An instrumental ABC of Guitar
Overview of Guitar –
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly …… Brayn Adams’ summer of 69, Or Castle of Glass from Linking Park, every bit of music, every popular tune of music is incomplete without one instrument …. Guitar.
Yes, the flawless instrument, which keeps heartbeats high, the tune of Guitar, which is as important as vocals, raises the temperature.
It may be any music album, it may be any background score, it may be any type of music, Jazz, Pop, Rock, or even classical, Guitar plays a very important role in any orchestra.
There are different types of music according to its form, which can be mostly classified as, Asian, European Or Classical, and Western.
If you observe carefully, all these types of music are incomplete without Guitar. The listener, who is unaware of technical aspects of music, for him/her too, the string of Guitar nails it.
If the history of music is considered or studied, we can observe many forms of guitar or its tunes are used occasionally.
Come September, or Final Countdown, are the best-tuned examples of the Vital Role of the Guitar in the harmony of sound and music.
The guitar is the only instrument, which single-handedly represents the mood, feelings, emotions, and temperament of the tune.
Revolutionary Evolution of Guitar –
Today’s modern Guitar is evolved revolutionary, from the instrument with four courses of strings, three double and the top course single.
It connects a violin-like pegbox, to a tension bridge, which is glued to the soundboard. Uffffff….. Getting more technical?
No, actually the instrument is very easy to understand, play, and customize. Yes, you heard it right !! Customize !!! The instrument from its original form and structure has been customized to make it compatible with the cutting edge technology.
And then it evolved …. “The electric guitar”.
This is nothing but the modern version of Guitar, which includes an auto tuner and some additional features. The first version of Guitar was tuned as “C-F-A-D” PATTERN. The tuning of the central four courses of the lute.
Eventually, there were many changes that took place in the instrument, from the 16th to 19th century. After so many successive attempts to modify it, the fifth course of strings got added to the instrument. Then during the 18th century, the sixth course got added.
Successively, the double courses were got replaced by a single string tuned as E-A-D-G-B-E, up to the era of standard tuning of the instrument.
If you want to learn guitar from scratch, or even if you are very well versed with music basics, it is important to know types of guitar and differences among them, to select the particular type to learn or to play.
For example, if you are from the USA, and want to play or learn Jazz, POP, or Hip-Hop music, then Mohan Veena, which is used for Indian Classical music, will not be useful for you. So, selecting the proper type of instrument as per the requirement is very necessary.
Types of The Guitar –
Acoustic Guitars –
Classical (Nylon String Guitar)
Nylon string acoustic guitars, which are popularly known as, classical guitars, are named because they use nylon strings. The most important characteristic of such types of guitars is, they are acoustic in nature.
These types of guitars are clearly identified on the basis of the type of strings.
The metal or steel strings can be clearly identified, which look very distinct from the nylon strings. Nylon strings are wrapped with wire in such guitars.
Generally, it has a total of six strings, of which three are of nylon and the remaining three are nylon wrapped with wire.
Now, the most important thing to know is when these types of classical guitars are used and what type of music is played with the help of these types of acoustic classical guitars.
As the name suggests, these guitars are very compatible with classical music. Also, POP and JAZZ music can be played on them with ease.
These guitars generate a mellow tune due to the use of nylon. The player needs to hit the strings harder to get an effect of a harsh tone, but if one totalizes its impact, and then it produces soft and mellow types of tones.
Now, if these guitars are the cup of tea for beginners, who are about to start learning guitar?
It is not a thumb rule, but mostly classical nylon string guitars are very easy and non-complicated (simple) for beginners.
But, some people (guitar teachers) do not agree with the statement. According to them, it is not a good idea to start learning with classical acoustic guitars.
Due to the elastic nature of Nylon, it is very easy to play a note without pressing down the string in a hard manner. As for beginners, their fingers and hand gestures are not that much stable and rough, they can play these strings and can push them with ease.
Steel String Guitars –
As discussed above, this is the second simplest type of acoustic guitar, in which the nylon strings are replaced with steel (metal) string. According to the body type, these guitars (Acoustic) are further classified into the following categories –
There are many other versions of guitars, but these three are most widely popular and used.
If the player likes hard-hitting on strings, the different type of guitar will be suitable and useful for that player. Steel-string guitars produce brighter tones.
So, these guitars are useful for playing different genres of music, including folk, pop, rock, blues, country, etc. So, these guitars have a wide range of usability.
Also, these guitars are of simple form, so the user or player, who is not pro and just a beginner finds it suitable to play. Yes, one thing for sure, the player has to give more pressure on the strings, but practice plays a crucial role in playing them with ease.
Many of the beginner students use nail pads or caps while using or playing steel-string guitars, as they require more pressure. Mostly hard hitters feel it comfortable to play these guitars.
The final word is – if simplicity is your priority, then nylon acoustics are for you, but if you are looking for quality of music and strings, and also, ranges of music played on the instrument, then steel-string guitars are perfect for you.
Electric Acoustic Guitars –
Among many types of Guitars, electric guitars are the one, which adds fun element and creativity to the music and the notes.
The funniest part is that you can hear the guitar, but others can’t. Yes, you heard it right. Because electric guitars require some kind of amplification and software support.
Without software support and amplification, it cant be played. It also requires some sort of audio interface to amplify and convert the sound.
As, we know, electric guitars are most widely used and made popular in 90s Hollywood classics as Generation Next thing. One can take an example of the Back to The Future Trio series.
The electric guitar was played in almost every part of the movie series. You may aware that different kinds of skills are required to play electric guitars.
Most of the time, the flexible fingers of the player or user are required to set the guitar properly.
If it is not set properly, it simply does not give the desired output. So, to set the guitar according to the use and requirement is one of the skillful as well as tedious task.
These guitars are easier to play in their low string action. But, at the same time, on the other hand, the narrow fret boards require a higher level of skill.
According to the shape, fashion and versatility, The Fender Stratocaster Squier is the most popular and famous among youth as far as the history of the guitar is concerned.
Fender Company manufactures and distributes its series named Squier Series all over the world.
So, these types of guitars are readily available in different parts of the world. If the player wants to start with electric guitar, then the best choice and option will be Squier with a price of around 150 USD.
If you are more selective regarding the design, shape, and look of the guitar, then spending more bucks, you can get Epiphone Less Paul Special II. This can be considered as an iconic version, which goes around 180 USD.
These guitars are the most identical in look, shape, and overall structure. So, they are similar to normal acoustic guitars. The only two unique differences are –
- An electro-acoustic guitar has a jack, where you can plug it in and the control panel to adjust the volume. So, there is a display panel on the guitar itself. It includes an equalizer, insertion of battery, and sometimes includes an inbuilt tuner to set the tuning and to set the instrument.
- The main noticeable point to remember about the electro-acoustic guitar is that one can plug in them when one wants to use them, but one can use them without plugging in too, as a regular, normal unplugged acoustic guitar.
As you can plug into the amplifier, tuner, and audio interface with the help of this type of electric acoustic guitar, you can add many effects to the sound qualitatively and quantitatively, in both manners. You can get those effects, which are completely impossible with simple acoustic guitars.
It completely depends on the user and player’s mood, temperament, and demand of the music, but with the help of electric acoustic guitar, the effects added as the top of the cream can enhance the original tone or can completely change the feel, vibe and aura of the music one is playing, or one wants to play.
Semi-Acoustic Guitars –
Hollow body Guitars –
These are nothing but electric guitars with a hollowed-out body. So, we can say that these are the modified version of electric guitars. The internal cavity is the main point of difference as far as hollow-body guitars are concerned. Hollow body guitars are completely hollow. Those types of guitars don’t have any block.
These are very sensitive as far as feedback is concerned and don’t work effectively with high output pickups and amplifiers. The sound becomes chirping and screaming after a certain limit of amplification. When these guitars are played unplugged, means without plugging into a tuner or amplifier, they give an acoustic-like tone.
The tone is certainly not that loud or clear as that produced from an actual acoustic but is definitely louder than a solid body electric guitar. These types of guitars produce a mellow tone and have a unique resonance, which is generally absent in the solid-body electric guitar.
Semi-Hollow Body Guitars –
It has a block of wood running through the body under the pickups and bridge. Semi-hollow guitars reduce the feedback issues and keep the unique tone of a hollow body.
These types of guitars also provide acoustic type tone, whenever played in unplugged mode. When semi-hollow guitar gets plugged in, one can get a tone that sounds in the range between a regular electric guitar and an acoustic guitar.
The tone goes nearby to the electric than an acoustic guitar, but it also has an acoustic tone’s characteristics added to it. These types of guitars also produce mellow effects and have a unique type of resonance.
Both of these types of guitars were famous, popular, and in things in the market between the 30s to 50s and a decade later. Nowadays, these guitars provide a vintage look to the player.
Almost all types of music can be played using these types of guitars. All types of music include Old blues, early rock, and roll, JAZZ, Rockabilly. As we know, both the hollow and semi-hollow guitars are functionally very similar to the normal electric guitars, beginners and learners find it easy to play and use the instrument.
Some beginners may find it difficult to hold the instrument because of its heavy body and big size.
Resonator Guitars –
The name itself is very scientific. Is it not? Are you thinking, about science fiction and the evolution of a guitar in some science lab as a result of some experiments?
Resonators are a very strange type of guitar that you may see very rarely according to the type of music played. They are basically acoustic guitars with a metal cone in place of where
The soundhole normally sits. As you may be thinking, this metal cone helps the guitar resonate and project any note you play. The result is a very loud and clear tone that can find horrible if you have never played one before. You may have heard of a Dobra, which is a type of resonator.
Actually, Dopyera is nothing but the instrumental, or like a bridge in the formation of the resonator guitar.
National and Dobra, which were intended to capture the big Jazz market, but unintentionally, they became very popular and gain name and fame in the bluegrass, folk, blues instrumental. So, they were introduced for a specific purpose, but later on, used for other purposes.
Now a day, one can easily get one resonant guitar with a single large cone or similarly in three smaller cones.
They have options in their make as either a wooden body or metal body. They are available in the square or round neck. Round neck resonator guitars are placed and played in an exact manner, in which, traditional and conventional acoustic guitars are used and played.
Whereas, square neck guitars are placed and played facing up on your lap, with a slide or tone bar.
There are so many types of guitars available nowadays, so choosing the right one is a little bit confusing and tedious job for the beginner. I suggest, just stick with the basics, while selecting the proper instrument.
For beginners, it’s not necessary to purchase a higher-end instrument, which has more and more functions and complicated structure. Just be honest, for which purpose, you are going to purchase the instrument? After becoming a pro, you can invest more in the purchase of a suitable guitar.
But till then, just make hand on experience on the available instrument. Achieve mastery on it and then go for the proper one.
Now, after getting information about types of Guitars, and how to select the proper one according to use, let us move further and take a look at, how to string and unstring the instrument properly.
Why to string or unstring the Guitar?
Guitar strings get worn over a period of time. Hence, it is important to change them about once per month, or if you’re actively playing, once every two weeks, that means periodically.
Even brand-new guitars need their strings changed because by the time the instrument gets to you. Stringing New strings are also the easiest and fastest way to improve your guitar’s tone.
Select the proper type of strings as per the type of instrument. For example, an acoustic guitar will have acoustic strings whereas electrical strings will have electric strings.
Strings have gauges, which tell about the thickness of the strings. A thicker string gauge sounds a bit fuller, but more string tension makes it a bit more difficult to play. Replacing guitar strings is not rocket science, but there are some things you’ve got to keep in mind. If not done properly your guitar will detune repeatedly.
Selecting the proper type of string is also important. This selection is based on different factors, such as,
- String Brands: choosing a guitar string brand comes down to personal taste. Try out some different brands to find out what brand suits you the most.
- String Composition: Most of the strings are made by winding a “wrap wire” round a
High-carbon steel hex-core wire or a metal wire. The material used for the wrap wire determines how the guitar strings sound like.
- Winding Type:
- Round wound – uses a round wire. This type of winding gives a brighter sound, but produce
More extra noise.
- Flat wound – uses a flat ribbon wire. This gives the strings less resistance and less extra
Noise because they have a smoother surface, but they produce a duller sound.
Stringing and Unstringing the guitar –
Step 1 – Loosen the strings
You can use a string winder to perform the action, or you can do it by hand. Make sure the strings are loosened to the point where they don’t sound like anything.
Step 2 – Cut the Loose strings
With the help of wire cutters, cut the loose strings around the soundhole.
Step 3 – Remove the strings
In the case of an electric guitar, simply pull the strings out of the bridge saddles.
For an acoustic guitar, first, remove the bridge pins. Most string winders have a notch on them that catches the pins, making it easier to pull them out.
Once the ball-end of the string is removed, you will have to completely unwind the other half of the strings that are attached to the headstock. Be careful when you do this since the tip of the strings is sharp.
Once you have the strings off, it’s always good practice to wrap them up in a circle so that they’re not at risk of poking you later.
For the body of your guitar use a professional polish like Ernie Ball Guitar Polish. For the fretboard use olive oil, linseed oil, or walnut oil.
Step 4 – Identify the strings
Each string in a set is labeled by its gauge. The ball of each string will sometimes be different colors, which tells you the string’s gauge. Generally, colors are explained on the actual box of strings.
Alternatively, strings are often individually wrapped within a box set and the string gauge is printed right on the sleeve. The higher the number, the thicker the string, and that’s how you know where to place each string.
Step 5 – Thread the strings
Set a sequence to thread a string like E-A-D. Winding the string is simple once you have it threaded through the tuning peg. You can try to wind the string so that it wraps itself below the initial part of the string. Don’t forget to use a string winder to make this process a little bit easier.
Steps 6 – Stretch and tune the strings
In this step, you can tune each string and play. But remember, fresh strings need a bit of time to stretch so you can tug gently at the strings to speed up the process. If you don’t stretch the strings, they will go out of tune almost immediately after you put them on your guitar.
You’ll have to stretch them a bit before they settle. Now you are set …. You’ve successfully re-strung your guitar.
After going through the history and evolution of Guitar, let’s go through the parts of the guitar. It is important to know, how the guitar is made up of to select the proper instrument as per the purpose.
Parts of guitar –
The headstock is placed at the top of the neck where the tuning machines and nut gets installed.
Tuning Machines Or Posts
The normal guitar has tuning machines which include the tuning posts to hold each string in place and tuning pegs, which turn to adjust the tuning.
The nut is nothing but a notched piece of plastic or bone installed where the headstock meets the fretboard of the instrument.
The neck of a guitar is the long, thin piece of wood between the headstock and the body where the fretboard, frets, and truss rod are placed. Necks are attached to the body with bolts, glue, or sometimes both.
The fretboard is attached to the top of the neck and is made from rosewood, maple, or ebony to prevent dents or warping. The fretboard is a separate piece of wood from the neck.
Frets are the metal strips running across the fretboard. When a string is pressed down behind a fret, it changes the length to add different note.
It is long, adjustable piece of metal that is mounted inside the neck and runs the length of the neck. A properly adjusted truss rod helps to eliminate things like fret buzz, intonation issues, and other playability problems.
It allows a player to reach the highest fret positions on the neck easily.
It is nearest to the neck.
It is the largest part of the guitar that is nearest to the string termination at the bridge.
It is a shield for the guitar. It is intended to prevent scratches, dings, and wear from the hard
Pickup Selector Switch
If the guitar has multiple pickups, a pickup selector switch allows engaging single or multiple pickup combinations and gives the ability to access a wide range of tones.
Volume and Tone Knobs / Potentiometers
The electric guitar bridge is the other termination point for the string.
It holds the saddle and secures the strings in place using bridge pins. The saddle is made of bone, plastic, or some kind of graphite material.
The hole in the top of an acoustic guitar is called the soundhole. The hollow body of an acoustic guitar allows the bass frequencies produced from the strings to resonate and be amplified and then project through the soundhole.
It consists of a thin core with wire wrapped around it or just the core by itself. Those are made from metals, including steel, nickel, and/or bronze.
Conclusion of Guitar:
If you are going to learn guitar, which means if you are a beginner, then this article will help you to introduce to the world of guitar, to select the proper type of guitar and the criteria based on which, the guitar can be selected.
It also covers the information about music for which, a specific type of guitar is used. Various genres in music like rock, pop, hip-hop, jazz, blues, etc. need different types of instruments or effects.
One must be aware of technical basic things like strings, the material used, and the construction of a guitar.
The last topic covers step by step guide to unstring, polish, and string the new strings of the guitar. Why it is needed to be done carefully, and what steps have to be followed while selecting strings are also described.
So, now, get ready to rock the world of music. Though you are a beginner, the dream of being a pro. Select the basic model of instrument, master it, get practiced, and then invest in the technically advanced instrument. Have a happy musical journey.