Acoustic Guitar – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021
The brilliant sound of the guitar and the many musical genres that have made it its main protagonist, make this instrument very popular. But not just any guitar has the characteristics that musicians look for, as some are designed with very specific purposes, while others seek to be more versatile. For example, the Fender CD-60SCE is an acoustic guitar with a built-in pre-amp and tuner, as well as a remarkable sound due to its solid top. But if you are looking for something versatile and good sounding, the Yamaha F370 from the Folk series can provide a balanced and pleasant sound in different musical styles.
To proceed to select the models that best suit your needs, you should first ask yourself a simple question, what is the main objective of the guitar? By analyzing this, you can begin to discover the characteristics that it could have.
For example, if it is your first guitar and you have never played an instrument before, but you are also not quite sure how much time and effort you are going to spend learning to play it because you just want to experiment, it is best to look for a quality option, but make it affordable where possible. In this way, you will not have to invest a large amount of money in a project that does not have a well-established goal.
On the contrary, when you have considered in a certain period of time to get to interpret melodies with an intermediate or advanced level of difficulty, and you have a personal musical purpose such as being part of a band or dedicating yourself in a committed way to music; then it will be better to look for a guitar that can offer you enough characteristics to stay with you for several years, due to its quality and the pleasant sound that you can get from it.
Materials and acoustic qualities
The range of materials used for guitars is very varied, as are the techniques that lead to their manufacture , which can be partly mechanical or, on the contrary, involve dedicated craftsmanship from beginning to end.
But if we start by talking about the woods that can be used, we find that linden or basswood in English offers a balanced sound in both bass and treble due to its density and acoustic qualities. In addition, it has the advantage of being a wood that in general can be relatively affordable. On the other hand, mahogany is also favored by guitar makers for providing warm nuances to the sound and attractive finishes.
In case you are looking for a high-end guitar, spruce is one of the best options, due to the sonic nuance it can offer when used on the soundboard. But if you’re looking for a nice, sweet tone, a cedar wood guitar might be a good option.
Speaking a bit more about manufacturing techniques, if you want good acoustic qualities , such as achieving effects like sustain or a balance between tones, it is worth checking if the guitar has a laminated or solid top. Solid caps have better resonance, because they are a thicker and more compact part compared to laminates, which can be 2 or 3 thin layers. This prevents sound from escaping and bouncing around inside.
When making a comparison of acoustic guitars, we cannot ignore the budget issue, this is because you can find very affordable models, but also others that are very attractive but with costs that exceed what it is estimated to invest. The best thing to do is start by knowing how much money you could allocate to the acquisition of your instrument and from there start looking for options that combine qualities of materials, sound and comfort, according to what you are looking for. The safest thing is that you will find a good and cheap guitar model.
Although the acoustic guitar could use few accessories considered basic, the truth is that many of them make the interpretation more comfortable or help you keep your guitar in good condition. For example, you can’t always play sitting down, so a strap can be a very practical accessory. Also, it can be very convenient to protect it with a case from the elements, dust and blows.
Another accessory that might interest you is a pick, which will help you give more volume to the attack of the strings in certain styles, but there are also tuners and capos. So if you need them for your classes or practices and they are already included in the purchase of your guitar, you will avoid having to look for them separately. Also, perhaps they are added to the set for a more attractive cost.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: Can an acoustic guitar be played with electric strings?
If for any reason you find yourself in need of placing this type of string combination on your acoustic guitar, nothing will happen that could damage your instrument. However, it must be considered that generally electric guitar strings are thinner, and therefore achieve a lower volume, which will reduce the sound of your instrument.
Q2: What strings to buy for acoustic guitar?
For this type of guitar, those of the metallic type are preferred, with different manufacturing and wound techniques. For example there are nickel, which are very resistant to corrosion or also in bronze or combinations of both materials. This type of string compared to nylon strings have a slightly higher tone and a vibration that gives them a greater shine. The characteristics of resistance and quality in both cases will be those that provide greater stability in the tuning and more pleasant nuances in the chords.
Q3: How to tune acoustic guitar without a tuner?
You can do it with a tone generator. With a single tone corresponding to any of the strings, you could tune the rest of them, since there are equivalences between each string. For example, by tuning the 6th string to its corresponding sound in E, you will be able to tune the 5th string, since when pressing the 6th string at fret 5, the sound obtained must match that of the 5th string open. If not, you will need to turn the tuner clockwise to make it higher, or counterclockwise to make it low until both strings sound the same.
Q4: What acoustic guitar to buy to start with?
Probably the difference between a guitar to learn and a professional one lies mainly in the materials it is made of and some details that allow it to offer a more balanced sound. The problem is that it can be high in cost. However, there are options of high quality materials that without making your investment of money too large and can offer a guitar with a good sound and comfort, so that you discover if this is the instrument that best helps you express yourself.
Q5: How to equalize an acoustic guitar?
This will largely depend on the instruments that accompany the guitar, for example, if you have an arrangement that includes basses, the bass sounds of the guitar probably do not have as much importance in the song, so they must be cleaned, since they could be considered like noise. Other techniques can be applied later to find other peaks that stand out too much in the melody, especially if it is a recording.
Q6: How to change the strings on an acoustic guitar?
It is best to do it one by one, to avoid that the lack of tension in the arm affects the structure of the guitar. Also, be careful not to scratch the strings, as their resistance may be decreased. In the event that your model has buttons to place the strings, you must have your own accessory at hand to remove them, thus avoiding damaging them. It is convenient that you cut the excess string before inserting it into the peg, at a rate of some 4 cm above the measurement.
Q7: Is the acoustic guitar the same as the electric guitar?
It may be that we consider the basic techniques as very similar, but in an electric guitar, it is also necessary to have knowledge regarding equalization, control the combinations offered by its pickups and regulate the tone and volume, in order to achieve a sound according to the needs. In addition, it must be considered that the electric guitar by itself does not have much resonance if it is not connected to an amplifier, unlike the acoustic, which reaches a higher volume due to its box.
Q8: What is easier to learn, acoustic guitar or Spanish guitar?
For those who are beginning to learn to play this type of instrument, they may find it easier to use the Spanish guitar, because the strings are made of nylon. This is an advantage for inexperienced fingers, because they are more comfortable to play due to their gauge, since the metal strings are too thin and after several hours of practice they can leave uncomfortable marks on the fingertips.
In addition, this type of guitar generally has a shorter distance between the fretboard and the strings, which also makes it easy to pluck them and get a good sound without having to push too hard.
How to use an acoustic guitar
The acoustic guitar is a very versatile instrument, which could provide many hours of entertainment, either alone or in the company of a few friends. If you have already purchased a guitar and want some advice on its use , we invite you to continue reading, because below we will share some recommendations that could be of interest to you.
Know your guitar
Some variations in the models make the guitar have different mechanisms, so you should know it in detail. Aspects such as how to use the headstock to achieve tuning, or hold the strings when you have to change them are very important data, which you have to keep in mind frequently to make good use of your instrument. If your guitar includes a manual, we recommend that you review it carefully. In the event that you do not have it, you could inform yourself on the network or contact a teacher to express your doubts. Remember that the guitar is a delicate instrument, which must be treated with care.
Maintain and protect it
Some climatic factors can cause deterioration for guitars, since they are instruments made of materials that are sensitive to temperature and humidity. Wood especially has a clear tendency to absorb water from the environment, so it should be protected from this particular factor. This can be achieved without problems with a suitable case, which prevents the passage of this moisture to the interior. You can increase this protection even more by adding an absorbent product with your instrument when you store it, such as bags of silica desiccant.
Also, it is a good idea to apply some moisturizing oil to the surface of your guitar. This in addition to making it look clean and like new, can make it more resistant to this factor by creating a waterproof film on its surface. But this will not protect it completely, because inside the resonance box you will not be able to apply it.
It is also important that you protect it from direct sunlight and sudden changes in temperature, which can cause the guitar to crack or detach parts.
The secret to mastering any new skill is practice, however it is convenient that you have a good guide to guide you to acquire good execution techniques. Basic aspects such as good posture when holding the guitar or circling the arm of the instrument will be the key so that the advance is always in a straight line, without having to go back to correct mistakes.
Once the foundation is in place, then it is worth spending at least a few minutes a day practicing the suggested skill exercises. It may take a few hours before you get your first song out, but don’t be discouraged. At first, focus on getting the fingers in charge of performing the fingerings, that is, those that are dedicated to pressing the strings on the fretboard, to move independently one by one. This is an overriding foundation that even top performers still spend time on.