NGD = New Guitar Day…Again!

3/20/2012: A brown UPS truck dropped off a big rectangular package in the afternoon.

Introducing the RainSong Shorty SG-FLE (Forum Limited Edition)!

  • 12-fret OM (short-scale Orchestra Model)
  • Carbon Fiber/Glass Hybrid Body
  • All-graphite unidirectional carbon soundboard crafted using Projection Tuned Layering technique
  • Abalone Soundhole
  • Abalone Bridge Pins
  • Abalone Shark Inlays
  • Fishman Prefix Plus + T Electronics
  • Custom TKL Limited Edition Hardshell Case (fitted specifically for a RainSong Shorty)

I wanted a second guitar that was bright (in turn good for fingerpicking/flatpicking) in tone and had a small body (comfortable to play).  This would also be Joyce’s guitar since I gave her my first guitar I ever owned (a Takamine EG-330C).  However, I later sold it to a friend of my brother-in-law’s friend.

The RainSong Shorty SG-FLE fit the bill perfectly since it had a bright/metallic tone (good because when I fingerpick the tone that is projected is pretty dark).  The body is a 12-fret OM, which is the smallest guitar body RainSong makes.  It’s equivalent to Taylor’s grand concert body size.  The 12-fret (instead of the standard 14-fret) makes the guitar a short-scale guitar and moves the bridge down a bit for enhanced sound and bass response.  Having an on-board tuner in the electronics helps when playing live if I need to play in alternate tunings.  The bling of the abalone soundhole, shark inlays, and bridge pins are icing on top of the cake.  The biggest plus is that since the guitar is pretty much carbon fiber, it is impervious to humidity and temperature changes like all other wooden instruments are.  This is good for playing outdoors and/or in situations where temperature and humidity fluctuate extremely.

– Norm

Head over to Alicia’s Homemaking to see more Try New Adventures Thursday!

Acoustic Guitar Tone

Now that I recently upgraded my acoustic guitar, the top soundboard wood is Sitka Spruce and the back and side woods are Cocobolo (Mexican Rosewood).  Apologies as the contents of this post will be very guitar geekish.

Tone

When buying an acoustic guitar, it’s all about your preferred tone and how you primarily plan on playing it (mostly strumming, flatpicking, or fingerstyle).  Tone is derived from the woods the guitar is made out of.  80% of the tone comes from the wood on the soundboard (top of the guitar), while the other 20% comes from the wood on the back and sides of the guitar.  Mixing and matching different tops to different back and sides allows for a variety of tone to pick from when trying to find that preferred tone.

Top Woods

In general, Sitka Spruce (sometimes Bearclaw Sitka Spruce) is used as the soundboard for most guitars manufactured today.  It is one of the most dense woods out there, making the volume ceiling high.  Sitka is best used for strumming and aggressive flatpicking where you can really drive the volume up when playing.  On guitars manufactured prior to WWII (pre-war), Adirondack Spruce was used commonly for soundboards.  Adirondack is even more dense than Sitka meaning you can drive the volume even higher.  Guitars made with Adirondack generally sound like cannons.

In contrast, Western Red Cedar for the guitar soundboard is best for fingerstyle players (sometimes flatpickers).  Most classical guitars have soundboards made with cedar.  Cedar creates a “warmer sound”, but has a low volume ceiling.  Strummers and aggressive flatpickers will reach the volume ceiling fairly quickly and get frustrated.

Some other woods such as Redwood, Koa, Mahogany may be used for top wood as well.  Each offers a unique sound of its own to be experienced.

From the Breedlove Guitars website, here is their chart for tones on top woods and back/side woods:

Image Source: Breedlove Guitars

Back and Side Woods

In general, Maple is the brightest sounding wood.  Maple can “cut through” when playing in a band setting.  The rosewoods (Indian Rosewood, Cocobolo, Madagascar Rosewood, and the hard-to-find/get Brazilian Rosewood), on the other hand, are the darker sounding woods which accentuate more bass.

From the Taylor Guitars website, here is their chart on tonewoods (dotted-line means the wood has the potential to reach the frequency as it is played more over time):

Wood Combinations

For strummers, an Adirondack/Rosewood guitar would work best.  However, since these guitars are generally more expensive and harder to find, a Sitka/Rosewood guitar is recommended.

For fingerstyle players, Cedar/Koa or Cedar/Mahogany are tried combinations that work well.

Body Size

The size of the guitar body may also determine the guitar tone as well.  Naturally, a smaller body grand concert or OO guitar will yield less volume and often bring out more of the trebles over a larger body dreadnought or jumbo guitar.  Think about comparing a violin to a double bass.

Martin Guitars put out the following subjective tone chart in one of their members’ magazines:

Forums

The Taylor Guitar Forum (now the Acoustic Guitar Forum) and the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum are the two biggest guitar forums out there, which corresponds to their respective guitar manufacturer.  Other guitar manufacturers have forums out there to discuss any guitar issues as well.

– Norm

NGD = New Guitar Day

3/18/2011: I upgraded my acoustic guitar yesterday as a FedEx truck dropped off a big rectangular package in the morning.

Introducing the value-packed 2003 Taylor 714-ce-LTD!

  • Premium Cocobolo 3-Piece Back and Sides with Flamed Maple Center Wedge
  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Abalone Purfling and Soundhole
  • Flamed Maple Binding
  • Snowflake Inlays
  • Expression System Electronics

Anyone interested in buying my old guitar?  It’s from the same value-packed production year of 2003.  A 2003 Rosewood Taylor 414ce (basically an 814ce without the bling).

– Norm