How To Make an Acoustic Guitar Sound Warmer?
An acoustic guitar’s sound is produced by the vibrations made when strumming the strings. The sound is amplified by its hollow body, and much of the tone is determined by the type of wood used on the soundboard (the top of the guitar). This is why musicians often refer to tonewoods when talking about acoustic guitars because the type of wood used can have a huge impact on the overall sound quality of the instrument. However, there are other things that can be done to alter the sound.
How To Make Acoustic Guitar Sound Warmer
There are several things a player can do to make their acoustic guitar sound warmer, even if it is one that has a brighter tone.
The methods to create a warmer tone include swapping out picks, changing strings, changing playing position, and installing a new nut and saddle. Additionally, if the acoustic guitar is outfitted with the ability to plug into an amplifier, alterations in settings can change tone drastically.
Changing The Guitar Pick
The thickness of a guitar pick can affect the overall tone you get from the guitar itself. Using a thicker pick will generally lead to deeper, warmer tones. Another option is to use a pick with a more rounded, rather than pointed, end.
Guitar picks are often sold in packages with multiple thicknesses included at low prices; try out different shapes and thicknesses to find which one works best for you and the warmer tone you are trying to achieve. Generally, a pick that is more than 1mm thick is categorized as a thick, rather than thin, pick.
Note that tone and what sounds good is subjective, so do not feel limited to choosing a particular shape or size of pick to get the sound you want. For example, you might find a 0.8mm pick works great for a warmer tone, whereas a 1.0mm pick creates too deep of a sound. It is ultimately up to individual tastes and how the picks work with the acoustic guitar setup being used.
Changing The Strings
Changing the strings can also lead to a warmer tone. You can change both the type of strings and the gauge. To create a warmer sound, just like with guitar picks, you want to go with a thicker gauge. In particular, steel/silk and phosphor-bronze strings provide the warmest tones. The steel and silk strings are normally not as warm as the phosphor-bronze, however, although they are more affordable and also softer, making them easier to play.
You can also combine this with changing out your picks and see how these alterations together affect the warmth from your acoustic guitar. Be sure to reference your guitar’s specifications to see what gauge and type of strings are already on it so you can choose an appropriate new set.
Changing Your Playing Style
If you are strumming close to the bridge end of the guitar, you will naturally evoke the brighter tones, whereas playing closer to the neck will produce warmer tones. If you find yourself picking near the bridge, try moving your hand up towards the neck, and experiment with different positions to see how the tone changes.
You can also try using your thumb rather than a pick, to pluck the strings. This will lead to a warmer tone than using a pick in many cases, as well. You do not have to learn how to play a guitar fingerstyle to do this, either. Simply strum a few notes or chords using your thumb and see how the tone changes compared to using a pick.
Modifying The Guitar
This option is the most intensive, involving actually replacing the nut and saddle. You can have a guitar technician do this, of course, or you can opt to do it yourself. Be sure to double-check the material of your current nut and saddle before this begin this project to be sure you do not either buy the same material you already have or waste money because you already have the optimal materials for warm tones.
In general, if you have a plastic nut and saddle, replacing them with a softer material will increase the overall warmness of the instrument’s tone.
Adjusting The Amplifier Settings
This option only applies if you have an acoustic-electric guitar. Many acoustic guitars on the market are sold with the option to plug in, making it easier to record with as well as ensuring the sound can be amplified enough to fill concert halls.
How to create a warmer tone will of course vary by the type of amplifier you have, but in general, you want to set up a clean tone and leave the gain off. Some amplifiers even have buttons that say things like bright, helping you easily toggle on and off certain features.
Conclusion – How To Make an Acoustic Guitar Sound Warmer
While an acoustic guitar’s tone is primarily determined by its wood, there are things that can be done to change the tone, including increasing the warmness.
Changing to a thicker and/or rounder pick, or even strumming with the thumb, can create a warmer sound than thinner, pointier picks.
In line with thicker picks, thicker strings can also help create a deeper, and therefore warmer, tone. There are several options, including steel/silk and phosphor-bronze.
Sometimes it is just the way the guitar is played. A very easy way to adjust the tone is to simply move the picking hand closer to the neck for a warmer tone (the closer one strums to the bridge will typically produce a brighter tone).
The nut and saddle can be swapped out for softer materials, which will help create warmer tones, as well. For example, plastics are often used, and these do not lend themselves to warm tones the way ebony, for instance, does.
Finally, if the acoustic guitar has an electric component, use the amplifier settings to create a clean, warm, resonant tone. This will involve turning up the volume and turning down the gain, along with adjusting any settings the specific amplifier has.
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