Guitar does not need any introduction but one will always want to know its origin, different types and how to select a good guitar like that. Guitar, classified under Chordophones is also a fretted musical instruments. Like Veena, Sitar, Mandolin etc. it is also played by plucking its strings and the sound normally comes from a resonating hollow body.
Guitars normally have six strings but there are guitars having 7, 8 and 12 strings. The strings of Guitar were made of Catgut which is a type of chord made of the natural fiber found in the walls of animal intestine. Usually sheep or goat intestines were used whereas cat intestines were not used despite the name. Around 1940, guitars were started using Nylon strings. Steel strings are commonly used in the modern guitars.
Types of Guitars
Guitars come in three main types. The first type is Classical Guitar, also called Spanish Guitar or Nylon Guitar. The Spanish Vihuela and Gittern used in the 15th and 16th centuries are its ancestors. Steel String Acoustic guitar is the second type and the Hawaiian guitar is the third type. The Steel String Acoustic guitar is the descendent of the Nylon String Classical Guitar, which has much louder sound.
The traditional Acoustic Guitars comes mainly in two varieties Flat top and Archtop (or called as Jazz guitar). They have a hollow body acting as the resonating chamber. The vibration of the strings is amplified by the chamber. They have a Neck, Bridge and Frets over which the strings are fixed. Tuners are used to adjust the stretching of the strings. Plectrums or fingers are used to strum or pluck the strings to play the guitar.
Electric Guitar is another category of the guitar which have solid, semi-hollow or hollow body. They use Electromagnetic Pickups or Piezoelectric Pickups which convert the vibration of strings into electric signals. These signals are then amplified by an amplifier. The Solid body types produce only very little audible sound.
Parts of the Guitar
The Parts of the guitars include the following.
- Head – Located at the end of the guitar farthest from the body, fitted with mechanism to adjust the tension of the strings
- Neck – A long wooden extension on which the Heads, Frets Truss Rod etc are fitted
- Frets – Metal strips embedded on the Fretboard at exact intervals to divide the scale length
- Truss Rod – A thin, strong metal rod running along the inside of the neck
- Inlays – Inlays are decorative pieces on the exterior surface. They also mark the position of 3rd, 5th, 7th and 12th Frets providing guidance to the performer.
- Body – The body of the guitar determines the overall sound quality in Acoustic Guitars
- Bridge – on Acoustic Guitars, the Bridge transfer the vibration of strings to the soundboard, amplifying the sound produced by the vibration of strings
- Saddle – part of the Bridge supporting the strings
- Pickguard – Protects the finish of the top of the guitar from damages due to use of Pick, Plectrum or Fingernails
- Strings – basically six strings but there are versions having 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 18 strings made of Gut, Nylon or Steel
- Pickups – They pickup the vibrations and convert them into electrical signals which are further amplified by an audio amplifier
Guitars are normally played by holding it flat against the player’s body. But Hawaiian Guitars are played across the player’s lap. There are much more to know about a guitar but you would have got an overview now. Let us watch a video on basic lessons of playing a guitar.