Acoustic guitars are some of the most widely used instruments in music today, and rightfully so because no one sounds the same as another. But sometimes, the sound you’re getting from your guitar is not the sound you want for the style of music you’re trying to play. If you want to get your guitar to sound warmer, there are a few things you can try.
To make an acoustic guitar sound warmer, you can try to use a different pick, change your picking hand’s position, use different strings, or change the materials of your saddle and nut.
In this article, we will be discussing what makes a guitar sound the way it does, as well as the numerous tactics you can employ to get your acoustic guitar to sound warmer. So, let’s get right to it!
What Gives a Guitar Its Sound?
To understand why your guitar does or doesn’t sound “warm,” you first need to understand the basics of how your guitar produces sound. This may sound complicated, but in actual fact, it is quite simple.
An acoustic guitar produces sound through vibrations. The guitar strings run from the neck to the guitar’s body and are strung tightly to create tension. When you pluck one of the strings, it creates a vibration that is transmitted to the guitar’s saddle and from there onto the soundboard.
These vibrations resonate through to the top of the guitar and the sides and back. The air in the guitar’s body and the soundboard amplify their vibrations. Finally, the sound is produced and comes out through the hole in the front of the guitar.
Every piece of your guitar’s composition plays a part in how the sound produced by its strings sounds to your ears, so naturally, there are many ways to change the way that your guitar sounds, including making it sound warmer.
If you find that your guitar produces sounds that are a bit ‘tinny,’ ‘bright,’ or that it just doesn’t have the warm and full-bodied sound you are looking for, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to make it sound different. Luckily, there are several ways in which you can make your guitar sound warmer, which we will go over now.
Use a Different Pick
Possibly the easiest thing you can do to get a warmer sound from your guitar is to use a different plectrum when playing. Using a heavier pick, one made of wood, or one with a rounded tip (as opposed to the pointy tip that most picks seem to have) will all help take away some of the brightness or thin sound your guitar is producing, and will, in turn, give you a more mellow and warmer sound.
Picks made from a softer material (like acetal) will also help add warmth to the sound of your guitar.
Change the Position of Your Picking Hand
Another easy thing you can do to change your guitar’s sound is to change where your picking hand plays on the strings.
If you play too close to the nut and saddle (i.e., the bottom of the guitar), the sound of your guitar can become quite bright or tinny, but playing closer to the neck of the guitar (while still playing over the soundhole) can help your guitar produce a warmer sound.
Change Out Your Guitar Strings
While the actual construction of your guitar (the materials the body and neck are made of) have the most influence on the type of sound it produces, the strings also play a significant role.
Before deciding to mod out other parts of your guitar (which we will discuss in a bit), you might want to try to change the strings you are using, as they can also influence your guitar’s tone.
String gauge is just a fancy way of describing the diameter of your guitar’s strings. They are usually categorized using shorthand terms (extra lights, lights, mediums, heavys) or by the thinnest string in the set (elevens, twelves, thirteens, etc.). On acoustic guitars, “thirteens” are considered medium strings.
If you want to get a warmer sound from your guitar, you might consider switching out the strings you currently have on your guitar for some heavier strings. If you have “light” strings, then switch them out for “medium” strings, and if you’re already using medium strings, you can replace them with some “heavy” gauge strings.
Heavier gauge strings have higher tension than “light” strings and thus have a more full-bodied and warm tone, whereas lighter strings can often sound thin and brittle in comparison.
The material that your guitar strings are made of can also play a massive role in how your guitar sounds overall. The wide variety of materials available means that there is also more variety in tone than before. This is great because you’ll be able to get exactly the sound you want from your guitar.
When wanting to get a warmer sound from your guitar, you could upgrade your strings to some phosphor-bronze strings or silk and steel strings. Both these string types are known for their warm tone and are very highly recommended to those wanting to get a warmer sound from their guitars.
Phosphor-bronze strings are most often recommended because they produce a nice warm tone and are relatively affordable. However, silk and steel strings are known to have a more mellow and softer tone and have lower tension, which makes them less harsh on your fingers, but are slightly more costly than phosphor-bronze strings.
Still, it is worth looking into both types to figure out which you like best and give you the sound you’re looking for.
Best Strings to Use for a Warmer Tone
When trying to find the best strings to use on your guitar, it seems that everyone has a different opinion of what is the “best” brand and type of string to use, but here, we’ve summarized a few of the most popular ones:
- Martin Monel Retro: These strings are made of a combination of copper, nickel, magnesium, zinc, and a few other elements that help make them resistant to saltwater (a.k.a. sweat). They have been praised for having an “earthy” tone and for bringing out the wood sounds of the guitar.
- Martin MSP4100: These phosphor-bronze strings produce a nice warm tone and are a well-rounded choice for an affordable price.
- Ernie Ball Earthwood: Ernie Ball’s strings are known to have a full, clear, and warm sound, and they are very well priced, no matter whether you go for their phosphor-bronze or silk and steel strings. It is good to go for their heavier gauge strings, however.
- Thomastik-Infeld Spectrum Bronze: These strings are some of the most expensive on the market, but they absolutely live up to their price point. They are made for studio recording purposes, which means that they produce a really high-quality sound, but they can be a little harder on your fingers than the other strings on this list.
Choose a Different Saddle and Nut Material
Another thing you can do, if all of the other things mentioned above don’t give you the results you’re looking for, is to change out your guitar’s saddle and nut for something made from a softer material. Most guitars come with a plastic saddle and nut, and changing them out for material like ebony or buffalo horn will help your guitar produce a warmer sound.
Final Thoughts On How To Make An Acoustic Guitar Sound Warmer
While guitars are some of the most popular musical instruments today, getting them to sound the way you want can be challenging. However, if you know the basics of how guitars produce sound and what their different parts do, you should be able to adjust them until you get them to produce a sound that you like.
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