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A Beginner's Guide to the Acoustic Guitar

What is an acoustic guitar and how does it work?

An acoustic guitar is a stringed musical instrument that is played by picking the strings with fingers or a plectrum. The vibration of the strings creates the sound, which is then made louder acoustically inside the guitar's hollow body or sound box. Further amplification is sometimes needed for performances and this is usually achieved by playing the instrument into a microphone, although some acoustic guitars do feature pickups, allowing them to be plugged in to an amp in a similar way to an electric guitar.

There are several different types of acoustic guitar available, catering for different styles of music. Classical guitars - sometimes referred to as concert or Spanish - typically feature six nylon strings and are generally used to play classical music. They are often plucked as opposed to strummed and have a flat fretboard profile. They produce a more mellow sound than acoustics with steel strings, which are both louder and brighter.

Different types of acoustic guitar

The three main types of acoustic guitar shape are dreadnoughts, cutaways and round backs. The dreadnought, which has a bell-like body, was developed by famous manufacturer CF Martin & Company and has gone on to be considered the standard acoustic guitar shape. Cutaways have an indentation in the body next to the bottom of the guitar neck to make it easier for guitarists to play the lower part of the fingerboard. Round back models have a rounded as opposed to flat back, which is considered to create a clearer and brighter sound.

Acoustic guitars available on the market

A starter instrument, such as the Concert Acoustic Guitar can be bought from £39.99. Designed for those on a budget, the instrument is particularly good for smaller players. It produces a mellow and balanced tone and features a compensated bridge to assist with intonation. It is considered to be ideal for finger-picking and playing acoustic blues music.

The Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar, which is also geared towards beginners, is available for the same price. The larger instrument has a full and balanced tone and boasts high levels of playability and response in addition to the compensated bridge.

Electro-acoustic guitars, which feature pickups, are marginally more expensive, with the Round Back Acoustic Guitar available for £65. The slimline instrument has a cutaway feature and produces warm and clear tones in addition to having a great feel. It is designed with live performance in mind, with the aim of minimising problems with feedback when the instrument is amplified.

Boasting similar features and the same price is the Single Cutaway Electro Acoustic Guitar, which has a well-balanced acoustic sound that is also designed to sound great through an amp.

Further up the price range and for those looking to advance is the Washburn D46S Acoustic Guitar. The dreadnought instrument costs £299 and is thought to be unrivalled in its price range for its richness of feel and the quality of wood used in its build.

At the top of the price range is the Yamaha LJX6C Solid Top Jumbo Acoustic for £675. With a solid spruce top, cutaway rosewood back and sides and a two-way pick-up with pre-amp system, the instrument is built with the modern guitarist in mind, producing a controlled and assertive tone and a strong mid-range.

Other things to consider when buying an acoustic guitar

Those looking to buy an acoustic guitar and start playing straight away may be interested in the Dreadnought Guitar + Accessory Pack, which comes with a spare set of strings and gig bag for £49.99. Other popular accessories include guitar polish, picks and tuners, while those with electro-acoustics will probably find a practice amp to be useful. Full amplifiers will likely be needed for those looking to play live.

Posted on 11 May 2009 11:49 to category : Tips and advice

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