Even for something as unvariably tuned as an acoustic guitar, the phrase “sound in your hands” is quite applicable. Despite the fact that it practically lacks various volume and frequency controls, you can still improve its sound. That’s what this article is all about – how to get a good sound from an acoustic guitar without buying a new instrument.
The main factors that affect the sound of a guitar
Of course, there are various factors that objectively affect the sound of your instrument. Some of them can be influenced, while others cannot. All of them are listed below.
The material of the instrument
When it comes to the sound of an acoustic guitar, the primary factor is the material of the instrument. Different woods resonate, absorb and reflect different frequencies differently, as well as color the sound itself. When deciding which acoustic guitar to choose, it is worth paying maximum attention to this factor, because if you don’t like the very coloring of the instrument’s sound, the only way out is to replace it directly.
Fittings of an instrument are less critical, but still affect the sound. For example, floppy pickups can give quite an unpleasant resonant sound, or even do not allow the string to sound quality at all. The way out is to replace the fittings, or preventive maintenance.
Technical readiness of the instrument
This factor includes sharp frets, snagging strings, various unfinished thresholds, and the like. The technical readiness of the guitar affects whether the strings will rattle, whether the guitar will hold the line and so on. You’ll have to spend money to fix the craftsman’s flaws, so make sure there’s nothing technically wrong with your instrument when you buy it-especially if you’re buying it off-hand.
Your playing skills
One of the most critical factors. First and foremost, as mentioned above, the sound of your guitar is in your hands. So just learn how to play it. If the strings are rattling when you’re strumming chords and scale boxes – it’s quite possible that it’s not the fingerboard that’s crooked, it’s just that you’re not clamping your positions well. Try to play as cleanly as possible.
Motivation and desire to get the sound you want
This applies more to owners of electric acoustic instruments. In such guitars, when playing a line or sound card, great importance is given to proper equalization of the signal, as well as frequency distribution. And if you want to get the most out of your instrument, pay close attention to this issue. Take a look at how other, more experienced sound engineers equalize acoustic guitars, read about what sound and frequencies mean in general, and then you’ll be able to create the sound you need from any instrument and equipment.
Instrument Selection. The ability to compare the sound with others
As mentioned above – the first thing you should be concerned about is the sound of the guitar as a whole. Read articles about how wood affects the sound, and listen to guitar sound demos on YouTube. Choose the benchmark you want – and use it as a starting point.
Also, don’t buy the first instrument you find. Listen carefully to a few selections and choose the one you like best. Take into account the ease of playing, as well as the volume of the sound. Pay attention to the price – try to buy mid- and high-priced instruments, because they will objectively sound better due to their quality.
Of course, pay attention to the material the guitar is made of – as mentioned above, the whole sound depends on it.
And if you’re really going to go into the professional music business – then a good electric acoustic guitar is the best choice. You’ll really need one, and it’s much more comfortable to use on stage than an instrument without a piezo pickup.
Ask someone else to play
Listen to how the guitar sounds from the side. This is especially true if you ask someone who is much better at the instrument than you are. This way, you’ll hear the sound from the outside, and you’ll understand even more whether or not it’s to your liking.
Check your guitar’s fittings and condition
If you’re playing all of a sudden and you’re starting to hear a noise you haven’t heard before, check your guitar’s fittings and general condition. Maybe it needs a tightening, or maybe its pickups are loose, or the string bindings are loose. Double-check all of these things and fix them if possible. For example, tighten the anchor to make it comfortable for you to play. If the fingerboard has a twisted screw, see a guitar technician.
Tune your guitar
It’s a very trivial reason, but a tuned guitar sounds different than an untuned one. So this is the first thing you should check.
Problems with electronics
If you’re playing an electric acoustic guitar in a line or combo amp, the squeaks and crackles can indicate a malfunction in the equipment. If this is the case, try playing without amplification – and if there are no problems, contact a technician about it.
Problems with your playing technique
If the sound of chords on the guitar when you play is accompanied by crackling and rattling, then try to spend more time on this issue. Work on string clamping, as well as chord playing technique in general. Of course, pay the most attention to playing with a barre, because that’s where most of the squeaks come from.
In addition to figuring out how to properly barre chords, pay attention to your attack with the plectrum and your fingers. Striking the strings too hard will definitely be accompanied by unpleasant squeals and rattling – so practice playing better. It’s almost always the way you play your guitar that causes all your sound problems, so practicing consistently will go a long way toward making your guitar sound better.
The sound is in your hands – that’s the thesis that applies to almost all instruments. Of course, it’s worth paying close attention to what’s going on with your guitar, and in case of real breakdowns, it’s worth taking it to a guitar maker to get it repaired. But don’t rush into it anyway – because it’s quite possible that your technique just isn’t good enough to produce a clean sound.