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Buying an acoustic guitar and the importance of the neck angle

by Nigel Rowles

It doesn't really matter the price range that you have in mind. Years back a low cost guitar would be a nightmare to play, and for a beginner it was worse, I had one for my first guitar. These days with advanced machining and mass production techniques there are a large number of guitar manufacturers turning out quite good guitars at low cost. Regardless of the price if you take any two guitars of the same make and model, even with consecutive production numbers it's quite likely that one will be easier to play than the other.

How well a guitar plays is determined by the action.The action on a guitar is the distance between the underside of the strings and the frets. The frets are the thin metal strips that lie across the neck. The maximum distance is found in the area where the neck and body join. If the distance is greater than say 3mm then it will be harder to play the guitar up the neck than it should be and for a beginner it can totally discouraging. Keep in mind that that a small difference can mean a lot. A 4mm gap is a big step up from 3mm.

There are four things that influence the action. 1. The Saddle Height 2. The Nut Height 3. The Truss Rod Adjustment 4. The Neck Angle

The first three can be adjusted. If the neck angle is bad then adjusting the other three will bring about little change to the action. Picture a guitar lying level on its back and you place a straight edge along neck and extending down to touch the bridge. The bridge is the piece of timber attached to the body of the guitar that has the strings attached to it, and the saddle is the (usually) white plastic strip that sits in the bridge and has the strings running across it. When the neck angle is good then the neck and the top of the bridge will be on the same line. When the angle is bad then the straight edge will point to a spot closer to where the bridge joins the body and is a really bad case it would touch the body of the guitar first.

Now we cannot carry out this test in a music store, however what we can do is sight down the neck and it's fairly easy to see where the line of the neck points to, it should be in line with the top of the bridge.

This is all probably a lot to absorb in one go, the important thing is to be aware of the action and any good guitar salesperson should know all this and be able to point them out to you so you can make the best choice so you have a guitar that is easy to play.

Lastly do not buy a guitar because you like the color of it, buy the guitar that sounds good and plays well. Good Luck

1 comment:

jrevaGuitar said...





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