How to Get More Tone From Your Acoustic Guitar

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Acoustic guitars can get more tone with the proper tools and tricks, such as articulation and sustaining. Give more power to your sound tone with help from a professional musician in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Applications for the Guitar
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Kirk Wilson, and I live in California. And, as a session player on guitar, I perform in Hollywood, and Burbank, and surrounding areas of Los Angeles. I also teach at Orchepia School of Music in Irvine. And today, we're going to talk about how to get more sound out of your acoustic guitar. Here, I have is a Yamaha G-235 acoustic guitar, and there are so many different techniques involved in the sound of your guitar. And, acoustically playing, you have, like, different techniques in terms of articulation in your left hand, ways that if you want much sustain, you want to keep your fingers right in the center of the fret for more sustain. So, if you're ever playing something, and you want to achieve, like, a lot of tone and sustain, generally, you want to make sure your thumb is behind the neck, not like over like this, but you want your thumb behind the neck, and you want your fingers to curve over, and just the tip of your fingers. So, if you play a chord, you want your fingers to be just in the middle of the frets. And, that's really very important. So, once you do that, you will have, like, beautiful sustain. However, if you manage to, like, play close to the frets, and you're trying to play a sustaining cord, then you'll get, instead of. So, instead of having, it's nice sustain like this, you'll have. And, any chord you try to make, whether it's a, or, big difference. So, keep your fingers right in the center of the frets. Second thing you want to do whenever you're playing, if you strum an acoustic guitar, its important, if it's a classical guitar like this one, then what you want to do is use your fingernails. I also play piano, so I keep my fingernails quite short. But, if you're really serious, and you want to have really good sound, then you want to use your fingernails. So, if you play something that you're going to pluck, you want to keep your fingernails long, so you can grab the strings, and have something like a pick. So, when you're using a pick, that pick will give you a cleaner sound, similar to your fingernails. So, if you don't use a pick. So, once you achieve that desired effect, whether it's a pick, or a plucked, or a strum, if you strum an acoustic guitar, then you want to use the base of your thumb, like this part of your thumb, sideways. So, then when you play, and that's strumming. But, if you don't use the base of your thumb, and you use, like, some people use, like, their index finger, and they take it and. But, you don't have as much control if you use your thumb. Even if you're playing a loud song, there's much more smoothness and edge of your thumb than the fingernail of your index finger. So, you have a warmer sound if you use your thumb, instead of your index finger, to strum. So, one way that you want to do when you strum, one technique, you use your thumb instead of your index finger. Many people use the index finger, and they kind of point like that, squares off. But, your sound is always smooth, and soft, and rounder if you use your thumb. So, another thing that you want to do to make an acoustic guitar sound better, is you want to use your fingernails. And, as a piano player, I have short nails. But, you can still, if you play a single line, you want to pull back. That's a significant difference, as opposed to. And, my name is Kirk Wilson, and that is how to get more tone from your acoustic guitar.

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