The Acoustic Guitar has been around for over a century and there are dozens of options that are available to the guitar buyer. They are explained in this article.
C.F. Martin Guitar - The One Millionth Acoustic Guitar Produced By Martin
The acoustic guitar is one of the most popular types of stringed instruments that you can find on the planet nowadays.
With it being around for over a century, there are many options that have been implemented over the years for this great instrument.
We will give you some great guidance to wade through these many options and desirable features to help you in your quest to purchase the perfect guitar to meet your needs for guitar tone, playability, volume and appearance factors, among other things.
Body variations are probably some of the more intensive decisions that you will make when selecting your new or used acoustic guitar.
Not only does the body size affect the tone and volume characteristics of the guitar, but it also affects the picking style and playability of the guitar as well.
You will notice that generally thinner bodies and bodies that are smaller in stature create thinner or more treble tones, with less bass response, and somewhat less volume.
Here are some of the body size options from largest to smallest:
Jumbo or J200
How Body Size impacts the Acoustic Guitar:
Balance of the Tone
Taylor Acoustic Guitar - Taylor 814ce
Augmentations to the body of the guitar can include soundhole size and placement variations, cutaway options - which will greatly affect the ability of the guitar player to play the high-end fret positions on all strings.
Soundhole positioning helps to shape both the tone and volume characteristics of the guitar. Not only will you find minor soundhole placements, but in some of the handmade guitars you will find drastic changes to the soundhole by changing it to a completely different position on the guitar top.
How Acoustic Guitar Body Augmentation Affects the Guitar:
Ability to Play in Higher Registers Easily
Martin 000-28vs Acoustic Guitar - Rosewood Back and Sides
Guitar tonewood pertains to two distinct areas of the guitar body.
a.) The Top Plate
b.) The combination of the back and side plates are the two areas of consideration.
Less expensive guitars utilize either plywood backs and sides consisting of cross-laminated veneers of wood for added strength and crack resistance.
These high pressure laminates are in excess of resistive to modifications in humidity and give the guitar in excess of durability.
You will repeatedly notice that guitars with plywood or laminate backs and sides are somewhat lacking in the tone department.
Personally I would not purchase a plywood or high pressure laminate guitar for myself, but they are perfectly well suited for a beginning guitar student.
The family of wood that your guitar body is construction of can affect the tone and intensity characteristics as well.
For instance Mahogany and Walnut will provide warmer tone, well balanced treble and bass and sweet sound.
The Rosewood family of exotic wood tends to give a guitar more volume, a brighter tone and in greater emphasis on the treble notes.
How This Option Affects The Acoustic Guitar:
Variations in Tone of the Guitar
Variations in intensity of the Guitar
Tone and Volume Balance of the Guitar
Durability and Repair Issues
Appearance of the Guitar
Taylor Acoustic Guitars - Gloss Finish
You will notice that there are options that offer either a Urethane or water-base finish or a Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish. Each kind has a loyal following and for many distinctive reasons. generally speaking it is thought that the Nitrocellulose provides and better tone that ages better and Urethane is a slightly in excess of rugged and much more easily repaired finish.
Additionally there are options that you will see as far a finish appearance types. Most guitars offer a very highly polished finish, which gives the guitar a mirror-like finish. Others offer a semi-gloss or even a satin finish that has no gloss appearance at all.
You will also find many guitars that have a gloss finish for the body of the guitar and a satin finish for the neck, which gives the guitar particularly nice playing ease.
How The Finish Affects The Acoustic Guitar:
The Ultimate Appearance of the Guitar
Tone of the Guitar
Playability of the Guitar
C.F. Martin Guitar - 000-12 Fret Neck Acoustic Guitar - Custom Order - Scalloped Bracing
This option is typically reserved for guitars in the higher price range and you almost always have bracing options available to you with a custom-made guitar.
Typical Bracing options you will see:
In the 1920's C.F. Martin introduced the original "X" bracing for acoustic guitars. It is still the most popular bracing option.
Forward Shifted X Bracing: This option utilizes shifting the X bracing and all the braces behind it toward the soundhole, which tends to enhance the guitar tone and intensity characteristics.
Tone Brace Scalloping: Again Martin experimented with this option in their pre-war dreadnought guitars. They slightly scalloped the 2 tone braces that are placed behind the bridge.
This is a popular option for a number of the vintage re-issue guitars that are now available. One matter you ought to be made mindful of is that the scalloping of the braces can reduce their structural strength, giving a guitar top that is somewhat more fragile and sensitive to environmental changes.
How Bracing Options Affect the Acoustic Guitar:
Guitar Tone Balance and Quality
Volume Qualities of the Guitar
Structural Strength of the Top Plate
Here Are Bracing Patterns That Are Offered By Taylor Guitars
In the acoustic guitar community, neck length is most often referred to by the fret number where the neck first joins the guitar body.
The neck length of all guitars was limited to 12 frets up until Martin introduced the 14 fret neck in the 1920's.
Although many manufacturers offer both 12 and 14 fret necks, the 14 fret necks are most common, with the 12 fret necks being preferred mostly by fingerstyle guitarists.
How Neck Length Affects the Acoustic Guitar:
Guitar Playability Fingerstyle or Flatpicking Guitar Style
C.F. Martin Guitars - 000-28vs - Neck Joins The Guitar Body At The 12th Fret
With the popularity of fingerstyle guitar methods for the acoustic guitar, this demand has placed pressure on the acoustic guitar manufacturers to provide a selection of wider necks to give greater spacing between guitar strings.
Fingerstyle guitar players typically play multiple string at one time and having a slightly greater string spacing makes it much easier for the left-hand fingers to clear adjacent string - thus the desire for a wider neck - especially at the nut end of the neck.
Neck Width - How This affects The Acoustic Guitar:
Playing Style Enhancement
C.F. Martin Guitars - 000-28vs - Slightly Wider Neck Option
Many acoustic guitars now either come with electronics pre-installed, while others offer electronics as an option. Fishman seems to the the system of alternative for many manufacturers. Whichever you elect on do check out what is offered, the options and what would work best to meet your particular needs.
How This Option Affect Your Acoustic Guitar:
Adjustment of Guitar Tone
With all of these options and even more on some guitars, you can see that selection of an acoustic guitar to fit your level of experience requires quite a bit of research in and of itself. Hopefully this article will help you in this selection process.
We have a wide variety of guitar plans and body styles ranging from 000 Parlor Guitars, Dreadnought, 000 Vintage Series and the J45's and Jumbo. Click on the Plan Shop and take a look around. The list of guitar plans and guitar jigs and tools in constantly growing.