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A Guide To The World of Acoustic Guitars

Mar 11, 2008
The acoustic guitar has been around for centuries and is one of the most beautiful instruments available on the market to date. They range from the crummy plywood copies that you see in a pawn shop to the high end masterpieces that cost upwards of $15 000 - $40 000. This leaves a guitarist between a rock and a hard place with a lot of questions.

What qualifies as a great acoustic? Do they have to cost that much money? What makes up an acoustic? All of these questions and more will be answered in today's newsletter. Join us as we enter the acoustic world.

In this edition:

In addition to answering the above questions, we'll examine some great guitars that are affordable and offer amazing quality. Learn what to look for when shopping for a guitar and how you can get an instrument that fits your budget.

We'll also answer some great questions in the Feedback Booth. Without further adue, let's get started!

The Guitar That Started It All.

In the beginning.

We've all dreamt of that moment where we've finally saved up enough cash to get our dream acoustic. Whether you just want one on the side to enhance your playing skills, or you want to be known as the best acoustic guitarist the world has ever heard, you need to know what you want.

I remember the first time I saw an acoustic guitar that was priced at over $3000. My jaw dropped as I picked it up and began to play it. In my head, I just had to have this guitar. As I became more accomplished, I ran into more guitarists who paid upwards of $4000 for their axe's.

This seemed so unreasonable to me. Why did these guitars cost so much? What made them better than that $3000 "Professional" electric guitar? How could a guy like me get a good acoustic that could give me professional results for less money?

All of these questions rolled through my brain. When I started to research acoustics a few years ago, I soon learned of the complex construction and craftsmanship that goes into a well made acoustic. Unlike many electrics, building an acoustic involves far more than cutting the wood and sanding it to shape.

Internally, there is a lot that the eye doesn't see. Some of the finer attributes include bracing, wood choice, various joints, neck construction, and many other little touches that make a big impact on sound. All of these things take time to do, and a talented luthier to do them right.

The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. With lower end guitars, machines do all of the work. This makes for fast and easy production. They are reliable and somewhat precise, which usually gives people like you and I a half decent guitar to play.

However, if there's a lemon to be produced, it is usually traced back to a faulty robot. This is why the higher end guitars are mainly made by hand.

The more human contact, the finer the instrument. When you add up the cost of materials and craftsmanship, it's easy to see how the price skyrockets for some of these guitars. It's not unlike a custom motorcycle. You'll pay up to four times the cost but in the end you get something that fits you and is made from the finest parts.

The good news is that you can get great sounding acoustics for under $1000. You just need to do some research of your own and be patient when shopping. While many professional guitarists think that a professional acoustic starts at $5000, I firmly believe it starts at your finger tips.

Learn how to play well and you can make a $600 acoustic sound far more expensive. Keep this in mind and don't get bogged down by the music industries version of cool. We're going to run through the different components of an acoustic guitar and you'll be left with a new outlook on what qualities to look for in an acoustic.

Types of acoustics.

As you may have noticed already by walking into your local music store, there are many different kinds of acoustics out there. Some can act like an electric guitar, while others have 12 strings. Each class of acoustic has it's own purpose and produces a different tone.

The unfortunate thing about acoustics is that many guitarists buy them not knowing what they're buying. Perhaps you're style leads you to want to do plenty of on stage performances but the guy at the music store said you'd be fine with a regular acoustic without a pickup system. You'd just have to mic it.

However, you end up getting a lot of feedback as a result and spend more money in the long run because you ended up putting an additional pickup system. While the mic setup may have been the first choice for someone else, it didn't fit your lifestyle.

This doesn't have to be you! Lets take a closer look at what is available to us.

6 String Acoustic - This is the most popular acoustic sold on the market today. The prices range from the cheap to the extravagant. It uses six steel string to give it a more sharp attack to the notes.

12 String Acoustic - This acoustic consist of 12 strings, each one smaller than the acoustic strings. Essentially, each pair of strings has one tuned to the regular tuning and the other tuned to it's octave. This produces a very nice chorus effect, giving the impression of two acoustic guitars playing at once. They aren't good for starting off on as they tend to require a little more technique and finger strength to hold all of the strings down at once.

Classical Acoustic - The classical has been around for quite a while. It has three nylon strings and three steel. This makes playing it a breeze. The neck is considerably thicker than its 6 string steel counterpart but is great for a number of styles. Has a much mellower tone to it, which can be a plus or a set back depending on what you intend to use it for.

Acoustic/Electric - The acoustic electric is simply a six string acoustic with a pickup placed inside of it so you can amplify your acoustic. You can do this for classical or steel string. Some come with a pickup while others require you to buy them. Great for playing in public.
About the Author
E Walker is the founder of Planet of Rock Music Studios and contributes regularly to many guitar publications. Find out how Guitar Backing Tracks will improve your guitar playing skills. Jam anytime anywhere with Professional Guitar Jam Tracks
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