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WhAT'S THE BEST ACOUSTIC GUITAR FOR SINGERS?
Selecting the right song for your voice might seem instinctual to many singer-songwriters, but what about the right guitar?
Acoustic Guitar Specialist Karl Neurauter demonstrates how different tonewoods and body shapes frame your voice, using a Gibson J-45 Vintage Red Spruce/Mahogany, Collings 002H Traditional 12-Fret Sitka Spruce/Indian Rosewood, Santa Cruz Custom Dreadnought Adirondack Spruce/Cocobolo, Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition Sitka Spruce/Koa, and “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness,” a track from songwriting master John Prine’s 1986 album, German Afternoons.
The J-45, a classic slope-shoulder dreadnought, has been Gibson’s central acoustic workhorse for over seven decades. This particular Custom Shop model replicates vintage “Banner” J-45s, highly sought-after collectibles known for their unique design and careful construction, and has a baked Adirondack spruce top, mahogany back, and mahogany sides for full, balanced tone and rich low end.
Constructed with a Sitka spruce top and rosewood back and sides, this 12-fret Collings 002H parlor-style guitar has a smaller body shape and tighter waist bout, qualities generally thought to pair best with solo fingerpickers, not singers. Karl disagrees.
Santa Cruz designed this pre-war dreadnought to accentuate the midrange and treble, without altering the dreadnought’s natural bass response. A tall order, but because it’s Santa Cruz, it works, and the Adirondack spruce top and cocobolo back and sides sing with remarkable, yet undisruptive, clarity.
Taylor’s V-Class bracing boosts the volume across the entire tonal spectrum in this Grand Auditorium, constructed with an Adirondack spruce top and koa back and sides. But like most Taylors, each note of the K14ce’s bright, brilliant tone blends in perfect accompaniment, just as intended.