Sunday, April 13, 2008

String instrument (plucked, nylon stringed guitars usually played with fingerpicking, and steel-, etc. usually with a pick.)
The guitar is a musical instrument with ancient roots that is used in a wide variety of musical styles. It typically has six strings, but four, seven, eight, ten, and twelve string guitars also exist.
Guitars are recognized as one of the primary instruments in blues, country, flamenco, rock music, and many forms of pop. There is also a solo classical instrument. Guitars may be played acoustically, where the tone is produced by vibration of the strings and modulated by the hollow body, or they may rely on an amplifier that can electronically manipulate tone. Such electric guitars were introduced in the 20th century and continue to have a profound influence on popular culture.
Traditionally guitars have usually been constructed of combinations of various woods and strung with animal gut, or more recently, with either nylon or steel strings. Guitars are made and repaired by luthiers.

Bowed and plucked string instruments History
Guitars can be divided into two broad categories, acoustic and electric:

Types of Guitar
An acoustic guitar is one not dependent on an external device to be heard. The acoustic guitar is quieter than other instruments commonly found in bands and orchestras so when playing within such groups it is often externally amplified. Many acoustic guitars available today feature a variety of pickups which enable the player to amplify and modify the raw guitar sound.
There are several notable subcategories within the acoustic guitar group: classical and flamenco guitars; steel string guitars, which include the flat top or "folk" guitar; twelve string guitars and the arch 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.
These are the gracile ancestors of the modern classical guitar. They are substantially smaller and more delicate than the classical guitar, and generate a much quieter sound. 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. 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' Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 constitutes the majority of the surviving solo corpus for the era.) Renaissance and Baroque guitars are easily distinguished because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.
These are typically strung with nylon strings, played in a seated position and are used to play a diversity of musical styles including classical music. The classical guitar is designed to allow for the execution of solo polyphonic arrangements of music in much the same manner as the pianoforte can. This is the major point of difference in design intent between the classical instrument and other designs of guitar. Flamenco guitars are very similar in construction, but are associated with a more percussive tone. In Mexico, the popular mariachi band includes a range of guitars, from the tiny requinto to the guitarron, a guitar larger than a cello, which is tuned in the bass register. In Colombia, the traditional quartet includes a range of instruments too, from the small bandola (sometimes known as the Deleuze-Guattari, for use when travelling 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 complemental 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 Antonio Torres Jurado (1817-1892). Classical guitars are sometimes referred to as classic guitars.
Is a 12 string guitar used in Portugal for the traditional Fado song. Its true origins are somewhat uncertain but there is a general agreement that it goes back to the medieval period. It is often mistakenly thought of to be based on the so-called "English guitar" - a common error as there is no such thing. For some time the best instruments of this and other types were made in England, hence the confusion. "English guitar" refers to a quality standard, not really an instrument type. This particular instrument is most likely a merge of medieval "cistre" or "citar" and the Arabic lute.
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 it has a narrower, reinforced neck and stronger structural design, to sustain the extra tension of steel strings which produce a brighter tone, and according to many players, a louder sound. The acoustic guitar is present in all genres to include folk, country, bluegrass,pop, jazz and blues.
These are steel string instruments which feature a violin-inspired f-hole design in which the top (and often the back) of the instrument are carved in a curved rather than a flat shape. Lloyd Loar of the Gibson Guitar Corporation invented this variation of guitar after designing a style of mandolin of the same type. The typical Archtop is a deep,hollow body guitar whose form is much like that of a mandolin or violin family instrument and may be acoustic or electric. Some solid body electric guitars are also considered archtop guitars although usually 'Archtop guitar' refers to the hollow body form. Archtop guitars were immediately adopted upon their release by both jazz and country musicians and have remained particularly popular in jazz music, usually with flatwound strings The electric semi-hollow body archtop guitar has a distinct sound among electric guitars and is consequently appropriate for many styles of pop music. Many electric archtop guitars intended for use in rock and roll even have a Tremolo Arm.
Similar to the flat top guitar in appearance, but with sound produced by a metal resonator mounted in the middle of the top rather than an open sound hole, so that the physical principle of the guitar is actually more similar to the banjo. The purpose of the resonator is to amplify the sound of the guitar; this purpose has been largely superseded by electrical amplification, but the resonator is still played by those desiring its distinctive sound.

Resonator guitars may have either one resonator cone or three resonator cones. Three cone resonators have two cones on the left above one another and one cone immediately to the right. The method of transmitting sound resonance to the cone is either a "biscuit" bridge, made of a small piece of hardwood, or a "spider" bridge, made of metal and larger in size. Three cone resonators always use a specialised metal spider bridge.
The type of resonator guitar with a neck with a square cross-section -- called "square neck" -- 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.
These usually have steel strings and are widely used in folk music, blues and rock and roll. Rather than having only six strings, the 12-string guitar has pairs, like a mandolin. Each pair of strings is tuned either in unison (the two highest) or an octave apart (the others). They are made both in acoustic and electric forms.
These are seven string acoustic guitars which were the norm for Russian guitarists throughout the 19th and well into the 20th centuries. The guitar is traditionally tuned to an open G major tuning.
Have steel strings or gut strings and often the same tuning as an electric bass guitar.
There's very sketchy background information about tenor guitars on the World Wide Web. A number of classical guitarists call the Niibori prime guitar a "Tenor Guitar" on the grounds that it sits in pitch between the alto and the bass. Elsewhere, the name is taken for a 4-string guitar, with a scale length of 23" (585 mm) - about the same as a Terz Guitar. But the guitar is tuned in fifths - C G D A - like the tenor banjo or the cello. Indeed it is generally accepted that the tenor guitar was created to allow a tenor banjo player to follow the fashion as it evolved from Dixieland Jazz towards the more progressive Jazz that featured guitar. It allows a tenor banjo player to provide a guitar-based rhythm section with nothing to learn. A small minority of players close tuned the instrument to D G B E to produce a deep instrument that could be played with the 4-note chord shapes found on the top 4 strings of the guitar or ukulele. In fact, though, the deep pitch warrants the wide-spaced chords that the banjo tuning permits, and the close tuned tenor does not have the same full, clear sound.
Harp Guitars are difficult to classify as there are many variations within this type of guitar. They are typically rare and uncommon in the popular music scene. Most consist of a regular guitar, plus additional 'harp' strings strung above the six normal strings. The instrument is usually acoustic and the harp strings are usually tuned to lower notes than the guitar strings, for an added bass range. Normally there is neither fingerboard nor frets behind the harp strings. Some harp guitars also feature much higher pitch strings strung below the traditional guitar strings. The number of harp strings varies greatly, depending on the type of guitar and also the player's personal preference (as they have often been made to the player's specification). [1] The Pikasso guitar; 4 necks, 2 sound holes, 42 strings] and also the Oracle Harp Sympitar; 24 strings (with 12 sympathetic strings protruding through the neck) are modern examples.
Drumtars are guitars constructed out of snare drums, which resonate the sound of the strings. They are similar in appearance to banjos.
For well over a century guitars featuring seven, eight, nine, ten or more strings have been used by a minority of guitarists as a means of increasing the range of pitch available to the player. Usually this entails the addition of extra bass strings.
The battente is smaller than a classical guitar, usually played with four or five metal strings. It is mainly used in Calabria (a region in southern Italy) to accompany the voice.

Acoustic guitars

Main article: Electric guitar Electric guitars

Machine heads (or pegheads, tuning keys, tuning machines, tuners)
Truss rod
Heel (acoustic or Spanish) - Neckjoint (electric)
Soundboard (top)
Body sides (ribs)
Sound hole, with Rosette inlay
Fretboard (or Fingerboard) Guitar construction and components
Guitars can be constructed to meet the demands of both left and right-handed players. Traditionally the dominant hand is assigned the task of plucking or strumming the strings. For the majority of people this entails using the right hand. This is because musical expression (dynamics, tonal expression and colour etc) is largely determined by the plucking hand, whilst the fretting hand is assigned the lesser mechanical task of depressing and gripping the strings. This is similar to the convention of the violin family of instruments where the right hand controls the bow. A minority, however, believe that left-handed people should learn to play guitars strung in the manner used by right-handed people, simply to standardise the instrument.

Main article: Headstock Headstock

Main article: Nut (instrumental) Fretboard

Main article: Fret Frets

Main article: Truss rod Truss rod

Main article: Inlay (guitar) Inlays

Main article: Neck (music) Neck
See also: Set-in neck, Bolt-on neck, and Neck-thru
This is the point at which the neck is either bolted or glued to the body of the guitar. Almost all acoustic guitars, with the primary exception of Taylors, have glued (otherwise known as set) necks, while electric guitars are constructed using both types.
Commonly used set neck joints include mortise and tenon joints (such as those used by CF Martin & Co. guitars), dovetail joints (also used by CF Martin on the D28 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.
Neck joint or 'Heel'
See also: Classical guitar strings
Modern guitar strings are manufactured in either metal or organo-carbon material. Instruments utilising "steel" strings may have strings made of alloys incorporating steel, nickel or phosphor bronze. Classical and flamenco instruments have historically used gut strings but these have been superceeded by nylon and carbon-fibre materials. Bass strings for both instruments are wound rather than monofilament.
Guitar strings are strung almost parallel to the neck, whose surface is covered by the fingerboard (fretboard). By depressing a string against the fingerboard, the effective length of the string can be changed, which in turn changes the frequency at which the string will vibrate when plucked. Guitarists typically use one hand to pluck the strings and the other to depress the strings against the fretboard.
The strings may be plucked using either the fingers or a variety of pick designs mostly associated with acoustic players.
See also: Sound box
In acoustic guitars, string vibration is transmitted through the bridge and saddle to the body via sound board. The sound board, typically made of tonewoods such as spruce or cedar. Timbers for tone woods are chosen for both strength and ability to tranfer mechanical energy from the strings to the air within the guitar body. Sound which is further shaped by the characteristics of the guitar body's resonant cavity.
In electric guitars, transducers known as pickups convert string vibration to an electric signal, which in turn is amplified and fed to speakers, which vibrate the air to produce the sound we hear. Nevertheless, the body of the electric guitar body still performs a role in shaping the resultant tonal signature.
The body of the acoustic instrument is thought to be a major determinant of the overall sound quality. The guitar top, or soundboard, is a finely crafted and engineered element made of tonsewoods such as spruce and red cedar. This thin, often only 2 or 3mm thick, piece of wood, strengthened by differing types of internal bracing, is considered by many luthiers to be the dominant factor in determining the sound quality of a guitar. 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.
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.F. Martin being among the most influential designers of their time). 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.
The body of an acoustic guitar has a sound hole through which sound is projected. 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 characterised, like the rest of the guitar body, by a number of resonance modes at which it responds more strongly.
Instruments with larger areas for the guitar top were introduced by Martin in an attempt to create louder volume levels(although tone quality will also be affected by materials used in guitar top size and design). The popularity of the Dreadnought body size amongst acoustic performers is related to the greater sound volume produced.
Body (acoustic guitar)
See also: Solid body
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 70's, so the wood is rarely one solid piece. Most bodies are made of two pieces of wood with some of them including a seam running down the centre line of the body. The most common woods used for electric guitar body construction include maple, basswood, ash, poplar, alder, and mahogany. Many bodies will 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 aluminium alloys.
Body (electric guitar)

Main article: Pickup (music) Pickups
On guitars that have them, these components and the wires that connect them allow the player to control some aspects of the sound like volume or tone. These at their simplest consist of passive components such as potentiometers and capacitors, but may also include specialized integrated circuits or other active components requiring batteries for power, for preamplification and signal processing, or even for assistance in tuning. In many cases the electronics have some sort of shielding to prevent pickup of external interference and noise.
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 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 then 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 endgrain 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.
Lining, Binding, Purfling

Main article: Bridge (instrument) Bridge

Main article: PickguardGuitar Pickguard

Main article: Guitar tuning Tuning

Guitar terminology
The Vibrato (pitch bend) unit found on many electric guitars has also had slang terms applied to it, such as "tremolo bar (or arm)", "sissy bar", "wang bar", "slam handle", "whammy handle", and "whammy bar". The latter two slang terms led stompbox manufacturers to use the term 'whammy' in coming up with a pitch raising effect introduced by popular guitar effects pedal brand "Digitech".
Leo Fender, who did much to create the electric guitar, also created much confusion over the meaning of the terms "tremolo" and "vibrato", specifically by misnaming the "tremolo" unit on many of his guitars and also the "vibrato" unit on his "Vibrolux" amps. In general, vibrato is a variation in pitch, whereas tremolo is a variation in volume, so the tremolo bar is actually a vibrato bar and the "Vibrolux" amps actually had a tremolo effect. However, following Fender's example, electric guitarists traditionally reverse these meanings when speaking of hardware devices and the effects they produce. See vibrato unit for a more detailed discussion, and tremolo arm for more of the history.
A distinctly different form of mechanical vibrato found on some guitars is the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, commonly called Bigsby. This vibrato wraps the strings around a horizontal bar, which is then rotated with a handle by the musician.
Another type of pitch bender is the B-Bender, a spring and lever device mounted in an internal cavity of a solid body electric, guitar that allows the guitarist to bend just the B string of the guitar using a lever connected to the strap handle of the guitar. The resulting pitch bend is evocative of the sound of the pedal steel guitar.
Vibrato Arm

Main article: Capo Capotasto

Main article: Slide Guitar Slides

Main article: Guitar pick Plectrum

William R. Cumpiano Notes
Flamenco! The Guitar and the Music - An Indiana University research paper on Flamenco, the indigenous music of the Gypsies of southern Spain, written by Jeff Foster, 1987.