Many guitarists might not know about the interesting world of composite acoustic guitars. Acoustic guitars have been traditionally made out of wood since they were invented, but new advances in technology have changed the traditional approach to guitar manufacturing. This article will explain the positive and negative aspects of composite acoustic guitars and will tell you about some notable models.
What Are Composite Acoustic Guitars?
Composite guitars are guitars that are not manufactured using wood. Composite instruments attempt to reproduce the sound and feel of wood guitars without actually using wood. This is accomplished in a variety of ways that all reflect how creative luthiers have utilized advances in modern science to create exciting new guitars.
The composite part of composite guitars typically refers to a scientifically produced material out of which they are made. Typically, the material of choice is either carbon fiber or Kevlar. These materials provide composite guitars with a different personality and feel than their traditional wood cousins.
The following is a list of advantages that composite acoustics have over traditional wooden guitars.
- No need for humidification - Higher end acoustic guitars need to be humidified if they are stored in very low humidity environments, but composite guitars are unaffected by this.
- Stay in tune - Composite guitars are less affected by changes in temperature and humidity, meaning they stay in tune more consistently than wood guitars.
- Don't need a truss rod - On a wood guitar, the truss rod runs through the neck to keep it straight. This truss rod needs regular adjustments to keep the guitar properly set up. Composite guitars maintain their stability without needing a truss rod, meaning less maintenance for you.
- Waterproof - Wood doesn't like water, but composite guitars are impervious to water.
- Tolerant of temperature shifts - Acoustics made of wood need to be acclimated when moved to a new climate, but not composite guitars. They are ready to go when you pull them out of the case anytime, anywhere.
- Don't require cutting tree down - Composite guitars are the perfect alternative if you are green conscious and don't like the idea of having to cut down trees for use in guitars.
In many ways, whether or not you like composite guitars is a matter of personal taste, but a few potential problems are listed below.
- Price - There's really no such thing as a good, cheap composite acoustic. The best models are feature-rich, but they don't come cheap.
- Sound - This is definitely a subjective issue, but many purists believe that composite guitars lack the warmth and rich tonal qualities inherent in wood guitars.
Brands of Composite Acoustics
Check out the following links to see some great composite acoustics for yourself.
- Rain Song - Formerly Composite Acoustics. Rain Song is a leading producer of composite acoustic guitars. Check out models like the WS1000 and the OM-1000. These instruments are all hand built in the United States using high performance aerospace technology.
- Ovation - Ovation Guitars combine both wood and composite materials in their guitars. All Ovations have a wood top for warm, crisp sound and use composite backs and sides for stability. They have a full line of quality guitars to choose from.
- Birk Guitars - Birk Guitars also produce some great composite instruments.
Seeing the Future
While there will probably always be a market for traditional wood guitars, it is reasonable to assume that the market for composite instruments will continue to grow. As more and more people continue to populate the planet, wood will become scarcer, and eventually wood guitars could become an expensive luxury. In the future, this fact combined with the continual advances in composite technologies should cause more and more people to gravitate towards instruments built out of new and exciting materials.