This is a truly “wide open” subject, as the choice one must make for a guitar is such a personal one. The most important thing, however, is, similar to buying a car, try to choose with your head and not your heart. Well, at least not ALL heart! After all, the guitar is always directly connected to your heart in one way or another!
Another thing I have found over the years is that most of the tone and expression that comes out of your guitar is really more the doing of your hands, your touch and your signature sound. This means that you want certainly, a guitar that helps bring that out, but it’s really not all about the instrument. It’s about you, and then secondly, the instrument, and its relationship to you, the player.
I used to make a habit of coming onstage with like 7 guitars at my disposal for different sounds. This was all well and good, but I quickly realized in was not only a pain in the neck, but it constantly broke up the flow of my show, and it was a real case of “overkill” when it came to trying to “say too much” in the course of one set of music! (maybe a little too much “showing off” too!)
When I did big backup gigs, such as playing with Simon and Garfunkel, that was a different story, as I had great roadies who kept the guitars flying back and forth all the time, depending on the song. During the applause, I just kept handing them back, and they’d hand me another, all tuned up and ready to go, because I needed many different guitars and other instruments for their songs, and a show of that magnitude certainly needs to run smoothly and without a hitch!
But for your purposes, even though I know most of you will end up owning at least 4 guitars relatively quickly, the main one should really do most of what you want it to do. Though we associate certain instruments with certain sounds, it’s really the players that made that happen. The guitar in general, is a pretty forgiving beast, and will prove to be quite maluable in your hands, regardless of which one you choose. Just make sure you never get a guitar that “fights” you, and that is something you can imagine playing in many different situations. For example, when I first got my ’52 Les Paul back in ’67, yes, I had a love for the blues and rock n’ roll, but I was also enjoying playing country and rockabilly styles on it, never saying to myself, “gee, if only I had another guitar”. I then, of course, progressed through many other guitars, all of which could’ve handle the “complete” picture, but I then started to see the subtle differences between them, and their applications.
These days, I generally hit the stage with only about 2 or 3 guitars at the most, but when it comes to the studio, especially for my own music, 7 or 8 different instruments would not be uncommon.
As players and collectors, let’s face it, we’ll always be able to make excuses for buying more guitars, but try to make your first choices really fit your needs, and don’t settle for less!