Customer Testimonials

Acoustic Guitar Information

If you want to get the best out of your acoustic guitar read on.

String Gauge

The string gauge is generally regarded as the outer diameter of the string, universally measured in thousandths of an inch, for example .012 or .056. So in simple terms the string gauge can be viewed as the thickness of the string. The thicker the string at a given pitch the greater the tension will be.

String Gauge

General Description

Suitable Styles

.010 - .047

Extra Light

Electric guitar feel on an acoustic guitar

.011 - .052

Custom Light

Slightly heavier electric guitar feel on an acoustic guitar.

.012 - .054

Light, but most popular set

Suitable for most strumming acoustic styles

Regular choice for most manufacturers and players.

.013 - .056

Medium

Gives a louder sound but with greater resistance, suitable for those with a heavy strumming hand.

.014 - .059

Heavy

Can exert excessive tension on the soundboard resulting in damage best suited for lower than concert pitch tunings

.016 - .056

Dobro Set

Suited to lower than concert pitch slide playing, with improved balance of the treble strings

Please note the previous table is just a guide to string gauges and is not absolute. The most effective way for you to determine what gauge is most suitable for you is to experiment with different gauges and use the one that you feel best suits your style of playing. In addition the above table is based on the commonphosphor bronze roundwound sets.

In addition, string manufacturers offer products that have different feel and response.

Ground Wound - the surface of the string is ground to a flat surface. The sound is in between a roundwound and flat wound string.

Flat Wound Strings (Ribbon Wound) w ound with a ribbon (instead of round wire). Sounds very even and has a flat response, very mellow preferred by jazz players, short articulate notes.

Silk and Steel Wound (Thomastik Plectrum)  are made with a silk and thin steel core with a bronze winding and a polished G string. An acoustic set sounding between a nylon and steel string.

Elixir Teflon Coated  a standard round wound acoustic wound with Teflon wire to eliminate sweat and grime getting between the windings. They also have a mellower sound and last longer.

 

Tuning of open strings

Guitars are generally tuned to concert pitch with the A note above middle C vibrating at 440 cycles per second as our standard.

Tuning

String Pitch(low to High)

Concert Pitch A 440

E A D G B E

Eb

Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb

Dropped D

D A D G B E

Whole tone down

D G C F A D

Open E

E B E G# B E

Open G

D G D G B D

Open D

D A D F# A D

DADGAD

D A D G A D

Scale length

The scale length of the guitar is the length of the vibrating string from the nut to the saddle, or twice the distance from the nut to the 12 th fret. Assuming all else is equal (pitch and gauge of the strings) the longer the scale length the greater the tension will be in the strings.

Guitar

Scale Length(inches)

Scale Length(mm)

Maton

25.5

647.7

Martin Long Scale

25.4

645.16

Martin Short Scale

24.9

632.46

Gibson

24.625

625.47

Ovation

25 ¼

641.33

Guild

25.53

648.6

Gibson Long Scale

25.5

647.7

Cort

25.3

642.62

As you can see there are many different scale lengths on many different types of guitars. There is no better scale length just different. The general consensus is shorter scale guitars with the reduced string tension are preferred by many fingerpickers, as the guitar responds quicker to the touch and enables hands to span greater distances. Longer scale guitars due to the greater string tension are louder and more powerful. There is better individual note separation and greater definition that will allow for a heaver picking attack. Please be aware that scale length is one of only many factors that affect how the guitar will sound and feel. Wood type, construction, bridge type, pickups, string gauge, how the guitar is set up, etc all affects the sound and feel of the guitar.

Fret wire choices  

Density
  • Soft,
  • Medium
  • Hard
Size & Profile
  • Small,
  • Medium
  • Jumbo
Material Choice
  • Nickel Silver Alloy (Nickel, Zinc and Copper)
  • Brass
  • Warwick Bell Brass alloy
  • Stainless Steel

 

Fret wire

Description

Width

Height

6000(Jumbo)

The biggest

3

1.5

6100(Jumbo)

Slightly narrower than 6000

2.8

1.4

6105(Jumbo)

Narrow and tall.

2.3

1.4

6150(Jumbo)

A jumbo wide normal height

2.6

1

6130(Jumbo)

Standard Gibson

2.7

0.9

6230Medium)

Standard Fender

2

1

6250(Medium)

Shorter in Height

2

0.9

Warwick(Medium) Bell Brass Alloy 2.4 0.9
Warwick(Jumbo) Bell Brass Alloy 2.9 0.9
Stainless Steel (Medium) Long Wearing, very hard, bright sounding 2.03 1.09
Stainless Steel (Jumbo) Long Wearing, very hard, bright sounding 2.8 1.45

Most acoustic manufacturers use a medium fretwire averaging 2 mm wide by 1mm tall.

As highlighted in the above table there are many choices of fretwire size available. There are numerous reasons for choosing different fretwire sizes like, playing style, maintaining vintage authenticity, different material hardness and improving performance. For example one the most common requests I get is to make an acoustic guitar feel and play more like an electric guitar. This is done by installing a taller fretwire in conjunction with a flatter fingerboard radius. For example 6000 and 6100 are the biggest fretwires you can get.

Due to the height of these wires there is minimal contact between the fingers and the fretboard wood . This enables you to have greater control over the string, which facilitates easier electric guitar techniques such as tapping, hammer ons, pull offs, sweeping, vibrato and bending. However, for players that are not accustomed to this it can feel foreign as due to the minimal contact between the fingers and the fingerboard.

Fretboard Radius

The fretboard radius is the curve or camber of a fretboard surface.

There are two fretboard surface options, cylindrical and conical. A cylindrical fretboard maintains the same radius over the entire fretboard surface. Whereas with a conical fingerboard, the radius changes over the length of the fingerboard, from a rounder surface to a flatter surface.

Guitar

Radius Inches

Maton

12

Martin Vintage

16 compound

Martin Modern

16

Gibson

12

Guild

12

Rounder radiuses (smaller diameter) have a very comfortable feel when playing chords as the "roundness" suits the natural tendencies for our hands to grip objects. But the drawbacks of the smaller radiuses occur with low action settings as strings, when bent, can "choke" or "fret out" causing the note to become inaudible. Flatter radiuses are not as ergonomic but don't have as many problems with notes choking or fretting out. One attractive solution to this problem is the compound radius. A compound radius is where the radius gradually increases over the length of the fretboard. Some common compound radiuses are 9 to12 inches, 10 to 16 inches or 14 to 20 inches for those who really like an extremely low action. This gives the rounder feel when playing chords especially in the open position and the first second and third position, as well as the ability to bend strings with lower action settings without the note choking or fretting out.

Action (String Clearance)

The action is a general term used to describe how the strings are distributed across the fingerboard. The higher the strings are from the frets, the more force is required to fret the string; conversely the lower the strings are from the frets the easier it is to fret the string. Different instruments and different playing styles will dictate different set-ups.

Action regulation is determined by how the string clearances are distributed at the nut, bridge, profile of bridge saddle and the amount of neck curvature.

 

Action

String Clearance at 1 st String 12 th fret

String Clearance at 6 th string 12 th fret

Neck Relief

Very Low

1.2mm

1.6mm

0.2mm

Low

1.5mm

2.3mm

0.2mm

Medium

2.0mm

2.8mm

0.3mm

Medium High

2.8mm

3.6mm

0.3mm

High

3.2mm

4.0mm

0.5mm

Very High

3.5mm

4.5mm

0.6mm

 

Neck Relief (deliberate neck curvature)

This is amount of concave bow in the neck (dipping in the middle) that can help create a relatively buzz free action. The amount of neck relief is determined by adjusting the truss rod tension.

Intonation (String length compensation)

When we depress a string to play a note we are stretching the string. This stretching makes the pitch of the note sound sharper; therefore a correction is required to compensate for this discrepancy. Thus intonation is the state of the guitar so that it is harmoniously in tune with itself, this is usually done by setting the strings length at the point at which the string crosses the bridge saddle.

On acoustic guitars most manufacturers use a single saddle that is slanted giving the bass strings more length than the treble strings. This will suffice for most playing styles.

To improve the standard of pitch relationships, each string will ideally require its own length. This requires more accuracy and is usually done by setting the strings length and the point at which the string crosses the bridge saddle. By using state of the art digital pitch reading technology we can make accurate diagnosis and apply corrections to the highest accuracy.

Tempering is the art of balancing the pitch relationships between strings to have the guitar intonate evenly over the entire fingerboard

Flexibility of neck and soundboard

Weak or rubbery vibrating surfaces produce an unstable sounding musical notes, therefore it is better to have a stiff vibrating surface. On the other extreme side the thinner vibrating components can be prone to movement and affected by temperature and humidity changes. Thin and flexible instruments produce notes that warble with unclear upper partials making it difficult to clearly distinguish and tune the strings to pitch. Quality instrument design balances stiffness to weight.

Bridge/Saddle

Acoustic guitar bridges are made from one piece of hardwood traditionally rosewood or ebony. A saddle is traditionally made of bone and on newer manufactured guitars, moulded synthetic materials are used. The saddle is set into the bridge at the manufacturers predetermined length and angle. Intonation can also be improved by making a saddle with calibrated lengths for each individual string.

Some manufacturers use a split saddle arrangement improving the accuracy of intonation.

The strings are usually attached through holes in the soundboard and secured by tapered bridge pins that are wedged. Some makers have their strings secured through a top loading method similar to a classical guitar.

There must be adequate break angle over the saddle in order for the string to vibrate.

Don't hesitate to get in contact with us if you have any questions regarding your instrument.



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