I've been allowing another guitar player to play my Taylor 210e for church service. Problem is, the player is strumming on the top frets on the fingerboard and has started chipping away on the spruce top (below the fingerboard). Is this just poor playing technique, or is the guitar too big? Would getting a smaller Taylor GS mini or Taylor Big Baby help the situation? Or should I just invest in a giant size pick guard? Or make the player go back to his/her own guitar? Thanks for any advice.

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    Hitting parts of a guitar one should not be hitting is definitely poor technique. Adjusting to the actual instrument you are playing is correct technique. Personally I would have to resist freaking out completely if someone did this to my guitar, and they would not be offered the use of my guitar again. – Todd Wilcox Jun 20 '16 at 17:07
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    Never a borrower or a lender be. Can't remember who said it, but it's oh, so true!! If he's a guitar player, he really should have his own guitar... If it was mine, he'd probably end up wearing it! – Tim Jun 20 '16 at 17:08
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    A lot of top damage on an expensive guitar like that isn't really acceptable in my opinion. You do sometimes see very heavily worn examples, but I honestly think the technique needs fixing. Also - I have seen "soundboard protectors" marketed, but they don't cover the soundboard near the neck. – Andy Jun 20 '16 at 17:46
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    Of course saying that the damage is because the guitar is too big ("and might be straining your arm... makes me feel bad... etc") might be the diplomatic way of not letting it be used again! – topo Reinstate Monica Jun 20 '16 at 18:28
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    @Tim Shakespeare! – user28 Jun 20 '16 at 20:47

Picking near the octave (specifically, an octave above the fretted notes) can produce a neat effect since it emphasizes the second harmonic. However, I find it's better for individual notes or slower glides across the strings than for rhythm strumming.

In either case, however, striking the guitar top is poor technique. Even extreme angles of attack shouldn't result in this — you don't want the pick to catch on anything but the strings at the beginning of the stroke, and in the worst case you should plant your hand ahead of the pick at the end of the stroke. If done abruptly, the latter can provide a thumping rhythm if so desired. A higher pitched tapping with the pick can be done very softly — it shouldn't result in chipping. If no extra tapping is intended then it's just further evidence of very poor technique. Pick guards are for accidents and beginners, not for persistent disregard of the instrument (unless it's your own and you're making some sort of performance statement!).

Without more detail on the player I can't properly comment as to whether the size of the guitar is factoring into this issue, but I would certainly recommend that you have them go back to their own guitar.

  • Would it be the first harmonic rather than second, half way along the spoken length? – Tim Jun 21 '16 at 5:39
  • @Tim, the first harmonic is the fundamental. Second harmonic = first overtone. It always confuses me. – Johannes Jun 21 '16 at 12:20
  • @Johannes - thanks for that. I mix up harmonics and overtones. The fundamental is apparently called a harmonic because it's 1x itself. But I reckon just about everything in the world is 1x itself! Where's the logic? – Tim Jun 21 '16 at 12:33
  • +1 for "Pick guards are for accidents and beginners ... " I actually prefer no pick guard. It does nothing for the aesthetics or sound of the guitar (can potentially restrict vibration of sound board). – Rockin Cowboy Jun 22 '16 at 0:01

In my observations of many guitar players at the many Open Mic events I have attended over the past ten years, I have found that some guitarist tend to strum closer to the fret-board than the bridge.

I have also observed that where a guitarist strumming lands on the strings will often vary depending on whether he/she is playing standing with a strap or seated with the guitar supported on a knee.

Of course this might be affected to some degree by the size of the guitar, but I know that I tend to land in the same place with my GS Mini as with my Taylor 614 CE which is much larger. So I think a great deal of where a particular guitarist tends to hit the strings while strumming is developed through habit - which may take a concentrated and intentional effort over a long period of time to change.

Suggesting to your fellow musician that they must alter their technique may lead to them becoming so focused on their strumming technique and worried about your ire if they continue to damage your guitar, that they lose focus on the music and the music may suffer.

One possible solution might be to purchase a Taylor Universal Reusable Removable pick guard like the one pictured below, but cut it with a razor knife and straight edge, so that it could be fitted underneath the fret-board.

enter image description here

Another alternative solution that might look tacky (no pun intended) is Blue Removable Painter's Tape in a 2 or 3 inch width. You should use several layers to prevent pick damage. I recommend that you remove it immediately after the performance and use a suitable guitar polish to remove any residue of adhesive (although the removable painters tape will not leave much if you don't leave it on long). Just for the record, I tried this right after typing this and I detected no residual residue after pulling the tape off. I tape my fret board with painters tape when I dress my frets but I do oil the fretboard after removing the tape.

But anything you do in an attempt to protect your guitar will have the potential to distract the guitarist in question from concentrating fully on the music.

I think your best bet will be to either have them go back to their own guitar or offer to sell your Taylor to them at a price that reflects the value before they damaged the guitar (or whatever is mutually agreeable and fair). The latter is not an option if your guitar has sentimental value (which would be more reason to opt for the former).

Good luck!

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    One trick for masking tape is to stick it against your clothing first, it'll pick up a little bit of fuzz or dust that makes it easier to remove (while still being sticky enough for a smooth surface like a guitar). – user28 Jun 20 '16 at 23:20
  • @MatthewRead That's a great idea about sticking tape to clothes first. – Rockin Cowboy Jun 22 '16 at 0:02

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