6 Unique Ways to Get a Good Tone from Your Acoustic Guitar

a foreshortened angle photograph of a person acoustic guitar

How do you get your guitar to sound right? There’s no one answer to this question. A good tone is purely subjective. However, you can improve your tone by playing efficiently, cleaning up your technique, reducing muscle tension, and carefully listening to yourself. 

This blog highlights 6 ways to improve your acoustic guitar’s tone through the fretting hand, fingerstyle, and flat pick techniques. 

Fretting Hand Techniques

Arch Fingers

Some guitarists address the guitar strings as if they’re pointing towards the frets through the first two finger joints. To be able to hear each string, you need to arch your fingers. To practice it, imagine holding an orange. Get your fingers together like you’re squeezing the orange. Do you see how your fingers are curved? That’s how they should be on your guitar’s neck.

Trim Your Fingernails

To ensure that your fingers are perfectly arched and stay on the guitar’s neck, you must trim your fingernails. Long fingernails will create buzzing sounds, and you won’t be able to position your hand appropriately. Always keep a nail cutter handy!

Fingerstyle Techniques

Move Your Knuckles

This one requires you to grab your guitar. Got it? Now pluck a string through your fingertip. Pluck the same string with your knuckle. Hear the difference? Ensure that your knuckles influence your finger movement. This way, when you pluck a string, it will create a cleaner and more crisp tone.  

Experiment with Hand Placement

Acoustic guitars can have a lot of tonal variations. To explore your guitar’s palette, play a simple passage four times. Each time, place your picking hand at different positions. Near the fretboard, back of the soundhole, front of the soundhole, and near the bridge. Each time you’ll see a variation in the tone. If you play near the neck, you’ll get a warmer tone. On the other hand, playing near the bridge will give you a brighter tone.

Flat Pick Techniques

Try a Different Pick Angle

Changing your pick angle can give you tone variation. If you hit the cords through an angle, say 40 degrees, you’ll get a fat tone compared to when you hit it parallel. However, the pick angle is usually determined through the angle with which the guitar sits on your body and how your hand is moving. Changing a pick angle would require you to change your posture, and it may be uncomfortable for most people. Therefore, experiment and see what fits you best.

acoustic guitar player playing the guitar with a thin pick for a sharper tone

Try Different Picks (Heavy or Light)

If you go for a pick heavier than 1mm, it’ll produce a rounder tone. Guitar players who prefer an energetic and lighter tone choose light picks. Lighter picks can enable you to play faster and make complex strums with ease. Experimenting with different picks is the best way to find tone variation in your acoustic guitar.

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