A great sounding guitar is a personal thing. What might sound good to one person might not to another. Regardless, there are some aspects of a guitar’s tone that are universal.

Intonation is one of those things. Does the guitar tune properly? Does the guitar play in tune up and down the fretboard? Intonation can be affected by a number of things, many of which can be addressed through a good setup. I go through every guitar I buy to make sure it’s intonation is as good as possible.

A guitar’s sustain and volume are other aspects of tone. These are most affected by the guitar’s build. Bracing, tonewoods, body shape, scale length, and other aspects of its build all affect its sustain and volume. There are some things one can do to increase the sustain and volume of an acoustic guitar. One of the easiest is to put on heavier gauge strings. This is not always desirable for the player or the guitar. 

Sometimes guitars have structural issues that will affect their tone. Things like belly bulging, loose bracing, soundboard warping and concaving are some structural issues that can be corrected. These are things that I resolve as much as possible before putting a guitar up for sale.

The age of a good acoustic guitar has a definite impact on its tone. Generally speaking, guitars built with solid tonewoods will sound better as they get older. This is one of the reasons that many professional players look for vintage guitars built with solid tonewoods. Their tone can not be replicated. This brings me to the issue of tonewoods.

The wood that is used in the guitar has a tremendous impact on its tone. I will not go into the different tonewoods and how they affect tone. There are countless websites that discuss this. What I will talk about is the use of solid versus laminate wood. 

*Guitar Snob Alert* Some people believe the only good guitar is hand-built with “solid wood”. I agree that this can make a great guitar, but I don’t believe it’s the only way to make a great guitar. In my experience, guitars with solid wood soundboards generally sound better over time. However, I have an all laminate wood 1971 Alvarez 5045 (a 00-18 knockoff) that has the best tone of any small body steel string guitar I’ve ever played. So there are exceptions. 

I’ve also owned a number of vintage Ovation guitars *Ovation Guitar Snob Alert* that have great tone and are great to play. For those of you who think Ovations are not real guitars, you’re losing out on some wonderful instruments.

What I attempt to do with every guitar I sell is provide at least one video of the guitar highlighting its tone. This way you at least have a sense of how the guitar sounds before purchasing it. Of course, if you live in the Twin Cities area, you are more than welcome to arrange with me to try the guitar, or guitars, in person.

One other area that is part of the tone of many acoustic guitars is electronics. Many of the guitars I buy and sell have electronics. I test all electronics and repair them if they have issues prior to putting them up for sale.

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