Finding an acoustic guitar with the features that suit you can be complex and confusing, even for seasoned guitarists. Each player is different and each search is unique. With so many styles of a case, wood, price levels and other important features that distinguish a quality sound of an acoustic guitar, how to navigate between these options to find the one that suits you? This guide will help you find the right guitar for your needs. All acoustic guitars are not identical. There are many differences and features that distinguish each guitar from the other. Some of these features are really obvious, but some are more nuanced and require a little more attention. When making a large financial investment, such as buying a guitar, it is important to make an informed purchase decision.
Acoustic Guitar Overview
An acoustic guitar is a hollow-body instrument, usually made of wood (although some instruments are made of glass, bamboo, fiberglass, carbon, plastic or metal) and played at the tip of fingers. Ordinary acoustic guitars have six strings. The standard chords, from the lowest to the lowest chord, are: E A D G B and E. Other chords, such as Drop D or Open G, are popular in many modern play styles.
Types Of Acoustic Guitars
Flat-top guitars – are the most common type of acoustic guitars. They derive their name from having a tray or soundboard. Flat-Tops are used in almost all styles of music.
Archtop guitars – have a curved top rather than a flat top. Archtops are available in acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric versions. They are favored by rockabilly, blues, and jazz guitarists. The characteristic look of an archtop guitar comes from its F holes – the curved triple-keyed openings on either side of the guitar body. The F holes replace the normal round holes of flat-bottomed guitars.
12-string acoustic guitars – have 12 strings grouped in pairs that are tuned to the same notes as a normal acoustic guitar. The difference is that the two highest strings (E, B) are tuned in unison, while the four lowest strings (G, D, A and E) are tuned in octaves. A string of 12 strings produces a full sound that is most often used for the games played, not the tracks. They are very popular in pop, country and rock styles.
The major disadvantage of 12-string guitars is that they can be difficult to play, especially if they are not properly configured. It may take a bit of strength to play strikethrough chords on a 12-string, and tuning a 12-string can be a tedious task. So, if you are a beginner, do not start with 12 strings. Learn on a six-string and move on to a 12-string later.
Skill Level – Amateur or Advanced
If you’re a beginner looking for an instrument to learn from, you may not want to spend too much on a high-end acoustic guitar yet. Thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, you can choose from a wide selection of good low to medium range acoustic guitars.
Maybe you are an experienced player, ready to switch to a better guitar. In this case, it is important to know the difference between different resonance woods and how the soundboard affects resonance.
Construction And Design
Once you understand the basics of designing and building an acoustic guitar, you will be able to see and hear subtle differences that will help you choose The Best guitar for your needs.
The neck of the guitar is attached to the body of the guitar and ends at the doll. The neck is mounted on the top of the neck and the back is shaped to accommodate the player’s fretting hand.
Most acoustic guitars use a neck, which means that the neck is glued to the body of the guitar. The alternative is a screw neck, more commonly used with electric guitars. A heel provides extra support to the back of the neck, where it meets the body of the guitar.
The body of an acoustic guitar is composed of the top, also called the soundboard. The soundboard is supported by an internal bracing; the sides and back together form a hollow chamber. The upper body curves are called the top fight, while the generally larger lower body curves are called the bottom fight. The area between them is called size. The size and shape of the body influence both the sound and the playability of the instrument. Finding a body shape that matches your physical and musical needs will help you choose the right acoustic guitar. See Body Styles – Comfort and Resonance below for more information.
Many acoustic guitars come with built-in microphones and preamplifiers to play in large rooms where your acoustic sound must fill the room. Some instruments have preamps mounted in a hole cut on the side of the instrument, while others are mounted inside the acoustic pit. Some systems combine preamplifier, microphone, piezo pickups, equalizer, and tuners.
Intonation determines whether or not the notes are tuned as you roll up the neck. If the distance between the frets (usually above the 12th fret) is turned off, the guitar will be unable to play properly and therefore unnecessary as a recording or performance instrument.
The choice of wood determines the sound of an acoustic guitar. Different types of wood produce different shades, but most guitar makers believe that the top is the most important factor in determining tonal quality. Spruce is the standard material for tops, with Sitka spruce being the most common. The cost of an acoustic guitar increases considerably depending on the rarity of the resonance woods, such as rosewood, but due to the dwindling of some resonance wood reserves, guitar manufacturers successfully find alternative materials for the manufacture of high-quality instruments.
The type of tuner on your guitar is very important. This allows you to refine and maintain the height. Closed machine heads are resistant to rust and corrosives in the air and therefore do not require as much maintenance or replacement as open-controlled machines.
Bridge and Fingerboard
The materials used for the bridge and the key have an effect on the sound, but they are minimal compared to the body of the guitar. In simple terms, the effects of the bridge and key materials cannot create or break the sound of a guitar.
Acoustic-Electric Guitar Systems
Many musicians find it useful to connect and amplify their acoustic guitar. So, how does an electro-acoustic guitar work? These guitars benefit from the addition of a reading system inside the body that transforms the vibrations of the soundboard into electronic signals. These signals may be weak, so most electro-acoustic guitars use a preamplifier to reinforce them. The preamplifier is usually located on the side of the guitar, face up, while playing. It includes volume and tone controls, and sometimes a built-in tuner.
Tops – Solid vs. Laminate
The top of the guitar has the greatest impact on the quality of the instrument’s timbre. The sound generated by the strings of the guitar is transmitted by the bridge at the top where it is amplified. As discussed below in Tonewoods, the wood used for the top strongly influences the tonal characteristics of the guitar.
The acoustic guitar uppers are made of solid wood or laminate. A solid plate usually consists of two pieces of single-layered wood whose grains are matched in the middle of the guitar plate. A laminate top is made up of several layers of wood – usually a layer of top quality and several generic layers underneath – pressed together.
Laminate does not vibrate as well as solid wood, so it does not produce as rich a sound or volume. However, this is a great option for beginners: save on a first acoustic guitar.
Nylon vs. Steel Strings
It is common to think that a new guitarist should start with nylon strings because they are easier to play with the fingers. But nylon strings and steel strings are not interchangeable on the same guitar, so there is no question of moving from one type of rope to another with experience. What should really guide your decision is the type of music you want to play.
Nylon strings produce a softer, mellow tone. They are often used in classical guitar and flamenco playing, as well as in some folk music. Classic guitars have a wider neck to offer more space between strings and a shorter neck than acoustic guitars using steel strings.
Steel strings are more common and are generally used by rock, country, and pop musicians. Acoustic guitars with steel strings create a louder, brighter sound, usually associated with classic acoustic guitar sound.
Concert and Grand Concert Guitars
Concert and Grand Concert guitars are among the most popular styles of acoustic guitars.
The Concert is a medium-sized guitar with a clear and balanced sound, which is suitable for both scratching and fingerpicking styles. It is sometimes called a “model 0” guitar. The concerts are very enjoyable to play for younger or smaller players.
Despite its name, the Grand Concert is just a little bigger than the Concert. It produces a slightly deeper sound without sacrificing playability and is also a good choice for younger players or those with smaller hands. It’s also a guitar of choice for fingerpicking styles.
Don’t Forget Personal Preference
Finally, among all considerations relating to vertices, shapes, and tones, do not underestimate the importance of choosing a guitar that you like. Choose a comfortable one, whether you are sitting or standing. Make sure you choose a guitar that suits your playing style and not just a “good” guitar if you do not like how it sounds to your ears.
Be prepared with defined expectations. Understand how you plan to use your guitar and understand how acoustic guitars work, as well as how different woods and components affect their sound. But whatever the features and price, the guitar that fits your style will be the one you will enjoy for years to come.
There are so many different features and nuances that distinguish one guitar from the other. If you can identify your budget and game goals, you are well placed to choose an acoustic guitar. At the end of the day, you must be guided by your ears. What seems good to you? When we talk about tonal differences, it can be so subjective for the listener. If you do not trust your own ears to choose the right guitar, then bring someone you trust. And if we are quite honest, at the end of the day, a guitar sounds as good as the one playing it. So, do not be caught off guard or even overwhelmed by the buying process. Keep playing and train a lot. Even a not so good guitar can sound good when played by a good player.