For an amateur or a professional musician, the acoustic guitar is one of the most versatile instruments, which can be fun to play with. For beginners, before jumping into the big guns like a 12-string or an electric guitar, one must practice their chops first on the ever-reliable acoustic guitar. If you're reading this, you're either a beginner looking for your first guitar, or you're an experienced player needing a better instrument.
Now, choosing a new instrument is exciting and enjoyable, but it can sometimes be astounding. In this article, we will discuss some points on how to choose the right acoustic guitar for you and which brands are available on the market today. So keep on reading to know how you can upscale your guitar knowledge.
Functionality is one of the major differences between an acoustic and an electric guitar. The acoustic guitar is generally associated with mellower forms of music like folk or country, while an electric guitar is for high decibel sound that is used in rock or metal music. Below are some features that differentiate the two.
An acoustic guitar has a wooden hollow body with a soundhole beneath the strings. The soundboard, which is the wooden part of the body, is typically made out of spruce or cedar. If you pluck or strum the strings, the vibration travels to the soundboard and amplifies the sound to create that specific melodic sound.
The electric guitar, on the other hand, has a slimmer but solid body that is made out of different types of materials such as wood, metal, resin, or hard plastic. It doesn't have a soundhole, but it uses transducers to convert the string vibrations into electrical signals that are sent to the amplifier.
Because of the high-output, electromagnetic pickups that are installed on an electric guitar, it can capture even the slightest of variations on the magnetic field. The highly sensitive pickups can ensure better sound quality.
Acoustic guitars also have electric pickups either inside the soundboard or on top of the soundhole. But it can often sound faint, depending on the quality of the pickup installed.
In terms of portability and ease of setting up, acoustic guitars are the sure winner. It doesn't need any added equipment to be functional since it can be played with or without an amplifier or power. On the contrary, electric guitars require power and amplifiers for sound to come out. Also, beginners can easily get confused when operating several buttons, knobs, and switches along its body.
Now that you know the difference between an acoustic and an electric guitar, let's get down to business. Below are some items that can help you make the right acoustic guitar choice.
Basically, there are three popular types of acoustic guitars that you can buy in the market today - a flat-top, an archtop, and a 12-string guitar. So, which one would you fancy?
Used in every style of music, flat-top guitars are versatile enough for any musician. It is the most common type that you can find in every instrument store or music shop. The soundboard has a flat surface, hence the name. It uses either steel or nylon strings, and the size could range from baby up to jumbo.
This type of acoustic guitar has an arched top instead of a flat top. It could come in acoustic, semi-acoustic, and electric variants. Alternately, the standard round soundhole is replaced by F-holes, a curved treble clef-shaped hole on both sides of the guitar's front. The F-hole is a good indication that the acoustic guitar is an archtop. This guitar type is used by rockabilly, blues, and jazz guitarists.
As the name implies, this guitar has 12 strings instead of the standard six strings. It is used mainly for the strumming parts of a song and is very popular among pop, country, or rock music styles. This type of guitar can be time-consuming in terms of tuning and cause a bit of pain when playing barre chords.
Although this may be a small detail, choosing which type of guitar strings has a great impact. It should be dictated by the music you want to play and how you like to play it. Guitars with steel strings are believed to be a true acoustic guitar, while nylon strings are meant for classical or flamenco guitars. If you opt to play country or rock music, a steel-string guitar is the right choice.
Just keep in mind that you cannot interchange steel strings with nylon strings and vice versa. Steel-string guitars can withstand the tension created by steel strings, so installing it on a classical guitar will damage it. Nylon strings produce softer tones and volume, so they cannot withstand higher tensions and could easily break if installed on a steel-string guitar.
Acoustic guitars could come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the manufacturer. We can say that the style of the guitar could affect the sound that it projects. Let's take a look at the different body shapes to know which one will work for you.
These types of guitars are deemed to be the smallest in the market today. The width could range from 13.5 to 14.5 inches on the widest area of the soundboard. Sometimes called "model 0," a younger or smaller bodied player will find this comfortable to play. It is a medium-sized guitar with a punchy, well-balanced tone suitable for strumming or fingerpicking.
Also called the "orchestra" model, this guitar is a bit bigger than the concert - being 15 to 16 inches wider. It is an excellent all-around guitar that is very suitable for beginners. The narrow body waist offers a sweet spot that comfortably fits on laps while sitting down. This type of guitar creates an excellent projection and dynamically balanced sound.
While it has almost the same width and depth as the auditorium, this guitar has a thicker and boxier appearance. Its sound has just the right bass tone to complement the human voice. This may dissuade those who have a light touch when playing as the sound quality won't be loud or rich enough. The late great Kurt Cobain loves to play this beast of a guitar.
The jumbo is the biggest of all acoustic guitars, measuring at least 17 inches across its widest portion. It should be played while standing with a strap to manage its huge profile, it's not for smaller players. Strummers like the King, Elvis Presley, prefer playing a jumbo because of its bassy and powerful sound. It projects a rich and resonant tone enough to fill a room.
For those who love playing leads, solos, or have advanced guitar skills, a cutaway acoustic guitar can be beneficial. The body of the guitar is cutout at the lower portion just below the fretboard to provide better access to higher frets. This can be a great feature if a player has short fingers and find it difficult to press the strings to produce higher notes.
The quality of sound produced by a guitar will vary depending on the tonewood. This refers to the type of wood used on the soundboard. Several types of wood can resonate differently from each other, so it's essential to know which kind will cater to your preferred sound quality. The following section will discuss some of the commonly used types of wood in acoustic guitars.
There are three popular types of spruce woods used on guitars - the Sitka, Adirondack, and Engelmann. A Sitka produces a complex tone that shines with fingerpicking and strumming styles. The Adirondack is also a great choice, but it has limited availability because of over-harvesting. The Engelmann spruce is very light and creates an airy sound, often found in very expensive guitars.
Together with a good soundboard, rosewoods make up for the back, neck, and sides of a guitar. This contributes to the excellent projection of an acoustic guitar, most especially if Brazilian rosewoods are used. Nowadays, Indian rosewood is harvested because the Brazilian rosewood is already endangered.
The highly praised Martin D-15 is the best example of an all-mahogany acoustic guitar. This solid wood guitar is visually distinctive and innovative. It creates a balanced tone between deep lows and warm highs when played. Some manufacturers also use this type of wood for guitar necks and bridges.
As the walnut ages, it creates a richer tone. It yields a rich and warm bass with more punch on the mid and treble side. The sound is a sort of in-between mahogany and rosewood. This traditional material is used for the back or sides of the guitar.
On the other hand, cedar is favored by fingerpickers or fingerstyle players because of its luscious tone. The wood produces a darker and "bell-like" tone, which is not ideal for strumming. It is generally used on the sides and back of acoustic guitars.
Archtop guitars use this wood to create a low-velocity transmission of vibration and to enhance the note separation for clarity. Maple wood is often used on sides, backs, or necks because of the transparent tone and its beautiful wood grain. Jazz and blues guitarists love the sound it produces on their beloved archtops.
A guitar's wood finish not only makes it gorgeous looking but also protects the wood from scratches while preserving the tone and sound quality. Lacquer is the most common finish for many guitar makers. It is longer-lasting with a shiny gloss that is easier to clean.
A Shellac finish offers a more durable finish that seals the wood against damage and scratches. Lastly, a varnish finish brings out the natural grain look of the wood with a less glossy finish, but it isn't as durable as the other finishes.
When it comes to the action of the guitar, remember to check the distance between the fretboard and the strings. It must be set low enough to eliminate dead notes or buzzes when pressing the strings against the fretboard.
Many cheap guitars have high action that makes it frustrating to play and may discourage beginners to continue learning. Fortunately, an experienced guitar tech could easily resolve this issue.
Correct fret distancing plays a major role in a guitar's intonation. This pertains to the ability of the guitar to play in tune across the fretboard. A poor intonation may be caused by old or rusty strings, issues with the neck, or if the saddle needs some adjustment. Check all of these items before your purchase. But if you encounter this issue after buying, it is time to bring the guitar to a tech.
Check if the guitar tuners can immediately tighten or loosen the corresponding string. Cheap guitar tuners can slip out of tune quickly because of substandard materials.
If you're a beginner, this is a huge drawback since you will constantly retune your guitar from time to time. A good guitar tuner should be able to hold its tune for days, except on newly installed strings as it's still stretching itself out.
Martin & Co.
Acoustic Guitar Beginner Set
38-Inch Acoustic Guitar
A1 Series Grand Orchestra Guitar
Natural Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar With Bag
Ed Sheeran ÷ Signature Edition Acoustic Guitar
12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar
6-String Mahogany Guitalele
A Beginner's Choice with Lots of Freebies
The Perfect Gift for Budding Musicians
Your No-Nonsense Guitar, Minus the Extravagance
A Starter Classical Guitar That Can Last a Lifetime
Performance-Ready Guitar With a Classic Sound
Small Enough for Players On-The-Go
A Standard Dreadnought With Excellent Craftsmanship
Own a Custom Guitar Designed for Ed Sheeran
A 12-String Jumbo With an Outstanding Tone
The Starter Acoustic Guitar for Kids
|Price Starts at||₱2,145||₱1,700||₱5,950||₱7,650||₱19,950||₱43,999||₱8,560||₱43,180||₱29,835||₱2,150|
|Type||Flat-Top Cutaway||Flat-Top Cutaway||Flat-Top Cutaway With Clifton Dual Sonus Piezo Pickup||Flat-Top||Flat-Top Cutaway With Fishman Pickup||Flat-Top With Taylor ES-B pickup||Flat-Top||Flat-Top With Fishman Sonitone||Flat-Top Cutaway With Takamine TK-40D||Flat-Top|
|String||Steel 6-String||Steel 6-String||Steel 6-String||Nylon 6-String||Steel 6-String||Steel 6-String||Steel 6-String||Steel 6-String||Steel 12-String||Nylon 6-String|
|Size||Grand Concert / 18 Frets||Grand Concert / 18 Frets||Grand Orchestra / 20 Frets||Full-Size Classical / 18 Frets||Dreadnought / 20 Frets||Mini Grand Symphony / 20 Frets||Dreadnought / 20 Frets||Special Design / 20 Frets||Jumbo / 20 Frets||Guitalele / 18 Frets|
|Tonewood||Basswood||Basswood / Rosewood||Sitka Spruce / Sapele / Rosewood||Meranti / Spruce / Nato / Rosewood||Spruce / Mahogany / Walnut / Rosewood||Koa / Ebony||Spruce / Mahogany / Merbau||Sitka / Birch / Richlite||Spruce / Maple / Laurel||Mahogany / Rosewood|
|Finish||Varnish||Varnish||Matte Natural||Ultra Thin Finish / Natural High Gloss||Natural High Gloss||Varnish||Satin Sunburst||Matte||High Gloss||Natural Matte|
|Tuner||Chrome Metal||Chrome Metal||Black Die-Cast||Pearloid / Chrome||Chrome Die-Cast||Chrome Die-Cast||Die-Cast||Black Die-Cast||Pearloid / Gold Die-Cast||Die-Cast / Plastic Knob|
The products we introduce below were carefully curated by the mybest team, from the best-sellers of E-commerce sites like Lazada, and using the points mentioned in our detailed and thoroughly researched buying guide.
With Free Accessories
|Size||Grand Concert / 18 Frets|
|Size||Grand Concert / 18 Frets|
|Tonewood||Basswood / Rosewood|
|Type||Flat-Top Cutaway With Clifton Dual Sonus Piezo Pickup|
|Size||Grand Orchestra / 20 Frets|
|Tonewood||Sitka Spruce / Sapele / Rosewood|
|Size||Full-Size Classical / 18 Frets|
|Tonewood||Meranti / Spruce / Nato / Rosewood|
|Finish||Ultra Thin Finish / Natural High Gloss|
|Tuner||Pearloid / Chrome|
|Type||Flat-Top Cutaway With Fishman Pickup|
|Size||Dreadnought / 20 Frets|
|Tonewood||Spruce / Mahogany / Walnut / Rosewood|
|Finish||Natural High Gloss|
|Type||Flat-Top With Taylor ES-B pickup|
|Size||Mini Grand Symphony / 20 Frets|
|Tonewood||Koa / Ebony|
|Size||Dreadnought / 20 Frets|
|Tonewood||Spruce / Mahogany / Merbau|
|Type||Flat-Top With Fishman Sonitone|
|Size||Special Design / 20 Frets|
|Tonewood||Sitka / Birch / Richlite|
|Type||Flat-Top Cutaway With Takamine TK-40D|
|Size||Jumbo / 20 Frets|
|Tonewood||Spruce / Maple / Laurel|
|Tuner||Pearloid / Gold Die-Cast|
|Size||Guitalele / 18 Frets|
|Tonewood||Mahogany / Rosewood|
|Tuner||Die-Cast / Plastic Knob|
Are you a music lover? It’s time to start a musical journey with some of these exciting products and expand your musical awareness. Check out the articles now!
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitar player, it is important to know the basic points when choosing the right acoustic guitar. With the help of our guide, you will have a better understanding and information before purchasing your first guitar or an upgrade. In this regard, allow us to welcome you to the wonderful world of guitar playing.
Author: C. Lacson
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