Have you ever picked up an acoustic guitar to play it? If so, or should you have seen one in pictures, you’ll notice that a soundhole exists underneath where you strum the strings.
This design’s primary purpose with acoustic guitars is that it allows the air to travel freely from the strings to the instrument. This design ensures that the sound reverberates appropriately, allowing listeners to pick up the notes and chords for the different compositions.
If you watch a guitarist play an acoustic guitar (including classical designs), there could be a time when you see them cover the hole in the instrument.
Although it seems counterintuitive, this playing methodology can produce significantly positive results in specific situations.
This guide takes you through the reasons why a guitarist would make this choice, if you should be doing it, and the pros and cons to consider for your playing style.
What Is the Purpose of an Acoustic Guitar Hole Cover?
The primary reason why guitarists cover an acoustic guitar’s soundhole is to prevent the audio feedback that occurs in this area. If you need to transition between chords with clean sounds or play an electrified instrument, you can avoid feedback and note muddiness with this technique.
Although some acoustic instruments don’t have a soundhole, most guitars incorporate this design option to add brightness and clarity to the sound.
You can project the notes and chords more freely with its presence because the soundbox vibrates more with the airflow traveling through the instrument.
If you look at the history of acoustic guitars, you’ll find several different soundhole designs incorporated into the instrument’s body.
Other instruments use this technique to produce similar results, including the violin. The f-shaped holes on some stringed instruments act the same way as the circular soundhole does for the guitar.
When you need to cover the hole during a specific moment in a song, it’s usually fine to use hand techniques to accomplish the goal.
The result would be similar to manually stopping the string’s vibration after playing a chord.
It’s a one-time use option since you need that hand to continue plucking, picking, or strumming.
If you play an electric acoustic guitar, you can purchase soundhole covers that provide a semi-permanent option to limit feedback.
When you have a guitar without any pickups and can’t be plugged in, you don’t typically need a cover installed.
When Should I Consider a Soundhole Cover for My Guitar?
Let’s say that you’re in your garage, working on producing a signature sound for an upcoming project. You’re the only one at home, and the instrument’s noise from your electric acoustic guitar isn’t filtering over to the neighbors.
In that situation, it would be pointless to have a soundhole cover for your guitar. There’s no need for this asset when you play by yourself because you don’t have volume or quality control worries. Your focus should be on improving technique.
If you are playing for a live audience with an electrified acoustic with pickups, a soundhole cover is sometimes useful for volume control.
When you’re A/V assistant has the volume levels high to support a superior listening experience throughout a room, you can get some feedback from the instrument.
When you install the cover, you get more control over the potential feedback that occurs.
Since the soundhole cover also impacts how your instrument looks, you’ll be happy to know that several are available today using different designs.
That allows you to find one that meets your needs, looks fantastic, and lets you feel more comfortable when you’re on the stage.
■ Why Is Feedback Problematic with an Electrified Acoustic Guitar?
If you play alone on the stage, getting a little sound system feedback isn’t the end of the world. You can pick out the notes, chords, and tones you want with reasonable reliability. The audience won’t typically know the difference because the unwanted audio comes through your monitor or earpiece.
If you’re on the stage with several instruments, the acoustic guitar needs to have higher volume levels connected to it.
When you have a percussion kit, bass guitar, and an electric guitar all playing simultaneously, the acoustic sounds get lost in that mix. Cranking things up is the only way to get heard!
When your volume levels are too high, you’ll get shrieking sounds from the electronic feedback.
Although the cover creates a slight muddiness to your guitar’s acoustic profile, the benefits often outweigh the disadvantages when you have this product installed on your instrument.
Pros and Cons of Using a Soundhole Cover on an Acoustic Guitar
If you’re looking for ways to prevent feedback when playing an acoustic guitar, a soundhole cover is a practical item to use. If you want something basic, entry-level designs are priced at $5.49 online.
When you want something with a more intricate design, you’ll find soundhole covers to meet your needs for $25 to $40.
If you need a custom soundhole cover, you might pay anywhere from $75 to $150 for the final product.
Once you’ve set your pricing expectations, it’s time to look at the various pros and cons of using soundhole covers with your guitars.
|List of the Pros of Using Soundhole Covers
|List of the Cons of Using Soundhole Covers
|When you have a soundhole cover in place, the feedback-busting attributes the product delivers ensures that you don’t need to be shy about hitting lower notes and chords.
|If you don’t have a round hole for your acoustic instrument, it can be challenging to find a commercialized product to fit your playing needs.
|It reduces the screeching sounds that occur when you have a stage setup where the mains end up being in front of you instead of behind.
|The Gretsch Rancher cover is the only viable item that works for triangular designs. The design elements are somewhat limited.
|The sound presentation can have a better EQ with this product, especially when you have multiple instruments playing on the stage at the same time.
|You can choose from a plain cover, snowflakes, waves, wings, and Celtic-style designs when shopping online.
|You can use the product to serve as a humidification tool or dehumidifier, depending on what your environmental conditions require.
|Most guitarists notice a tone drop-off once the soundhole cover gets installed, and there can be added muddiness to some of the chords on an entry-level instrument.
|A soundhole cover doesn’t usually affect the sustain that a guitar delivers, although you might not hear the chords ring out as much locally.
|You won’t hear as much acoustic sound from the guitar as you play, which can throw some musicians off since they’re used to hearing themselves at the instrument instead of the monitor.
|Most covers can install underneath the strings without changing your overall setup.
|It can turn the electric acoustic guitar more toward a sound that feels like a standard electric instrument instead of the folksy, bluesy tones you sometimes want.
|The standard soundhole covers are typically a one-size-fits-most product. Once you have your instrument’s measurements, it’s relatively easy to find what you need to limit feedback generation with the guitar.
|If you’re using magnetic pickups with your acoustic guitar, you might need to cut some of the products to size to get the exact fit you need.
For most guitarists, a simple soundhole cover, made from black rubber, is enough to produce the results you want.
Since the price of most items with that composition is under $10, you’ll get a solid solution that doesn’t break the bank.
How to Install a Soundhole Cover on an Acoustic Guitar
Suppose you find yourself in a situation where a soundhole cover is necessary to prevent or stop feedback generation. In that case, it’s relatively simple to create an improved sound by installing this product.
You’ll find several options available on the market today, with numerous materials, designs, and sizes available to meet the needs of most instruments.
When you want something fast and affordable, your best option is a rubber soundhole cover. This design allows you to install or remove the item quickly to ensure you get the feedback prevention results you need.
The rubber soundhole covers slide underneath your strings to fit tightly in the open space. Once you get it in there securely, you can return to playing.
Most guitarists can install this product without needing to retune their strings or remove them from the instrument. It just slides right in there!
Another option to consider is wood. If you find a cover made from the same species as your guitar’s body, you’ll develop a warm resonance with your playing.
It eliminates the screeching risk while producing more depth and clarity instead of muddiness.
You’ll find some items even come with a dehumidifier feature to maintain the wood’s quality. If you need humidification, that’s also an option to consider.
Most products typically slip in, but if it doesn’t have surface-safe edges, you’ll need to remove your strings before installing the cover.
Some items use silica gel for the sides without placing a protective layer along the bottom, preventing the option of sliding it underneath the strings to insert into the opening.
How to Find the Best Soundhole Cover for Your Guitar
When you start shopping for soundhole covers for your electrified acoustic guitar, you’ll want to consider several factors before selecting a product.
Here is an overview of what to review as you look at each item.
|• You’ll find that some soundhole covers provide a few additional features than others.
• The best options have elastic or gel on the sides and bottom for a safe and secure fit.
|• Although anyone can conceivable make a soundhole cover for guitars, you’ll typically get a better item when you shop for products that come from manufacturers with a proven reputation.
|• You can find soundhole covers built to meet the needs of many guitars.
• Before buying a specific product, you’ll want to measure your instrument’s opening to ensure you’re getting something that can fit.
|• Even if you find a soundhole cover with great reviews, that doesn’t mean the quality meets your expectations.
• Since price isn’t always an indicator of what you’ll receive, it helps to review what materials are used to create the item.
|• Although a cover seems like a straightforward product, you could find that some items don’t provide as secure of a fit as described or expected.
• There could also be wear and tear issues to consider with some designs.
• If you anticipate installing and removing it repetitively, durability should be a deciding factor.
|• Pay close attention to the customer reviews for soundhole covers.
• Some people leave negative information when you can clearly tell that they weren’t using the item correctly.
• It helps to look for verified purchases and detailed information when searching for a design that works with your instrument.
When you look for soundhole covers, the top priority is to find a design that won’t damage your instrument.
Once you find something that seems to work, it helps to look for a product that is easy to install and remove.
After taking care of those needs, you can look at the specific designs that complement the look you want to have on stage while playing.
What Are the Best Soundhole Covers to Buy Today?
Since all guitar soundhole covers provide one primary function (to cover the instrument’s opening), a complete review of each product would be a timewaster.
At the end of the day, all covers will produce positive results for you unless a manufacturing defect occurs.
If you encounter that situation, it helps to buy items that come with a comprehensive warranty or return guarantee to protect your investment.
When you’re ready to get a cover for your electrified acoustic, here are the best options that can help you plug that opening quickly and comfortably.
If you select this option, you’ll get a product that fits a standard four-inch opening. You can quickly install or remove it based on your needs because of the soft rubber insert it uses.
That design element protects the instrument’s finish while eliminating feedback, ensuring that you can enhance your stage volume without any problems.
It requires no modification to the guitar or its shape to work.
When you need a soundhole cover that delivers a humidifier reservoir, this product is the one to select today. It works with guitars that have a 101mm, 102mm, or 103mm opening.
You moisten the included sponge, install it underneath the plug, and prevent feedback while keeping the wood healthy.
If you need dehumidification instead, use desiccant packets instead to produce the results you need.
If you have a 38-inch or a 39-inch classical guitar, the 3.2-inch soft rubber soundhole cover should work to meet your needs.
The design’s softness won’t impact the intricate detail work on your instrument, and it doesn’t need any tools to finish the installation.
The one advantage you get when purchasing your plugs from this manufacturer is that you’ll get two for the price that you receive one from other companies.
When you use steel strings on an electric acoustic guitar, you’ll find that some covers don’t provide the results you need for stopping feedback.
That’s when it is time to give this product a closer look.
You can enhance stage volume while limiting the unwanted noise the instrument creates. If you’re using nylon or another material, you might consider one of the other options on this list.
The intricate design found on this beautiful soundhole cover is the perfect addition to an electric folk guitar.
It works with a standard dimension opening, reducing the amplified feedback you can get when on the stage.
It’s one of the few products made from genuine mahogany instead of MDF or another manufactured wood product, creating a lovely reverberation that enables an authentic sound.
It uses soft foam covers to prevent wood-on-wood rubbing so that no damage occurs.
A Final Thought on Using Soundhole Covers for Guitars
For me, soundhole covers are one of those items built from necessity. Although it isn’t my first choice when playing the guitar, it’s not like it is the end of the world to use one.
Unless you purchase a cover with a severely raised crown, you won’t even notice it is there when you’re playing. Although the acoustic sounds are somewhat tempered when this product gets installed, it won’t impact what the audience hears.
I love the look and feel of the carved wood soundhole covers. I can also appreciate the simplicity of a rubber insert that all but eliminates feedback risks.
If you play alone, you probably don’t need this product. When you’re with your band, it’s often a small investment that can deliver some massive dividends when the volume levels get cranked high.