazed at how good in fact. They're all ugly as hell. He actually makes fun of me spending big money on the guitars I play.<snip>
That could be my first guitar teacher. He shaped my attitudes about guitars, and all musical instruments. He must've had 30 guitars, all of them "cheapies". They all played and sounded great, even in my bumbling hands.
 

Iceman0124

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Playability for sure! I bought my used studio VM with no intention of making her look better...she felt good and sounded great sans the bridge pup....if it weret for the issue of " actually tasting the cherry stain" after a short while of playing due to what little nitro was on it getting removed by the previous owner....I wouldnt have given the refin idea that much thought. I was just going to put a new bridge pup and electronics overhaul.

Theres a local guy here who has fantastic tone...and pretty much plays used sub $100 squiers exclusively...though its through vintage and babied to the extreme fender twin and pro reverb amps. He gets the amps serviced and tuned every 3 months, rotates speakers like car tires...He says he doesnt play the guitar..."the guitar is just an interface tool to play the amps."
 

Skintaster

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We all have our views about this. I like simple guitar designs (As far as cosmetics go). Some Les Paul guys don't like the Studios because they don't have binding, personally I think a lot of them look great without it... I own an alpine white one and think it looks classy. Some of the really "fancy"guitars I see look overdone to me. That's why I like my Trad Pro I guess... And why I like Specials and Juniors too.

Really, this thread could be extended beyond Les Pauls... Most LPs have a general "look" about them. But when I see a lot of custom inlays, or really highly figured wood, a guitar starts to resemble furniture to me. Just my opinion.

Still, a guitar that looked really awkward or ugly to me, but played/sounded great? I don't know... I'm as guilty as anyone else about passing judgement on something like that. I guess that it's a pretty subjective call!
 

Skintaster

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Playability for sure! I bought my used studio VM with no intention of making her look better...she felt good and sounded great sans the bridge pup....if it weret for the issue of " actually tasting the cherry stain" after a short while of playing due to what little nitro was on it getting removed by the previous owner....I wouldnt have given the refin idea that much thought. I was just going to put a new bridge pup and electronics overhaul.

Theres a local guy here who has fantastic tone...and pretty much plays used sub $100 squiers exclusively...though its through vintage and babied to the extreme fender twin and pro reverb amps. He gets the amps serviced and tuned every 3 months, rotates speakers like car tires...He says he doesnt play the guitar..."the guitar is just an interface tool to play the amps."

"An interface tool to play the amps".

I think there's a lot of wisdom in that. :)
 

ehamady6

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I wouldn't spend big dollars on a guitar that wasn't an excellent player, but I'd never know whether or not an ugly guitar was an excellent player because I wouldn't even pull it off the wall at a shop in the first place. So appearance is the #1 factor for me to try a guitar, then playability takes over as the #1 factor for me to buy that guitar. By staying true to that statement, only a guitar that both looks and plays good will ever leave the shop with me.
 

06VM

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I thought for sure this was going to be a thread about wearing your guitar strap low.
 

mraajr

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Playability for sure! I bought my used studio VM with no intention of making her look better...she felt good and sounded great sans the bridge pup....if it weret for the issue of " actually tasting the cherry stain" after a short while of playing due to what little nitro was on it getting removed by the previous owner....I wouldnt have given the refin idea that much thought. I was just going to put a new bridge pup and electronics overhaul.

Theres a local guy here who has fantastic tone...and pretty much plays used sub $100 squiers exclusively...though its through vintage and babied to the extreme fender twin and pro reverb amps. He gets the amps serviced and tuned every 3 months, rotates speakers like car tires...He says he doesnt play the guitar..."the guitar is just an interface tool to play the amps."

His fantastic tone has nothing to do with changing the speakers like car tires. Getting your amp serviced every three months is also ludicrous. This guy sounds like a nut :shock:. I bet his tech loves him :laugh2:.
 

marc1kim

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Look at my sig....I think playablility is #1 with me.
 

zslane

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Playability is more important if you intend to, well, play them. Appearance (and/or rarity) is more important if you intend to merely collect them.

I have a number of rather plain looking guitars (solid color finishes) that I like for their playability. I also have at least one very attractive LP that doesn't get played because it is too heavy (weight is, for me, a playability issue), and if I could trade it for a lighter LP of similar appearance, I would. But while playability is ultimately the top priority, it isn't the only priority. Like many others here, I have my finish fetishes, and that often drives my guitar searches as much as anything.
 

ScottGrove

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It has to play amazing and has to look like something that nobody else has. It has to be flawless and sparkly and shiney and shaped like a duck or bunny or something that the dog just coughed up. But other than that, as long as it goes into single coil mode and has a bolt on neck, I'm really not that picky.
 

Cas

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1. Playability
2. Sound
3. Looks
 

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