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Welcome, Guitar Fans!

Welcome to my website. I set this site up to provide some useful hints, tips, news and information of the learning guitar world. I hope you find it interesting and be sure to bookmark us so that you can return again easily.

You can contact me if you have any queries, or if something is not as clear as you would like it to be. I’ll do my best to keep things simple here also, so be patient with me!

Cheers, Dom.

Which Guitar Type Are You?

Being one of the most popular instruments today, guitars are also considered one of the most versatile instruments in the musical scene. There are many kinds of guitars, and all enjoy many of the features that make them everyone´s favorite. However, they can be divided into two main groups:

Acoustic and electric. Let’s take a look at each:

Acoustic Guitars

The first choice for learning to play guitar. Generally made of wood, acoustic guitars feature big resonation boxes that receive and amplify the vibration of the strings. This allows players to perform without the aid of amplifiers or loudspeakers.

1. Classical guitars. The most commonly known acoustic guitars. The classical model has not changed for almost two centuries, and is the instrument of choice for beginners and classical music enthusiasts. classical-guitarsThey usually have nylon strings which produce a fuller and warmer sound than their metal counterparts. They are typically played in a sitting position, often using lots of arpeggios and manicos.

2. Steel stringed guitars. They share many of the features of the classical guitars, but use steel strings which make them sound brighter and louder. steel-string-guitarTheir necks are usually narrower as well. These are the favorite of Country, Blues and Folk musicians, as well as some Rock and Rollers.

3. Resonators. They are guitars that have one or two steel cones attached to their resonance boxes in order to make them louder. Their distinctive timbre and character made these guitars very valuable for bluegrass musicians. resonator-guitarThere are two varieties of resonators. The lap square-neck resonator, also known as the Hawaiian guitar, which is played like a piano or organ; and the round-neck resonator that resembles a regular acoustic guitar, but has a distinctive metal cone on top of its body.

4. 12-String guitars. As its name indicates, this guitar has twelve strings. However they are set in pairs. Each string has a couple tuned one octave higher, and they are set in a way that makes it easier to strike both strings at the same time when plucking. 12-string-guitarThe resulting sound has a pleasing effect, often described as the sound of bells. These guitars are mostly used for accompaniment using arpeggios due to their fuller and richer sound.

5. Archtop guitars. The shape of the archtop guitars is reminiscent to that of violins and cellos. archtop-guitarThe front and back of the body are arched, not flat, their resonating boxes are usually thinner, and the characteristic soundhole is replaced by f-holes at each side of the string lane. Archtops are greatly preferred by jazz players around the world.

6. Acoustic bass. These guitars are designed to produce heavy resounding low frequencies. They have large and deep resonating boxes, and longer necks. They usually feature four metal wounded strings that are tuned one octave lower than the lowest string on the guitar. acoustic-bassBass guitars are used to provide the rhythm for almost any music style.

Electric Guitars

The standard for popular musicians today, the electric guitar is smaller and more versatile than its acoustic counterpart, at least in terms of sounds and techniques. Its body is more compact and heavier, as it is usually solid or semi-hollow, lacking the resonating power of acoustic guitars. electric-guitarsInstead, it has one or more pickups that convert the mechanical vibration of strings to electrical signals that are sent to an amplifier. This gives the player greater sound control as he can regulate the volume, tone, and even select the correct pickup in order to achieve the desired sound at any time.

Electric guitars are commonly used with pedals and effects that help achieve an incredible variety of sounds. This is something many guitar players take advantage of. Depending on the music style you play, you might not need to be very good at playing guitar to sound great with an electric guitar, while acoustic guitars usually require more skill and practice.

Whatever your “flavor” of guitar, when it comes to learning to play the guitar, you have a couple of choices. You can get some face to face lessons or you can learn online. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Online  lessons have really increased in popularity in recent years with high speed internet connections and the ease of access to online video content. I found a nice chart comparing the best online guitar lessons if you are interested in going that way. It’s worth a look because each learning site has it’s pros and cons also.

Getting to know the Guitar

guitar-partsDespite the simplicity guitars as an instruments, they still feature a modest quantity of parts that contribute to their richness and complexity of sounds. This section will deal with the main parts of the guitar and their uses. Let’s take a closer look at each part:

1. Headstock or peg-head. headstockLocated at the end of the neck, it contains the machine heads or tuning keys.

2. Tuner keys. They hold the strings and control their tension. tuner-keysThe player can alter the pitch of a string or “tune” it, by turning the knobs.

3. Nut. This is small indented strip located right between the fret board and the headstock.The strings are placed in each of the grooves or indentations, providing a steady guide for them. guitar-nutIt also marks the start of the vibrating length of the strings.

4. Fret board or fingerboard. It is the flat side of the neck, and it is marked by several metal or bone strips called frets. fretboardMost classical guitars offer a completely flat fingerboard, while electric guitars often display a slightly rounded surface. Fret boards are often made of a different wood of that of the neck.

5. Frets. Each one of the metal or bone strips that crosses the fingerboard. fretsWhen a string is pressed against a fret, its vibrating length is shortened producing a higher pitch when struck. Each fret represents a half-note interval. Most guitars have between 20 and 24 frets.

6. Neck. While it can be thought that only the long portion of the guitar can be called a neck, in the guitar world all previously mentioned parts are components of the neck. neckThe wood used in its long portion should be strong enough to hold the tension of the strings without significantly bending. The better the guitar, the stronger the wood used for its neck.

7. Body. It is the largest part of the guitar and where the sound of the strings resonates. Acoustic guitars have a large hollow wooden body, which is also known as the sound box, where the vibration of the strings is amplified. bodyContrastingly, electric guitars do not always rely on their resonator boxes to produce sounds. Electric guitars might have solid bodies, which can only produce sound through electronic pick-ups, or semi-hollow bodies, which have a resonator chamber but also use pick-ups to amplify their cleaner sound.

8. Pick-ups. These are actually magnetic transducers that capture the vibration of the strings as they interfere with their electromagnetic field. pickupsIt then translates it to electric signals and sends it to an amplifier, which transforms it to actual sound on a loudspeaker. Electric guitars often have two or three pickups.

9. Pick-guard or scratch plate. Guitars are considered as works of art by many, but playing them, especially with a pick, can ruin their delicate finish.pickguard The pick-guard is a plastic or nylon flat piece placed on top of the body to prevent roughing the guitar while playing.

10. Bridge. This straight piece affixed to the body marks the end of the vibrating length of the strings. It also holds them to the body of the guitar. bridgeIn acoustic guitars it serves to transfer the sound of the strings to the resonance box.

Each part plays a very particular role in the sound and feel of a guitar. Go ahead and try a number of guitars with different set ups, and try to distinguish their differences in sound and playability. It is all part of finding what works for you!

Guitar History Overview

There was a time when it was difficult to imagine that this simple, and easy to play instrument, could become the symbol of freedom it is today. The great majority of today´s popular music makes extensive use of the guitar. It was the instrument of choice in the golden age of Jazz, Blues and Big Bands. It later became the cornerstone of Rock and Roll, and in the later part of the twentieth century it was used to play almost any kind of popular music from Ballads to Reggae. Today, the most widely known instrument setting is the basic Guitar-Piano-Drums, commonly seen in many musical contexts.

girl-with-guitarThe guitar gained its place in the musical scene due to its playability and versatility, allowing professionals and aficionados alike to deliver impressive performances. The electric guitar offers an almost infinite array of sounds, textures and effects. Players are only limited by the complexity of their own musical preference. But no one could have guessed this enormous power by just looking at its humble beginnings.

Guitars are actually a product of the contact of two very distinctive societies: the Spaniards and the Arabic Muslims. These extremely rich cultures gave birth to the classic iconic guitar with its long, fretted neck, its wooden and curved soundboard, and its flat back. Its design and popularity have of course varied with time, but its actual shape and acceptance had been already achieved by the nineteenth century.

Predecessors

citharaWhile there have been stringed instruments for millennia, the guitar is the direct descendant, both structurally and etymologically, of the Muslim Cithara. During the Moors invasion in Spain, there were two kinds of chord-ed instruments. Their origins are still debated. Their entirely Muslim origins are being challenged by the fact that Spaniards could have inherited their lutes and Citharas directly from their Roman conquerors centuries before the Arabs arrived.

The guitar played by the Christian-Spaniards was an 8 stringed instrument more akin to the Vihuela. Its Moorish counterpart was a 6 stringed instrument that actually looked very similar to the modern classical guitar.

During the 16th century, the guitar was used by the lower classes as a counterpart of the aristocratic vihuela. However, this 5 stringed instrument became widely used in many parts of Europe, such as Italy, Germany and France where it was known as Gittern. The most important addition to the guitar was made during the 17th century. The double strings were eliminated and Jacob Otto de Jena added a sixth string, widening its versatility. This played a major role in its acceptance as a popular instrument.

The industrial revolution of the 19th century brought railways that crossed the continent and allowed guitar masters to make their works widely known, and giving the guitar a boost of popularity. By the late 1800s, master luthier Antonio Torres Jurado perfected the structural design of the guitar, giving it its actual and definite shape.

The Electric Guitar

electric-guitarAfter the invention and widespread adoption of the telephonic technology, many people started toying with the idea of amplifying stringed instruments by using tungsten pickups. In 1931, George Beauchamp, the general manager of the National Guitar Corporation, designed a hollowed-body aluminum stringed instrument with magnetic pickups that captured the vibration of the strings and transformed them into electrical signals. Its value was instantly recognized by guitarists that played with big bands and had to acoustically compete with wind instruments and percussion.

This opened infinite possibilities and options for both musicians and inventors. The world of music was forever changed by this new symbol of freedom and power. All music styles are now permeated by this instrument, or by the genres that appeared with it, thanks to the freedom the electric guitar allows to players and composers alike. It is now difficult to imagine a world where the guitar is not one of the most important parts of the musical scene.