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There aren`t many variables when it comes to the sound of an acoustic guitar. An Acoustic guitar produces sound simply by projecting the sounds of it`s vibrating strings acoustically through the air. The sound waves from the strings get amplified through the guitar body which for most acoustic guitars are hollow and make room for more sound.
Easily put the vibration from the strings goes through the wood of the guitar and the air inside the guitar combined with the materials of the guitar makes the sound amplify through the hole of the body.
So the guitar body is an “amp” in itself and the top side of the guitar where there`s a hole in the body serves as a soundboard that enhances the vibrating sounds from the strings.
Plucking or strumming the strings will cause them to vibrate at a fundamental pitch determined by the strings length, mass, and tension. The string causes the soundboard and the air enclosed by the soundbox to vibrate.
How does the shape of an acoustic guitar affect the sound?
The body of an acoustic guitar has a front, back, and sides. The front is called the soundboard. The hole in the middle of the soundboard is the soundhole or chamber. The hole allows the sound to escape from the inside of the guitar.
The top or soundboard of an acoustic guitar has a strong effect on how loud the guitar sound is. It is important to use wood that is good at transmitting sound the best way possible, like spruce.
When you pick or strum the strings they create energy, and to make the loud sounds we need the soundboard to have enough room to move air. The soundboard or the body of the guitar increases the surface of the vibrating area which again amplifies the sound. The soundboard can move the air much more easily than the string alone because it is large and flat.
You can increase the sound by picking or strumming strings harder. The more force you use the louder it will sound and vice versa. A gentle sweep over the strings will result in a less aggressive sound.
A guitar has several sound aspects to it. From the strings to the soundboard, then from the soundboard to the air inside the body of the guitar, and both soundboard and inside air to the outside air. The back of the guitar also vibrates to some degree, driven by air inside the guitar and how the vibrations move through the guitar.
How can I make my acoustic guitar sound better? – 5 Tips
There`s a couple of things you can do to make your acoustic guitar sound better. The points where the strings touch the guitar have a significant impact on the sound: the bridge pins, saddle, and nut specifically.
- Changing the strings can have a big impact on the sound especially if you have bought a cheap acoustic guitar that had strings attached.
- Change the bridge pins because cheap guitar manufacturers often save cost by putting in cheap parts such as for the saddle, nut, tuners and bridge pins. These pins are easy to change and are inexpensive.
- Change tuning pegs if your guitar is easily getting out of tune. This can be very frustrating in the beginning when you don`t have the ability to tune your guitar by ear but need to get your tuner every time you want to tune your guitar. This doesn’t change the tone of the instrument but it does affect how good it sounds when you’re playing it.
- Change the saddle of the guitar to improve the sound quality. If you have a cheap plastic saddle on your guitar you can change it to bone, this will be more difficult than changing the bridge pins but can have a great effect on the sound.
- Change the nut at the top of the guitar to sound better. This is a difficult task since it is glued to the neck of the guitar so it is advised to be careful or even hire someone to do it.
If you buy a cheap acoustic guitar the strings are often very high above the fretboard which can make it harder to play. To lower the strings would require skills so this is probably best to outsource as well.
If you lower the strings to close to the fretboard, then the vibrations from the strings will be stopped by the fretboard and again cause a buzzing sound in the string, so make sure you don`t lower the strings too much.
Another great idea is to oil your fretboard and clean it once in a while, preferably when changing strings (one at a time). This will make the guitar easier to play and also result in better sound and ability to bend strings without too much friction.
How can I make my guitar sound louder?
The easiest way to make your acoustic guitar sound louder is simply to play harder. The harder you strum or pick the strings, the louder your acoustic guitar will sound.
You can also buy a clip-on microphone that can amplify the sound of your guitar. These range in price from $30 to $200. The microphones clip to the outer edge of the soundhole on your acoustic guitar. There are wireless models, built-in amplifiers and models that plug into external amps as well.
You can also install a pickup, volume knob and cord jack on your existing acoustic guitar if you’d like and are a handyman. You can purchase a kit at just about any music store and do it yourself with a few simple tools.
You can also make your guitar sound louder if you play in a small room. Another tip is to rest your guitar against an object like a chair or table when you are playing. This will have an amplifying effect on your playing.
Does guitar shape affect sound?
For acoustic guitars, the shape of the guitar body has a major impact on the sound and volume, much more than for an electric guitar where the sounds are created by electromagnetic soundwaves.
When the inside area of the guitar is larger, the guitar will be louder. A guitar that is deeper or thicker will sound more strong than a thin guitar. The width of the body also causes a deeper and louder sound.
Also how the guitar is built inside the chamber can have an impact on the guitar. Some acoustic guitars come with a cutaway to make for easier access to the fretboard so you can play the higher notes easier down on the fretboard (most acoustic guitars have no cutaway). This can make the guitar sound a little brighter and not so thick. It can also reduce the low tones a bit.
Harder woods produce brighter sounds because the vibrations bounce more strongly off the soundboard into the interior. Softwoods create darker or lower sounds.
A poorly-made guitar with weak joints will not produce sharp clear tones. The thickness of the soundboard will also impact tone and volume.
Many factors change the sound of a guitar. What type of strings you chose and how hard you play the strings have an impact on the sound. So does the type and thickness of wood used in the neck. All the different parts of the guitar work together to produce the guitar’s unique sound.
Do acoustic guitars sound better with age?
If you buy a cheap acoustic guitar made with cheap fabrics, chances are it will not sound much better with time.
If you buy a good acoustic guitar that is built with solid wood the sound can actually get better. As the wood in the body ages, it becomes lighter and more responsive and sound clearer with more resonance.
It can be argued that guitars that are older have better wood in them and that they were more handcrafted than many of today’s machine-made and mass-produced guitars.
Different type of wood will have a different kind of sound. Woods like spruce, cedar, maple, rosewood, koa will all age at different rates.
If you have a guitar that sounded good when you bought it, that is well crafted and taken care of, will probably sound better with time as the wood matures and the sound of an acoustic guitar is produced within the guitar as opposed to electric guitars where the sound is externally amplified.
On the other hand, if your guitar is a cheap mass-produced guitar with shitty sound from the beginning, then rest assured, it will also sound like hell in the future!
Why are some acoustic guitars so expensive?
It can be mind-blowing to discover that guitars that look very similar can have a vast difference in price. This difference in price can best be explained by the different materials used to build the guitar. For example, the different kinds of wood make the guitar look awesome and the materials are more expensive than a cheap guitar with a lower grade wood.
In more expensive guitars the parts are often outsourced to specialists that custom makes them. In cheaper guitars these parts are often made inhouse and at a much lower cost.
The price also depends upon where the guitar is made. Guitars made in Japan, North America, England, and Western Europe are famous for producing reliable, well-made guitars.
Countries such as South Korea, Indonesia, and China are known for having similar big guitar factories which mass-produce guitars at a fraction of the cost and time spent to make them.
The way the guitar feels when you play it and the sound it produces is also factors to take into account when pricing a guitar.
Last but not least, the model and brand of the guitar have a big impact on the price of the guitar.
Can you at a glance spot which ones of these two guitars below are the more expensive one?