In this article, we will discuss the two main reasons why your guitar could sound dull and what you need to check for in order to get the problem sorted out.
Ways That An Acoustic Guitar Could Sound Bad
Acoustic guitars are different from electric guitars, where the tone is not something that you can tweak.
There is a major difference between acoustic and electric guitars (other than price – are electric guitars cheaper than acoustic?). Electric guitars are basically influenced by electronics with regards to tone. The construction methods and materials used are a secondary focus.
Now where the best acoustic guitars are concerned, it is the other way around. The size and shape of the body influence the sound. The main goal is to reproduce the tone of an acoustic guitar when it is amplified, not to control it.
Identifying The Issue
In order to fix the issues with any acoustic guitar, you need to identify the specific issues. Simply saying that your guitar does not sound as good as one that you are used to will not be of any help. You must identify the way in which it sounds bad.
Here is a list of a few things that you could be experiencing with your guitar:
- Your guitar sounds as if it is out of tune and in need of guitar tuners, but only in certain places on the neck.
- Your guitar goes out of tune quickly.
- You hear a buzzing sound, especially when you strum hard.
- You find that your guitar is rattling when you play, especially when you strum.
- The tone lacks clarity and sounds muddy.
- Your guitar’s tone is overly bright.
In most cases, there are different ways to fix or improve these problems and most are pretty simple fixes.
Inspecting Your Guitar Is The First Thing That Needs To Be Done
It is vital that you inspect your guitar to see if there could be any major issues that could be causing your guitar to sound bad.
You need to look at the following when inspecting your guitar:
Do you see any cracks in your guitar?
If you do happen to notice a separation or crack anywhere on the guitars’ body, or bridge, you should rather consult an expert, unless you are experienced with this type of issue.
It is not difficult to fix small dents and so forth but when it comes to structural damage that will only get worse with time, it is not advisable to try and sort this issue out by yourself. If you do indeed find this to be an issue, you should immediately take your guitar to a professional to conduct a cosmetic repair.
Do you see any gaps in the guitar body seams?
It is especially important to check the heel of the neck at the back of your guitar.
Do you notice that any of the bracing inside your guitar seems loose?
You can easily check this by carefully tapping the body, both back, and front, and listening for sounds that could indicate that you may have a loose strut.
Do you have a problem with the bridge of your guitar?
Do you see that it may be lifting from the body of your guitar? Is the action very low? You can check this by fretting every single note on the high E string and listen carefully for a buzzing sound of the string.
Other Potential Issues:
- Are the tuners rattling and loose when you play or move your guitar?
- Do you find that the neck of your guitar is warped or twisted? This can be checked by holding your guitar in front of yourself and looking down its neck.
- Do you find that the fret wires feel as though they are jagged or as if they are protruding past the necks edge?
- Is the saddle or nut damaged at all?
- Did you make sure that the intonation is set correctly?
The Saddle and Nut
Have you got any idea what the saddle and guitar nut are made from? Even though these may seem like silly items, they both play an important role in how your guitar sounds.
Do you know what your nut and saddle are constructed from? While these may seem like trivial items, both play a huge role in how a guitar sounds.
The acoustic guitar saddle
When you take into account that the saddle and nut are the absolute last points of contact for the guitar strings, it clearly makes sense that both would influence the sound of your instrument in a very big way. Saddles and nuts are usually made from plastic, graphite, or bone (sometimes brass can also be used) and they vary in quantity.
For example, plastic is much less dense than graphite or bone and as a result, there is less of the energy produced by the strings that are transferred to the soundboard. The soundboard is what is mainly responsible for the sound a guitar produces. If you have a guitar that has either a plastic saddle or nut or both, a pretty simple way to fix this problem is t upgrade to graphite or bone.
Once you have completed the full inspection, you can ake note of any issues that you may have, and then decide if this is something that you can fix by yourself, or if you do indeed need to seek the help of a professional.
If you are not sure, the next section will give you some more insight into common tone problems that are simple to fix.
Change The Strings
The easiest way to solve a fret buzz is to change the strings of your guitar, or you could consider having a professional sort out the guitar setup.
A guitar setup explained
When you have a guitar setup done, it basically involves having the strings reset, the checking of the intonation of the guitars’ neck, and inspecting the saddle and nut. This is something that a professional will be able to help you with.