The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Castroville without hearing it is one such change. But keep a few things in mind when you do it and it can be a convenient way to score a good instrument at a good price.
There’s really two kinds of people who should be buying their guitars in Castroville, experts or really serious guitar players and beginners. The first group knows exactly what kind of guitar they want, and at that level of price and quality they can be assured that that particular guitar will be terrific. Beginners don’t really care as much, so long as it has six strings and can play. The truth is each guitar is unique as its made out of a particular sheet of wood that experiences conditions unlike any of its fellow models at the factory. Each sheet is alive, and guitars can age with grace or misery depending on how they’re maintained. This needs to be kept in mind when looking at a store in Castroville, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.
By far, the most important thing you can do to protect your
acoustic guitar is to control the humidity of its environment. Ask
any guitar repair person. They are the ones who see, time and time
again, the damage done to guitars and other fretted instruments by
humidity levels which are too low.
Most acoustic guitars are the happiest in a relative humidity (RH)
above 40%. In fact, most acoustic guitars are built in a relative
humidity range of 45%-50%. The greatest danger to your guitar
occurs during the fall, winter and early spring. In cold
temperatures you need to heat your home; and when you heat your
home, the air in your home becomes drier. It can often drop to less
than half of the RH of the factory in which your guitar was built!
When the RH of your (and your guitar's) home descends to lower than
35%, all kinds of terrible things can happen. Cracks can occur in
the top, the bridge can lift from the top and the neck angle can
change. The warranties of most guitar manufacturers will exclude
guitars that have been stored in an inappropriate humidity. The
necessary repairs can be quite pricey.
The good news in all of this is that the solution is quite simple.
Store you guitar in a hardshell case and keep and maintain an
in-case humidifier. There are a number of different brands and
types of humidifiers on the market, in prices ranging from about
$12-$20. Check with your music dealer for the best one for you.
Don't forget to check and add water as often as necessary. If you
really want to keep on top of things, purchase a hygrometer (a
humidity meter). These can cost anywhere from $50 to $150, but an
economy model will be accurate enough.
Another important factor in caring for your instrument is, don't
use strings that are too heavy (thick). Most manufactures suggest
that you use light gauge strings, not mediums. Some players balk at
this, but the fact is, volume and tone are often more a matter of
playing technique than of string gauge. If you have a vintage
guitar, you might want to consider extra-lights. Another route you
can go (which I do with most of my vintage instruments), is to use
"silk and steel" strings. I think these are just wonderful, for a
number of reasons: but one is, they put much less stress on your
guitar. Read my article, "Acoustic Guitar Strings--The Merits of
Silk & Steel" at:
One other important caution regarding the care of your guitar: If
you use a capo, do not leave the capo on the instrument when you're
not playing it. The capo, when clamped on the neck, holds the
strings down on the fretboard and creates extra tension on the neck
and the top of the guitar. All acoustic guitars are destined, at
some point in time, to have problems due to the tension of the
strings. Why hasten the process by leaving a capo clamped on your
Taking these steps to care for your acoustic guitar may seem a bit
burdensome, at first. But if you start applying these principles
now, your guitar will give you many years of playing pleasure.
Copyright © 2007 Lee Griffith. All rights reserved.
How to Fix Acoustic Guitar Buzz
An important part of creating your own home recording studio requires understanding how the amp works, but more importantly, what job each type of amp has. This is, however, a simple concept to understand. For example, electric guitars require the use of an electric guitar amp whereas electric bass guitars require the bass amp. Acoustic-electric guitars use acoustic amplifiers, and, of course, acoustic guitars do not use amps. This basic information, however, is not all that is needed for a successful amp set up. Let's take a closer look.
Amps are a very tricky subject as there are just so many out there. The basic idea of them is to take the ultra low voltage coming from the pickups and bring them up to line level. Seems simple, but there is a lot that goes into how that signal is boosted.
The main two types of amps are tube and solid state. Tube amplifiers are the grand daddies of amplifiers and use vacuum tubes as their main amplifier. Solid state amplifiers use modern chips in place of the tubes. The difference is that tubes tend to add a warmth and smoothness to the sound but can also add a good amount of noise too. Solid state amps are more clean and solid, but can sound cold. All amps, whether for guitar, bass, or acoustic work the same but differ in where they focus their characteristics. This is not to say that you should plug a guitar into a bass amp. Sometime it will work, and sometimes it just won't.
The Relationship between Electric Guitars and Electric Guitar Amps
Electric guitars work on pickups. A pickup works by using a magnet that is wrapped in wire. The magnetic field rides just through the strings so when the string is strummed or plucked, it alters the magnetic field and produces an electrical signal at the same frequency as the note being played. The "tone" of the pickup is determined by how many times the wire is wound around the magnet. A standard electric pickup is wrapped around 5000 times, which is nothing to sneeze at.
A Humbucker pickup uses 2 of these wrappings to reduce the amount of noise that can be produced by the pickup. This, obviously, increases the quality of any guitar using Humbucker pickups.
Bass Electric Guitars and Their Amps
Bass guitars work pretty much the same way that an electric guitar does. The reason for a bass sounding so deep is the fact that they use thicker strings, which vibrate at a lower frequency by nature. Specifically, a bass amp is specially designed to focus on the lower frequency spectrum and boost it. A normal guitar amp focuses more on the mid to high frequency spectrum.
Furthermore, a guitar wire is wound around 5000 times using #42 wire. The more times it is wound, or the more tightly wound it is, the more the lower frequencies get tapered off. To exaggerate this effect, a bass uses thicker wire as well. Sometimes the pickup is split so that it looks like a z on the body. This way the two higher strings have a boosted sound and the lower ones produce a thicker sound because of the unique shape.
Acoustic-Electric Guitars and Acoustic Guitar Amps
Acoustic-Electric guitars and their amps work entirely different from electric guitars and amps as they use what is called a "piezo pickup." A piezo pickup is essentially a dynamic microphone that only reacts when the string is plucked. This creates a more natural sound in relation to the actual acoustic sound. Today, even some electric guitars have piezo pickups added to them because they are so unique.
Now that you have the know how, you should also know that some amps are inter-compatible between guitars. What you can't know, however, is how well one guitar type, like a Fender, will be compatible with a different brand, like Line6, as I mentioned above. As Soundetta.com has suggested many times, ample amount of research can benefit you in decision making but I still insist that there is nothing better than pulling up a seat in your local guitar store with your girl in one hand and line into one amp at a time. Rock on.
The most obvious advantage the guitar has over other instruments is its portability. Unlike a baby grand piano, you can easily pack your guitar around on your shoulder in a carrying case. I bought my first guitar when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a Stella, purchased for twenty-nine dollars from George Porcella, the proprietor of Porcella's Music Store in Gilroy, California. Since then, I have owned, sold, traded, pawned or lost a dozen or so more.
My love for the guitar soared in 1978 when I first heard world-renown classical guitar master Andres Segovia's The Intimate Guitar album. I listened to it on the recommendation of a teacher I had just begun taking classical lessons from in Santa Cruz. Capitalizing on the guitar's ability to produce both melodic and harmonic sound, Segovia was able to make his guitar sound like two separate instruments. In addition to being the world's most recognized classical performer, Segovia did much throughout his life to increase the popularity of his beloved instrument. He produced instruction books and materials, transcribed classical music to fit the guitar and held concerts, seminars and workshops throughout the world.
Prior to that time I began studying classical guitar, I had been able to play folk and country songs in the style of Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson using three simple chords. My newly learned music theory, coupled with a more developed ear, opened up a new world of learning and enjoyment for me. The right and left hand techniques used in guitar playing gave my body a better sense of balance and integration than playing a wind or brass instrument.
The guitar offers players the opportunity to experiment with techniques and create different styles and picking patterns, from Flamingo to Travis picking. Likewise, you can change and invent new musical styles by changing the type or thickness of your strings. You can also change guitar types from a classical nylon string, to a steel string acoustic. Electric pick-ups as well as electric guitars with amps and foot pedal attachments allow the player to increase volume and add special sound effects. Guitars can be played with a pick or with a variety of finger-pickings styles.
Still, the guitar has other has advantages too. Unlike most brass and wind instruments, you can play complex four, five and six note chords on a guitar. Although the use of a capo is frowned on by classical players, its use in other styles gives players the unique ability to quickly change keys to adjust to a singers vocal range or preferences.
This versatile instrument is also one of the few you hold over your heart. To the serious player like myself, this not only enhances the tone you produce from the strings, but makes your playing one with your voice.