Should The Top of An Acoustic Guitar Be Flat?

Many things may bother you when you buy a new guitar, especially if you are a beginner. The structure of the top is one of them. When you will compare your guitar to an older guitar. You will observe an escalation in the top, absent in your guitar. So should the top of an acoustic guitar be flat?

Yes, the top of an acoustic guitar is flat. Most acoustic guitars form a curved escalation when the string exerts tension on the neck and the bridge.

I will explain the factors leading to a curvy top and how you can avoid it.

Why Do Acoustic Guitars Wrap?

The question that may pop into your mind after knowing that acoustic guitars have flat tops is what causes a wrap in almost the majority of the guitars. Your guitar will wrap away despite its good quality, and the reason lies in its infrastructure and sound transmission.

The infrastructure of Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars have a hollow chamber-like body. When you pluck a string, it sends vibrations to the chamber vibrations resonate in the chamber and produce a tune.

Strings are the main component of the entire structure. Bridge holds these strings and ensures the elasticity and tension for a fuller, richer output. Tension in the strings and the bridge is another reason for wrapping the guitar’s body.

Fundamental Differences Between Low and High-End Guitars:

Before starting with the fundamental differences between both types, let me tell you why I am writing it here.

Well, you will often observe that high-end guitars will wrap sooner comparatively. The fact may surprise some readers and discourage others from buying a high-end guitar.

Low-End Guitars and Wrapping

Manufacturers mass-produce low-end guitars and only follow some basic principles and techniques, and delicacy goes missing.

The top of the low-end guitars is also thick, so it does not wrap. But this hinders the resonance, and as a result, the guitar cannot produce the rich sound as it should.

So instead of quality, this point goes into the cons of the low-end guitar. At the same time, manufacturers utilize the cheapest shipping methods so you can observe wrap before using it sometimes.

High-End Guitars and Wrapping

It is a fact that high-end guitars wrap away early and effortlessly. It may seem to you as a downside of the high-end guitar.

Manufacturers make high-end guitars with great delicacy, keeping in view all the qualities that can give your guitar a fuller and richer effect.

Quality Wood and Wrapping

Likewise, producers use thinner and finner wood to make the top of the high-end guitar. The use of fine wood makes the vibrations easier to pass. But this quality contributes to the easy wrapping of the guitar.

But the natural wrapping will not affect the quality of your tune. It is also easy to adjust by angeling your strings to a desirable position, and sometimes wrapping can be a blessing in disguise. It can improve the tone of your guitar to quite a decent level.

Different Types of Guitar Wrappings

There are different types of wrappings, and each affects your guitar differently. Some of these can hinder the tone, and at the same time, some will work to enhance this tone. Here I will provide an in-depth analysis of these wrappings to help you differentiate easily.

Sunken Guitar Tops

It is the type of wrap that occurs because of the humidification problems of the guitar. This type of wrap is different from the other type. You will see a deep sink in the mid of the body but not on the sides.

More precisely, You can call the shrinking of the guitar a Sunken guitar top. In early school physics, you must have studied the expansion and contractions of different materials, including wood.

If you are in an area with low humidity and hot summers, you are at a high exposure of facing this problem. You need to take some extra steps to keep your guitar protected.

Steps to Protect Your Guitar From Humidity

Luckily if you take good care of your guitar and follow some tips, your guitar can go a long way.

  • Keep your guitar in the bag when not in use.
  • Place silica, bamboo gel, and charcoal in the storage bag and change them often.
  • Using a room humidifier where you are keeping your guitar will do a good job.
  • Monitor the temperature and humidification in your room with the hygrometer and digital room thermometer.

Effects of Sunken Guitar Top on the Performance

Unfortunately, a Sunken guitar top will not affect the performance of your acoustic guitar in any positive way. It will cause the neck of your guitar to cease away, which will affect the bridge and Action of your guitar.

Lower Action will make it hard for you to pluck the string damaging the entire tone quality. And if you will not pay any attention to the Sunken top of your guitar, it may lead to permanent damage to your guitar.

Taking good care of the guitar after some distortion has occurred will protect your guitar from further damage, but it will also help even out the caused damage.

Bulging Guitar Tops

The bulging top is the most common wrap that all guitar users face at some point. It occurs near the bridge of the guitar.

It occurs due to the tension between the bridge and the strings. Fortunately, this is something about which you don’t need to worry. Sometimes, it can positively affect the tone of your guitar.

Bulging and Infrastructure of the Guitar

As the tone very much depends on the infrastructure of the guitar. It is the hollow body that changes vibrations to the sound we hear. Any change to the body will directly affect the output sound.

Luckily a bulge at any place on the bridge will provide more space and versatility for the coming vibrations to resonate around. It will affect the richness and complexity of the tone.

Turn Downs of Bluging on your Acoustic Guitar

Bulging can positively affect your acoustic guitar. But mentioning the advantages of bulging does not mean that you leave taking care of the guitar.

Technically speaking, excess of bludge can lead to disorientation of the body and eventually oof track tune followed by breakage of the instrument.

It is also essential to keep in mind that your guitar is of wood, not any elastic material. Excess stress and rough handling can lead to early bulging, which will damage the sound quality.

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Bulging

Keep your guitar in the bag when not in use. It will eliminate the environmental factors that can cause early bulging.

Avoid exposing your guitar to the direct sunlight. It can cause your guitar’s wood to age fast and leads to wraps on the body.

Keep your guitar in a moderate environment, and if possible, turn on the humidifier in the room you are keeping your guitar.

Avoid the rough use and careless handling of the guitar.

How to Get Rid of a Bulging Guitar Top?

There are various approaches to tackle the problem of bulging in your guitar. But one of the most practical approaches to solve this problem is by belly reducer method.

Belly Reduction Technique

You approach this method by removing the bridge. But for beginners, I will recommend not to try this at home as it is a delicate task, and slight negligence can destroy your entire instrument.

  • You will first detach the bridge from the guitar using some tools and tech. Then you will fix the bludge with clamps, bridge plates, and cauls.
  • After removing bludge from the body, you will put the bridge back into its place.
  • You will use glue for this purpose. You will heat the clamps for 24 hours at 150 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and then leave them for another 2 hours on your guitar.
  • The heat of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and tightness will make the bludge go away while fixing the Action.

What are Archtop Guitars?

Exceptions are always there. Archtop guitars are one of the exceptions to the acoustic guitar that you can expect to have a curvy or wrapping body straight out of the box.

The body of these guitars is curvy at the neck and bridge to give them their characteristic tone.

These guitars are semi-electric and work on pickups while excluding transducers. They resemble quite a lot of classical violins in looks. For example, they have f-holes on both sides of the string pickups.

How do Archtop Guitars Sound?

Archtop guitars sound different from the typical acoustic or electric guitars. The prime reason for this change is their structure and course of action.

They have curvy bodies that make the resonation of the plucked vibrations more complex and Clear. Then the pickup alters the sound differently in the absence of transducers, so you will observe that tone of archtop guitars resemble none of the other two categories.

These guitars are not for all-purpose but only to serve jazz and blues.

Wapping in ArchTop Guitar

Before starting with the topic, knowledge of wrapping in archtop guitars is necessary. Archtop guitars can wrap. They have more tendency to wrap away with time than an ordinary acoustic guitar.

The reason lies in the tension between the string and the already curvy neck. When you apply external pressure on the wire of the guitar, it tends to advance to the bridge.

Already curvy bridge takes this tension and tends to mold its shape, which we call bludging. It is more challenging to remove a bludge from an archtop guitar because of its complex proportions and curvy neck.

How to Fix A Bludge in Archtop Guitars?

Fixing a bludge of an archtop guitar follows the belly removing technique. You will first separate the Belly of the guitar from the Neck.

You will then use special tools that are Clamps, bridges, and plates to remove the wrap from the guitar’s body. What makes archtop guitars different from other acoustic guitars is their delicate proportions.

Be very careful because while fixing the bludge, there are fair chances of damaging the orientation and radius of the guitar.

Conclusion

Guitars come in different shapes and designs, and they change their shape accordingly to time. Wrapping is a common problem that the majority of guitar users face. Many factors contribute to it, including the natural aging of the guitar as time passes.

It can be a blessing in disguise as it improves the richness of your tone, but cracks are never acceptable. Many times wrapping goes away with time if you take proper care of the guitar, and rarely do you have to see a professional help to get a fix.

You can get rid of the bulge by using the belly removing method when it worsens with time. But as no one wants to get in trouble treating your guitar right is the key.

FAQs

Should a guitar bridge be flat?

Unlike the top bridge of the guitar should not be flat. One side of the bridge is more elevated than the opposite side. It is because of the Action in the string and the frets. The flat bridge can induce fret buzz in the tone.

Why does my guitar belly bulge?

The bulge in the guitar’s belly is because of tension in the string and the bridge. When you pull the String, it induces the pressure on the Belly of the guitar, which eventually forms a bulge on the belly.

How do I know if my guitar is dry?

You can get an idea if your guitar is dry by checking for some signs such as:
* Low action of the guitar
* Very flat back of the guitar
* The angle of the Neck remains above the bridge
* A Sunken top starts to form
* Plucking the String hurts

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