Terminology for the sound of an acoustic guitar

Terminology for the sound of an acoustic guitar

Terminology for the sound of an acoustic guitar

In the guitar world, guitarists discuss the timbres guitars produce in terms that may not be familiar to many musicians. This glossary briefly describes some of these terms, without aiming for completeness. Judging sound is of course very personal. For example, one guitarist prefers sparkling highs and the other prefers warm bass tones. Tastes differ and that is of course allowed. But to get to know those different flavors, here is a glossary:

Attack: The response of a guitar – or in other words, how quickly the sound reaches its peak volume. By playing with a pick, for example, you get much more attack.

Balance: A guitar where lows, mids and highs support each other and the notes flow into one harmonic entity.

Bassy: A guitar where the bass tones dominate. The larger the guitar, the more powerful the bass response. 

Bright: A guitar where the high tones dominates, in other words a guitar in which the treble is emphasized.

Complex: A guitar sound in which the tones contain a lot of harmonic detail in both the higher and lower frequencies.

Compression: The way a guitar produces a natural equalization effect. A mahogany top produces more equalization than for instance spruce. The equalization effect can reduce the attack when strumming vigorously.

Crispy: A ‘crispy’ sound can be characterized by its sharp tone with a clear and precise attack. The emphasis is on the high tones. 

Dark: the bass tones dominate.

Dry: Tones with a strong low focus, minimal overtones and a short sustain.

Fierce: A fierce guitar sounds sharp with a high attack and lots of treble

Growling: A particular overdriven sound produced by a guitar with a larger body, often as a result of a hard playing.

Intonation: The accuracy with which the notes on the different frets match the correct pitch.

Piano-like: A guitar that sounds like a piano with bright sparkling tones and excellent clarity of individual notes.

Projection: The physical range of the sound, in other words, the sound of a guitar with a lot of projection extends beyond those with a low projection.

Resonant: A guitar with a high resonant sound is characterized by long sustain with a strong presence in the lower and midrange frequencies. The guitar has a high reverberation and the tones blend harmoniously. See also warm, woody, complex and rich sound characteristics .

Responsive: A guitar’s response refers to how the guitar reacts to being played. A responsive guitar makes it easy to play soft and loud tones with subtle variations in volume and tone. The sound is then clear and full.

Rich: When an acoustic guitar produces a rich sound, it exhibits a well-balanced frequency response across the low, mid and high ranges. A rich sound refers also to the terminology of warm, resonant, woody and complex timbres. 

Round: Guitar with a round sound does not sound sharp. Low and mid are more dominant than high.

Sparkling: Usually used to describe acoustic guitar tone with pleasing clarity and tone definition, often with more overtones and no distortion. Especially the tones higher on the neck sound ‘sparkling’. See also “Piano-like”. The high tones also often linger for a relatively long time. Sparkling is often used as a counterpart to ‘warm’.

Sustain: The length of time that a note continues to be heard.

Warm: A sound with relatively many low and mid frequencies and somewhat softer high frequencies.

Wide: A ‘wide’ guitar sound refers to a sound that has clearly audible lows, mids and highs, in other words, guitars with a spacious or expansive character. In addition, the ‘wide’ sound is also characterized by natural reverberation and a lot of sustain.

Woody: A woody sound refers to a warm, resonant tonal quality that resembles the natural characteristics of wood. The emphasis is mostly on the midrange frequencies. 

Woolly: Warm sound, but with less sustain.

Which tones characterize Homestead guitars?

To answer that question, as we are not objective, we use the comments from the test reports of the magazine Guitarist.

“An impressive volume, with a warm timbre. The sound is perfectly balanced in proportion. This guitar sounds very exuberant and responsive right out of the hardcase, with a nice sustain. The intonation is perfect, so is the adjustment” (test of a Grand Auditorium with cutaway, Guitarist no. 319, October 2017).

“It is noticeable that the Slopeshoulder Dreadnought has a slightly firmer low end and sounds a bit less bright (than an OM with cutaway).” (Guitarist no. 333, December 2018).

About a 12-fret DS: “The sound of this DS is indeed a breath of fresh air. Lows, mids and highs are perfectly matched and the guitar is also very responsive, reacting instantly to the dynamics of your playing. The volume and projection are also impressive.” (test of a 12-fret Dreadnought Slopeshoulder, Guitarist no. 344, November 2019).

About the two Danny Vera models, a jumbo and an OM: “The sound of both guitars is equally impressive. The jumbo has a slightly louder and wider sound, which occasionally resembles a piano. The OM sounds were lighter and more defined. The difference in sound cancels out the similarities: a particularly beautiful, balanced sound.” (Guitarist no. 359, February 2021).

Robin van de Poll, 18 July 2023

The Homestead Models: Various Shapes of Guitar Bodies

The Homestead Models: Various Shapes of Guitar Bodies

Homestead models: different shapes of guitar bodies


At Homestead Guitars, we offer a variety of guitar shapes for customers to choose from. Besides the appearance, the shape of the guitar’s body also produces different tonal colors and a different feel when you wrap your arm around the guitar’s body. The best way to get to know the differences between these models is to try them out yourself, which you can do in our showroom.


The most important factors in choosing the right guitar model are the playing comfort, the sound and the ‘looks’ of the model.


Playing comfort

Let’s start with the playing comfort. Choose a model that you can easily play on. If you are relatively short, don’t get a Jumbo model, otherwise the guitar may cause pain in your arm or back. Guitarists with chronic back problems also often opt for a smaller guitar model.


The sound

A second factor is the sound of the guitar. With a smaller body, e.g. the Orchestra Model (OM), the higher notes resonate more relative to the mids and lows, while with a larger/wider body (Jumbo, Dreadnought) the lower notes dominate slightly more relative to the mid and high. Keep in mind that the sound of the guitar is determined by several factors, such as the wood species and a 12-fret or 14-fret (neck and body) connection (see also under FAQ). But the design of the guitar model also has an influence. So it’s not just about size. A Dreadnought is often said to be good for strumming and country, while the OM is more appreciated for fingerpicking. Also, the placement of the waist (the narrow part of the guitar) and its width change the way the vibrations move in the guitar and this can have a small effect on the sound. This all remains very personal and the best thing is to try out different models and choose what you like best.

The looks

Finally, the appearance of a guitar can also influence the final choice. This is also very personal. For example, the OM, Jumbo and Grand Auditorium have a thinner waist than the Dreadnought. The Dreadnought guitar is named after an early 20th century English battleship. The Dreadnought guitar is in fact much larger than, for example, the compact Parlor or Parlor model that was common until then. Some guitars have a cutaway. A cutaway has a clear function (see also under FAQ), but is sometimes also bought because of its appearance on the guitar.


Below we discuss various common guitar models with the associated common opinions.


Traveler model

Traveler is the smallest body shape Homestead has to offer for six string guitars. As the name says, it is a guitar for a traveler, but not only. The traveler model is also a perfect guitar for the couch and also for the guitarist looking for a compact size guitar to play with. In terms of tone, Traveler guitars produce higher pitched sounds compared to other guitar shapes. This is due to the smaller sound box and the shorter length of 590 mm with which the traveler guitars are equipped. Although small in size, the standard use of Adirondack spruce (AAA grade) on all of our Homestead guitars gives our Traveler-sized guitars the long sustain of our other models. Owners of Homestead traveler guitars have been amazed at the sound their guitar can produce since they first played it. True to its name, each Homestead Traveler guitar comes with a gig bag with 2cm padding instead of the (heavier) case for the other models. [Buy our Traveler model] [Customize your Traveler model]

Parlor model

The Parlor model in general is one of the first steel string acoustic guitar models. Until the early 20th century, this was the most commonly built acoustic guitar model, mainly because it was affordable. The name Parlor comes from ‘salon’ where (according to the stories) the lady of the house could receive her guests with singing and guitar. The Parlor developed into the blues guitar par excellence in the 1920s and 1930s. The Parlor model is the second smallest model (after the traveler) from Homestead. It has a slim sound box and a scale of 610 mm. Due to its slim size and shape, the Parlor guitar has a distinguished mid-tone compared to other guitar models that tend to be larger. The slim size also gives a more relaxed playability where you can effortlessly rest your arm on the body of the guitar. The standard use of Adirondack AAA grade top (the best top wood for acoustic steel string guitars) provides a long lasting sound and a unique timbre compared to other Parlor guitars. Every Homestead Parlor guitar comes with a gig bag with 2 cm padding. [Buy our Parlor model ] [ Customize your Parlor model]  

Orchestra model

The Orchestra model is the best model for the fingerpicking style. The mid-sized body clearly articulates each note and produces more intimate sounds when played lightly. Compared to a larger model, the volume the Orchestra Model produces is not loud. But we offer two depth sizes: the standard 9.5 cm / 11 cm thickness and the extra thick 11 cm / 12.5 cm thickness. Due to the extra thickness of the last option, the volume of our OM is loud enough to compete with the volume of the larger models. Another way around the volume problem is to use electronic pickups, for example when playing along with other loud instruments. The average size of the body of an Orchestra model is very comfortable for most guitarists. The guitar is neither too small nor too big. The thicker depth gauge is no thicker than any other model, which should not give an uncomfortable feeling to the guitarist used to playing acoustic guitars, be it a classical guitar or a Dreadnought guitar. The thinner side size is more comfortable to play compared to a wider one. Our Orchestra Model guitars come with an ABS case with the Homestead logo embossed on the case cover. Proud owners of Homestead Orchestra Model guitars are Geroge Kooymans, Ernst Jansz, Barry Hay, Simon Kirke, David Becker, Joost Dijkema, Bas Phaff. [Buy our Orchestra model ] [ Customize your Orchestra model]  

Grand Auditorium-model

Grand Auditorium is one of the best-known models among steel-string acoustic guitars. This guitar falls under our larger guitar models. The Grand Auditorium has a nice round shape and the body is large enough to produce power for an acoustic guitar. The round and large size makes the Grand Auditorium guitar good for strumming, fingerpicking and flatpicking (with pick). An all-rounder guitar compared to the other models. The bottom width of our Grand Auditorium model is 39.5 cm wide. The guitar has, after our Jumbo model, the second widest size at the bottom of the body. For many guitarists, this size is a perfect fit. The Homestead Grand Auditorium model comes with the Homestead logo embossed on the hard case cover. Grand Auditorium model has been selected by many great guitarists, among others: George Kooymans, Jan Hendriks, Frank Carillo, I Wayan Balawan and Vladimir Tkachenko.
[Buy our Grand Auditorium- model] [ Customize your Grand Auditorium-model]  


The Dreadnought is one of the oldest and most widely produced steel-string acoustic guitars. The dreadnought was first invented by CF Martin of Martin Guitars in 1916. The dreadnought model has a squarer shoulder and wider waist compared to the other models. Due to the wider waist, the upper wood section is wider compared to Grand Auditorium. This makes the dreadnought model more robust for a heavy strumming style and a little less graceful for a fingerpicking style. Our dreadnought model has a wide side measurement, 11 cm at the neck side and 12.5 cm at the tail side. This gives more volume acoustically. Thanks to the Adirondack spruce we use as our standard top, the tonal balance* is still clear, even though the dreadnought produces a high sound volume. The dreadnought models have been selected by, among others, the following guitarists: Boudewijn de Groot, Laura Beekman.
[Buy our Dreadnought- model] [ Customize your Dreadnought-model]  

Dreadnought Slope Shoulder-model

The Dreadnought Slope Shoulder (DS) model is similar to a dreadnought model, except it has a rounder shoulder instead of the square top of the body of a regular dreadnought. The bottom of our Slope Shoulder Dreadnought is wider than the bottom of a normal dreadnought, and the top is narrower. In terms of size, both a regular dreadnought and a slope shoulder dreadnought are a similar size. The size of the side of the Slope Shoulder is also the same as a regular dreadnought. Due to these two factors, the volume of both Dreadnought models is almost the same. Our Dreadnought Slope Shoulder has a balanced tone thanks to the Adirondack Spruce top that we use as our standard top. But in terms of the color of the sound, the sound spectrum of the slope shoulder model is between regular Dreadnought and a Grand Auditorium; higher attack than the Grand Auditorium and softer sound than the regular Dreadnought. Homestead Dreadnought Slope Shoulder model has been selected by, among others, the following great guitarists: Eddie Seville, Tim Easton, Laura Beekman. [Buy our Dreadnought Slope Shoulder Model] [ Customize your Dreadnought Slope Shoulder Model]  


The Jumbo model is the largest model Homestead Guitars has to offer. The bottom bolt is 51.5 cm wide. Due to its large size, the Jumbo model creates the loudest sound of all the models we have to offer. Although this model is the loudest, the tonal balance is still perfect, thanks in part to the use of Adirondack Spruce as our standard top.

Many guitarists who visited our showroom and tried the Jumbo model noticed that the lower (bass) tone sounds a bit heavier compared to the other models. But when you focus on the higher (treble) note, you also hear beautiful sparkling tones. The balance between low, mid and high is amazing.

Speaking of playing style, the Jumbo gives a particularly nice sound for strumming, the sound created by strumming is wide and loud, but still balanced. The Jumbo model is also good for flat-picking style (using pick) and fingerpicking, but the latter will have a slightly less intimate sound created with the loudly built Jumbo model. But this is also very personal and many professional players prefer the fingerpicking sound on a jumbo.

In addition to 6-string guitars, the Jumbo body is also used for the Homestead Baritone guitar and the Homestead acoustic bass guitar.

Some of the great guitarists who have chosen Jumbo models for their own Homestead guitars are Danny Vera, Spike van Zoest, Leoni Jansen (standard and baritone guitar) and the late Henny Vrienten (baritone guitar and acoustic bass guitar).

[Buy our Jumbo- model] [ Customize your Jumbo-model]


*What does it mean:

Tone Balance: The same level of volume between high tone(treble), middle tone (mid), and low tone (bass).

Why does the B string on the guitar sound a bit out of tune?

Why does the B string on the guitar sound a bit out of tune?

Why does the B string on the guitar sound a bit out of tune?

A common problem people run into when playing guitar is that sometimes the B string doesn’t sound that great even though it’s perfectly tuned. In other words, if you tune the B string perfectly to the G string, the B string will sound a bit out of tune with the other four strings. How come?

Briefly explained, the reason why the B string always sounds a bit out of tune is that in the West we use a 12-tone tuning system, which is not 100% consistent with the way sound is measured in Hertz by the laws of physics.

If we walk across the fretboard of the guitar from bottom to top, there are 12 steps to get to the same note an octave higher. The notes that make up tuning system in Western music are divided into 12 different tones per octave. Technically, this system is “unnatural”, and that is because it does not equal the exact speed of the vibrations, measured in hertz, that make up the sound of each note.

Let’s look at the relationship between the six strings. You will see that the guitar strings, with the exception of the B string, are the same distance apart. Below are the tunings of each string on the guitar, measured in hertz.


In physics, every tone must be a multiple of the same tone an octave higher or lower. The only tone without a comma is the A. The A string on a guitar is 110 Hertz, one octave higher it is 220, etc. If we divide the values of the E string indicated above, it comes down to a factor of 4 .

But if we start designing the guitar based on hertz, then we get an unplayable instrument (see photo below). That is why (in Europe) the 12-tone scale has been used.

Example of a microtonal guitar. (This guitar was not built by Homestead)

The fact that a twelve-tone system does not fully correspond to the sounds of nature does not explain why it is mainly the B string that intones.

This is because the distance between the B string differs from that of the other strings. All the other strings are separated by four notes. E to A, are five semitones apart, just like A to D and D to G, but here’s the thing: from G to B there are only four semitones away from each other. Finally, the B to E strings are again five steps apart.

But why does distance determine voice clarity? That’s because the mathematical ratio of frequencies that the human ear interprets to represent a pure scale creates a slightly smaller interval than the scale needed to play the music.

At a distance of a quarter (5 notes) this is actually inaudible to the human ear. But with the shorter (four) distance from G to B this is audible. The deviating distance is therefore the reason why the B string sounds out of tune. Because the G string and B string are closer together, the inaccuracy in Hertz is up to 14%. As a result, if you tune the B string so that it sounds clean along with the G string, you will run into problems in conjunction with the other strings. Conversely, if you tune the B string with a tuner, it will sound too high in the ear compared to the G string.

In other words:

  • The B string in perfect harmony with the G string: B string sounds too low compared to other strings
  • The B string tuned to 247 Hertz: B string sounds too high compared to the G string.

 For this reason, there are guitarists who deliberately detune the B string a little bit (tuning by ear). We also see bridge saddles with a recess for the B string or for the G and B string together (photo). That has somewhat the same effect.


It is all quite difficult to understand, but in summary we can say that the tones on a guitar do not correspond 100% to the sound according to the laws of physics (measured in hertz). This is usually inaudible, with the exception of the B string (in relation to the G string). Because this distance is shorter than the “perfect quarter”, the inaccuracy becomes greater. Most guitarists can live with this. Other solutions are: tuning the B string by ear, getting a modified bridge saddle (does not solve the problem completely) or buying a guitar with different frets.

We at Homestead, like 99.9% of guitarists, can live with the slight unevenness in the guitar’s scale. But we thought it would be interesting to explain why the B string often sounds a bit out of tune.

Robin van de Poll
Adjusting the ‘Truss Rod’

Adjusting the ‘Truss Rod’

Adjusting the ‘Truss Rod’

A guitar can at some point start to resonate or buzz, in particular higher on the neck. Or the guitar gradually becomes more difficult to play because the distance between the strings and the fretboard or neck (called action) has increased. It is quite normal for this to happen. Wood is a natural product and has a tendency to shrink or expand a little during climate changes. This can lead to resonances on the neck of an acoustic guitar or just the opposite, your fingers have to press the strings deeper (this is called a high action).

Now every Homestead, like all other acoustic guitars, has a metal pin mounted in the neck. You can’t see this pin, called Truss Rod, but it can be easily adjusted from the sound hole with the supplied Allen key.

When turning counterclockwise, there is a little more concavity and any resonance or buzzing disappears. Turning clockwise lowers the action and makes the guitar easier to play. First turn it half a turn, tune your guitar again and check whether the neck is the way you want it. If you are still not satisfied, turn it another half turn. Continue until you are satisfied.

It seems quite complicated at first glance, but it is not at all. Adjusting the Truss Rod can be done within a minute. The strings can simply remain under tension and by turning the Truss Rod one or two half turns, the guitar will play and sound like before. I myself protect the D and G string with a piece of cloth against the Allen key. Not really necessary, but very handy.

Robin van de Poll, 4 july2022

Why is Adirondack the best top for your guitar?

Why is Adirondack the best top for your guitar?

The Adirondack Mountains are found in upstate New York. A unique red spruce grows on its steep mountain slopes, providing the best tonewoods in the world for making guitar tops.

The red spruce (Picea rubens) is a medium-sized evergreen conifer. This species is the most typical conifer species of the Adirondack region as a whole. The Adirondack spruce produces wood that is strong, light and sound-resonant. In other words, the most perfect wood for a soundboard. Our American supplier of Adirondack shows this in the following video:

The very best wood comes from the spruce trees that grow high on the mountain on the north side. The colder the better. These trees grow the slowest, resulting in tight grains. This makes the wood harder and this is good for the resonance.

New Netherlands

It is interesting to know that, in the 17th century, this region was once colonial territory of the Netherlands (named: New Netherland) and that gold was searched. Our distant ancestors behaved very violently there, with regard to the original inhabitants. For more information, read the article: “The gold of Adirondack”

What makes Adirondack so special?

The wood of Sitka and Engelmann spruce is by far the most commonly used for acoustic guitar tops. 

What makes Adirondack so special compared to these other spruce species?

  • Compared to Sitka and Engelmann, Adirondack spruce has a long historical reputation. For example, most high-quality pre-war guitars (e.g. by C.F. Martin) were built with Adirondack.
  • The wood is extremely rare because it comes from a National Park where all trees are protected. This protection applies even after they have been blown down by the wind. Only a limited number of wood suppliers are allowed to get the popular spruce wood from the Park.
  • Its rarity is partly due to the fact that this spruce can only be found in the northeast corner of North America. This tree does not occur outside this region.
  • The legendary tree produces wood with a much tighter grain than any other spruce. This makes the wood harder and therefore it resonates better.
  • Although it is a red spruce, the color of the sawn wood is lighter than other spruces, almost white.

Due to the scarce availability and sublime resonance, the price for AAA-quality Adirondack is on average three times higher than the price for Sitka or Engelmann. For that reason, most high-end brands only use Adirondack on their very best guitars which often cost more than $ 4,000.

Homestead uses Adirondack on all models

Because the sound is so much better than other spruce, Homestead uses Adirondack wood as standard on all its models. Our American supplier, John Griffin of Old Standard Wood, regularly travels to the Adirondack Mountains to pick out the very best wood.

In our selection of the available tops, we only settle for the highest (AAA) quality and we pay attention to various quality aspects. For more information on our selection criteria: Adirondack

In short: Adirondack standard on all our models, that’s one of the reasons why a Homestead sounds so good.

Robin van de Poll, 26 april 2022

Which lacquer is best for a guitar?

Which lacquer is best for a guitar?

Which lacquer is best for a guitar?

There are basically two types of lacquer when building guitars: Nitrocellulose (Nitro) and Polyurethane (Poly) or Polyester. Nitro was the standard lacquer for guitars until the 1970s. Polyurethane has become more and more common since the 1970s.

Opinions on the best paint vary widely among connoisseurs and luthiers. There are clearly proponents and opponents for the lacquers used. Below is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages.


Nitro is diluted, usually with acetone. Nitro is applied several times on top of each other. There is no need to sand in between. Only at the end is the guitar sanded and polished until it starts to shine nicely. Applying Nitro lacquer is more labour intensive and requires more coats than Poly. That is why Nitro is more expensive.

Because Nitro is thinner and more porous than Poly, many guitarists believe that Nitro allows the guitar to breathe better, creating a more open sound with longer sustain. At the same time, Nitro is much weaker, which means that damage can quickly occur, such as dents, cracks and scratches (photo). Nitro guitars also yellow faster and areas that you touch a lot become dull faster.

An additional disadvantage of Nitrocellulose is that it is worse for the environment and unsafe to work with. In the late 1960s, this was an important reason for many luthiers to switch to polyurethane. The use of Nitro is highly regulated and monitored in Western countries.


Polyurethane is a synthetic compound of two polymers. Poly has become the standard in guitar building since the 1970s, mainly because of the environment. The fact that Poly is easier to process and therefore cheaper has also played a role in the increasing popularity of this lacquer. Finally, Poly guitars look better and last much longer, often decades. However, the sound of Poly guitars is slightly more neutral than that of Nitro guitars.

While Nitrocellulose lacquer is more commonly used on premium guitars, that doesn’t mean Poly is of lower quality. Poly can be found on both cheap and high-end guitars.

Some guitar brands combine both types of lacquer, whereby the base layers are applied in Nitro and the top layers in Poly.


Choosing remains difficult and it is all very personal. In summary, it comes down to the following: if you go for a guitar that looks good for a long time and also has a good sound, then you go for Poly. If you go for the most pronounced sound and if you accept a faster aging of your guitar, then choose Nitro.

As mentioned before, Nitro’s price is more expensive than Poly, but that makes little difference to the overall guitar price.

Homestead builds its guitars in both Poly and Nitro, so we can meet the needs of every customer. Our advice: take a look at our webshop. There you can find our guitars in both lacquers. Or visit our studio “De Kluis” in Heemstede and try out both types of lacquer and judge for yourself.

Customize Your Guitar

Choose the shape of the body, tonewoods, hardware and decorations.

Customize Your Guitar

Order from our stock

We have most guitars in stock and you can try them out in our studio.

Order from our stock

Make an appointment

Visit our showroom to try out different models and to discuss your wishes.

Make an appointment