Playing rock music with nylon strings is hard, and playing a full-sized guitar when you're nine or ten can be a real challenge too. Find the acoustic guitar that's right for you - and your musical style. Here are some things you'll need to know before purchasing your musical signature.
First, choose a guitar with the right strings. Guitars with nylon strings are best for classical music, while musicians who play rock, jazz, or the blues will want to invest in guitars with steel strings. Bass guitars are best for musicians who want to add to a band's sound rather than play the melody.
Consider the event. Musicians who will be performing at smaller venues often prefer acoustic guitars. Acoustic guitars can also be used for larger events, but an amplifier or microphone will be needed. Another good choice for larger events is an electric-acoustic guitar. These have internal pickups so that they can be plugged directly into amplifiers.
Quality is a major factor in determining the purchase of an acoustic guitar. Many beginners choose inexpensive models, not wanting to spend a lot of money until they know they have the skills to play at a more advanced level. Usually, the tone of a high-quality acoustic guitar will actually become more mature and mellow as the wood ages. Some guitars are even worth more when they are older than when they are new!
Choose a guitar that is the right size for the person playing it. For example, half-sized children's guitars are sold for young players, while a 3/4-size acoustic guitar is perfect for teens or adults with small frames. Another option is a travel guitar; these are smaller and more lightweight, but still offer the sound quality of a regular full-size acoustic guitar.
Some beginners or more experienced players prefer certain brands of musical instruments. Since each brand has its own sound, the player should try several different popular brands to determine which sound he or she prefers. Some of the more well-known brands are Fender, Taylor, and Gibson acoustic guitars.
If the acoustic guitar is privately made, investigate the construction methods thoroughly. Was the guitar made by a craftsman who truly enjoys making guitars, or was this a cheaply constructed knockoff brand produced to be sold in mass quantities?
Other guitar essentials
Acoustic guitar players will need to purchase several items to protect and properly play their instrument. For example, a guitar case offers protection and portability. Choose from hard-shell or soft-shell cases. Hard cases are designed for maximum protection, but are heavy to carry. Soft cases are lightweight and portable, but don't offer much protection.
Other must-haves include acoustic guitar strings and guitar picks. Strings are easily broken, and losing a guitar pick is too easy. Keep extra supplies on hand to avoid being stranded during a gig. Additionally, a guitar strap is a must for any player who wants to stand while playing the guitar; it's impossible to hold a guitar's full weight and play at the same time.
Even if the guitar is in perfect tune when it's purchased, sooner or later players will have to retune their instruments. Electric guitar tuners are ideal for anyone without perfect pitch. Instructional books for acoustic guitar players are also important; videos and instructional books are a great way for players to teach themselves. These are also helpful even for players who are taking private lessons.
For those players who are planning to use an amplifier, acoustic guitar pickups and cables are necessary purchases. Other helpful extras are slides, capos, and stands. A capo is designed to depress every string on the fret of an acoustic guitar. This allows the playing of an open chord in a higher key.
Slides will rapidly alter a note's pitch, and are frequently used in playing blues music. Stands provide a designated place for the instrument when it's not being used, which helps to guard against accidental damage. Most professional players use a guitar stand onstage as well as at home.
Anatomy Lessons: The Acoustic Guitar
Players who think they don't need to understand how their guitar is constructed in order to make a good purchase make a huge mistake. In fact, how a guitar is build largely determines both the quality and the characteristics of the sound it makes. The construction process varies somewhat with each manufacturer, but all acoustic guitars have certain basic parts: a body, a head, a neck, and strings.
An acoustic guitar body is hollow, and the plucking or strumming of a string causes sound to reverberate through that hollow space. The soundboard is the single most critical part of a guitar's body. The soundboard is responsible for transferring the vibrations made by the string into the body. The body acts as an amplifier, making the vibrations audible to the listener.
The sound hole is beneath the soundboard, and is designed to permit the amplified vibrations to leave the hollow body. The soundboard also connects with the guitar's strings at the bridge. This bridge is a single piece of wood that sits between the guitar's strings and its soundboard. The bridge is responsible for relaying vibrations from the guitar strings to the instrument's soundboard.
Usually, an acoustic guitar body is narrower at the middle, so the guitar sets comfortably on the player's leg. At either end of the narrow portion, the body swells into rounded errors referred to as bouts. The upper bout is usually smaller and is designed to amplify high notes, while the lower bout is larger and amplifies lower tones. An acoustic' guitar's tone is partially determined by the size as well as the shape of the body's bouts.
The fingerboard is located on the acoustic guitar neck. These fingerboards include one or more metal bars known as frets. Adjusting the strings at the frets allows the player to alter the strings' lengths, and thus, their tones.
Attached to the neck is the acoustic guitar head. Here, both the tuning heads and the nut are located. The nut, together with the bridge, is responsible for the suspension of the guitar strings. The player adjusts the acoustic guitar heads to tune the guitar, changing the strings' pitches through the resultant increase or decrease in string tension.
The strings of an acoustic guitar, as discussed earlier, are also very important. Nylon strings are generally used for folk or classical music, while steel strings are highly preferred for rock, jazz, or blues music. Choose the right guitar for the music; using steel strings with guitars that are made to use only nylon strings can result in serious damage to the instrument.
Smart shoppers make happy guitar players, so take the time to find the right instrument that offers the best sound for your level. Your listeners will thank you for it!