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GC Shred Off
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#1
This idea behind this thread is to put to rest the boatload of half-truths, myths, and blatantly wrong ideas about acoustic guitars. I get the sense that some readers (and lurkers) in this forum get bombarded with so much information regarding humidity, storage, general guitar upkeep, and beyond that they lose the big picture of what playing an acoustic is all about. In truth, owning an acoustic (of any caliber) isn't the big hassle or high-tech science that it is often made out to be. Hopefully this will clear things up.

Please feel free to ask for explanations and provide advice, but be mindful that this thread is to clarify, not start arguments. I strongly recommend that those who choose to post facts stay away from hearsay comments and stick to personal experience or proof from reputable sources. Remember that just because someone else on the internet said it, it isn't necessarily truth.

Also, feel free to post any disputes you may have. For the comments I post, I'll be glad to give in-depth explanations if needed.

So I'll begin with some big ones...


Myth: All acoustic guitars require a humidifier.

Truth: Some guitars need to be humidified under some circumstances.

Explanation: Deciding whether or not you need to buy a humidifier is determined by a few things; the climate where you live, the storage conditions of your guitar, the value of your guitar, the material of your guitar, and so on... There is a big helpful thread on it, so I wont go into much detail, but the most important parameter is how wildly the humidity and temperature changes in your home.

To give you a bearing, I've lived in northeastern CT all my life. My guitars sit in my room, sometimes in cases and sometimes on stands, without humidifiers, year round (and have so for more than 10 years). Never once has humidity caused any sort of damage. It wasn't luck, it just came from basic sense and a little care. If I take a guitar to another climate (say our colder playroom), it stays in its case for an hour or two before I open it up to play.

But most readers are concerned with whether or not they need to humidify their guitars, not my personal stories. I'll switch it around and explain when you may NOT need to spring for a humidifier.

-Your guitar is all laminate. It is virtually immune to all but the most violent environmental changes.

-Your guitar is very inexpensive. Cheapo guitars generally wont be used for the longevity of a nicer instrument and spending cash on a humidifier is like putting 20" rims on your first 1996 Dodge Neon - not worth it. Save for an upgrade.

-You live in a really moderate climate. If you aren't in a climate where you regularly need to heat or air condition your house, nature will provide a great environment for an acoustic. If a bad day comes around, put it in a case (preferably hard shell). It will be insulated just fine. Places like North Carolina and Tennessee come to mind, but I'm no climatologist.

-There are more, but these are just a start. I will add more if anyone needs me too.


Myth: Acoustic guitars are harder to play than electrics.

Truth: Acoustic guitars play differently than electrics.

Explanation: Every guitarist will hear that the higher action, heavier strings, and fatter necks make acoustics "harder" to play. It's just not true. Granted, if you take a novice BC Rich electric player (no offense to novice BC Rich players) and give him a dreadnought with 13's on it, he wont be able to hit a single bar chord, but thats because the guitars are different animals. Conversely, if you take a life-long player of a heavy-stringed Jumbo and stick him on an Ibanez Jem, he/she will feel weird as hell. There is no easier or harder, it is a matter of personal experience. There are guitarists (myself included) who feel most comfortable on an acoustic.

Beyond that, no one ever said that acoustics are required to be set up with inch-high action and suspension bridge cables for strings. If you don't like heavy strings, try some 10's or 9's. If you don't like high action, set it lower or look for an instrument that can be setup with ultra-low string height (Ovations come to mind). Any acoustic guitar can be tailored to personal preference. Next time someone says they can't play acoustics because the action is too high, just roll your eyes... or refer them to the UG acoustic forum.


Myth: There is one good tone.

Truth: Good tone is the one (or ones) you like.

Explanation: If you're curious about how the acoustic you're buying (or bought) stacks up against the rest of the acoustics in the world, you might be inclined to ask "what is good tone?" Contrary to what many will tell you, there is not one good type of tone. I've been playing for years and I don't have the slightest idea what causes some people to like certain tones...

Before you start deciding what your tone of choice is, it's best to understand what tone is. Many classify it as a combination of timbre, sound quality, and note clarity, but I'd even go as far as saying it encompasses playability and general feel of the instrument. Onomatopoeic words describe tone best; boomy, thumping, jangly, snappy; but clever adjectives like bright, dark, gentle, and clear also work well.

If you can't tell the difference between your $130 laminate starter guitar and a $3500 breedlove, don't worry. It takes a long time to develop what most would call a "mature" ear. To speed up the process, ask an experienced guitarist to explain the differences with guitars in hand.

Though there isn't one good tone, there are a few traits that most guitarists look for:

-Note clarity: Meaning how well individual notes are projected
-Volume: How loud the guitar sounds to the player (loud is not always better!)
-Projection: How loud the guitar sounds to the audience
-Balance: When you play, are the bass notes more noticeable? The highs? The mids? Many guitarists appreciate a well balanced instrument, but it is subjective.

There are more, but that's the basic idea.


Myth: Acoustics are for playing country (or Dave Matthews).

Truth: Acoustics play whatever you want them to.

Explanation: There is no literature anywhere that says that acoustics are made only for boom-chucka country and John Mayer covers. I know, I looked. If you want to play metal, play metal. If you like jazz, play that. Rap? No problem. The only limitation is the player's ability to get creative with a song. If you can't find acoustic tabs for your favorite grindcore-post-modern-pop-rock-opera song, chances are you'll have to get creative. Do it, make up chords, change the strumming, do whatever you need to do. It will make you better in the long run and it's more fun than following numbers on lines. It upsets me to hear players discouraged from acoustics because they can't play Enter Sandman.

I just played Enter Sandman. Moving on...


Myth: Acoustics are better to learn on.

Truth: They are just as good as electrics.

Explanation: I hesitated to say this, because it is only true under the right circumstances. Let me expound on the gray area...

Many guitarists get into guitar because they want to rip like Herman Li. Naturally, the first thing they want is to throw the knob to 11, throw on the compressor, and start yanking on their Floyd Rose hardware. In this case, it could be argued that an acoustic provides a better starting point because it limits the (wonderful) distractions of electrics and allows the player to focus on basics. I'd certainly agree with that. It's hard to watch an experienced player who can yank pinch harmonics out of anywhere, but can't find the rhythm to strum along with Good Riddance.

But I give beginners the benefit of the doubt. The majority of guitarists get sensible after a few weeks and see that they can't just jump in like that. That's when they stumble in the Acoustic forum...

The real truth is that both guitars are equally good for learning. The problems arise when the player can't control the urge to go to town every time he plugs in. The problem is, if you can't subdue your playing on an electric, an acoustic will just get boring and will often lead to dropping the hobby all together. That's no good. The solution is for the player to calm down and think about his playing for a bit. Spending extra cash on an acoustic will not only make the parents nervous (about dropping so much change on a new hobby), but could ultimately lead to the player stopping. Which is no fun.


This will be updated as we think of more things to be addressed. If anyone has anything they'd like to be added, but aren't quite sure, please message me or reply in the thread and I or someone else can help to confirm or disprove it. Thanks for listening.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Mar 1, 2009,
AthenasGhost
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#2
i kind of disagree with acoustics not being harder to play. ive played electric and acoustic for 9 years and everytime i play electric for a long time and go back to acoustic its a challenge because my fingers get weak, which makes the acoustic harder to play. Another reason why i love the idea of starting on acoustic is because you arne't going to be shredding it up when you start, i mean its all opinion but if you start on acoustic, the jump to electric is going to be that much easier because it will build your finger strength up like crazy.

however yeah, in the end they are just instruments that make noise and it doesnt matter whats easier or harder to play. i constantly jump from my acoustic to my electric, they both have their uses. i never look at it being am i going to play something hard or easy now, when i pick up either one i think which one will best suit my application that i will use it for at that time.
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Last edited by AthenasGhost at Feb 10, 2009,
f22master
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#4
damn thats nice

i agree that both acoustic and electric have thier uses. but i believe that electrics are better to learn on. especially strats. it will let them play around and go wank away on thier whammy but after a week or two they ussualy calm down and start to learn how to really play. but then when they try to get something to sound right its easy because strats are highly versitile. but i usually play my acoustic when i cant really play my electric. like at my dads work, while camping, at school, ect., ect...
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AlanHB
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#5
Great thread, some interesting points made.

As for the acoustic being the same as learning an electric, that will always be a debatable point. Acoustics are harder to hold the strings down, whilst it is harder to get a good sound out of an electric guitar. Acoustic guitars can hold themselves as a solo instrument, whilst electric guitars generally can't. Acoustic guitars are generally more portable, not requiring an amp. Many popular bands which inspire guitarists to play use electric guitars and learners wish to emulate their sound.

When beginning the guitar, you will generally be learning the same things regardless; chords, scales, songs, whatever. After a degree of competency is reached you'll realise that after the beginner stages, acoustic guitars and electric guitars are very different instruments, and therefore should not be compared against one another.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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captivate
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#6
Great thread GC! I'll try to think up of some good myths to dispell and get back here.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
THE NEKRYPH
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#7
Quote by AthenasGhost
i kind of disagree with acoustics not being harder to play. ive played electric and acoustic for 9 years and everytime i play electric for a long time and go back to acoustic its a challenge because my fingers get weak, which makes the acoustic harder to play. Another reason why i love the idea of starting on acoustic is because you arne't going to be shredding it up when you start, i mean its all opinion but if you start on acoustic, the jump to electric is going to be that much easier because it will build your finger strength up like crazy.


I kind of disagree with you disagreeing about acoustics not being harder to play. You follow? Difficulty isn't just dependent on your fingers having enough strength to hold a chord or something. I think you have a slighter narrow view of what "hard" means.
THE NEKRYPH
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#8
Myth: Electric guitars, as a general rule, are sexier than acoustic guitars, or vice versa.

Truth: Beauty is in eye of the guitarist.
GC Shred Off
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#9
Continuing... Apparently my post was a bit long. Who knew?

Myth: Inexpensive guitars are bad and expensive guitars are good.

Truth: Good guitars are good, bad guitars are bad.

Explanation: It will hopefully please the beginners (and owners of a few cheap guitars, like myself) on UG to know that just because they didn't spend $2,000 on a guitar, they may still have gotten a stellar instrument.

It goes without saying that there are great guitars that cost very little. The thing is, they aren't nearly as rare an occurrence as most would assume. There are many guitars in the $200-$500 range that get the job done far beyond what their modest price implies. Some good examples are in the "What Acoustic is right for you?" and "Guitars Under $300" threads.

A quick personal story: Just recently, I played a used Takamine Jasmine guitar (I'll find the model type later), owned by a friend, that cost a whopping $115. It was equipped with a less-than-stunning laminate top, back, and sides, a strange imitation wood neck, and some really goofy looking hardware. The odd thing is, the action was perfect, intonation dead on, and sound quality on par with some of my (much) more expensive guitars. How depressing for me. It was certainly far more than a beginner guitar. It would even be fairly safe to assume that with the automated manufacturing that I'm certain Jasmine uses, there are thousands of comparable guitars around. Don't let a guitar snob poo-poo your ax because it's laminate.

If you'd like more examples, I have many (including my main guitar which is a mid-eighties Sigma Dreadnought bought for about $300). The trick is to search carefully and play any guitar before you buy it.

That said, in very general terms, as cost goes up, quality follows. There are LOTS of really (really) bad cheapo guitars. On the upper end of the scale - I wont pick on any particularly exotic guitars that sound truly heinous, but they're around too - you generally get a bit more bang. Quality plateaus at about $4000. Beyond that, you're making an investment and/or fulfilling dreams.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Feb 15, 2010,
GC Shred Off
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#10
Quote by THE NEKRYPH
Myth: Electric guitars, as a general rule, are sexier than acoustic guitars, or vice versa.

Truth: Beauty is in eye of the guitarist.

So very true. It goes without explanation.
Natrone
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#12
Just to comment on Jasmine, they're made by Takamine. They're a discount beginner's brand, and actually very good for their price. Ok, now to contribute....

Myth: Pure Acoustic > Acoustic-Electric at same price, and visa-versa

Truth: Not having electronics does not mean a guitar is better than a guitar with electronics for the same price, and visa-versa.
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bob56
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#13
How about the myth that classical guitars are for fingerpicking only, or only for classical music?
I use a pick and I don't play classical music, but I get some really good sounds out of mine. Ever seen Black Label Society play an acoustic set?
AthenasGhost
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#14
Quote by THE NEKRYPH
I kind of disagree with you disagreeing about acoustics not being harder to play. You follow? Difficulty isn't just dependent on your fingers having enough strength to hold a chord or something. I think you have a slighter narrow view of what "hard" means.


i don't have a narrow view of hard, just a different one. I mean physically harder, not skill wise harder, of course a guitar is a guitar, and skill wise they aren't going to be different. but acoustics are generally more physically demanding, that's what I meant, i totally understand the other "hard" that your talking about though most of my post was about the physical differences in playing the instruments.
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LeftyDave
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#17
Sweet post! And about high time as well!

Myth: An acoustic guitar has only one adjustment point, and that is the truss rod, so this must be how you adjust the action and everything else.

Truth: A steel string acoustic's truss rod is just one of a few adjustment points. It just happens to be the only one that's clearly seen as being adjustable.

Explanation: Truss rods have fallen into this myth area because they are high enough profile on acoustic guitars to be seen as the cure all. Many people don't realize that there are other options available to them to make adjustments because it's not a screw that can be turned or put a wrench to. Electric guitars are loaded(sometimes OVERloaded) with adjustment points, while the only obvious one on an acoustic is the truss rod. That is not to say that there aren't other, just as critical parts to an acoustic that may need adjusting. The bridge saddle is one of these "hidden" adjustments. It get's overlooked because it appears to be a static component of the guitar, and therefore must not be able to be adjusted. Another are the tuning machines. Many are able to be adjusted for gear pre-load, but how often does anyone recognize this as being another adjustment point?
Yet another is the strings themselves. These can be thought of as an adjustment if you desire a different tone, are performing alternate tunings frequently, want to change playing styles from flatpicking to all fingerpicking and so on.

Bottom line: Just because it's an acoustic does not mean that it can't be made to play as ecellently and smoothly as an electric.
captivate
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#18
Myth: The tone of the guitar is almost purely determined by the tonewood.
Truth: Although the choice of tonewood is very important, other factors play just as much, if not more, of a factor in tone.

Explanation: Tonewoods are definitely important in the kind of tone to look for. There is no doubt about that. However, there are many other important factors that determine the kind of attack, sustain, and overtones produced by an acoustic guitar.

Saddle material - This is one of the most important, and often overlooked improvements that you can easily make to your guitar. Most cheaper guitars come with either a plastic(if they're REALLY cheap guitars) or more often TusQ(man-made ivory) saddles. The reason for doing so is because plastic and TusQ are easily mass produced. They don't need to be shaped or fitted(as extensively) by hand. They can be made in molds and require minimal shaping when fitted to the guitars.

Now why is the saddle material so important? As we know, the acoustic guitar is basically just a big soundbox. The body of the guitar vibrates to produce sound. The saddle is the main energy transfer point between the kinetic energy of the moving strings and the audible sound energy created by the body of the guitar vibrating. The more efficient the transfer in energy is, the clearer, more articulate, and louder the sound will be.

Saddle materials such as FWI(Fossilized Walrus Ivory), FMI(Fossilized Mammoth Ivory), FEI(Fossilized Elephant Ivory. Illegal without proper documentation), and bone(either cow or ox) are the better materials than TusQ or plastic. Bone is the industry standard. The fossilized ivories will tend to be a little brighter and slightly "better"(subjective).


Bracing Patterns -
The type of bracing pattern may be the most important factor in a guitar's tone. The bracing determines how stiff the top is. Too much bracing and you get a muffled sound. Too little bracing and the guitar won't last the test of time. Finding the right amount ands shape of bracing pattern is the key.

I'm sure many people have wondered about scalloped bracing. Scalloped bracing is when certain parts of the brace are scooped out in an arched shape. This process reduces the amount of bracing on the top, allowing it to vibrate more freely, while retaining most of it's structural strength. Scalloping is a very delicate process that has to be done by a skilled luthier. All wood is slightly different in it's composition/density, so each brace has to be scalloped under the worker's discretion.


Strings - Yes indeed. Strings play a HUGE role in the tone of the guitar. You can make your guitar insanely bassy and warm with some DR's, or you can make your guitar ridiculously bright with elixirs. Strings are very subjective, so you need to try them all out to see what you really like. The composition and thickness of these strings play a rather large role in sound production.

The composition determines the density, and therefore the amount of energy transfer you'll get. The thickness will determine the sustain. This can be proved by the laws of physics. An object in motion will want to stay in motion. An object at rest will want to stay at rest. The more material you have, the more it will want to stay in motion or rest due to inertia.


Well that's all I can think of at the moment. This was a fun write up.
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captivate
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#20
^ Did the top warp? or the sides? Only the sides of the Seagull should be laminate while the top should be solid wood. I don't believe Seagull has ever made an all laminate guitar. Godin leaves that to the other brands such as Art & Lutherie.

With laminate, you can be pretty rough with it and it should still be fine. The physical strength of laminate is far greater than solid wood because it is glued together with the grains in opposing directions. Laminate, for the most part, isn't completely immune to humidity changes. However, it's not heavily affected by it either.

Edmonton is actually a very, very harsh climate for an acoustic guitar. -20C is normal over there in the winter. Lower temperatures mean that the hot air inside the house needs to be circulated more often. Circulated heating in a house means that the air is much drier. It depends on where you live, really.

I have an Art & Lutherie. Cedar top, laminate back/sides. I've just been keeping it in it's case for the whole winter since I don't play it. Haven't humidified it either. I checked on it last week and all still seems to be well. So yeah, it depends heavily on a few different factors.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
captivate
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#21
Quote by Milez5858
The top warped which in turn moved the neck out just a hair which of course affected the tuning. Yes... only back and sides were laminate ... but many dealers, and even players don't distinguish that fact and so many people buying guitars don't actualy know that they have a hybrid. That's why I always recommend humidification (per climate). It's cheap, and builds good maintenance skills.

Do you use a flat edge to check the bow in the back? Taylors site has a good video on doing this.... essentially as the guitar dries out, the back loses it's bow and starts to flatten or even go concave. That's when the wood buckles et.

Personally I use a whole house humidifier, but at times I have as many as 7-8 guitars kicking around....so... it's actually easier that way.


Yup, I used a flat edge to check the top. When the top loses humidity, it will tend to drop inwards around the bridge(The bridge area still holds tension, so it will remain upwards while the rest of the top drops). It's really a beater guitar to me, so I don't take care of it that much. Hardy play it either, but it still sounds wonderful though.

Around this forum, we refer to guitars in 3 main ways. Laminate(all laminate), solid top, and all solid. Of course, there are solid top+back, but that's not as often.

And 7-8 guitars? You're a rather lucky one.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
GC Shred Off
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#22
Quote by Milez5858
Your question, "What good is hearing the difference if you can't tell what makes it better or worse?" doesn't even make sense to me.

As you said, there are many people, trained an untrained, who can tell that there is a difference between some high-end and some low-end guitars. You also said in your post that, while the listeners will hear something different, they can't always identify it. For the novice acoustic buyer who walks into the acoustic room at Guitar Center, just knowing there is some difference isn't good enough. To actually pick out a good sounding guitar, the shopper needs to be able to identify which sound characteristics are the good ones (or even just the ones they like) - that is where experience and professional advice help. It isn't always easy for most.

But I'm not trying to argue about the intricacies of a guitar's sound and how well new players can perceive or not perceive them. The original comment I made was just to reassure novices that it's perfectly normal to be unsure about what makes a particular guitar's sound "good."
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Feb 11, 2009,
Milez5858
Registered User
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#23
OK .. point taken.. It's better stated the way you just said it though.
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2004 Taylor 310
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Ex guits 2002 Ovation Elite, 1995 Seagull 12 BC Rich Gunslinger Snakeskin Various Yamaha Various Sammick Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone ES
GC Shred Off
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#24
Quote by Milez5858
OK .. point taken.. It's better stated the way you just said it though.

Excellent. When I get a few minutes I'll change the original post to be a bit clearer. Thanks for picking out the bits that sound opinionated. I'm trying my best to keep them out of the thread.
Milez5858
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#25
I'll see if I can delete my posts and clean up your thread a bit.
2001 Gibson USA Les Paul Studio Black/Gold
2008 Alvarez-Yairi DY40C
2004 Taylor 310
Marshall AVT275

Ex guits 2002 Ovation Elite, 1995 Seagull 12 BC Rich Gunslinger Snakeskin Various Yamaha Various Sammick Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone ES
Milez5858
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#26
too late LOL
2001 Gibson USA Les Paul Studio Black/Gold
2008 Alvarez-Yairi DY40C
2004 Taylor 310
Marshall AVT275

Ex guits 2002 Ovation Elite, 1995 Seagull 12 BC Rich Gunslinger Snakeskin Various Yamaha Various Sammick Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone ES
hemo200
Registered User
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#27
I am using a yamaha F310
Top Spruce
Back / Sides Indonesian Mahogany
Neck Nato
Fretboard Javanese Rosewood
Bridge Sonokeling

would I need a humidifier, where I keep my guitar in ?
the humidity is over 50%
GC Shred Off
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#28
Quote by hemo200
I am using a yamaha F310
Top Spruce
Back / Sides Indonesian Mahogany
Neck Nato
Fretboard Javanese Rosewood
Bridge Sonokeling

would I need a humidifier, where I keep my guitar in ?
the humidity is over 50%

If it is around 50%, you'll be just fine. I know nothing about the weather in Bahrain, but as long as it isn't really dry, the guitar will survive.
redking14ca
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#29
Quote by Natrone
Just to comment on Jasmine, they're made by Takamine. They're a discount beginner's brand, and actually very good for their price. Ok, now to contribute....

Myth: Pure Acoustic > Acoustic-Electric at same price, and visa-versa

Truth: Not having electronics does not mean a guitar is better than a guitar with electronics for the same price, and visa-versa.

not necessarily, when i was seeking a guitar in guitar center me and my friends found a taylor 110 that sounded brilliant compared to the 210e, however there were not any 110e's to compare it to, but when we went to a local music store (skip's music; almost exactly like guitar center) they had a 110e that didnt seam to sound as good as the 110... i would have bought it instead of my 210e but.... i wanted a hard shell case, and the 210 was made in the USA... and the built in electronics did make life easier

just saying....

and obviously you can get the same model of guitar without electronics for cheaper...

so yeah, if you were going to buy 200$ guitar with electronics u could probably get a nicer pure acoustic for 200$...


but when u get into the 3000 mark i don't think it matters much....

if i were going to spend 3000 i would probably get whatever sounded best and have electronics put in it.... or combine better electronics with what was in it..
Natrone
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#30
Quote by redking14ca
not necessarily, when i was seeking a guitar in guitar center me and my friends found a taylor 110 that sounded brilliant compared to the 210e, however there were not any 110e's to compare it to, but when we went to a local music store (skip's music; almost exactly like guitar center) they had a 110e that didnt seam to sound as good as the 110... i would have bought it instead of my 210e but.... i wanted a hard shell case, and the 210 was made in the USA... and the built in electronics did make life easier

just saying....

and obviously you can get the same model of guitar without electronics for cheaper...

so yeah, if you were going to buy 200$ guitar with electronics u could probably get a nicer pure acoustic for 200$...


but when u get into the 3000 mark i don't think it matters much....

if i were going to spend 3000 i would probably get whatever sounded best and have electronics put in it.... or combine better electronics with what was in it..

I said that pure acoustic being better than A/E, and A/E being better than pure acoustic, are both myths
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As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

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plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
GC Shred Off
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#31
An update, inspired from a few recent posts about singing and playing.

Myth: Only naturally gifted people can sing and play at the same time.

Truth: With patience, nearly everyone can sing and play simultaneously.

Explanation: For nearly everyone, starting off trying to sing and play sucks. It's an obnoxious cycle of strumming with the words or singing with the strum pattern and it just sounds like a mess. That's normal. It's exceedingly rare to find someone who just gets it right off the bat. Here are some tips to get you going if you're motivated to add the singing dimension to your music:

- Start slow. Try putting the guitar aside and just tapping your foot while singing an easy tune. It's a trivial exercise for some and hard as hell for others. Either is OK. Keep going until you can keep a steady beat and sing the song accurately.

- Learn a song well before you try to sing with it. This is a big one. If you still have trouble keeping a steady strumming pattern going while transitioning between chords, adding vocals will be really difficult, nigh impossible. If you've only been playing for a few weeks, give yourself a little more time. It will only make the learning process smoother.

- Start with a (really) simple song. There may be a thread for these somewhere, but I haven't looked. The idea is to pick a song with very basic chords (for example G, C, and D in the song "Stir it Up" by Bob Marley).

- Once you get a song, it sometimes helps to dumb down the progression a bit. For instance, strum quarter notes using only down-strokes. Try to hold a steady beat while you sing along and keep the chord changes smooth. This wont be easy. Give it time. The fruits of your labor will come eventually.

- If you've got that down, your essentially there. Next is to mix up the strumming a bit (say to the common DDUUDU pattern). From here, it's just time and practice.


Many players fear that just because they get the technique down, it doesn't mean they sound good because they have a "bad" voice. Unfortunately, "good" and "bad" preferences are just part of the game. I would bet that a couple people thought Louis Armstrong had a pretty crappy voice, but look at where he got. The trick is confidence and character. If you insist that you sound terrible, you most likely will.

Here are a couple bits of advice from my experience (please note that I am no professional singer, nor have I had any professional training):

-Sing loud, sing proud, and sing all the time. Sing in the car, sing in the shower, sing everywhere that you can. The more you practice, the better you'll get.

-Sing in front of people (eventually). Your nerves will get to you, but performing in front of a close friend or two will always get you some useful input. And hey, even if they think you sound bad, you'll still get respect for having the cojones to do it.

-Explore your vocal range. See how high and how low you can go, stretch your boundaries (safely, so as not to injure yourself), and find artists that have a similar range to you to practice with. There are great singers with both high and low voices.

-There are many more tips out there and I'm sure most readers are fairly proficient with Google and whatnot. Look around if you'd like some more advice.


Just for fun, here are some successful guitarists that have interesting (meaning bad, to some people) voices:

Paolo Nutini
Billy Corgan
Brody Dalle
Billy Idol
Bob Dylan
Jack White
Julian Casablancas

And so on...


And an informal side note on snagging ladies:

For the male readers who are concerned with singing to impress ladies, the most important thing to know is that girls usually aren't thick-headed, meaning that they probably have an idea that you're trying to woo them (think of the Jazz-flute scene from Anchorman). That can work to your advantage. Even if you think your voice is bad, sing like you really mean it. Confidence is huge. Slipped notes and playing stumbles don't matter if the woman knows you really are giving it your all.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Mar 1, 2009,
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#32
Quote by obeythepenguin
One thing I am curious about... I know you used to have to downtune 12's because of the extra tension on the neck, otherwise they'd warp pretty quickly... I've heard newer ones can take standard tuning and they'll be fine, but can anyone confirm this? (Mine is currently downtuned a half-step, partially to be on the safe side, but mostly because I like the deeper sound. It's also easier to play with the capo lowering the action...)

Anyway, that's all I can think of for now.

Nearly all 12-stringers, including older ones, are overbuilt to sustain the added tension that comes with the six extra strings. Tuning down slightly will lessen the strain a bit, but it isn't a requirement by any means. Whether or not you decide to will generally affect the guitar many years down the road (and honestly, having the neck reset after 20 years instead of 30 with dropped tuning isn't a really worth the hassle of remaining half a step down all the time). If you like the lower sound, that is your prerogative, of course.

But what is essential (even more so than on 6-strings) is that the guitar be well built. Any shoddy craftsmanship will show up very quickly with the extra tension. That's one reason why I encourage those interested in 12-strings to really search carefully and make a sound judgment. Watching a poorly made neck joint degrade in only a few years is a sad experience. Searching for a well-made, used guitar is often a good path to take.

EDIT: Also, if the action is much lower with a capo, it means something is up with the setup. The action should be nearly identical with or without a capo.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Mar 30, 2009,
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#33
Quote by obeythepenguin
Well, "much lower" is probably an exaggeration; playing it just now, it's not a vast difference, but enough to be noticable, especially with longer parts and barre chords.

Cool. You're probably in good shape then.
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#34
Another update, inspired by lots of recent posts about strings and neck tension, and damaging things, etc.

Myth: You can't leave all of your strings off for very long.

Truth: You can take as many strings off for as long as you want without fear.

Explanation: This is a pretty common one, so I expect a few readers will disagree. Here's the bottom line: acoustic guitar necks aren't fragile.


First, a little information on how most (wooden) necks are manufactured:

In most cases, necks are created to resist all forms of bending, twisting, warping, and temperature dependent expansion/compression. To do this, they use a technique called "quarter-sawing" to get blanks with the grain of the wood running perfectly parallel to the direction of the neck. Anyone who's ever tried chopping wood (via hand or other method) can attest that it is MUCH harder to split it perpendicular to the grain direction. This is a good thing, because that is the direction in which the moment (which is just torque) caused by the string tension acts. This wood composes the bulk of the neck, followed by the truss rod and fingerboard. If you want more information on the layout of a neck, look around. The information is out there.

Some might ask...
"OK, it's strong, but wont it still warp if I take the strings off and the truss rod starts to bend it back??"
No, it wont, mainly because when they were on, the strings were pulling nearly parallel to the direction of the neck. With the strings on, the neck is subjected (roughly) to a 9 lbft torque on the neck (the same as a 9 lb weight taped to the end of a 1 foot rod). Assuming your truss rod relief is close to the moment of the strings (which it should be, if properly adjusted), taking off your strings will apply only a very minimal torque. Sure, the neck will bend back a little (so if you only put on only one string, it buzzes like crazy), but once you put all your strings back on, it will be good as new. In fact, because the neck flexes back, straightening the truss rod, it is essentially stable once the strings are off (because the truss rod is applying even less torque). I can attest, because I (and others) have done it many many times without issue.

However, there is one big problem with taking your strings off for a long period of time (weeks, months, years..). The danger is that, because your guitar has no strings, it is likely to be sitting in a closet, covered in stuff, growing mold, and being lonely. If it stays in these conditions for long, you can certainly break, bend, or otherwise mangle your neck. My brother once left his guitar in a closet with a heavy dufflebag on it, and after two years or so, the neck wasn't exactly as "as the crow flies." Lesson learned. Keep in mind this same scenario can wreak havoc on a fully-stringed guitar. The way around it is to remember to take good care of your instrument, even if it doesn't have strings on.


A bonus semi-related side note: Like many people, I have heard, "it is imperative to go by really small increments (like 1/8th of a turn) and then wait for the neck to 'settle' (i.e. wait 24 hours between adjusting and playing)." I thought that was ridiculous, so I set out to test the effect of neck "settling" with a digital caliper (secretly borrowed from the UConn Dept. of Mechanical Engineering) and my trusty Ibanez Daytripper travel guitar (it was the only one that needed adjustment). Here is what I found:

The neck was pretty goofy, so at the initial adjustment I tightened the truss rod about 7/8ths of a complete turn in three equal increments. No crack, no pop, just a nice straight neck. Right after, I measured the string heights at the 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets for the low E. Then I made sure it was tuned to E-standard and put it away. 48 hours later, I came back, made sure it was in tune and remeasured the heights. Lo and behold! The neck didn't settle a bit (OK, maybe a few ten-thousandths of an inch, but that is utterly negligible for the purposes of guitar). While this little test surely can't speak for every adjustment ever made on every truss rod, I'd say it's a fairly safe assumption that you can adjust however much you need, tune up, and play away without fear. Just make sure you know what you're doing.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at May 21, 2009,
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#35
I'm going to bump this thread because I've seen a few recent posts about the discussed topics. If you're about some fishy information, read up!
millerdrr
Imperialistic American
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#36
Awesome thread!

Myth: Laminates<Solid

Truth: Usually, but not always.

Explanation: See above post about tonewoods not being the only factor. Also, player preference is really the only thing that can truly define a "good" or "bad" guitar, with the obvious exception of poorly made or severely damaged instruments. To my ears, a cheap HPL sounds better than $2000 Taylors, because the jangly treble is too much for me.

To each his own. Laminates aren't always bad, nor is solid wood a guarantee that you'll love a particular instrument.

That said, low end laminates do tend to be lacking compared to solid tops, but not always. It's just a decent rule of thumb for shoppers new to guitar. Seems less likely to screw up buying a solid top.
Bluegrass Rocks

CYNONYTE!

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Joeval
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#37
Very nice thread! Unfortunately, I don't know anything I can contribute - you've all beaten me to it...

I suggest a sticky?
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Awesome guy right here
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#38
Quote by Joeval
I suggest a sticky?

It's already in the "Master Information" sticky. Not that anyone actually looks in there.
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#40
Quote by Thepredster
they don't? I do

Not all the readers are particularly observant. I often skip over the stickies myself.