Acoustic guitar secrets

Discussion in 'Guitar Gear Talk Forum' started by zing, May 29, 2007.

  1. zing

    zing Machine Head

    Ever wonder why some guitars sound awesome and some dont? Sure the expensive ones sound better but exactly why? I found out some weeks back, quite by accident. I was surfing around deciding what guitar to buy and came across this phrase "solid top" guitars and decided to check em out.

    So it turns out that solid top guitars have, surprise surprise, solid tops hehe. Now the diff that makes is something you have to hear to appreciate. The downside is that a fully solid top+back+side guitar will cost at least 4 time the normal substandard guitar. Now I call it substandard because after you play a solid top thats what they sound like. The basic difference is that substandard gats use plywood or cheap wood and the resonance of the plywood is so poor that you just cannot get music of great quality from it.

    There are 3 types of guitars:
    - pure solid top/back/side (made of spruce/ebony/mahogany/rosewood etc.)
    - laminated top/back/side (which uses a combo of cheap+expensive wood)
    - crappy top/back/side (usually made of plywood or something really cheap & dead sounding)

    One big problem is that many salespeople in music shops have no clue about what is a genuine solid top and what is a laminated top. So you need to research on the net etc. & find out exactly the specs of a reputed brand & ask for a specific model in the shop.
    Another way is to check the grain pattern on the inside & outside of the guitar - if the pattern is identical then it is a solid top/back/side.

    Since they are so expensive, some companies compromise and make the back and/or side laminated to bring the price down. This is a good compromise since it is the top of the guitar that makes the biggest contibution ot the overall tone.

    So next time you planning to get an acoustic gat, dont even think about "normal" gats, go for a solid top & hear your playing go up a few notches....its sound will take your breath away & thats really worth the extra cost.

    some interesting links..........

    effect of wood on guitar tone

    authentic pics of diff types of wood (will help you identify the wood on the guitars)
    anshphenomenon likes this.
  2. zing

    zing Machine Head

    another point i forgot to mention is that with solid body guitars the tone improves with age - so after 10 years ur solid top will sound like clapton whereas the "normal" gat will sound like firewood :)
  3. fatbax

    fatbax New Member

    that was helpful dude!
  4. aunnyboy

    aunnyboy New Member

    hey nice post bro, I am kinda new and was wondering that myself. What exactly do the expensive guitars have to offer. Like I was looking through some forums and ppl say thay bought such and such model of such and such company and I was wondering what difference does it make, I just bought a $150 guitar off ebay and it sounds pretty much okay to me. Next time I visit a music shop, I'll check out the different models and how exactly do they sound different.
  5. sDEVs

    sDEVs Inventor

    Hey Zing, really good Job, Thanks. Put more of such topics when you come to know...
  6. saurabhrocks

    saurabhrocks New Member

    well what's the big deal abt it, everyone shud know this thing, it's very common
    but still gud work
  7. mymusicmyguitar

    mymusicmyguitar New Member

    Nice Post man.......Keep up the good work
  8. zing

    zing Machine Head

    actually this knowledge is not as common as it _should_ be......hence the title :) we prolly know that "wood makes a difference" but not the exact details... n thas why companies get away with producing substandard gats
    in fact in any average indian shop, not even 5% of the gats will be solid tops.....n even among those the quality & type of wood makes a huge diff...

    dont believe what the salesperson tells you.... very often they will try to sell u a laminated top as a solid top..... they may not be tryin to cheat u but instead r just unaware....... a genuine solid body gat is like a rare treasure.... often u have to pre-order it & pay an advance to see it even at big shops like bhargavas...
  9. zing

    zing Machine Head

    bcos of the shortage of fine wood, now fibre body gats are also gettin common - i had played a few some time back - the sound was good but i did not have a solid top to compare side by side..

    anybody who's played both fibre & solid body, plz post a note-for-note comparison of tones......wud b much appreciated
  10. zing

    zing Machine Head

  11. baadshah

    baadshah New Member

    The wood is what makes the sound of the guitar, so it definitely is important to consider what type of wood you would want in a guitar.

    I posted something earlier saying the best wood for the back and sides is rosewood, solid rosewood. its bloody expensive though, so many high end budget guitars use mahogany (mine is cherry). But its not the sides and back that make most of the sound, its the top. In fact, the top is said to make over 90% of the sound of a guitar. Solid tops make the best sound. The most popular ones are sitka spruce and cedar. The difference: spruce is said to have a more punchy and bright sound, whereas cedar has a more mellow and warm sound (mine is a solid cedar top). The wood of SOLID guitars age (i was told only solid guitars have the ability to age noticeably).Spruce ages much slower and evenly through time, becoming noticeable after 10 years or so, whereas cedar ages very fast. All in all, it depends on whether the properties of the wood were considered when building it. Another thing to consider is the fact that spruce is a hardwood whereas cedar is a softwood. Softwoods are more prone to pick scratches while cedars maintain their rigidity over longer periods of time. all in all, you gotta take care of your baby regardless of what wood it is.

    Lastly, another rule of thumb is the thinner the top, the better the resonating and sound quality. Sound is produced by vibrations of mostly the top, and thinner woods vibrate much easier. Try picking up a very heavy guitar and a light one; right away you should be able to tell the difference. Hope that helps those who are interested...i've been heavily researching the making of acoustics and the differences in sound based on subtle changes in construction, so if you need to know anything else just ask.

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