Could THIS single design element be the key between a crappy guitar and a guitar you never want to put down? I’m not kidding — this tiny change can have HUGE impacts on your acoustic guitar.
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In this video, you’re going to see the 4 underrated acoustic guitar design elements that have a massive impact on a guitars sound. In addition, you’ll hear how one Tony’s Acoustic Challenge member overcame an injury. Last but not least, you’ll hear from Charlie Parr and Molly Tuttle on their new music releases.
This video is really geared towards acoustic guitar players interested in guitar builds. If you’re looking for the reasons why different guitars sound better than others, most people chalk it up to the materials. But, in reality, the design elements of the guitar are just as important.
Too often in the acoustic guitar world, we fixate on tone woods and different materials. Instead, I think it is time guitar geeks start paying more attention to the design elements of a guitar like the bracing and binding.
While design elements of an acoustic guitar aren’t as flashy or easy to understand as wood selection, if you can learn just a little from watching this video, you’ll be well on your way to finding how an acoustic guitar sounds different from others.
Big thanks to Emerald Guitars, Bourgeois Guitars, Elderly Instruments , and Acoustic Letter for sharing these demo videos. Please check out those channels for more information!
Can you explain the differences involved with scale length?
How does bridge type and saddle type affect tone. Example I have noticed longer saddles on the golden era series of Martin. Does this add to sustain or volume difference? Also placement of bridge on the soundboard affects tone, examplet 12 fret vs 14 fret guitar. Thank you
How about tuning pegs like Grovers, Waverlys etc — do they impact tone, and if so, how? I’ve never heard you address this part of the guitar and would very much like to hear your comments. Thanks.
What about strings?
Although I am not a guitar finisher. I am a wood finisher of custom cabinetry and mill work for 30 years now. All your points are great but you didn’t mention the role finishes play in the sound of a guitar. There is a definite difference in the sound of a nitrocellulose finish and a thicker poly finish. Conversely there is difference in the protection of the wood too. Comment is as a guest but I am actually a member. Best to all!
So, nut and bridge manufacturers make bold claims about how improved you guitar will sound if you use their nut/bridge. I can understand there is something to it, but wouldn’t the nut only affect the 6 open string notes?
Hi Tony, Great Episode today, June 8, 2021. I have a further question about acoustic guitar tones…what does (or doesn’t) a cutaway body style do to the tone? Thanks, Bill
I too have had hand surgeries for dupuytren’s contracture. That is, the fingers are being pulled toward the palm of the hand by the tendons in the hand. My time off was between 4 and 6 weeks for each surgery, lot’s of P.T., and not complete success. I face two or more surgeries. I didn’t have your TAC members advice and wish I had. My point is the thing that hurt my recovery was I didn’t get the surgeries done much, much sooner. Although my condition is fairly common it doesn’t look that bad in the beginning, but you put it off a few times and then it is too late in many cases. I’m pretty sure that there are a few of you who have had this done and you can add other info, please do.
Whatever you do, don’t put it off.
I have found that guitars with open pore wood are lighter and sound more natural than the heavily lacquered ones…. not necessarily better but more natural. Maybe it is in my imagination but my gut feeling is that all the coating prohibits some movement and vibration of the top wood. Tony I wish you would discuss why many guitars have thick coatings which add to the weight and inhibit the movement of the wood. I love your AL channel
Good show today, Tony.
Where can I get a “Be Nice and Play Guitar” hat?
Tony, I wonder about your thoughts regarding torrefied tops. Does torrefication process actually improve tone?
Hea Tony, how about bridge pins? they must change vibration to top. WATCHING MY LIGHTNING RIGHT NOW game 5,3rd period 1-0 Bolts. might see colorado Kyles team soon. Great show your friend Guy B. Champabay FL.
Tony I replaced the bridge pins on my Martin 000-15 with liquid metal bridge pins. I have never seen a single change make such a wonderful and enjoyable difference. You simply have to try it. Thanks
Finish – how do various finishes affect the tone. There is that traditional “holy grail” that many hand builders use – French Polish (which is actually shellac), varnish, nitrocellulose lacquer and the newer urethanes and poly finishes including the UV curing stuff, some luthiers are using oil finishes. Some luthiers are using a coat of epoxy on the back and sides as a pore filler. How about gloss – Taylor has introduced a less glossy – and less squeaky finish. How about, how does the feel of the finish affect the feel on the neck and playability?
tony, hats off for your sustained due diligence. my favored “design element”, when i pick up a guitar,… can i play warmly on the first few frets and thenfrets 10-12 some major barre chords without having to have the fretting forearm of Hercules. i know it may b a setup thing , but im thinking design has to be there first. play on
Tony I always wondered how the hole size affects the sound.
jerry Garcia’s was missing a finger on his fretting hand.
Pin Material? Bone, plastic, Titanium? Please discuss that.
Tony, thanks for the video, I’m always up to learn just a little bit more about guitars. Not that it affects tonal quality but I have fat fingers and wonder about nut width and spacing. I started with a Yamaha FSX800C with 1-11/16″ nut width then changed to a Seagull S6 with 1.73″ nut width. Please address these differences and how they affect playability with oversized fingers. As always, thanks for your help in my guitar journey!
What is the best type of material for the nut and bridge