The acoustic guitar is a holy bodied instrument which can come in a couple of basic varieties and has been used now for over a thousand years.
There are generally two types of acoustic, the steel string acoustic and the classical nylon string acoustic.
The steel string acoustic is the general one we see everywhere around from busker’s to video’s on music videos.
The nylon guitar has a wider neck and is strung with nylon stings and is a bit easier to play.
The body of an acoustic guitar ::
The bodies of acoustic guitars act as a resonating amplifying chamber for the strings when you pluck or fingerpick them.
When you pluck or strum a note, the body of the guitar resonates as the strings vibrations are passed to the body via the bridge and then the soundboard.
The body of the acoustic then amplifies the sound of the string making it loud enough to hear.
The sound travels out through the hole and that’s what you hear.
The bigger the body of the guitar, coupled with the string gauge you are using, the bigger and deeper the tone, this can also vary a bit with the type of woods used in manufacture too and also the manufacturer.
The neck of an acoustic ::
Your frets are on the neck of your acoustic guitar, the frets act as a simple guide for you to place your fingers on specific notes either to make chords or single notes depending on what you are playing.
When you place your fingers on the neck inbetween each fret, you are changing the length of the string and therefore the tone of the note being played is changed too.
The neck can also be different types of wood and also shaped differently (usually flat or rounded slightly), the frets on the neck can be different lengths apart too, there can be more frets on different types of acoustic guitars, the metal in the frets can vary depending on manufacturer and also a be a different shape with some being rounded, flatter or alot more squarer shape.
The neck also contains the truss rod which gives the acoustic the ability to compensate for string tension, adjust for thicker gauge strings and also to adjust the height of your strings if you are dealing with a bit of fret buzz which happens if you leave the guitar for a while, change of seasons or upgrade to a different gauge string.
One end of the truss rod is in the head and the other is accessible through the sound hole with an alum key.
Note : Don’t fluff around with the truss rod tightening and undoing unless you know what you are doing as these are very sensitive and one slight turn clockwise or anticlockwise can make a huge difference.
The head of an acoustic ::
The head, which is at the top ironically, is where the tuning pegs/machine heads are and generally the top of the truss rod with a nut on it, generally the truss rod has an alum key nut on the body end and this is easier to adjust the neck with than the head end.
The head also is where the strings are wrapped around the pegs and tightened, when tightened to the correct tension, this gives you your sound for each string.
Acoustic guitar strings ::
There are different types of strings for your acoustic, they range from Bronze, 80/20 Bronze, 80/15 Bronze, Phosphor Bronze, 92/8 Phosphor Bronze, Gold Plated, Titanium, Stainless Steel and Nylon.
A lot of these string types above come in round wound, ground wound or flat wound variations and also they are using coating on strings these days too.
There is a multitude of different gauges too of acoustic guitar strings, gauge refers to the diameter and what you choose basically depends on what you want to sound like and also playability.
They range from a small gauge up to a larger gauge string in the same pack, the variance usually comes in the start point of the range, so a standard acoustic guitar would be strung with a set of 12 to 54 gauge strings (They also are sometimes called extra light, light, medium, heavy etc etc).
The top 2 strings are usually not wound either.
You should change your acoustic strings when they start to get a dull sound or there is a lot of discoloring or even if they have been on the instrument for a fair while, when you put on a fresh set of strings, it’s awesome.
Acoustic guitar accessories ::
Guitar Picks / Plectrum :
Picks come down to personal preference and what/how you are playing your acoustic, more of a strummer, more lead orientated stuff, is it easier for you to hold in your fingers as you may have hobbit hands.
Generally picks for most guitars will cost you pocket change, you can have a whole lot of different ones and it isn’t going to cost you much.
They are generally measured in thickness in mm or some companies that manufacture picks use describing words like “Light” or “Heavy”.
The thin guitar picks generally are more flexible and bend and as you get to the thicker guitar picks, they don’t bend as a rule.
Guitar Strap :
A guitar strap for an acoustic guitar basically comes down to preference too and also if your guitar has the capability to put a strap on it.
There is adjustable straps and non adjustable and they come in a massive variety of colours, designs and widths.
The main point to a strap is to hold up the acoustic so you can play it whilst standing up, they aren’t generally used if you are a sit down player.
Guitar Tuner :
Tuners for acoustic also vary a lot, if your acoustic is and electric acoustic you can plug it in to tune, if not, most have a microphone in them which you can sit on the guitar and it listens to the string when you hit it and then you can tune.
The downfall I found with the latter was if it was noisy around the tuner found it hard to pick up the notes effectively and also even if I plugged it in sometimes it struggled to pick up the vibration of the strings effectively, maybe the fact it was a middle of the road tuner was why, I’m not sure.
Anyway, the quieter the better for tuning your acoustic guitar.
A capo is used to shorten the playable length of our strings, It helps you play open chords in a different key.
There are many variations of capo’s, generally they aren’t that expensive either, I’ve found the elastic/rubber capo with the shark teeth like metal piece to be the best for my guitars and also these seem to be the best for holding the correct note right across the strings (Sometimes the notes maybe a little out and retuning is required if the capo doesn’t have the same force on the strings right across the neck).
What to look for when buying an acoustic guitar ::
A good a place as any to start if you are new to playing is “How much am I willing to spend?”
If you only have a few hundred set aside for a acoustic it is better that you learn an open chord on your nana’s acoustic, head down to your local music shop and try the acoustic guitars in that price range.
If you find one that feels great, plays ok, doesn’t vibrate and looks ok, it is probably the one for you!
After you have fluffed around for a while get the music shop dude to belt out a few chords for you on your top 2 or 3 guitars (Ask for Stairway to Heaven or Smoke on the Water…. I dare you!) and see how it sounds to you from a listening point of view.
For anyone else but a beginner, you probably know your stuff a little better, know how to research acoustic guitars and so it comes down to how much you want to spend and what you are using it for, hacking out a few busking tunes or using it in your live sets at the local pub each have their own advances and features needed for use.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this bit of information about acoustic guitars.
Now go out and play!