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I have a Takamine EG260C guitar. It is fundamentally a steel string acoustic optimized for fingerstyle playing (as I gather from Takamine's official site). The strings that I have put on is D'Addario EJ10 (extra light).

The guitar does sound amazing when playing lead and fingerstyle. The rhythm is weak, because the bass is not as strong.

However, strumming the guitar is a little noisy compared to what I hear online on other acoustic guitars (I'm talking about unplugged). By noise, I mean that the chord doesn't sound very crisp. Is it because the gauge of the strings is less, or because the guitar itself is not good for rhythm?

In general, are acoustics optimized for fingerstyle not good for rhythm? What makes a steel string acoustic good for rhythm?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

In general, guitars optimized for fingerstyle trade away power, bass, and projection for balanced tone across the entire range of the instrument. A more typical rhythm guitar, like a dreadnought style, has more power and projection due to the larger body, but the bass can sometimes overpower the treble. A jumbo style guitar takes these traits to the extreme---tons of bass and power, but not much tonal balance. Just as a cello is bigger than a violin and a kick drum is bigger than a snare, the general principle here is that larger bodies emphasize lower ranges.

As far as strings are concerned, you're right that lighter gauge strings will be a bit noisier and weaker-sounding when strummed than heavier gauge strings; in my experience, 10-gauge strings are far too light for an acoustic guitar. Obviously, it's a lot easier and less expensive to try different strings than to buy a separate guitar for rhythm. I'd recommend 12-gauge strings for a good balance between fingerstyle and rhythm playing. You'll get more projection and bass without the bass overwhelming the treble, especially on your instrument. Remember that if you change string gauge, you'll have to set up your guitar for the heavier strings---otherwise, the action will be too high, and you may even risk damaging the neck.

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I concur. If you want loud strumming with strong bass, you want a dreadnought style guitar (note the spelling). The name, by the way, comes from a class of battleship, and implies an aggressive and powerful guitar sound. – user1044 Jun 16 '12 at 19:45
Thanks! That's exactly the info I needed. – AgilE Jun 17 '12 at 2:06

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