The tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the vibration of the strings, which is amplified by the body of the guitar, which acts as a resonating chamber.
Things to consider when buying a guitar
Budget & Goals-How much do I have to spend/save? -
What will I be using the guitar for? – Fun, live performances or recording.
What’s my style of playing? – Heavy or light strummer, fingerpicker, blues, or folk.
Assess Guitar for -Cracks, dents & bridge separation. -Neck relief. -Fret board, do frets stickout or overhang? -“Action”-i.e. is the space between strings and fret board either too low or too high.
-Neck size, the thicker your fingers then the wider the neck.
-Does the guitar stay in tune?
- Intonation – refers to how well the guitar stays in tune between the 1st and 12th frets.
Which acoustic guitar body style? Classic, Dreadnought or Jumbo
Tonewoods – The wood used for the top of a guitar is either laminated veneer top, which is several woods glued together (usually cheaper guitars), or solid top which is constructed out of a solid piece of wood. This type of top is going to resonate better and is more expensive.
- Sitka Spruce – allows guitar player the ability to strum very hard, thus being played louder.
- Engelmann Spruce – when played at softer volumes, the tone will be much richer and clearer than that of Sitka Spruce, this example is from.
- Western Red Cedar – will mature quicker than spruce. Tonally red cedar has warmer, darker tones and a good bass response.
- Redwood – although similar to western red cedar, it tends toward a more darker sound. Some say that redwood is a bit comparable to spruce in that it has a bit more of a crisp, bolder and punchier tone than cedar.
- Mahogany – gives a very clear sound with defined trebles and mid-range. The sound can almost be described as “woody” and “punchy”, which makes it a popular choice for many country blues fingerpickers.
- Koa – similar to mahogany making it great for rhythm. Sounds best at louder volumes, although it doesn’t produce as much volume as spruce.
- Bubinga is a wonderful wood in every respect. It has a bright and punchy tone. It is as hard as the rosewoods, but has a finer texture with no pores to fill. It bends easily and holds its' shape.
Back & Sides also affect the overall sound and tone of the guitar:
- East India Rosewood – built in strong resonance & sustain.
- Brazilian Rosewood – takes indian rosewood to another level.
- Mahogany & Koa – not as much sustain as rosewood, but does have high reflective tonal qualities.
- Maple & Walnut – both tonally transparent allowing the top to take over.
Necks are generally Maple (Poppy sound), Mahogany (Woody sound), or Rosewood (Fatten mid-range)
© Raymond Henderson 2012