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How Does a Guitar Make Sound?

Among musical instruments the guitar is particularly famous. The simplicity and elegance of its construction and its pleasant melodic sound won the hearts of music lovers.

What is a guitar

The guitar is a musical instrument, the sound of which is produced by the oscillation of a stretched string. It refers to the stringed plucked instruments of the lute family. The wooden case is a resonator.

Performed on a guitar music from rock to romance. Its timbre is suitable for solo and combined with other instruments.

History of the instrument

Origin of the guitar exactly can not be established until now. Its ancestor is considered a lute. There is a common element in their construction – the neck.

The guitar’s prototype already existed in the copper and bronze ages which is proved by archaeological finds. Earlier forerunners of guitar which had no neck – ciphara and zither were spread in Ancient Egypt and Greece.

Later the instrument was changed, there appeared a long narrow neck and a one-piece resonator made of hollow objects. As a resonator they used a tortoise shell, a dried up pumpkin and vessels hollowed out of wood. The body of a guitar – sides (shells) with upper and lower sounding board was invented in Ancient China in the first thousand years A.D.

In Mesopotamia they have found an image of the guitar’s ancestor, the cinnor, on clay bas-reliefs. This archaeological find dates back to the 2nd millennium B.C.

The instrument came to Arabs from China as a Moorish guitar with five strings and then appeared in Europe in the 8th century.

The name “guitar” comes from Latin. The Greek word “cithara” was replaced by cithara, and later in Germanic languages the sound was changed to “guitar”.

According to another version the name of the instrument came from the East from the words “sangita” – music and “tar” – string.

The home of the guitar in its modern form is Spain. Here they perfected the Moorish guitar and renamed it Latin. In the 15th century it had 10 strings, strung on 5 pairs at the pins.

The history of origin of the six-string began in the 18th century. In the design of the guitar of that time there appeared a body, cut out with a curve for a better hold and a round hole in the top soundboard. The number of strings was reduced to 6.

The first classical acoustic guitar was invented in Spain in the 19th century. Antonio de Torres Jurado presented it in 1858. The Spanish guitar was no different in shape and sound from the instrument of our time. He also introduced a string with a length of 650 mm, which became the standard.

Guitar Make Sound

Guitar Structure

The structure of the acoustic guitar has not changed since then. The massive body of the guitar serves as a resonator and consists of a soundboard and a headstock. The top deck has the strings and the bottom deck is the back side. The shell connects the decks. To the body is attached the neck and the strings. On the neck you can find the fret-rails for strings to be pressed precisely to the neck in the right places. On the head are the pins.

There are no superfluous details in guitar, its construction has been thought over to the smallest detail. Each element is responsible for the sound of the instrument:

  • The tuners are a mechanism for regulating the tension of the strings. All stringed instruments have them and they are needed for tuning.
  • The tailpiece lifts the strings to the proper height above the fingerboard.
  • Fret – the transverse strips of metal. Needed to change the sound and note. A fret is also the distance between the strings.
  • The heel of the neck is where the neck meets the body.
  • The top and bottom decks are the flat sides to enhance the sound.

How the guitar sounds

The guitar sounds good in solo performances and accompaniment as well as in a band.

The sound depends on:

  • strings – the nylon strings of a classical guitar sound softer and quieter than the steel loud strings of an acoustic;
  • Number of frets – from 19 to 24;
  • tuning – traditional guitar sounds in 4 octaves. If you change the tension of the strings, the guitar changes the tuning, i.e., the sound. The easiest tuning is to lower the sixth string a tone lower.

Types of Guitars

There are the following types of guitars:

  • Classical;
  • Acoustic;
  • Electric.

The classical guitar is a Spanish six-stringed guitar, which originated in Spain. It is equipped with nylon strings. Designed to play with the fingers, except for the “flamenco” type, which uses a plectrum. Used as a solo, accompaniment and in ensemble.

Types of classics by material:

  • Veneered – the rim bottom and soundboard are made of plywood. These are cheap student versions. The sound is worse than the other types.
  • Combination. The soundboard is made of spruce or cedar, which gives the guitar a soft sound. The veneer of the shell and bottom is made of precious woods. Produces a quality sound. Suitable for music school and to play as an accompaniment. Considered a bardic guitar and is suitable for professional performance.
  • Made of solid wood. The body consists of plates of wood. The sound depends on the species and how the wood is processed. The selected wood is cut into logs, cut blanks and dried naturally for several years. These are professional handmade tools. The cost is high, but the sound quality is unmatched.

Acoustic guitar has a strong and heavy body. Metal strings are played with both fingers and a plectrum.

Acoustic guitars are distinguished by the shape of the body:

  • Dreadnought. Variety guitar, Western, features a massive body. Large size, loud sound, expressive lower notes allow it to be used with other instruments or accompaniment to the vocalist.
  • Auditorium is a guitar from the famous Martin company, takes high notes well. Most often used for orchestra, but also suitable for pop or recording in the studio. There is a difference in size, a separate type is considered orchestral to play with fingers (OM).
  • With a notch. Differs from the Western with a notch at the bottom of the body. The design will make it easier to play on high frets. Not all musicians are happy with the quality and volume of the reduced body, but it’s still not a bad option.
  • Parlor – reduced body and wide fingerboard. A compact guitar, the sound is balanced. The upper middle and low notes sound at the same volume. The increased distance between the strings is comfortable for your fingers.
  • Jumbo has the largest, but somewhat rounded body. The design allows for the loudest bass possible.
  • Folk is similar in size and fingerboard to the Dendroot, but differs in the sleek shape of the body.

Varieties of acoustic guitars are considered:

  • 12-string. It has a Jumbo body with a wider neck. It differs in the number of strings. The strings are grouped in pairs. The first two give the same sound, the other 4 pairs sound with a difference of an octave. The result is a rich sound. Can be tuned in both traditional tuning and in unison, which gives an echo effect. Used for accompaniment. The guitar is suitable for professionals, as it is difficult to clamp the chords.
  • Seven-stringed – gypsy guitar. Has a tertso-quart system and an extra string. Good for performance of romances and gypsy ballads. Nowadays it is unpopular.
  • Hawaiian. When you play it hold it horizontally, with the strings up.
  • Ukulele – mini guitar with four strings. Popular on the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Electroacoustic. A guitar with a piezo transducer installed. It can be connected to speakers, amplifier. Suitable for recording in the studio and concert performances. Designed and sounds indistinguishable from acoustic.
  • Semi-acoustic. It looks like an electric guitar, differs by the cavity in its body, which is the resonator and a large sounding board. Can be played without connecting to the amplifier, although the sound is weak or with it. Indispensable for jazz and blues.

The electric guitar has virtually no sound without an amplifier. The body is one piece. Magnetic pickups in the body form a signal that can be amplified and processed.

Categories of electric guitars:

  • A rhythm guitar is designed to perform rhythm parts. The sound of the lower range is notable for its richness .
  • Solo guitars make a sharp sound to be heard in a band, distinguished by speedy performance and crisp sounding notes.
  • Bass guitars play a low, thick sound, designed to party with drums.

Guitar sizes

It is important to determine the right size of guitar. The musician should be able to easily reach the peg of the fourth string with a hand that is not fully extended. The hand should rest on the guitar with part of the arm from the wrist to the elbow and the slightly bent fingers should easily reach the first string. If you can only touch a string with your elbow on the guitar, it’s too big.

It’s easy to find the right size: your fingers should reach every string without tension and effort.

First of all when choosing a guitar’s size you should take into account your age, height and the size of your palm.

Most classical guitars differ in size. They come in children and adults.

They are distinguished by size:

  • 1/4 – children’s height from 105 cm, suitable for children from three to six years, the length of 23 inches.
  • 1/2 – 34 inches, suitable for ages 6-8 years, length 87 cm. Plays a more pronounced lower register, the sound is slightly muffled.
  • 3/4 – 36 inches, suitable for adults not tall (up to 155 cm) and children 10-15 years.
  • 7/8 – a rare type of transitional size for the growth of 155-165, a little less than the standard, the length of 38 inches.
  • 4/4 – four-quarter standard “whole” size, adult guitar to the height of 161 cm. The sound is full-bodied.