For other uses, see Guitar (disambiguation).
It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the fingers/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting (pressing the strings against the frets) with the fingers of the other hand.
The guitar is a type of chordophone - wherein the sound is produced by way of a string, stretched between two fixed points, vibrating when plucked - traditionally constructed from wood and strung with either gut, nylon or steel strings and distinguished from other chordophones by its construction and tuning.
The modern guitar was preceded by the gittern, the vihuela, the four-course Renaissance guitar, and the five-course baroque guitar, all of which contributed to the development of the modern six-string instrument.
There are three main types of modern acoustic guitar: the classical guitar (Spanish guitar/nylon-string guitar), the steel-string acoustic guitar and the archtop guitar, which is sometimes called a "jazz guitar".
The tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the strings' vibration, amplified by the hollow body of the guitar, which acts as a resonating chamber.
The classical guitar is often played as a solo instrument using a comprehensive finger-picking technique where each string is plucked individually by the player's fingers, as opposed to being strummed.
The term "finger-picking" can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues, bluegrass, and country guitar playing in the United States.
The acoustic bass guitar is pitched one octave below a regular guitar.
Electric guitars, introduced in the 1930s, use an amplifier and a loudspeaker that both makes the sound of the instrument loud enough for the performers and audience to hear, and, given that it produces an electric signal when played, that can electronically manipulate and shape the tone using an equalizer (e.g., bass and treble tone controls) and a wide variety of electronic effects units, the most commonly used ones being distortion (or "overdrive") and reverb.
Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but solid wood guitars began to dominate during the 1960s and 1970s, as they are less prone to unwanted acoustic feedback "howls".
As with acoustic guitars, there are a number of types of electric guitars, including hollowbody guitars, archtop guitars (used in jazz guitar, blues and rockabilly) and solid-body guitars, which are widely used in rock music.
The loud, amplified sound and sonic power of the electric guitar played through a guitar amp has played a key role in the development of blues and rock music, both as an accompaniment instrument (playing riffs and chords) and performing guitar solos, and in many rock subgenres, notably heavy metal music and punk rock.
The electric guitar has had a major influence on popular culture.
The guitar is used in a wide variety of musical genres worldwide.
Before the development of the electric guitar and the use of synthetic materials, a guitar was defined as being an instrument having "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and a flat back, most often with incurved sides."
The term is used to refer to a number of chordophones that were developed and used across Europe, beginning in the 12th century and, later, in the Americas.
A 3,300-year-old stone carving of a Hittite bard playing a stringed instrument is the oldest iconographic representation of a chordophone and clay plaques from Babylonia show people playing an instrument that has a strong resemblance to the guitar, indicating a possible Babylonian origin for the guitar.
The modern word guitar, and its antecedents, has been applied to a wide variety of chordophones since classical times and as such causes confusion.
The English word guitar, the German Gitarre, and the French guitare were all adopted from the Spanish guitarra, which comes from the Andalusian Arabic قيثارة (qīthārah) and the Latin cithara, which in turn came from the Ancient Greek κιθάρα.
Kithara appears in the Bible four times (1 Cor.
5:8, 14:2 and 15:2), and is usually translated into English as harp.
Many influences are cited as antecedents to the modern guitar.
Although the development of the earliest "guitars" is lost in the history of medieval Spain, two instruments are commonly cited as their most influential predecessors, the European lute and its cousin, the four-string oud; the latter was brought to Iberia by the Moors in the 8th century.
The guitarra morisca had a rounded back, wide fingerboard, and several sound holes.
The guitarra Latina had a single sound hole and a narrower neck.
By the 14th century the qualifiers "moresca" or "morisca" and "latina" had been dropped, and these two chordophones were simply referred to as guitars.
The Spanish vihuela, called in Italian the "viola da mano", a guitar-like instrument of the 15th and 16th centuries, is widely considered to have been the single most important influence in the development of the baroque guitar.
It had six courses (usually), lute-like tuning in fourths and a guitar-like body, although early representations reveal an instrument with a sharply cut waist.
It was also larger than the contemporary four-course guitars.
By the 16th century, the vihuela's construction had more in common with the modern guitar, with its curved one-piece ribs, than with the viols, and more like a larger version of the contemporary four-course guitars.
The vihuela enjoyed only a relatively short period of popularity in Spain and Italy during an era dominated elsewhere in Europe by the lute; the last surviving published music for the instrument appeared in 1576.
Meanwhile, the five-course baroque guitar, which was documented in Spain from the middle of the 16th century, enjoyed popularity, especially in Spain, Italy and France from the late 16th century to the mid-18th century.
There were many different plucked instruments that were being invented and used in Europe, during the Middle Ages.
By the 16th century, most of the forms of guitar had fallen off, to never be seen again.
However, midway through the 16th century, the five-course guitar was established.
It was not a straightforward process.
There were two types of five-course guitars, they differed in the location of the major third and in the interval pattern.
The fifth course can be placed on the instrument, because it was known to play seventeen notes or more.
Because the guitar had a fifth string, it was capable of playing that amount of notes.
The guitar's strings were tuned in unison, so, in other words, it was tuned by placing a finger on the second fret of the thinnest string and tuning the guitar bottom to top.
The strings were a whole octave apart from one another, which is the reason for the different method of tuning.
Because it was so different, there was major controversy as to who created the five course guitar.
A literary source, Lope de Vega's Dorotea, gives the credit to the poet and musician Vicente Espinel.
This claim was also repeated by Nicolas Doizi de Velasco in 1640, however this claim has been refuted by others who state that Espinel's birth year (1550) make it impossible for him to be responsible for the tradition.
He believed that the tuning was the reason the instrument became known as the Spanish guitar in Italy.
Even later, in the same century, Gaspar Sanz wrote that other nations such as Italy or France added to the Spanish guitar.
All of these nations even imitated the five-course guitar by "recreating" their own.
Finally, circa 1850, the form and structure of the modern guitar is followed by different Spanish makers such as Manuel de Soto y Solares and perhaps the most important of all guitar makers Antonio Torres Jurado, who increased the size of the guitar body, altered its proportions, and invented the breakthrough fan-braced pattern.
Bracing, which refers to the internal pattern of wood reinforcements used to secure the guitar's top and back and prevent the instrument from collapsing under tension, is an important factor in how the guitar sounds.
Torres' design greatly improved the volume, tone, and projection of the instrument, and it has remained essentially unchanged since.
Guitars can be divided into two broad categories, acoustic and electric guitars.
Within each of these categories, there are also further sub-categories.
For example, an electric guitar can be purchased in a six-string model (the most common model) or in seven- or twelve-string models.
Main article: Acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitars form several notable subcategories within the acoustic guitar group: classical and flamenco guitars; steel-string guitars, which include the flat-topped, or "folk", guitar; twelve-string guitars; and the arched-top guitar.
The acoustic guitar group also includes unamplified guitars designed to play in different registers, such as the acoustic bass guitar, which has a similar tuning to that of the electric bass guitar.
Renaissance and Baroque
Main article: Baroque guitar
They are substantially smaller, more delicate in construction, and generate less volume.
The strings are paired in courses as in a modern 12-string guitar, but they only have four or five courses of strings rather than six single strings normally used now.
They were more often used as rhythm instruments in ensembles than as solo instruments, and can often be seen in that role in early music performances.
(Gaspar Sanz's Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 contains his whole output for the solo guitar.)
Renaissance and Baroque guitars are easily distinguished, because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with ivory or wood inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.
Main article: Classical guitar
Classical guitars, also known as "Spanish" guitars, are typically strung with nylon strings, plucked with the fingers, played in a seated position and are used to play a diversity of musical styles including classical music.
The classical guitar's wide, flat neck allows the musician to play scales, arpeggios, and certain chord forms more easily and with less adjacent string interference than on other styles of guitar.
Flamenco guitars are very similar in construction, but they are associated with a more percussive tone.
In Portugal, the same instrument is often used with steel strings particularly in its role within fado music.
In Colombia, the traditional quartet includes a range of instruments too, from the small bandola (sometimes known as the Deleuze-Guattari, for use when traveling or in confined rooms or spaces), to the slightly larger tiple, to the full-sized classical guitar.
The requinto also appears in other Latin-American countries as a complementary member of the guitar family, with its smaller size and scale, permitting more projection for the playing of single-lined melodies.
Modern dimensions of the classical instrument were established by the Spaniard Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817–1892).
Main article: Steel-string acoustic guitar
Flat-top or steel-string guitars are similar to the classical guitar, however, within the varied sizes of the steel-stringed guitar the body size is usually significantly larger than a classical guitar, and has a narrower, reinforced neck and stronger structural design.
The robust X-bracing typical of the steel-string was developed in the 1840s by German-American luthiers, of whom Christian Friedrich "C. F." Martin is the best known.
Originally used on gut-strung instruments, the strength of the system allowed the guitar to withstand the additional tension of steel strings when this fortunate combination arose in the early 20th century.
The steel strings produce a brighter tone, and according to many players, a louder sound.
The acoustic guitar is used in many kinds of music including folk, country, bluegrass, pop, jazz, and blues.
Ovation makes a modern variation, with a rounded back/side assembly molded from artificial materials.
Main article: Archtop guitar
Archtop guitars are steel-string instruments in which the top (and often the back) of the instrument are carved, from a solid billet, into a curved, rather than a flat, shape.
This violin-like construction is usually credited to the American Orville Gibson.
Lloyd Loar of the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. introduced the violin-inspired "F"-shaped hole design now usually associated with archtop guitars, after designing a style of Comandolin of the same type.
The typical archtop guitar has a large, deep, hollow body whose form is much like that of a mandolin or a violin-family instrument.
Nowadays, most archtops are equipped with magnetic pickups, and they are therefore both acoustic and electric.
Resonator, resophonic or Dobros
All three principal types of resonator guitars were invented by the Slovak-American John Dopyera (1893–1988) for the National and Dobro (Dopyera Brothers) companies.
Similar to the flat top guitar in appearance, but with a body that may be made of brass, nickel-silver, or steel as well as wood, the sound of the resonator guitar is produced by one or more aluminum resonator cones mounted in the middle of the top.
The physical principle of the guitar is therefore similar to the loudspeaker.
The original purpose of the resonator was to produce a very loud sound; this purpose has been largely superseded by electrical amplification, but the resonator guitar is still played because of its distinctive tone.
Resonator guitars may have either one or three resonator cones.
The method of transmitting sound resonance to the cone is either a "biscuit" bridge, made of a small piece of hardwood at the vertex of the cone (Nationals), or a "spider" bridge, made of metal and mounted around the rim of the (inverted) cone (Dobros).
Three-cone resonators always use a specialized metal bridge.
The type of resonator guitar with a neck with a square cross-section—called "square neck" or "Hawaiian"—is usually played face up, on the lap of the seated player, and often with a metal or glass slide.
The round neck resonator guitars are normally played in the same fashion as other guitars, although slides are also often used, especially in blues.
Main article: Twelve-string guitar
The highest two courses are tuned in unison, while the others are tuned in octaves.
The 12-string guitar is also made in electric forms.
The chime-like sound of the 12-string electric guitar was the basis of jangle pop.
Main article: Acoustic bass guitar
The acoustic bass guitar is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually somewhat larger than, that of a 6-string acoustic guitar.
Like the traditional electric bass guitar and the double bass, the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings, which are normally tuned E-A-D-G, an octave below the lowest four strings of the 6-string guitar, which is the same tuning pitch as an electric bass guitar.
It can, more rarely, be found with 5 or 6 strings, which provides a wider range of notes to be played with less movement up and down the neck.
Main article: Electric guitar
Electric guitars can have solid, semi-hollow, or hollow bodies; solid bodies produce little sound without amplification.
In contrast to a standard acoustic guitar, electric guitars instead rely on electromagnetic pickups, and sometimes piezoelectric pickups, that convert the vibration of the steel strings into signals, which are fed to an amplifier through a patch cable or radio transmitter.
The first successful magnetic pickup for a guitar was invented by George Beauchamp, and incorporated into the 1931 Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) "Frying Pan" lap steel; other manufacturers, notably Gibson, soon began to install pickups in archtop models.
The lower fretboard action (the height of the strings from the fingerboard), lighter (thinner) strings, and its electrical amplification lend the electric guitar to techniques less frequently used on acoustic guitars.
Some electric guitar models feature piezoelectric pickups, which function as transducers to provide a sound closer to that of an acoustic guitar with the flip of a switch or knob, rather than switching guitars.
Those that combine piezoelectric pickups and magnetic pickups are sometimes known as hybrid guitars.
Hybrids of acoustic and electric guitars are also common.
There are also more exotic varieties, such as guitars with two, three, or rarely four necks, all manner of alternate string arrangements, fretless fingerboards (used almost exclusively on bass guitars, meant to emulate the sound of a stand-up bass), 5.1 surround guitar, and such.
Seven-string and eight-string
Solid body seven-string guitars were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s.
Other artists go a step further, by using an eight-string guitar with two extra low strings.
Although the most common seven-string has a low B string, Roger McGuinn (of The Byrds and Rickenbacker) uses an octave G string paired with the regular G string as on a 12-string guitar, allowing him to incorporate chiming 12-string elements in standard six-string playing.
In 1982 Uli Jon Roth developed the "Sky Guitar", with a vastly extended number of frets, which was the first guitar to venture into the upper registers of the violin.
Roth's seven-string and "Mighty Wing" guitar features a wider octave range.
Main article: Bass guitar
The bass guitar (also called an "electric bass", or simply a "bass") is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings.
The four-string bass, by far the most common, is usually tuned the same as the double bass, which corresponds to pitches one octave lower than the four lowest pitched strings of a guitar (E, A, D, and G).
See also: List of musicians who play left-handed
Modern guitars can be constructed to suit both left- and right-handed players.
Normally, the dominant hand (in most people, the right hand) is used to pluck or strum the strings.
This is similar to the convention of the violin family of instruments where the right hand controls the bow.
Left-handed players sometimes choose an opposite-handed (mirror) instrument, although some play in a standard-handed manner, others play a standard-handed guitar reversed, and still others (for example Jimi Hendrix) played a standard-handed guitar strung in reverse.
This last configuration differs from a true opposite handed guitar in that the saddle is normally angled in such a way that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings to improve intonation.
Reversing the strings, therefore, reverses the relative orientation of the saddle, adversely affecting intonation, although in Hendrix's case, this is believed to have been an important element in his unique sound.
Main article: Headstock
See also: Nut (string instrument)
The headstock is located at the end of the guitar neck farthest from the body.
It is fitted with machine heads that adjust the tension of the strings, which in turn affects the pitch.
The traditional tuner layout is "3+3", in which each side of the headstock has three tuners (such as on Gibson Les Pauls).
In this layout, the headstocks are commonly symmetrical.
Many guitars feature other layouts, including six-in-line tuners (featured on Fender Stratocasters) or even "4+2" (e.g. Ernie Ball Music Man).
Some guitars (such as Steinbergers) do not have headstocks at all, in which case the tuning machines are located elsewhere, either on the body or the bridge.
Its grooves guide the strings onto the fretboard, giving consistent lateral string placement.
It is one of the endpoints of the strings' vibrating length.
It must be accurately cut, or it can contribute to tuning problems due to string slippage or string buzz.
To reduce string friction in the nut, which can adversely affect tuning stability, some guitarists fit a roller nut.
Some instruments use a zero fret just in front of the nut.
In this case the nut is used only for lateral alignment of the strings, the string height and length being dictated by the zero fret.
Main article: Neck (music)
The wood used to make the fretboard usually differs from the wood in the rest of the neck.
The bending stress on the neck is considerable, particularly when heavier gauge strings are used (see Tuning), and the ability of the neck to resist bending (see Truss rod) is important to the guitar's ability to hold a constant pitch during tuning or when strings are fretted.
The rigidity of the neck with respect to the body of the guitar is one determinant of a good instrument versus a poor-quality one.
The shape of the neck (from a cross-sectional perspective) can also vary, from a gentle "C" curve to a more pronounced "V" curve.
There are many different types of neck profiles available, giving the guitarist many options.
Some aspects to consider in a guitar neck may be the overall width of the fretboard, scale (distance between the frets), the neck wood, the type of neck construction (for example, the neck may be glued in or bolted on), and the shape (profile) of the back of the neck.
Double neck electric guitars have two necks, allowing the musician to quickly switch between guitar sounds.
The neck joint or heel is the point at which the neck is either bolted or glued to the body of the guitar.
Almost all acoustic steel-string guitars, with the primary exception of Taylors, have glued (otherwise known as set) necks, while electric guitars are constructed using both types.
Most classical guitars have a neck and headblock carved from one piece of wood, known as a "Spanish heel."
Commonly used set neck joints include mortise and tenon joints (such as those used by C. F. Martin & Co.), dovetail joints (also used by C. F. Martin on the D-28 and similar models) and Spanish heel neck joints, which are named after the shoe they resemble and commonly found in classical guitars.
All three types offer stability.
Bolt-on necks, though they are historically associated with cheaper instruments, do offer greater flexibility in the guitar's set-up, and allow easier access for neck joint maintenance and repairs.
Another type of neck, only available for solid body electric guitars, is the neck-through-body construction.
These are designed so that everything from the machine heads down to the bridge are located on the same piece of wood.
The sides (also known as wings) of the guitar are then glued to this central piece.
Some luthiers prefer this method of construction as they claim it allows better sustain of each note.
Some instruments may not have a neck joint at all, having the neck and sides built as one piece and the body built around it.
The fingerboard, also called the fretboard, is a piece of wood embedded with metal frets that comprises the top of the neck.
It is flat on classical guitars and slightly curved crosswise on acoustic and electric guitars.
The curvature of the fretboard is measured by the fretboard radius, which is the radius of a hypothetical circle of which the fretboard's surface constitutes a segment.
The smaller the fretboard radius, the more noticeably curved the fretboard is.
Most modern guitars feature a 12" neck radius, while older guitars from the 1960s and 1970s usually feature a 6-8" neck radius.
Pinching a string against a fret on the fretboard effectively shortens the vibrating length of the string, producing a higher pitch.
See the section "Neck" below for the importance of the length of the fretboard in connection to other dimensions of the guitar.
The fingerboard plays an essential role in the treble tone for acoustic guitars.
The quality of vibration of the fingerboard is the principal characteristic for generating the best treble tone.
For that reason, ebony wood is better, but because of high use, ebony has become rare and extremely expensive.
Most guitar manufacturers have adopted rosewood instead of ebony.
Almost all guitars have frets, which are metal strips (usually nickel alloy or stainless steel) embedded along the fretboard and located at exact points that divide the scale length in accordance with a specific mathematical formula.
The exceptions include fretless bass guitars and very rare fretless guitars.
Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch.
The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale.
Standard classical guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 and 24 frets, although guitars have been made with as many as 27 frets.
Frets are laid out to accomplish an equal tempered division of the octave.
Each set of twelve frets represents an octave.
The twelfth fret divides the scale length exactly into two halves, and the 24th fret position divides one of those halves in half again.
The truss rod is a thin, strong metal rod that runs along the inside of the neck.
It is used to correct changes to the neck's curvature caused by aging of the neck timbers, changes in humidity, or to compensate for changes in the tension of strings.
The tension of the rod and neck assembly is adjusted by a hex nut or an allen-key bolt on the rod, usually located either at the headstock, sometimes under a cover, or just inside the body of the guitar underneath the fretboard and accessible through the sound hole.
Some truss rods can only be accessed by removing the neck.
The truss rod counteracts the immense amount of tension the strings place on the neck, bringing the neck back to a straighter position.
Turning the truss rod clockwise tightens it, counteracting the tension of the strings and straightening the neck or creating a backward bow.
Turning the truss rod counter-clockwise loosens it, allowing string tension to act on the neck and creating a forward bow.
Adjusting the truss rod affects the intonation of a guitar as well as the height of the strings from the fingerboard, called the action.
Some truss rod systems, called double action truss systems, tighten both ways, pushing the neck both forward and backward (standard truss rods can only release to a point beyond which the neck is no longer compressed and pulled backward).
The artist and luthier Irving Sloane pointed out, in his book Steel-String Guitar Construction, that truss rods are intended primarily to remedy concave bowing of the neck, but cannot correct a neck with "back bow" or one that has become twisted.
Classical guitars do not require truss rods, as their nylon strings exert a lower tensile force with lesser potential to cause structural problems.
There is no tension adjustment on this form of reinforcement.
Inlays are visual elements set into the exterior surface of a guitar, both for decoration and artistic purposes and, in the case of the markings on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 12th fret (and in higher octaves), to provide guidance to the performer about the location of frets on the instrument.
The typical locations for inlay are on the fretboard, headstock, and on acoustic guitars around the soundhole, known as the rosette.
Inlays range from simple plastic dots on the fretboard to intricate works of art covering the entire exterior surface of a guitar (front and back).
Some guitar players have used LEDs in the fretboard to produce unique lighting effects onstage.
Fretboard inlays are most commonly shaped like dots, diamond shapes, parallelograms, or large blocks in between the frets.
Dots are usually inlaid into the upper edge of the fretboard in the same positions, small enough to be visible only to the player.
These usually appear on the odd numbered frets, but also on the 12th fret (the one octave mark) instead of the 11th and 13th frets.
Some older or high-end instruments have inlays made of mother of pearl, abalone, ivory, colored wood or other exotic materials and designs.
Simpler inlays are often made of plastic or painted.
High-end classical guitars seldom have fretboard inlays as a well-trained player is expected to know his or her way around the instrument.
In addition to fretboard inlay, the headstock and soundhole surround are also frequently inlaid.
The manufacturer's logo or a small design is often inlaid into the headstock.
Rosette designs vary from simple concentric circles to delicate fretwork mimicking the historic rosette of lutes.
Bindings that edge the finger and sound boards are sometimes inlaid.
Some instruments have a filler strip running down the length and behind the neck, used for strength or to fill the cavity through which the truss rod was installed in the neck.
See also: Vibrato systems for guitar
In acoustic guitars, string vibration is transmitted through the bridge and saddle to the body via sound board.
The sound board is typically made of tone woods such as spruce or cedar.
Timbers for tone woods are chosen for both strength and ability to transfer mechanical energy from the strings to the air within the guitar body.
Sound is further shaped by the characteristics of the guitar body's resonant cavity.
In expensive instruments, the entire body is made of wood.
In inexpensive instruments, the back may be made of plastic.
In an acoustic instrument, the body of the guitar is a major determinant of the overall sound quality.
This thin piece of wood, often only 2 or 3 mm thick, is strengthened by differing types of internal bracing.
Many luthiers consider the top the dominant factor in determining the sound quality.
The majority of the instrument's sound is heard through the vibration of the guitar top as the energy of the vibrating strings is transferred to it.
The body of an acoustic guitar has a sound hole through which sound projects.
The sound hole is usually a round hole in the top of the guitar under the strings.
Air inside the body vibrates as the guitar top and body is vibrated by the strings, and the response of the air cavity at different frequencies is characterized, like the rest of the guitar body, by a number of resonance modes at which it responds more strongly.
The top, back and ribs of an acoustic guitar body are very thin (1–2 mm), so a flexible piece of wood called lining is glued into the corners where the rib meets the top and back.
This interior reinforcement provides 5 to 20 mm of solid gluing area for these corner joints.
Solid linings are often used in classical guitars, while kerfed lining is most often found in steel string acoustics.
Kerfed lining is also called kerfing because it is scored, or "kerfed"(incompletely sawn through), to allow it to bend with the shape of the rib).
During final construction, a small section of the outside corners is carved or routed out and filled with binding material on the outside corners and decorative strips of material next to the binding, which are called purfling.
This binding serves to seal off the end grain of the top and back.
Purfling can also appear on the back of an acoustic guitar, marking the edge joints of the two or three sections of the back.
Binding and purfling materials are generally made of either wood or plastic.
Body size, shape and style has changed over time.
19th century guitars, now known as salon guitars, were smaller than modern instruments.
Differing patterns of internal bracing have been used over time by luthiers.
Torres, Hauser, Ramirez, Fleta, and C. were among the most influential designers of their time. F. Martin
Bracing not only strengthens the top against potential collapse due to the stress exerted by the tensioned strings, but also affects the resonance characteristics of the top.
The back and sides are made out of a variety of timbers such as mahogany, Indian rosewood and highly regarded Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra).
Each one is primarily chosen for their aesthetic effect and can be decorated with inlays and purfling.
Instruments with larger areas for the guitar top were introduced by Martin in an attempt to create greater volume levels.
The popularity of the larger "dreadnought" body size amongst acoustic performers is related to the greater sound volume produced.
Most electric guitar bodies are made of wood and include a plastic pick guard.
Boards wide enough to use as a solid body are very expensive due to the worldwide depletion of hardwood stock since the 1970s, so the wood is rarely one solid piece.
Most bodies are made from two pieces of wood with some of them including a seam running down the center line of the body.
Many bodies consist of good-sounding, but inexpensive woods, like ash, with a "top", or thin layer of another, more attractive wood (such as maple with a natural "flame" pattern) glued to the top of the basic wood.
Guitars constructed like this are often called "flame tops".
The body is usually carved or routed to accept the other elements, such as the bridge, pickup, neck, and other electronic components.
Most electrics have a polyurethane or nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
Other alternative materials to wood are used in guitar body construction.
Some of these include carbon composites, plastic material, such as polycarbonate, and aluminum alloys.
The main purpose of the bridge on an acoustic guitar is to transfer the vibration from the strings to the soundboard, which vibrates the air inside of the guitar, thereby amplifying the sound produced by the strings.
On all electric, acoustic and original guitars, the bridge holds the strings in place on the body.
There are many varied bridge designs.
There may be some mechanism for raising or lowering the bridge saddles to adjust the distance between the strings and the fretboard (action), or fine-tuning the intonation of the instrument.
Some are spring-loaded and feature a "whammy bar", a removable arm that lets the player modulate the pitch by changing the tension on the strings.
The whammy bar is sometimes also called a "tremolo bar".
(The effect of rapidly changing pitch is properly called "vibrato".
See Tremolo for further discussion of this term.)
Some bridges also allow for alternate tunings at the touch of a button.
On almost all modern electric guitars, the bridge has saddles that are adjustable for each string so that intonation stays correct up and down the neck.
If the open string is in tune, but sharp or flat when frets are pressed, the bridge saddle position can be adjusted with a screwdriver or hex key to remedy the problem.
In general, flat notes are corrected by moving the saddle forward and sharp notes by moving it backwards.
On an instrument correctly adjusted for intonation, the actual length of each string from the nut to the bridge saddle is slightly, but measurably longer than the scale length of the instrument.
This additional length is called compensation, which flattens all notes a bit to compensate for the sharping of all fretted notes caused by stretching the string during fretting.
The saddle of a guitar refers to the part of the bridge that physically supports the strings.
It may be one piece (typically on acoustic guitars) or separate pieces, one for each string (electric guitars and basses).
The saddle's basic purpose is to provide the end point for the string's vibration at the correct location for proper intonation, and on acoustic guitars to transfer the vibrations through the bridge into the top wood of the guitar.
Saddles are typically made of plastic or bone for acoustic guitars, though synthetics and some exotic animal tooth variations (e.g. fossilized tooth, ivory, etc. ) have become popular with some players.
Electric guitar saddles are typically metal, though some synthetic saddles are available.
The pickguard, also known as the scratchplate, is usually a piece of laminated plastic or other material that protects the finish of the top of the guitar from damage due to the use of a plectrum ("pick") or fingernails.
Electric guitars sometimes mount pickups and electronics on the pickguard.
It is a common feature on steel-string acoustic guitars.
Some performance styles that use the guitar as a percussion instrument (tapping the top or sides between notes, etc.), such as flamenco, require that a scratchplate or pickguard be fitted to nylon-string instruments.
See also: Classical guitar strings
Classical and flamenco guitars historically used gut strings, but these have been superseded by polymer materials, such as nylon and fluorocarbon.
Modern guitar strings are constructed from metal, polymers, or animal or plant product materials.
Instruments utilizing "steel" strings may have strings made from alloys incorporating steel, nickel or phosphor bronze.
Bass strings for both instruments are wound rather than monofilament.
Pickups and electronics
- Sethares, William A. (2001). (PDF). University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
- Turnbull, Harvey et al. . Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 May 2016.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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