this is a new acoustic classic guitar I have just bought. It has strange sound. when I play the high E string (open) and then immediately touch the string to mute it the guitar keeps playing a similar but different frequency sound for 8-10 seconds. I have found that the lower E and A string resonates (if I touch the lower E and A the sound is gone).

What should I do? Should I take the instrument back to the shop?

2 Answers 2


This is not a "problem" necessarily. Each string has a natural set of harmonics that are n*(open string frequency). If the note you play matches one of these then that open string will vibrate. The octave and the fifth are the strongest harmonics and the ones most likely to be heard for a long time after excitation. If you play a fretted D on the B string (3rd fret) you should experience vibration of the open D string. This resonance is part of what makes a good full sound on a classical (many texts encourage the student to allow these open resonances to persist while playing). If they become a problem then the guitarist needs to dampen them with their hands as they play (this is part of the technique). What type of guitar is this? Brand, model, etc.

  • took the guitar to a experienced musician. The guitar is fine as described here. Looks like my old guitars were not so good.
    – RM.
    Dec 8, 2018 at 10:06
  • well that's good news. Sometimes resonance is annoying. Now you'll develop very fine technique. Have you worked through a book like Carcassi Guitar Method? it discusses (1) the value of resonance in making good sound, and (2) damping when needed. You'll grow to appreciate it.
    – user50691
    Dec 8, 2018 at 11:38

The problem caused by "sympathetic resonance." On any string instrument, the strings actually cause the whole instrument to resonate. So, the vibration of the higher strings is activating those lower strings as well.

Some instruments (like the sitar) are designed specifically to enhance these sympathetic resonances, but if you don't want the lower strings to resonate, you will need to mute them with either your left-hand fingers or right-hand palm.

If the sound is unpleasant, though, you should take it to a guitar tech, so they can take a look at it.

  • Thanks. I have 2 other guitars and neither does this at least it is not so noticeable. And the sound it produces it actually harsh on my ear. Not a nice sound.
    – RM.
    Dec 3, 2018 at 16:32
  • 1
    It isn't normal. Sympathetic vibration can, and does occur, but nowhere near to the extent shown in the question. And generally, it's the other way - low notes may create s.v. in higher open strings. And if both E and A are affected, it sounds like the guitar may be faulty.
    – Tim
    Dec 3, 2018 at 16:46
  • Perhaps the guitar needs some adjustment, but the reason for the vibrating low E and A is definitely sympathetic vibrations. I'll adjust the answer.
    – Peter
    Dec 3, 2018 at 17:32
  • 3
    I dunno. Sounds to me like the guitar has a very nice sensitive top. All my guitars do this. Dec 3, 2018 at 18:19
  • I wouldn't judge this as a problem without a measure of the natural sustain of the instrument. I have acoustics that sustain for ~20-30sec which is wonderful! The sympathetic resonances will ring for a long time, this in not abnormal, it is entirely normal. If you OP is having trouble with just 2 notes then there is some irregularity in the guitar, otherwise this is absolutely normal.
    – user50691
    Dec 3, 2018 at 19:55

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