Belly bulges in acoustic guitars are a severe concern. A guitar’s top can be damaged from playing if it has a belly bulge because it will carry the vibrations from the strings from where they contact the belly to other parts of the top, amplifying them and ultimately weakening or ruining them. A belly bulge can also affect the tone of your instrument. Belly bulges are especially common in chords because the strings don’t move when in that position. If you’re looking to buy a new acoustic guitar or want to know what’s going on with your current one, then this blog post will tell you everything about how to check it for a belly bulge.
To check for belly bulge in your acoustic guitar, take a few minutes to run your fingers all around the top of the body. A belly bulge will feel like a small mound in the center of the top, between where you’re running your fingers and where you’re strumming when you play. If your guitar has a belly bulge, it should go away in just a few days when you start using it.
To avoid belly bulge in your acoustic guitar in the future:
- Do not press down hard when you’re strumming or picking.
- Please keep your fingers far enough away from the soundhole that they don’t touch the top when strumming.
- If you need to use force when playing, consider investing in another guitar with better action for playing songs with heavy chords.
How to Remove Belly Bulge in Acoustic Guitar
Once you know how to check for belly bulge in your acoustic guitar, you can do it yourself. If you’re buying an acoustic guitar, some experts recommend researching the best materials for its top or for more info on how to prevent belly bulges in your acoustic. If you’ve already got a belly bulge and want to know how to fix it yourself, then follow this:
How to Remove Belly Bulge in Acoustic Guitar
Once you know how to check for belly bulge in your acoustic guitar, you can do it yourself. If you’re buying an acoustic guitar, some experts recommend researching the best materials for its top or for more info on how to prevent belly bulges in your acoustic. If you’ve already got a belly bulge and want to know how to fix it yourself, then follow this.
Step 1: Identify the Problem
The first step in fixing a belly bulge in your guitar is to identify it. Start by running your fingers lightly around the top of the guitar – stomach-like bumps are sometimes pronounced when you feel them with one hand while playing on the neck with the other. If you find one, you can try to push it back in with your finger, but this might not work. Another way of identifying the belly bulge is to look for scratches or other signs that the fretboard has been affected.
Step 2: Remove the Belly Bulge
To remove the belly bulge, you’ll have to slim down it. This is done by either rubbing the belly bulge with sandpaper (sandpaper makes the top rough but will smooth it out over time) or lightly tapping the top with your fingers. Tap in a few delicate spots around the belly bulge at first until you’re sure you’re not damaging the instrument. Just keep in mind that if you’re traveling to do this, don’t take your guitar in its case.
Step 3: Do Any Additional Work on Your Guitar
Now you should be ready for any other work on your guitar. If you’ve felt any crackling or buzzing when playing it, now’s the time to fix that. You can also adjust the truss rod, which controls the tension in the neck and top of your guitar. The truss rod controls how straight the neck and top are and is adjusted by turning a small screw on or off of the back of each channel and body joint (the two ends at the front of your guitar). Keep in mind that if you’ve never done this yourself, or haven’t worked on your guitar for a long time, make sure someone else does it for you. Make sure to tighten the truss rod properly.
Step 4: Add Some Life Back to Your Top by Stretching the Top
Once you’ve taken out any damage caused by removing the belly bulge, give your guitar a good stretch back out to its standard shape with some conditioner or another re-stretchable material like Krazy Glue. This will help the top hold its shape. If you’re happy with your guitar, you can leave it alone, but if you’re truly unhappy with the instrument after removing the belly bulge, then investing in a better source guitar is a good idea. Buyers will have a more challenging time telling what tone flaws are in a guitar without a belly bulge, so going with another solid wood top may be worthwhile.
How to Avoid a Belly Bulge?
Pedal steel guitars usually have a belly bulge because this body shape doesn’t offer much sound relief above the strings. Avoid pressing on them with your fingers. If you do need to press on them, make sure to use a light touch and don’t press too hard or too far into the guitar’s body. Resist the temptation to play with a lot of force on the strings as you’re strumming. And never use a pick on a pedal steel guitar.
A guitar with a belly bulge is not so much of an issue if you’re not pressing hard on it or if you’re using your fingers to strum. But if you are using heavy force on the strings, strumming hard, or using picks on it, then there’s every reason to get the belly bulge off of it as soon as possible. You can do this by playing on it for some time. Belly bulges usually go away within a few days.
How Long Do Belly Bulges Last?
It varies from guitar to guitar, but they usually disappear in less than a week of heavy play on the strings, especially if you’re making some slight truss rod adjustment at the same time. Belly bulges can be more persistent on guitars with a deep body or a low action. They might even take a few months to go away but never worry – they won’t damage your instrument.
Belly bulge in acoustic guitars is a widespread problem, which is why you should always check your instrument whenever you’re buying or pawning it. You can avoid it entirely by doing some research on acoustic guitar materials before purchasing, taking preventative measures that are simple to follow, and constantly checking your guitar’s belly bulge before playing it for fun or a gig.