The guitar is a principle stringed instrument that is an integral part of various musical styles. It is a common sight in concerts promoting Blues, Country, Rock, and Mariachi performances across the globe. This traditional solo classical instrument has ancient roots, dating as far back as 4,000 years ago! For those who came in late, a guitar is defined as a fretted neck instrument, fitted with a flat wooden soundboard, some ribs and a back with incurved sides. The modern guitar can be played acoustically, or with the support of an amplifier. The musical tones are either produced by modulated string vibrations or electronic manipulation. Today, this musical instrument has a profound influence on music cultures around the world, especially since the introduction of the electric guitars in the 1930s.
- The ancestors of the modern guitar can be traced back to the stringed instruments played across Central Asia and India, in ancient times.
- The oldest iconographic representation of the strumming instrument is a 3,000-year-old carving of a Hittite or ancient Anatolian bard playing the instrument.
- The instrument is believed to have descended from the cithara brought to Hispania by the Romans, in 40 CE.
- The various references to the guitar in ancient times included guitarra, gitarre, guitare, qitara, cithara, kithara, and sihtar.
- Traditionally, they were constructed with combinations of various woods. The strings were made of animal gut.
- The musical instrument has a mention in records maintained by the Moors, Viking incursions, and in traditional Norse carvings.
- Dimension standards of the modern stringed instrument were established by Antonio Torres Jurado, between 1817 and 1892.
Guitar Design Facts
- The various brands of guitars comprise PRS, Dean, Gretsch, Gibson, Ibanez, Jackson, Schecter, and Fender and Martin.
- Classical guitars are typically strung with nylon strings. They have a wide, flat neck for least string interference with scales and arpeggios.
- The Yepes 10-string guitar flaunts four resonators that work in unison with all 12 chromatic notes, to enhance and balance sonority.
- Archtop guitars are carved in a curve rather than the traditional flat shape. They are equipped with magnetic pickups and flat-wound strings.
- Electric guitars are fitted with electromagnetic pickups to convert string vibrations into electrical signals. These are then fed into an amplifier and modified via vacuum tubes.
- Guitars can be constructed for left- and right-handed players. The features are modified accordingly, to enhance the dynamics and tonal expressions.
- Renaissance and Baroque guitars are usually used as rhythm instruments.
- Guitars are designed, constructed, and repaired by luthiers.
- An acoustic guitar emits sound via a soundboard, typically a wooden mount on the front of the design. The subcategories of acoustic guitars include classical and flamenco versions.
- Flat-top or steel-string guitars have reinforced necks that are narrower with a strong structural design. They are an integral part of Folk, Jazz, Country, Bluegrass, Blues, and Pop music.
Guitar Essentials: An OverviewThe basic guitar design typically comprises:
- Headstock, at the end of the guitar neck.
- Neck, comprising frets, tuners, fretboard, headstock, and truss rod.
- Nut, a small strip of any hard material at the headstock-fretboard juncture.
- Fretboard or fingerboard.
- Frets, metal strips embedded on the fretboard.
- Truss rod, a metal rod along the inside of the neck.
- Strings made from metal or polymer materials.
- Inlays, visual elements along the exterior surface.
- Capotasto, to open up string pitch.
- Slides, to generate the glissando effect.
- Plectrum, to 'pick' the strings.