...currently reading.....

Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset

...last read.....

Trout, by Ray Bergman
Embed? Win!

Fantastic Contraption

Powered by: MySpace Games >br?

Sunday, March 05, 2006


How to select an acoustic guitar, courtesy of G-Had:

1. Intonation: Play the harmonic at the 12th fret, and then play the note at
the 12th fret. Do this on all strings. If *any* string sounds different (they should be the same note), put that guitar away, you won't get proper intonation. Use a tuner if you don't trust your ears (but note that how hard you press the string at the 12th fret can bring it in or out of tune - do what is natural and try this with a friends high-end guitar first if you want to see what is possible, like a Gibson, Taylor, or Martin.)

2. Check string height: I happen to like fairly low action on my guitars, because I do not have a rough right hand technique. (To put it simply, I play lightly, it has been a problem at times). I like the strings only high enough so that they don't buzz, which leads us to...

3. Frets: Make sure the frets are nice and even along the edge of the fretboard. I don't like them to feel sharp or anything - if I run clothe along the edge (like a shirt sleeve), it should not get caught up! Look closely at the frets, if the crown (top) is thicker on some frets than others than you know that the frets were laid out on an uneven fretboard and then leveled out until they were the same height - the luthier should then recrown every fret so that the tops look even. On a cheaper acoustic, this will usually *not* be the case, so an uneven fretboard is indicated by some frets having to be leveled down more than others. Look at a Taylor if you want to really see what frets should look like (I gotta get me one of them!). Play EVERY note from the 1st fret to the 13th fret on each string. None of them should buzz.

4. Dead notes: Play each string open, they should ring out about the same. Now check each note, for what you want to do, you only need to check for this on the first 5 frets. (If you were plunking $1,000-2,000, then that would be different.) Sometimes, by accident, the harmonics of a string get canceled out by guitar construction. The best way to test this is to play the 1st fret, then the 2nd fret and notice if one is not as loud. Compare each fret only with it's neighbor. Don't compare the 1st fret with the open string, though - those will never ring the same. You might think this is picky, but if you happen to have a dead note on the third fret of the 5th string (C), then this will bug you. Chances are pretty good that you won't find one - so don't think you are doing anything wrong at this stage if
nothing appears.

Most importantly, if any sales staff are watching you, you will REALLY look like you know what you are doing and intimidate them. If they don't know anything, then you look like you are searching for mojo or something. If they do know a thing or two, they will appreciate what you are doing.

5. Neck: Hold the guitar up like a shotgun and stare up the neck from the saddle to the nut. There is a gentle curve to a guitar neck, and you shouldn't see any twisting. If there was, steps 1-4 probably would have weeded that guitar out.

6. Body/Construction: The lighter the guitar, usually the better. The strings don't do all the work, the whole guitar vibrates and produces sound on the sound board. A heavy solid-wood guitar means that the bracing is too thick, or there is too much glue. Of course, you are not interested in a laminate guitar (plywood) - you want a solid top sides and back. (Personally, I don't care if the neck/headstock are constructed from more than one piece of wood). Try to guess where some of the bracing is under the sound board and tap rather hardly with the side of your thumb. The guitar should not "knock back," indicating something is loose under there.
I had a classical guitar that had this problem.

7. Finish: I am not too concerned about the finish of a guitar. The more you play it, the more dings and scratches it will get. It is for making music, and not art. I don't even get upset when one of of the kids in the youth guitar group bangs their tuning peg against my $1,500 Martin. I have about 5 or 6 dings in the soundboard since I started teaching them on Sunday nights. Better than having the guitar stay in the case. Use this last area only to determine which of the remaining 2-3 guitars (out of 10-12 possibly) you should choose.



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?