|12-04-2010 until 06-03-2015|
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Waterloo, On
Acoustic Guitar FAQ: Answers to all your basic questions...
Acoustic Guitar FAQ as well as a handy Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide
Parts of this thread have been brought to you by beatallica_fan, Miele, Bill43, Cmogi10 and the number41
1. Which guitar threads - this is basically a continuation of the policy adopted in the electric guitar forum. General requests for which guitar is best are not allowed. If you buying an acoustic and want advice provide specifics, such as price range, 6/12 string, acoustic/electro-acoustic, cutaway or not..... things like that
2. Good acoustic songs - this has been asked a million times so for a start you do a search of the forums. In my opinion any good song can be played on acoustic, just because it wasn?t originally played on acoustic doesn?t mean you cant adapted it. Some of the best cover versions I have ever heard are acoustic interpretations of songs.
3. How do i tune to.....? - Many alternative tunings are covered in a thread in the archive forum, however most of them are various dropped tunings found throughout nu metal styles. There are many other alternate tunings which work well on acoustic and which you are quite entitled to post about. But please check the tuning thread in archive before asking the question.
4. What?s better 6 string/12 string or nylon/steel stringed? - Both these questions are a matter of personal taste. Obviously your free to discuss the merits of each properly, but please as with all debates make your points sensibly and back up your arguments with reasoning.
5. How do i tune a 12 string? - 12 strings are essentially tuned the same as 6 strings. The E A D and G strings have a twin string tuned an octave higher, the B and e strings have a twin string tuned exactly the same. My personal preference is to tune everything down a whole step and use a capo to maintain the desired pitch, it reduces the amount of stress you put on your neck.
Labeled Acoustic Guitar Diagrams
(some of them are a bit redundant, but it should help clarify any questions you have.)
Guitar Sizes And How it Affects Sound...
There Are Three Basic Sizes
Parlor(000)- Parlour guitars are narrow at the shoulders, narrow at the waist, and conspicuously smaller than the other styles of acoustic guitars.. Their diminutive size means the sound is "weaker" as well. However parlour guitars are often noted for their velvety tone, and many people find the size and shape easier to handle. Parlours were popular with many early blues players, and are still the axe of choice among many fingerstyle players.
Dreadnaught- Dreadnoughts are probably the most popular style of acoustic guitars because of their versatility. Their big bodies and strong sound make them popular with everyone from "Kumbaya" strummers to unplugged rockers to flat-picking country kickers. Dreadnoughts have square shoulders on the upper and lower bouts, and are fairly wide at the waist. They project a loud, full sound when strummed or picked.
Jumbo- Jumbo acoustics have gained more fans in recent years, reviving a size popular in jazz's pre-electric days. Slope-shouldered and narrow-waisted, jumbos feature a lot of body behind the bridge, which gives these guitars a nice boost on the bottom end and a big, round tone. A well-made jumbo can project almost as strongly as a dreadnought and still have the warmth and evenness of a concert acoustic.
Here's A tone Chart that outlines the different tones by body style (i know its for martins, but it gives the idea)
What Guitar Should I get?
"Best Guitars Under 500 Dollars"
Acoustic Guitar Buyer?s Guide
As we all know, even though you, the first time guitar buyer might not, there is no ?best guitar? to buy. Everyone has different tastes, according to sound and feel. The helpful and informed members of UG have helped compile this guide to picking your first (or second, of third) acoustic guitar. This should help you decide on your own which guitar you want. Chances are, if you pick it out yourself, you will be happier with your purchase. Just try to follow these few simple rules.
~First and most important! GO TO THE GUITAR STORE! While your there be prepared to play a lot of guitars. Start at one end of the rack and pick up each and every guitar you can afford. Cosmetics are not the most important thing, but they matter to many. Just ignore them for now. Pick up each guitar and give them a strum (you don?t need to know any chords, just play the strings).
~If you like the way the guitar sounds, take the time to look it over. Make sure the action is playable (action is the distance of the strings off the fretboard. If it is too high, then the guitar is harder to play and you will have less fun playing it, this can be especially frustrating for an aspiring rock star). If there are any blemishes on the finish that will not affect the playability or sound, keep track of them. Fret each note on each string to check for buzzing and sharp, poorly applied for frets. You might be able to use them to haggle with the guitar store for a lower price than what is originally on the price tag.
~DO THIS FOR EVERY GUITAR YOU LIKE! MAKE SURE TO PLAY EVERY SINGLE ONE!
~After you find the one you like the most, (sound, playability, finish, etc.) Take a closer look at the guitar and look, or even ask about each one of the following things?
~What's the bracing pattern?
~Are the braces scalloped or not?
~Is the finish on the guitar in good shape?
~Can I see any imperfections in it anywhere?
~Is it a solid top... Spruce, Cedar or God knows what?
~What's the grain on the top look like... is it close grained? Wide open or wormwood?
~Is the binding in good shape and meeting all points of the body and neck?
~Is there a lot of glue visible inside the guitar?
~Does it smell like a child's chemistry set or does it smell like wood?
~How good are the tuning machines? What's the turning ratio? I prefer 16/1 or higher. My favorites are 20/1 but they're hard to find... so I usually get 18/1 tuners.
~What's the materials used for the nut & saddle?
~What type of wood is used for the fretboard?
~What are the back and sides made from? Are they laminates or solid? (For more information on woods there is a brief explanation further on)
~How is the neck attached to the body?
~ Is the inside of the body dusty?... Does it have a few wood chips or sawdust in it? Spider webs? (yes I've seen spider webs in a guitar or two in my time). Any of this means one of three things. Either the guitar is poorly constructed, the quality control is very poor, or other (possibly more experienced) guitarists have looked at and passed over that particular guitar for usually a very good reason... although this could lead you into a greatly reduced price. If you like the guitar and everything else checks out, don't "chuck this one out" for these reasons alone.
~How much does it cost and what comes with it if I buy it from this store right now? A hardshell case? A few sets of strings and some picks? A free setup? What do I get for "free" if I buy it right now?
(Thanks Bill for that last list of things to look for, I wouldn?t have thought of them all by myself)
Me personally, I don?t think knowing what wood the guitar is made of matters, because if you like it, then who cares if its rosewood or mahogany,
ALSO! REMEMBER TO HAGGLE WITH THE SALESMAN! Ask them to set the guitar up with new strings, lower the action (if needed) and anything else you feel is necessary. Most stores will do this for free, but if they charge you a small fee it is always a good idea and investment in your guitar.
A Brief Outline of Tonewoods...
Back And Sides....
A highly sought after tonewood for its beauty and sound. It is not noticably different tonally from Other Rosewoods, but is more expensive and rarer purely based on its look.
EAST INDIAN ROSEWOOD
A beautiful coffee colored tonewood, it is sought after for its color, which ranges from brown to purple to rose to black, and its tonal charactaristics include a strong bass response and long sustain. it is the most populer tonewood for acoustic guitars.
A readily available wood that is a populer wood to use to make necks. It produces a bright clear tone. It is similar to Koa in its ability to add snap and sparkle to the instrument.
A very rare amd expensive wood, it is only found between 300 and 7000 foot elevations on Hawaii's major islands. It is expensive mostly because of its scarcity (like precious metals) but it is also a very aestheticly good looking wood. The tone is a cross between maple and rosewood,
BIG LEAF MAPLE
Maple produces a clear, bright, compressed, balanced tone capable of cutting through the mix in an ensemble making it a favorite on stage and in the studio. It is one of the favored woods for jazz guitars, because of the bright, dry tone, very different from Rosewood.
Produces a deep, "compressed" tone and a lot of volume, similar in that respect to rosewood.
Because its stiffness and weight differ from that of Sitka spruce, Engelmann soundboards produce a smoother, slightly mellower tone, one that many players describe as "more mature."
This dense, straight-grained wood has the highest strength and elasticity-to-weight ratio among available tonewoods, an attribute that makes it an ideal material not only for our soundboards, but for our internal bracing, as well. Sitka produces a slightly brighter tone than does Engelmann.
WESTERN RED CEDAR
Has been used for decades as a soundboard material on classical guitars, and it's becoming popular among steel-string enthusiasts, as well. Cedar is a "soft" wood known for producing a "warm," mellow tone. We use Cedar specifically for our fingerstyle instruments as it responds quickly and with good volume to a light attack. It is also very well suited to open or lowered tension tunings as they require the same qualitites for good separation and definition.
All original info can be found here
Here's some descriptions I've cut and pasted from Taylor's website.
ACTION: the distance of the strings from the playing surface of the fingerboard; thus, "high" action means the strings are raised farther away from the fingerboard, and "low" action means they're closer to the fingerboard; qualitatively, "good action" is a matter of personal preference, but, generally speaking, lower action is easier to play.
ATTACK: when a single musical note is played on an instrument, it forms a tonal "envelope" with a beginning and an end; the attack is the first portion of a note's envelope, the point at which it starts at relative silence and reaches its maximum volume.
BEAR CLAWS: most visible on light-colored tops, these are small, "swirly" irregularities in the grain pattern, usually a few inches in length and one to two inches in diameter; unless cosmetic uniformity is a critical concern, bear claws are often visually striking and lend the instrument some personality; this anomaly got its name from loggers, who would peel back bark to look for marks reminiscent of those made by a bear sharpening its claws on the tree trunk (this would be the edge-on view of what we see in the guitar top).
BINDING: the frequently decorative strips of plastic, wood, fiber, or other flexible materials used to strengthen the edges of the guitar, where the top and back meet the sides; also "purfling" or "edging".
BOOKMATCHING: refers to the matching of two pieces of wood used for the top or back of a guitar; the two pieces are cut from the same billet of wood, then "opened" (as one would a book) to create a mirror-image on either side.
BOUT (PRONOUNCED "BOWT"): the curved portions above (upper bout) and below (lower bout) a guitar's "waist;" from a frontal perspective, the upper bout would be the guitar's "shoulders" and the lower bout would be its "hips".
BRACING: the splayed pattern of supportive wooden struts that strengthen the top and back of a guitar and affect tone; "scalloped" braces are those that have been shaved or carved to lighten the guitar and/or to allow for tone-producing flexibility, especially on the top of the guitar; also "strutting".
BOLT-ON NECK: refers to the use of bolts or screws to secure the joint formed where the neck meets the body, instead of the more traditional dovetail joint and glue; popularized by Fender for electric guitars, and by Taylor for acoustic guitars.
BRIDGE: a plate of wood or other material attached to the soundboard of a guitar, below the soundhole; the bridge serves to anchor the strings, and, in conjunction with the saddle, conducts the vibrations or energy from the strings into the soundboard.
COLD CHECKING: the web-like or checkerboard pattern of fine cracks in a guitar's finish, frequently caused by expansion and contraction due to extreme cold (hence the name) or heat.
COMPENSATED SADDLE: A saddle set at a specific angle (and with the B-string slot pre-adjusted) for optimal intonation, as opposed to a "straight" saddle.
COMPOUND DOVETAIL: when describing a certain kind of neck-joint favored by traditional guitar makers (but not by Taylor), "compound" refers to it being dovetailed in two directions simultaneously: the mortise-and-tenon is dovetail-shaped, so it will slide in, and it's wedge-shaped, so that when it slides in it eventually hits bottom; without question, this makes a very strong wood joint; unfortunately, the glue-joint is buried up inside that connection, so removing the neck can be problematic.
CROSS-GRAIN: having the grain or fibers running diagonally, transversely, or irregularly; also knows as "silk", this is a characteristic visible on some spruce tops that gets a lot of misplaced attention; it is not a "flaw".
CUTAWAY: a curved indentation in the upper, treble-side bout, near the neck, which allows access to the upper frets; a "Venetian" cutaway is rounder and smoother (it is the style used on most Taylors with cutaways); a "Florentine" cutaway comes to a sharper point (requiring a miter joint), is more complex and labor-intensive, and is featured only on the Doyle Dykes Signature Model (it also is available as an option on all full-size guitars).
DAMPIT: a tube- or hose-like soundhole humidifier that is suspended inside the guitar's sound chamber, where it can release moisture in discreet amounts to prevent or counteract the effects of drying caused by low relative humidity.
DECAY: the decline in the level of volume or reverberation of the "envelope" of a musical note in which the envelope goes from maximum to some mid-range level; also, the rate of that decline (see "attack").
DOVETAIL: the combination of a flaring tenon and the mortise into which it tightly fits to make an interlocking joint between two pieces (as in wood); dovetail neck-joints are favored by traditional guitar makers, but not by Taylor.
DREADNOUGHT: large-body, thick-waisted acoustic guitar pioneered by Frank H. Martin and Harry Hunt in the early 1900s; today, the term is used generically to describe that body style.
END BLOCK: a piece of hardwood affixed to the inside, tail-end of a guitar, intended to provide structural support and reinforcement where the sides come together, as well as an anchor for the end pin; also "tail block".
END JOINT: the ornamental seam on the tail-end of a guitar where the sides come together.
FIGURE: the distinctive pattern produced by a wood's grain, annual rings, rays, coloration, or knots.
FINGERBOARD: the thin piece of wood that forms the smooth playing surface of the neck, and which features saw-cut slots that hold the frets; ebony, rosewood, and other dark hardwoods are commonly used; also "fretboard".
FINGERJOINT: similar to the "scarf" joints that have been used on classical guitars for years, fingerjoints are so-named because they look like interlocking "fingers"; such a joint used, say, to connect a peghead to a neck, actually increases the strength of that area * tests have shown it is just as strong as, if not stronger than, solid wood; fingerjoints also allow us to get more use out of our mahogany by making it unnecessary to cut a neck and peghead from a single piece of wood; and because we don't have a heel in the way from the start, as we do with a one-piece neck, we can "press-in" our frets, rather than pound them in, thus producing a far more accurate fret job and opening up possibilities for using other types of fret wire.
FINISH: a material used in the final treatment or coating of a surface, such as that on a guitar; Taylor uses a high-tech, polyester-type resin that is cured by ultra-violet light, and which we developed ourselves.
FLATPICK: a small, flat object, usually plastic, held between the thumb and forefinger or index finger, and used to strike the strings of an instrument; also known as a pick or plectrum.
FLAT-SAWN: wood that has been cut perpendicular to the rays; the log is first sawed in half, then each half is mounted so that it moves up and down against a knife, slicing is parallel to the center line and at a tangent to the growth rings in the tree. [see "quartersawn"]
FLAT TOP: a steel-string guitar with a flat soundboard, such as those made by Taylor.
FLORENTINE: [see "cutaway"]
FRET MARKERS: inlays commonly set at the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, and 12th frets (and higher on some guitars), intended to provide the player with a quick visual reference for positioning along the fingerboard; these can range from simple, utilitarian squares or dots made of wood, metal, or pearloid, to ornate designs or symbols made from more exotic materials.
FRETS: rounded metal strips hammered into slots on the fingerboard and spaced at precise intervals, so as to produce specific pitches when the strings are depressed against them.
GRAIN: refers to the direction or orientation of wood cells, particularly the fibrous element.
GRAIN FILLER: also known as "paste filler", this is a thick substance used for filling open-grain woods and for staining necks; traditionally, a brown, oil-based paste filler is applied to all guitars (except maple and spruce) to fill the wood pores in preparation for finish-spraying; this paste not only fills the pores, it also homogenizes the color variations in such woods as rosewood, walnut, and koa.
HARMONICS: the bell-like, upper tonal components of a note, relative to the fundamental, most easily heard at certain points on the fingerboard by lightly attacking a string directly over a fret but without fretting it.
HEADSTOCK OVERLAY: a usually thin decorative or contrasting design, article, or material, such as rosewood or ebony, positioned to cover a guitar's headstock or peghead.
HEARTWOOD: the older, harder, nonliving central wood of a tree that has ceased to conduct sap and serves the sole function of support; heartwood is created as the sapwood moves farther away from the active growth region of the tree and dies; it usually is darker, denser, less permeable, and more durable than the surrounding sapwood.
HEEL: the part of the neck that widens to join the body; usually with a concave curvature to accommodate the hand so the guitarist can reach the upper frets.
HEEL BLOCK: a piece of hardwood affixed to the inside of the guitar where the neck joins the upper body, for the purpose of providing structural support and reinforcement; also "head block" or "neck block".
HEEL CAP: on some guitars, the decorative veneer used to cap the small, triangular tip of the heel.
HYGROMETER: an instrument used to measure relative humidity levels; Taylor recommends the use of a hygrometer to gauge the relative humidity inside one's guitar case.
INLAY: decorative designs on the fingerboard, the peghead, and/or the body of a guitar; usually, the patterns are cut into the wood and filled with such materials as abalone, oyster, mother-of-pearl, plastic, light metals, etc.
INTONATION: as a general music term, this refers to the ability to play or sing on pitch; for our purposes as guitar makers, intonation refers to how a given instrument plays in tune with itself; a guitar string should produce the same note played as a harmonic at the 12th fret as it does when you fret that string at the same place; when a repairperson setting up a guitar puts it on a scope (strobe tuner) that compares the 12th-fret harmonic with a fretted 12th-fret note, he's checking its "intonation".
KERFING: tapered or wedge-shaped strips of wood glued around the inside seams of a guitar to add strength and stability where the sides meet the top and back; "kerfed" means articulated with closely spaced slits that render the wood strip flexible; also "lining".
KILN DRYING: the process of achieving and stabilizing a wood's desired moisture content by placing it in temperature-controlled "ovens" where excess moisture is removed by heat.
LAMINATED: when used to describe an acoustic guitar, refers to the use of thin plies of wood glued together to form a top, back, and/or sides (as opposed to "solid-wood"); frequently used on less-expensive guitars.
LUTHERIE: the craft of guitar-making; the world of guitars and guitar-making.
LUTHIER: a maker of lutes, violins, and other stringed instruments, especially acoustic guitars.
MITER JOINT: a joint formed by pieces matched and united upon a line bisecting the angle of junction, as by the beveled ends of two pieces of molding, especially when the pieces form a right angle.
MORTISE-AND-TENON: a type of joint or juncture used to connect two pieces of material; a mortise (also "mortice") usually is a rectangular cavity in a piece of wood, stone, or other material, shaped to receive a tenon; conversely, a tenon is a projection on the piece to be attached, shaped to fit into the mortise.
MOTHER-OF-PEARL: the lustrous interior lining of certain mollusks, frequently used for inlays, fret markers, and other decorative work; also "pearl".
NECK JOINT: the place on the guitar where the neck attaches to the body.
NECK PROFILE: the width and shape of a guitar neck.
NECK RESET: an operation undertaken specifically to return a guitar to factory specs, and more generally to maintain the structural integrity of a guitar over its long life; usually necessary only after many years of use.
NUT: the strip of bone, metal, or synthetic material that acts as a spacing guide for the strings where the neck joins the headstock; like the saddle, the nut also affects tone, in this case by conducting the strings' vibrations into the neck.
NUT SLOTS: the notches on a guitar's nut that hold the strings in place.
ORANGE PEEL: the "porous" appearance of a guitar's surface that results from the finish soaking into the wood's pores over time; usually, this happens when intermediate steps were not taken to close the wood pores with a "filler" prior to applying the finish coat.
PEARLOID: synthetic mother-of-pearl, made by mixing plastic and pearl dust.
PEGHEAD: see "headstock".
PICK, PLECTRUM: a small, thin device (made of ivory, wood, or plastic) used to pluck a stringed instrument.
PICKGUARD: a very thin plate (usually made of synthetic material) glued to the soundboard below the treble side of the soundhole, ostensibly to protect the finish from scratches and gouges (some manufacturers put pickguards on both sides of the soundhole).
PLAYABILITY: the ease with which an instrument can be played, relative to the player's comfort and the effort required to produce the desired result.
PREAMP: an electronic device designed to amplify extremely weak electrical signals before they are fed to additional (usually more powerful) amplifier circuits; any such signal-boosting device; short for "preamplifier".
PURFLING: sometimes referred to as "marquetry," purfling frequently comprises two or more types of binding strips whose surfaces, when laminated, create a specific design; see "binding".
QUARTERSAWN WOOD: a log cut into quarters lengthwise along its axis, parallel to the rays (the lines that run out from the center of the log); quartersawn tonewood is the preferred wood for guitar making due to its stability and uniform figure.
RADIUS: a line segment extending from the center of a circle or sphere to the circumference or bounding surface, or the circular area defined by a stated radius; the neck on a Taylor guitar has a 15-inch cylindrical radius (it is not compound or tapered, but is 15 inches all the way down).
RELATIVE HUMIDITY: humidity is a state of (usually invisible) moisture in the air; relative humidity (RH) is the amount of moisture in a given volume of air as compared to the amount that it is capable of holding, and measured as a percentage; if the RH is 30 percent, that means the air is holding 30 percent of the moisture it is capable of holding; as air temperature increases, so does the air's capacity to hold moisture; if the air temperature rises and its moisture content (humidity) stays the same, then the relative humidity becomes a lower percentage; when the temperature inside a building is raised, as so often is the case in the winter, the RH indoors will drop; the only way to re-establish the proper RH is to add moisture to the air (the function of a humidifier).
ROSETTE: decorative inlay around the soundhole, frequently consisting of designs in several concentric circles.
RUNOUT: the orientation of wood cells being other than parallel to the edge (face) of the board; often difficult or impossible to detect visually, severe runout can be detrimental to strength and sound transmission (also known as "slope").
SADDLE: a strip of bone, metal, or synthetic material that fits into a slot on the bridge and acts both as a spacing guide for the strings, and, together with the bridge, as a conductor of the vibrations or energy from the strings into the soundboard (see "Tusq").
SADDLE PICKUP OR PIEZO TRANSDUCER: a transducer is a device that is actuated by power from one system and supplies power (usually in another form) to a second system; a piezo transducer is placed under a guitar's saddle, where it picks up vibrations from the strings, after which the signal is boosted and then controlled by one tone and one volume control on the upper side of the instrument.
SADDLE SLOTS: the notches on a guitar's saddle that hold the strings in place.
SCALE LENGTH: describes the total length of a vibrating open string; a formula is applied to the scale length to determine fret positions, with the 12th fret being the half-way point; most flat-top, steel-string acoustic guitars have a scale length of between 24 and 26 inches (string tension increases with scale length).
SCALLOP: see "bracing".
SOUNDBOARD: the top of an acoustic guitar; also "belly," "plate," "table," "deck".
SOUNDHOLE: a large hole in the soundboard, usually directly under the strings, designed to increase sound projection.
SOFTWOODS: coniferous (cone-bearing) trees with evergreen needles or scale-like leaves that grow in cool, temperate northern regions; the only softwoods used on Taylor guitars are spruce and cedar.
SOUNDHOLE PICKUP: unlike a saddle pickup (see above), this is mounted inside the soundhole of the guitar.
"SWEET SPOT": that point in the process of setting up a guitar - positioning the saddle, adjusting the neck angle, etc. - where the builder feels that the instrument will function at its optimal level; a Taylor guitar's "sweet spot" has a neck angle set steep enough to neutralize (as much as possible) the tug of the string tension on the neck and body, but not so steep as to create problems associated with low action.
TAIL STRIP: the thin line of wood that runs down the middle seam on the outside butt-end of a guitar body; a decoration where the two halves of the back are joined; also known as "backstrip" and "end joint".
TENON: a projecting member in a piece of wood or other material for insertion into a mortise to make a joint.
TONE TRANSFER: The transfer of tone from a guitar neck into the body cavity through the neck joint.
TRANSDUCER: a device for transferring energy from one form to another, used to describe a form of pickup used for amplifying acoustic instruments.
TRUSS ROD: sometimes made of hardwood or graphite, but more commonly of steel, this dowel-like rod is fitted lengthwise into a neck to counteract the pull caused by string tension; the Gibson company introduced the "adjustable" truss rod in the 1920s.
TRUSS ROD COVER: a small piece of wood or other material used to cover the opening where one gains access to the truss rod for the purpose of making adjustments (on a Taylor, the truss rod cover is located just above the nut).
TRUSS ROD WRENCH: a tool used to adjust the truss rod in a guitar neck; wrenches are included in the cases of all our guitars, and also are available from our Customer Service Department.
TUNERS: refers to the pegs, attached to the headstock, that are used to wind, tighten, and/or loosen strings; also, "tuning heads," "tuning pegs," "friction pegs," "machine heads".
12-FRET/14-FRET NECK: refers not to the number of frets on a fingerboard, but to the fret at which the neck joins the body.
VENEER: one or more very thin sheets of wood that literally are sliced from a log and used to cover other materials (commonly plywood) to create the illusion of "solid" wood.
X-BRACING: Martin originally invented "X" bracing, so-named because the main brace forms an "X" shape across the inside surface of the guitar; it served as a significant line of demarcation between the traditional, fan-braced classical guitar and the modern steel-string guitar.
The information contained in the last two posts were gleaned from a variety of sources, which are all available on Taylor's website.
Special thanks to Cmogi and Bill for putting the original FAQ together