Guitar Musician News

Learn Guitar – Acoustic Guitar Tips

by on Jan.25, 2015, under General

By Mike P Hayes

In the hands of a master, the acoustic guitar is a living breathing soul, with individuals in the audience enraptured by the complex qualities of its six strings. An acoustic guitar is generally used by learners because it produces a cleaner sound and is more portable, making it ideal to transport to private lessons and parties.

An acoustic guitar is arguably the best to learn on, choosing the right one is easy, once you know how. For a novice player, the most important thing about choosing the right acoustic guitar is to find an instrument with which they are comfortable. Acoustic guitars come in three standard sizes, usually defined as parlor, standard, and jumbo.

Perhaps one of the most common acoustic guitar is the classical guitar. During the 1970’s most beginner guitar players started with a Yamaha G-50 guitar this instrument was a high quality full size classical nylon strung guitar for under one hundred dollars.  Today, the six-string, steel string acoustic guitar is the most popular for beginners. Steel strung acoustic guitars are featured on almost every pop recording as they provide a clean, high frequency to help make the recording “sizzle”. The recent MTV “unplugged” series featuring well known established artists
such as, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Sting brought a revitalized interest in the acoustic guitar.

Apart from pop music, acoustic guitars are the instrument of choice for many country and folk and bluegrass guitarists. If you want to hear the steel string acoustic guitar in full flight I recommend listening to guitarist Tony Rice.  Acoustic guitars almost always have six strings. In recent times the steel string guitar has become available with optional cutaway and electric pickups.Some solo performers prefer to use a twelve string, steel sting acoustic guitar for it’s full rich sound.

The type and quality of wood used to construct the acoustic guitar is the most important factor in determining sound, durability, and appearance. A solid wood acoustic guitar is made from thin pieces of wood (under 1/8th of an inch thick); and because the wood is so thin it has a great deal of surface area and therefore it both gains and loses moisture very quickly.

The sound of an acoustic guitar is largely air, once a string is plucked the resulting vibrations are transferred to the top of the guitar via the bridge saddle and bridge. The acoustic guitar top essentially acts as an air-pump moving the air inside the guitar.

Buying a first guitar is an important step for the beginner guitarist. That’s why I encourage you to bring along someone you know whose been playing the guitar for a while. Start with a realistic budget, read the following information then make a trip to your local guitar store to get an idea about the price ranges.

1. Make sure your guitar is set-up for you

A good acoustic guitar is a work of art and needs to be made with precision.A low action acoustic guitar is advisable as it would be easier on the hands. Of course, there is no doubt about the fact that an acoustic guitar is a little harder to play than an electric guitar.However with a good set-up, (commonly referred to as the Guitar’s action adjustment) from a competent repair person will get you off to a good start.

2. Check the frets for rough edges

Frets are the metallic bars which when pressed upon with the strings generates a particular note. Check out for rough edges on the frets as they are likely to leave bruised fingers with you.

3. Full body acoustic guitar or cutaway?

Unless you are going to do a lot of high note lead playing go for the standard full body guitar, remember the top of the guitar functions in a similar way to that of the soundboard of a piano.  The greater the total size of the guitar the richer more natural sound of the acoustic guitar.

4. Solid top or laminate?

All other factors being equal, it is my opinion that a well made “solid wood” acoustic guitar is almost always more tonally appealing than a well made laminate guitar. A “solid wood” guitar will melody as it matures with age whereas a laminate top guitar’s tone will remain the same.

5. Nylon or steel string guitar?

This is a question of application and the style of music you want to play. A nine year old would benefit from a 7/8 size nylon string guitar whereas a steel string acoustic guitar is more generally suited to music heard on the radio. The nylon sting guitar has a wider neck which makes many of the chord shapes difficult to reach for the beginner.
Before you front up to the salesman make sure that you are clear on the style of music you want to play on the guitar. I would encourage you to listen to some recordings by Andres Segovia for a fine example of nylon string classical guitar tone. Segovia is widely regarded as the finest exponent of this style of guitar playing.

In contrast to the nylon string acoustic guitar sound, I would recommend listening to a great album called “Tone Poems” this is an entirely acoustic album featuring the sounds of vintage acoustic guitar and mandolin. Tony Rice on acoustic steel string guitar and David Grisman on mandolin.

6. Strings

Acoustic guitar strings come in various grades, such as heavy, medium, light, and extra-light. I recommend string gauge 1st-.011, 2-.015, 3rd-.022, 4th-.032, 5th-.042, 6th-.052 for acoustic steel strung guitars. The lower action and light gauge strings on the guitar are easier for beginners to learn to play.

7. Price

Although the price may be slightly above what some might be willing to pay for a first guitar, it should be considered an investment.

Ultimately it comes down choosing what sounds good and is in your price range. Try as many guitars as you want to, even if they are outside your budget (so you get an idea of what to look for in your price range). In other words tell the salesman (show me your best solid top acoustic guitar) and give him/her your price range. You can find a fine beginner acoustic guitar for under $500.

Mike Hayes is a teacher, author, speaker and consultant. Get his tips and tested strategies proven to boost your guitar playing visit his membership site at http://www.guitarcoaching.com today.

Article Source:  Learning Guitar – Acoustic Guitar

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