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 12-string models.
History of today’s guitar…
History of today’s guitar starts in the Middle East. In this area, the archaeologists found the remains of instruments that pointed to the fact that – even at those times – people played on instruments which were similar to guitar. In the excavations near the ancient city of Babylon, archaeologists found an old jar with painting of a naked girl who plays musical instrument that completely resembles a guitar.
In the area of Egypt, many instruments have been found that looked like precursors of today’s guitar. Those instruments were stringed instrument similar to harp. In later periods of time, it appeared that instruments had a hole and it were made of wood. Thus, the forerunners of today’s guitars are considered instruments called Guitarra Latina and Guitarra Morisca. Between these two guitars, there were significant differences.
Arabs have also left their mark on the design and appearance of these instruments. Guitarra Latina is forerunner of the modern guitar. In the 16th century, guitars are described as vihuela from the time of Luis Milan. Guitar in this period became very popular thanks to the traveling musicians, troubadours. King Louis XIV also played the guitar, which was his favorite instrument.
Italy was the center of the world for artists who played the guitar, along with Germany, where huge number of guitarists and composers worked. Besides Germany, guitar as an instrument became popular in Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Guitar is a stringed musical instrument in which the sound is produced by pulling the wire mostly with right hand while the other hand presses the wire with the neck of the guitar in order to change the pitch.
There are several types of guitar:
- Acoustic guitar,
- Acoustic guitar with twelve strings,
- Acoustic-Electric Guitar,
- Electric guitar,
- Electric bass guitar, and more…
Every guitar includes the following parts:
- Pins – located on the head stock, and there are as many as wires. Pin tightens and relaxes, and tuning wire,
- Body – pins are placed on the body,
- Sound hole,
What Guitar Sizes Are There?
The idea of guitar sizes can be confusing. Lets face it in one way they all look alike, but in another way when we look more closely the shapes seem unique and infinite in variety. The shortest answer is that guitar sizes are usually quoted in fractions. From 1/4 size, 1/2 size, 3/4 size, (occasionally 3/8 size), 7/8 size and finally 4/4 or “full size” guitars. The trick is understanding what that means.
It is important to keep in mind the object and end goal of all this size and measurement stuff. Simply put we want to match the size of an instrument to fit the size of a person with the correct types of guitar for the style of music to be played.
Anatomy of a Guitar
Guitars come in two basic flavors: acoustic and electric. From a hardware standpoint, electric guitars have more components and doohickeys than do acoustic guitars. Guitar makers generally agree, however, that making an acoustic guitar is harder than making an electric guitar. That’s why, pound for pound, acoustic guitars cost just as much or more than their electric counterparts. But both types follow the same basic approach to such principles as neck construction and string tension. That’s why both acoustic and electric guitars have very similar constructions, despite a sometimes radical difference in tone production (unless, of course, you think that Segovia and Metallica are indistinguishable).
How Guitars Work
After you can recognize the basic parts of the guitar, you may also want to understand how those parts work together to make sound. We present this information just so that you know why your guitar sounds the way it does, instead of like a kazoo or an accordion. The important thing to remember is that a guitar makes the sound, but you make the music.
String vibration and string length
Any instrument must have some part of it moving in a regular, repeated motion to produce musical sound (a sustained tone, or pitch). In a guitar, this part is the vibrating string. A string that you bring to a certain tension and then set in motion (by a plucking action) produces a predictable sound — for example, the note A. If you tune a string of your guitar to different tensions, you get different tones. The greater the tension of a string, the higher the pitch.
You couldn’t do very much with a guitar, however, if the only way to change pitches was to frantically adjust the tension on the strings every time you pluck a string. So guitarists resort to the other way to change a string’s pitch — by shortening its effective vibrating length. They do so by fretting — pacing back and forth and mumbling to themselves. Just kidding; guitarists never do that kind of fretting unless they haven’t held their guitars for a couple of days. In guitar-speak, fretting refers to pushing the string against the fretboard so that it vibrates only between the fingered fret (metal wire) and the bridge. This way, by moving the left hand up and down the neck (toward the bridge and the nut, respectively), you can change pitches comfortably and easily.
The fact that smaller instruments such as mandolins and violins are higher in pitch than are cellos and basses (and guitars, for that matter) is no accident. Their pitch is higher because their strings are shorter. The string tension of all these instruments may be closely related, making them feel somewhat consistent in response to the hands and fingers, but the drastic difference in string lengths is what results in the wide differences of pitch among them. This principle holds true in animals, too. A Chihuahua has a higher-pitched bark than a St. Bernard because its strings — er, vocal cords — are much shorter.
Using both hands to make a sound
The guitar normally requires two hands working together to create music. If you want to play, say, middle C on the piano, all you do is take your index finger, position it above the appropriate white key under the piano’s logo, and drop it down: donnnng. A preschooler can sound just like Horowitz if playing only middle C, because just one finger of one hand, pressing one key, makes
the sound. The guitar is somewhat different. To play middle C on the guitar, you must take your left-hand index finger and fret the 2nd string (that is, press it down to the fingerboard) at the first fret. This action, however, doesn’t itself produce a sound. You must then strike or pluck that 2nd string with your right hand to actually produce the note middle C audibly.
Music readers take note: The guitar sounds an octave lower than its written notes. For example, playing a written, third-space C on the guitar actually produces a middle C.
Frets and half steps
The smallest interval (unit of musical distance in pitch) of the musical scale is the half step. On the piano, the alternating white and black keys represent this interval (except for the places where you find two adjacent white keys with no black key in between). To proceed by half steps on a keyboard instrument, you move your finger up or down to the next available key, white or black. On the guitar, frets — the horizontal metal wires (or bars) that you see embedded in the fretboard, running perpendicular to the strings — represent these half steps. To go up or down by half steps on a guitar means to move your left hand one fret at a time, higher or lower on the neck.
Vibrating strings produce the different tones on a guitar. But you must be able to hear those tones, or you face one of those if-a-tree-falls-in-a-forest questions. For an acoustic guitar, that’s no problem, because an acoustic instrument provides its own amplifier in the form of the hollow sound chamber that boosts its sound. . . well, acoustically.
But an electric guitar makes virtually no acoustic sound at all. (Well, a tiny bit, like a buzzing mosquito, but nowhere near enough to fill a stadium or anger your next-door neighbors.) An electric instrument creates its tones entirely through electronic means. The vibrating string is still the source of the sound, but a hollow wood chamber isn’t what makes those vibrations audible. Instead, the vibrations disturb, or modulate, the magnetic field that the pickups — wire-wrapped magnets positioned underneath the strings — produce. As the vibrations of the strings modulate the pickup’s magnetic field, the pickup produces a tiny electric current that exactly reflects that modulation.
If you remember from eighth-grade science, wrapping wire around a magnet creates a small current in the wire. If you then take any magnetic substance and disturb the magnetic field around that wire, you create fluctuations in the current itself. A taut steel string vibrating at the rate of 440 times per second creates a current that fluctuates 440 times per second. Pass that current through an amplifier and then a speaker and — voilà — you hear the musical tone A. More specifically, you hear the A above middle C, which is the standard absolute tuning reference in modern music — from the New York Philharmonic to the Rolling Stones to Metallica (although we’ve heard that Metallica sometimes uses a tuning reference of 666 — just kidding, Metallica
Guitars, therefore, make sound either by amplifying string vibrations acoustically (by passing the sound waves through a hollow chamber), or electronically (by amplifying and outputting a current through a speaker). That’s the physical process anyway. How a guitar produces different sounds — and the ones that you want it to make — is up to you and how you control the pitches that
those strings produce. Left-hand fretting is what changes these pitches. Your right-hand motions not only help produce the sound by setting the string in motion, but they also determine the rhythm (the beat or pulse), tempo (the speed of the music), and feel (interpretation, style, spin, magic, mojo, je ne sais quoi, whatever) of those pitches. Put both hand motions together, and they spell music — make that guitar music.
Electric Or Acoustic Guitar?
There are two myths:
- Start with an electric guitar because it is easier to play.
- Start with an acoustic guitar because it is harder to play and will make you hands and fingers stronger much more quickly.
Guitar Selection Guide:
- Choose the type of guitar you are excited about playing.
- Work within the parameters your budget.
- The easiest guitar to play is the type you are most interested in learning.
- Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play.
- Acoustic guitars have heavier gauge strings which require slightly firmer picking and fingering.
- Over time your desire to play another type of guitar will naturally occur.
- Most importantly, only select a guitar you know is fully adjusted for easy playability.
- The Myths.
A suggestion for choosing a guitar:
1. Choose the type of guitar you are excited about playing.
At first, choose Right-Handed or Left-Handed guitar. As a beginning player, your experience with your first instrument is vital to your long-term success. Choosing the right guitar means deciding which type of guitar you personally find exciting and will be the most motivated to play. What kind of music would you like to play? What kind of guitar attracts your attention? Which one can you envision yourself playing? That is the one you will most look forward to practicing and playing. If you just want to play the guitar but are not sure what type to choose then determine a budget and work within those parameters.
2. Work within the parameters your budget.
Your choice between electric and acoustic guitars, in an ideal case, should be determined solely by a desire for one over the other. However, you need to keep in mind that your budget actually limits your choice. If you decide for an electric guitar, keep in mind that you will need an additional budget for amps and other equipment, which means that this is a more expensive option. If the electric guitar is what you really want but is outside your budget, then a little more time and savings will be well worth the wait.
3. The easiest guitar to play is the type you are most interested in learning.
One of the frequent questions of choosing a guitar is “What is easier to learn to play on an electric or acoustic guitar”? There are physical differences between acoustic and electric guitars that may be considered. Honestly, we believe it’s the easiest one, the guitar that you want to play, as you will be more likely to establish good practice habits early in the process.
4. Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play.
If your neighbors are sensitive to noise, you’ll need to carefully consider before you purchase an electric guitar. Electric guitars are oftenly physically somewhat easier to play, assuming they are properly adjusted, they have a smaller body, thinner neck, and use lighter gauge strings. The amplifier and pickups do all the work of projecting the sound, so a lighter touch along with lighter strings makes it easier to play. An electric guitar needs to be plugged into an amplifier, which must be turned on before playing. For some, the extra effort that it takes to plug into an amplifier and turn it on may be enough to keep them from playing as often or taking advantage of a spontaneous moment to pick it up and play.
5. Acoustic guitars have heavier gauge strings which require slightly firmer picking and fingering.
The wood top of an acoustic guitar must vibrate in order to project the sound. This requires heavier gauge strings along with slightly firmer picking and fingering. The body of the acoustic guitar is much larger than the electric guitar, and usually has a thicker neck to support the tension of the heavier strings. However, some people find the immediate accessibility of an acoustic guitar resting on a stand appealing, making them more apt to pick it up and play more often.
6. Over time your desire to play another type of guitar will naturally occur.
Don’t worry that by choosing one over the other, you have locked yourself into that type of guitar for the rest of your life. Our experience has been that many players who start with one kind of guitar will, in time, gravitate to the other. Motivation for playing an instrument changes over time, and will occur naturally as your skills develop and the desire to play and learn becomes internalized. You will most likely develop skills on both the electric and acoustic guitars and enjoy a lifetime of learning and playing a variety of musical styles.
7. Most importantly, only select a guitar you know is fully inspected and adjusted for easy playability.
Always get the facts. Ask what has been done to make the instrument easier to play. Many important issues rest on the quality and playability of your instrument. There is no greater impedance to progress, developing proper technique and the enjoyment of learning to play than a poorly constructed instrument or one that is not correctly set up. Both the electric and the acoustic guitar will play with relative ease as long as they are properly adjusted and the size is well suited for the player.
8. The Myths
Playing the guitar well is not about strength but about control. As you watch any professional musician you will notice how they appear to effortlessly finesse their instrument. The easiest guitar to play is the one you are truly interested in.
At the end, evaluate your needs…
As you can see, the guitars are not exactly the same and depending on your needs, you will know better what is perfectly suitable for you – and how much you spend it. You can also get the best advice for your needs from professionals who have great experience with guitar.
Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.
by Jimi Hendrix…