Acoustic Guitar Facts
15 Interesting Facts About The Acoustic Guitar
Given the great depth of its body, the acoustic guitar covers a huge range of frequencies and projects a deeply rich sound. Given this and its accessible ease of use, it becomes a central ‘stand alone’ part of social music. Try to imagine a campfire without one!
This category ‘Acoustic Guitars’ specifically covers steel-string acoustic guitars, descendants of a long history of similar instruments. Through a predominantly American influence, it has been a leading factor in Western, Country and Blues genres. It has also stimulated popular and alternative music for years. Let’s enjoy some interesting facts.
1. Everybody Brace!
Let’s separate the steel string guitar from its relative the Spanish guitar: In order to function with the extra tension of steel strings, it relied upon the invention of the X-braced body. This was created in America in the 1930’s and helps to provide that classic, bright, steel string acoustic sound.
2. Holier Than Thou
As previously mentioned, we know that acoustics produce a broad range of tones. In particular, the full-bodied bass of the acoustic relies on the empty space within. Vibration from picking or strumming swells with the air and is audible with help from the big hole on the sound board.
4. Are You Hard Enough
The acoustic soundboard should ideally be made of selected hardwood. This normally gives the best tone quality. Many manufacturers tend to use ‘randomly-selected’ hardboards for budget ranges. In general, this causes pockets of poor-quality wood to appear. However, with this cheapskate process in place, it’s possible to accidentally buy a beautiful sounding guitar for much less than it’s worth. In a fantasy world, try twenty different guitars before you make a final decision or be incredibly lucky!
5. King Johnson
In the 1930s two long-lasting recordings were made, by the father of Blues Robert Leroy Johnson. He did not personally experience the great impact of his music, sadly dying in 1938 at the age of 27. His acoustic legacy is extraordinary, being cherished by many famous guitarists.
6. Bobbing About in the Woods
Bob Dylan’s powerful protest image relied on his use of the acoustic guitar (See the electric guitar section). An earlier and similar example of the political power of acoustics comes from the artist Woody Gutherie, who famously displayed the phrase ‘This Machine Kills Fascists” on his famous Gibson acoustic. This was created during his time in the US Navy during the second world war.
7. It's Not Loud Enough (My Ears Aren’t Bleeding!)
There are a variety of ways of electrifying your acoustic. Brands like Yamaha have very affordable and delicious live technologies, onboard relatively cheap instruments. Perhaps you won’t get the benefits of that quality wood around the campfire but you can rely on sounding tremendous live.
8. I’m Very McKeen
Obviously, there are classic playing styles such as strumming and picking for the guitar. More recently acoustic guitarists have produced playing-styles that simultaneously combine multiple playing parts, including percussion, rhythm and lead. This combined with the natural acoustic quality of the instrument is great to see. Few acoustic performances get as technically impressive as this. Try checking out Andrew McKee and his track ‘Drifting’ from the album ‘Art of Motion‘ for an amazing example.
9. Steel the Show!
Steel bodied resonator guitars are astonishingly beautiful, famously displayed by Dire Straits in the cover of their album Brother in Arms. A louder instrument than regular acoustic guitars, designed to come through amongst loud dance bands in an era prior to amplification.
10. Ginger Ninja
Ed Sheeran is a recent example of artists benefited from the beauty and ease of use of the acoustic guitar. Though later in his career the music became professionally polished, Ed used the acoustic to easily access gig after gig in the UK. This did the important thing, it polished his ability to perform.
11. Who’s Martin?
Speaking of Ed Sheeran, he is mostly seen with Martin & Co Guitars. They are ultimately responsible for much of the technology and craftsmanship that make acoustics so wonderful. The most expensive acoustic guitar ever sold was Eric Clapton’s CF Martin & Co, circa 1939 which sold for over £600’000. All that money went to charity!
12. Cash Only
Johnny Cash spent his entire musical life attached to an acoustic guitar. There are simple beauty and simplicity in his style that brought Country Music to the masses. In his latter days, he produced an album called American Recordings. This is 13 simple tracks of vocal and acoustic guitar. Truly one of the greatest albums ever made.
13. Become the Listener
Acoustic guitars come with a range of sizes and shapes, sounds and suitabilities. If you’re serious about owning a beautiful acoustic with natural sound quality, ask someone in the shop to play it for you. Just sit back and take it all in.
15. Get your Life Balance Right
According to the Guinness World Records James Wralings from the UK balanced an acoustic guitar on his face for just over 32 minutes. This was during the Covid-19 crisis!
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