Acoustic Guitars

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Acoustic Guitars (Keys to Consider)

One key to consider when choosing an acoustic guitar is to take a look at established brand names such as Epiphone, Fender or Yamaha. These companies offer reasonably priced models that are ideal for the beginner guitarist. Well known brands have been around for a while and they apply their construction standards and quality to these entry level instruments.

Other keys to consider are the materials that are used to build the fingerboard and to construct the top of the guitar. These woods have some impact on how the guitar plays and how it sounds and definitely how it looks.  

Guitar Necks and Fingerboards

Guitar necks are traditionally made from maple because this wood contributes to good tones and excellent sustain. They can be constructed with one piece of wood, or two pieces laminated together. Remember to pay attention to the thickness of the neck and find one that feels comfortable to you.

The most common woods used to make fingerboards for two piece necks are ebony and rosewood.

Ebony is a very dark wood so it is often used on a guitar that has an all black appearance.  Ebony wood has tight grains and doesn’t require a finish. Fingerboards constructed from ebony feel very smooth and contribute to the creation of very tight sounds.

Rosewood is the wood chosen most often for guitar fingerboards.  It has relatively more oil that occurs naturally and lends itself to producing more mellow tones.

Acoustic Guitar Tops

The tops of the body of an acoustic guitar can be constructed with solid woods or laminate woods.  Solid woods are milled to the required thickness and then the top is made of two or three pieces which are glued together. Laminate woods are a manufactured product that can vary in quality.

Solid woods are thought to resonate sound better than laminates do. This holds true only if good quality woods are used. It is possible to build a high quality guitar using laminated woods.

One advantage for building a guitar with laminate woods is that it is affected less by humidity changes compared to solid woods.  A great feature of solid woods is that they tend to sound better as they age, whereas laminate woods don’t really change their tone over time.

Acoustic Guitar Body Types (Dreadnoughts & Jumbos)

More keys to consider are the acoustic guitar body types.  Some body types are used for certain styles of music.  Other guitars are chosen because of their size for ease of playing.

The most common acoustic guitar body type is called a dreadnought.  This type of guitar is played in a wide range of genres such as folk, rock or country.  The dreadnought offers a symmetry between sound, size and playing comfort.

At the opposite end of the size scale is a shape called the parlour.   These types of acoustic guitars have very small bodies.  These guitars are often seen in the folk or indie scene where the music is more intimate.

At the top of the size scale are guitars referred to as jumbo acoustics.   These guitars are larger than dreadnoughts and their primary feature is volume.

A modern innovation in acoustic body types is the baby acoustic. It is essentially a scaled down dreadnought.  It is designed for portability and is used in many genres. The sound produced by the baby acoustic is comparable to a larger sized acoustic guitar.

Guitar Reviews

Popular Acoustic Guitars (for Beginners)

Yamaha FG 800 Review

Average price:  $269 Cdn

Cheapest place to buy:  Amazon Canada

My Rating:  4.8 out of 5

Key Specs:

  • full size body
  • solid spruce top
  • Nato/okume back & sides
  • rosewood fingerboard
  • die-cast chrome tuners

The Yamaha FG 800 guitar sells for a very reasonable price.  I gave this one a try at my local guitar store, and was impressed with the incredible sound and the feel of this instrument.  It demonstrates very well how a solid spruce top resonates sound.   This guitar really projects.

The neck is not very wide or thick so it is a good beginner guitar. The Yamaha FG 800 felt very light in spite of the fact that it has a full size body.  Yamaha has developed a new bracing system which creates an acoustic structure that contributes to the strength of the guitar top, while at the same time enhancing the sound.

Epiphone Pro-1 Plus Review

Average price:  $179 Cdn

Cheapest place to buy:  Amazon Canada

My Rating:  4.4 out of 5

Key Specs:

  • full body (with reduced body depth)
  • select spruce top
  • mahogany body
  • rosewood fingerboard
  • JumboPro frets
  • 18:1 ratio Epiphone “deluxe” tuners

The Epiphone Pro-1 Plus is promoted as a guitar having innovative easy-to-use features.  When I tried this guitar at the local guitar shop, I did find it easy to play.   My hand felt comfortable around the neck.  The JumboPro frets are a bit taller and wider than other guitars, and they are supposed to make it easier for a string to make contact with the fret.  I didn’t really notice any difference.

The overall length of the neck is 1″ shorter than most guitars.  The theory here is that the strings feel looser because they are under less tension.  A nice feature in the neck is a dual-action truss rod designed to adjust the neck in both directions.

The Pro- Plus is considered to be a dreadnought style acoustic guitar.  This model is a bit different in that the depth of the guitar is less than that of most acoustics.  For a smaller person, this would make the guitar more comfortable to play.  The tone of this guitar is very good, largely because of the solid spruce top.

Fender CD-60S Review

Average price:  $269 Cdn

Cheapest place to buy:  Amazon Canada

My Rating:  4.6 out of 5

Key Specs:

  • dreadnought style body
  • solid spruce top
  • mahogany body
  • rosewood fingerboard

The Fender CD-60 is a good example of an acoustic guitar designed for the beginner guitarist.  It features the tradition of quality Fender guitars are known for, but offered at a price that fits a conservative budget.  It features a dual truss rod in the player friendly neck shape.   The dreadnought body of this guitar creates a full sound that projects well.

I hope that you found this information useful.  Please leave comments below so that I know how I’m doing. Also, please ask questions if there is something that I could explain better.

 

4 thoughts on “Acoustic Guitars

    1. Hey thanks again Ryan

      I had fun trying out a couple of the acoustics I reviewed. Amazon offers all of them at a great price.

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