Do Scratches on The Guitar Affect Sound?

If you have ever spotted a scratch or a crack in your guitar, you know how terrible it feels. It can detract from an otherwise perfect-looking guitar’s appearance unless you strive for the distressed style. However, the most crucial question is whether it will alter the sound of your guitar or not.

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 A scratch won’t directly impact the guitar’s tone, however, a crack resulting from a deep scratch or a dent can. Deep dents and cracks can change the shape of the wood which is responsible for producing the sounds through resonance hence altering the tone of the guitar.  

In this article, I’ll explain how precisely a scratch or a crack in your guitar might alter its sound and whether it’s a severe issue or nothing to be concerned about. We’ll also discuss a few simple tips to avoid getting these scratches and how to fix them. 

How Is Sound Produced in Acoustic & Electric Guitars? 

It is common knowledge that a guitar’s sound is created when a string is plucked, and the resulting vibrations are what you eventually hear. But how precisely does this take place? 

Relative to whether you play an acoustic or electric guitar, these string vibrations generate sounds that are distinct from one another.

The body of an acoustic guitar plays a significant role in magnifying the sound produced when a string is plucked. Following the saddle, the soundboard receives the vibrations next. The sounds that you hear then come from the soundhole.

The pickups on electric guitars pick up the string vibrations. The sound reaches the amplifier through these pickups, which drives the speakers to produce the sound.

Impact of Scratches and Cracks on Acoustic and Electric Guitars

We can now discuss the effect of cracks, given that you know how a guitar makes its sound.

If not taken care of for a longer, more extended time, the scratches in your guitar can result in cracks. The scratches that run deep through the wood will worsen over time if you keep playing your guitar. 

Note: Resulting cracks, unfortunately, will affect your guitar’s performance and sound quality!

Several factors, such as the following, determine whether or not a crack influences the tone of a guitar:

An electric guitar is far less affected by cracks than an acoustic guitar is.

This brings up the distinction between the sound produced by an electric and an acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars’ sound is produced mainly by the instrument’s wood, while electric guitars’ sound is produced primarily by the pickups.

Consequently, the way that sound is conveyed when an acoustic guitar has a crack will be affected. Cracks typically lead to:

  • Reduced resonance.
  • Sustain (the duration of a note that can be heard). 

These are two elements that are crucial to setting a positive tone. 

Note: An electric guitar’s tone can still be affected by cracks, although it’s not as problematic!

4 Tips to Avoid Scratches On Your Guitar

These simple tips don’t require much conscious effort and will help you avoid unnecessary scratches:

  1. Avoid Accessories

Accessories, belts, and buckles may all damage your instrument. Therefore, refrain from wearing your zippered jacket and remove your belt and jewelry when playing.

  1. Cleaning Up With a Cloth

After performing, always wipe off your instrument with a towel. Your strings will last longer as a result. Your finger perspiration contains acid, which might eventually harm the neck’s finish. 

Future issues may be avoided by keeping your instrument clean, but be careful what kind of towel you use. Paper may seem soft, but it may be gritty, so exercise caution when handling paper towels and wipes. It’s better to use a lint-free cloth.

  1. Buy a Guitar Strap

We occasionally hear guitarists claim that their guitar accidentally fell out of their hands. Or perhaps a pet knocked it off the sofa. 

Note: A basic guitar strap adds safety, and a sturdy stand occasionally gives any guitar the support it needs!

  1. Use a Pickguard

Despite these suggestions, we know that playing the guitar results in scratches. Since minor dings and scratches are inevitable, most guitars come with pickguards.

How to Repair Scratches and Cracks on Your Guitar?

Now that you know how cracks affect a guitar’s tone, you may be interested in learning how to fix them. You should take several actions to do this. The essential procedures for repairing damage to your guitar are listed in the table below:

Determine the severity.The crack may occasionally be irreparable or beyond your capacity for repair. Before beginning the restoration process, be honest about what you hope to accomplish.Learn how to tell if your guitar needs service.
Get the guitar ready.This entails thoroughly washing using a specialized solution to prevent additional drying out of the wood. Ensure that no oil or dirt on the instrument is present.If the strings impede access to the troubled location, you may have to remove them. Next, check to see your instrument resting flat, securely, and on a hard floor.
Put some glue or adhesive on.You may use specialized glue to mend a crack if it is not too severe. Before proceeding, let the adhesive completely cure.
Get rid of the extra adhesive.This can be done with light grit sandpaper, but only If necessary. Work your way up; it’s preferable to scratch the remainder of your finish.


Q. Is It Viable to Use Polish to Remove Minor Scratches?

Using a polish like Nomad is an excellent method to eliminate scratches. It’s affordable, simple to apply, and you will enjoy how glossy your guitar looks.

Q. How Deep Are Scratches and Cracks That Affect a Guitar’s Performance?

The sustain of your guitar’s sound will probably be significantly affected if the gap is over an inch in length or if it extends all the way through the wood. Although it might often be difficult, fixing severe fractures is doable.

Final Thoughts

Getting scratches on your guitar is quite usual. However, if these scratches result in cracks that impede your guitar’s sound quality then that is problematic. The basic step is to take care of your instrument and avoid getting scratches in the first place but you can also utilize some quick fixes suggested in this article. 


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