The feel of the guitar is determined by various factors, I will explain some of these in detail in this short article here. It is the feel which make people love or hate their guitar. Different guitar players will love different feels. No guitar is the same, but there are guitars which have a similar kind of feel.
It is the feel of the guitar which will make you play in a certain way, or invite you to play in a particular way. Experienced players can play with any guitar, but there is still something like ” a guitar which will invite you to play like x”
Let me now have a look at what makes up the feel of your guitar.
The neck of the guitar plays an important aspect in the overall feel of the guitar. Necks come in various shapes and sizes. Older guitars tend to have thicker shaped necks, but this is not always true. Thin necks may make you feel like playing faster. Necks come in various shapes such as V-shape, D-shape and C-shape.
Apart from the size and shape of the neck there is also the factor of finish: Some guitar necks have a glossy finish, some guitars may not have any finish at all. A glossy finish may make up for a slippery feel, but again, this is not always true. Applying guitar polish to the neck of your guitar may not be a good idea, as this will also make your neck feel very slippery. Of course if you like that feel, go ahead and apply as much finish as you please.
A worn-in neck will have a different feel as well. Some older, vintage guitars may have some of the neck finish worn off, this again will create a different feel compared to a relatively new guitar neck.
Like the neck, the fretboard plays a big part in the overall feel of the guitar. Fretboards come in different sizes and most of them are curved. Sometimes you may come across a fretboard which is almost flat which makes up for a unique feel.
The wood of the fretboard plays a part as well: Is it made out of the darker Rosewood, or is it a Maple type of fretboard? Different types of wood feel different to your fingertips.
Is the fretboard worn-in or does it have a new feel? Is the fretboard dry? To overcome this feel you can use some fretboard oil, this will give the fretboard more of a worn-in feel.
As mentioned before about the neck, older fretboards will have a different feel. A fretboard which has been played in well may also have some roadwear like areas where the wood is worn off a bit from heavy playing. String bending will wear out your fretboard quicker as the strings scrape across the wood of the fretboard.
Frets come in different sizes, and over the years different guitar companies have used different types of fretwire to cut out the frets. Thin frets will almost make it feel like you have no frets at all, thicker frets have a different feel and for certain types of playing some guitar players will prefer these.
Some guitars do have a binding across the fretboard, on these kind of fretboards you do not feel the ends of the frets. Guitars without any fretboard binding give you a less, glossy feel.
Are the frets new or worn-in? Heavy string bending created dents in your frets. If your frets get too worn out you may want to get a fretdress. During a fretdress your frets all get levelled to the same height which will make them feel like new again.
It is possible to get your frets levelled several times before they will need to be replaced by a new set of frets.
The kind of string gauge you use will make a difference in feel (and sound) to the guitar. Thick strings do have a different feel compared to thinner strings. Some strings do have a coating to preserve their sound. Again, coated strings do have a different feel compared to more traditional type of strings.
The height (action) of your strings also plays a part: Some guitar players like to play with a higher action. Higher action will give you more volume to your strings since the strings need to travel further to the fretboard. Low action will give you less volume. A high action will also mean you need to play a little harder to make those strings move. All of this makes up for a different feel (and sound).
Last but not least, the size and weight of the body will make up for the overall feel of the guitar. It may make less of an impact on the overall feel compared to any of the factors I mentioned above, it still does have an impact on the feel.
Some bodies are made out of light woods, which will make the guitar more “acoustic” since the body does not have any weight and depth to put behind the sound of the string.
Again, light sounding bodies do feel different compared to heavier types of guitar bodies.
How you can you actually find out any of what I mentioned above for yourself, and does it make much of a difference in your playing? As mentioned before, feel is a personal thing, experienced players will notice it straight away: You pick up a guitar and you know how it feels like, and you also know it you like the feel or not.
If you only have one guitar you will need to compare you guitar with the one of a friend to see how different yours is compared to the one of your friend.
The best thing is to compare similar guitar types since the overall idea of the guitar should be similar but the difference will be in the details such as neck shape, fretsize and body weight.
Over the years newer guitars have come with a better overall feel, some older, vintage type guitars do have a more primitive feel compared to some of those newer ones. Even new reissues do have a more modern feel compared to the older ones.
The checking out of various feels of guitars is all part of your overall knowledge of the guitar and it will make you more aware of what is around in the world of guitar.
Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again,