Guitar
Overview
 
The guitar is a plucked string instrument
Plucked string instrument
Plucked string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by plucking the strings. Plucking is a way of pulling and releasing the string in such as way as to give it an impulse that causes the string to vibrate...

, usually played with fingers or a pick
Guitar pick
A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. A pick is generally made of one uniform material; examples include plastic, nylon, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, and stone...

. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with either nylon or steel strings. Some modern guitars are made of polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

 materials. Guitars are made and repaired by luthier
Luthier
A luthier is someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments. In the United States, the term is used interchangeably with a term for the specialty of each maker, such as violinmaker, guitar maker, lute maker, etc...

s. There are two primary families of guitars: acoustic and electric.

Acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitar
An acoustic guitar is a guitar that uses only an acoustic sound board. The air in this cavity resonates with the vibrational modes of the string and at low frequencies, which depend on the size of the box, the chamber acts like a Helmholtz resonator, increasing or decreasing the volume of the sound...

s (and similar instruments) with hollow bodies have been in use for over a thousand years.
Encyclopedia
The guitar is a plucked string instrument
Plucked string instrument
Plucked string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by plucking the strings. Plucking is a way of pulling and releasing the string in such as way as to give it an impulse that causes the string to vibrate...

, usually played with fingers or a pick
Guitar pick
A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. A pick is generally made of one uniform material; examples include plastic, nylon, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, and stone...

. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with either nylon or steel strings. Some modern guitars are made of polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

 materials. Guitars are made and repaired by luthier
Luthier
A luthier is someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments. In the United States, the term is used interchangeably with a term for the specialty of each maker, such as violinmaker, guitar maker, lute maker, etc...

s. There are two primary families of guitars: acoustic and electric.

Acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitar
An acoustic guitar is a guitar that uses only an acoustic sound board. The air in this cavity resonates with the vibrational modes of the string and at low frequencies, which depend on the size of the box, the chamber acts like a Helmholtz resonator, increasing or decreasing the volume of the sound...

s (and similar instruments) with hollow bodies have been in use for over a thousand years. There are three main types of modern acoustic guitar: the classical guitar
Classical guitar
The classical guitar is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones...

 (nylon-string guitar), the steel-string acoustic guitar
Steel-string acoustic guitar
A steel-string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar descended from the classical guitar, but strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound...

, and the archtop guitar
Archtop guitar
An archtop guitar is a steel-stringed acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar with a full body and a distinctive arched top, whose sound is particularly popular with blues and jazz players.Typically, an archtop guitar has:* 6 strings...

. The tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the vibration of the strings, which is amplified by the body of the guitar, which acts as a resonating chamber. The classical guitar is often played as a solo
Solo (music)
In music, a solo is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer...

 instrument using a comprehensive fingerpicking technique.

Electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

s, introduced in the 1930s, rely on an amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

 that can electronically manipulate tone. Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but a solid body was found more suitable. Electric guitars have had a continuing profound influence on popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

. Guitars are recognized as a primary instrument in genres such as blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

, bluegrass
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

, country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

, flamenco
Flamenco
Flamenco is a genre of music and dance which has its foundation in Andalusian music and dance and in whose evolution Andalusian Gypsies played an important part....

, jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, jota
Jota (music)
The jota is a genre of music and the associated dance known throughout Spain, most likely originating in Aragon. It varies by region, having a characteristic form in Valencia, Aragon, Castile, Navarra, Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia and Murcia. Being a visual representation, the jota is danced and...

, mariachi
Mariachi
Mariachi is a genre of music that originated in the State of Jalisco, in Mexico. It is an integration of stringed instruments highly influenced by the cultural impacts of the historical development of Western Mexico. Throughout the history of mariachi, musicians have experimented with brass, wind,...

, metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

, reggae
Reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

, rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

, soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

, and many forms of pop
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

.

History

Before the development of the electric guitar and the use of synthetic materials, a guitar was defined as being an instrument having "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and a flat back, most often with incurved sides". The term is used to refer to a number of related instruments that were developed and used across Europe beginning in the 12th century and, later, in the Americas. These instruments are descended from ones that existed in ancient central Asia and India. For this reason guitars are distantly related to modern instruments from these regions, including the tanbur
Tanbur
The term tanbūr can refer to various long-necked, fretted lutes originating in the Middle East or Central Asia. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "terminology presents a complicated situation. Nowadays the term tanbur is applied to a variety of distinct and related...

, the setar
Setar
SETAR N.V., is the privatised full telecommunications service provider for the island of Aruba. The services provided by SETAR include: telephone, internet and GSM-related wireless services. SETAR also owns Tele Aruba....

, and the sitar
Sitar
The 'Tablaman' is a plucked stringed instrument predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, where it has been ubiquitous since the Middle Ages...

. The oldest known iconographic representation of an instrument displaying the essential features of a guitar is a 3,300 year old stone carving of a Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 bard.

The modern word guitar, and its antecedents, have been applied to a wide variety of cordophones since ancient times and as such is the cause of confusion. The English word guitar, the German , and the French were adopted from the Spanish , which comes from the Andalusian Arabic  , itself derived from the Latin , which in turn came from the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

  , and is thought to ultimately trace back to the Old Persian language
Old Persian language
The Old Persian language is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages . Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets, and seals of the Achaemenid era...

. Tar means string in Persian.

Although the word guitar is descended from the Latin word cithara, the modern guitar itself is not generally believed to have descended from the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 instrument. Many influences are cited as antecedents to the modern guitar. One commonly cited influence is of the arrival of the four-string oud
Oud
The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

, which was introduced by the invading Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 in the 8th century. Another suggested influence is the six-string Scandinavian lut (lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

), which gained in popularity in areas of Viking incursions across medieval Europe. Often depicted in carvings c. 800 AD, the Norse hero Gunther (also known as Gunnar), played a lute with his toes as he lay dying in a snake-pit, in the legend of Siegfried. It is likely that a combination of influences led to the creation of the guitar; plucked instruments from across the Mediterranean and Europe were well known in Iberia since antiquity.

Two medieval instruments that were called "guitars" were in use by 1200: the (Moorish guitar) and the (Latin guitar). The guitarra moresca had a rounded back, wide fingerboard, and several soundholes. The guitarra Latina had a single soundhole and a narrower neck. By the 14th century the qualifiers "moresca" and "latina" had been dropped and these two cordophones were usually simply referred to as guitars.

The Spanish vihuela
Vihuela
Vihuela is a name given to two different guitar-like string instruments: one from 15th and 16th century Spain, usually with 12 paired strings, and the other, the Mexican vihuela, from 19th century Mexico with five strings and typically played in Mariachi bands.-History:The vihuela, as it was known...

 or (in Italian) "", a guitar-like instrument of the 15th and 16th centuries, is widely considered to have been a seminal influence in the development of the guitar. It had six courses (usually), lute-like tuning
Guitar tunings
Guitar tunings almost always refers to the pitch of the open string, though some tunings may only realistically be attained by the use of a capo on an unmodified instrument....

 in fourths and a guitar-like body, although early representations reveal an instrument with a sharply cut waist. It was also larger than the contemporary four course guitars. By the late 15th century some vihuelas were played with a bow, leading to the development of the viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

. By the sixteenth century the vihuela's construction had more in common with the modern guitar, with its curved one-piece ribs, than with the viols, and more like a larger version of the contemporary four-course
Course (music)
A course is a pair or more of adjacent strings tuned to unison or an octave and usually played together as if a single string. It may also refer to a single string normally played on its own on an instrument with other multi-string courses, for example the bass string on a nine string baroque...

 guitars. The vihuela enjoyed only a short period of popularity in Spain and Italy during an era dominated elsewhere in Europe by the lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

; the last surviving published music for the instrument appeared in 1576. Meanwhile the five-course baroque guitar
Baroque guitar
The Baroque guitar is a guitar from the baroque era , an ancestor of the modern classical guitar. The term is also used for modern instruments made in the same style....

, which was documented in Spain from the middle of the 16th century, enjoyed popularity, especially in Spain, Italy and France from the late 16th century to the mid 18th century. Confusingly, in Portugal, the word vihuela referred to the guitar, whereas guitarra meant the "Portuguese guitar
Portuguese guitar
The Portuguese guitar or Portuguese guitarra is a plucked string instrument with twelve steel strings, strung in six courses comprising two strings each. It is one of the few musical instruments to use Preston tuners. It is most notably associated with fado.-History:The origin of the Portuguese...

", a variety of cittern
Cittern
The cittern or cither is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate its exact history, but it is generally accepted that it is descended from the Medieval Citole, or Cytole. It looks much like the modern-day flat-back mandolin and the modern Irish bouzouki and cittern...

.

Types

Guitars can be divided into two broad categories, acoustic and electric:

Acoustic guitars

There are several notable subcategories within the acoustic guitar group: classical and flamenco guitar
Flamenco guitar
A flamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar. Flamenco guitar also refers to toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of Flamenco.-Brief history:...

s; steel-string guitars, which include the flat-topped, or "folk," guitar; twelve-string guitars; and the arched-top guitar. The acoustic guitar group also includes unamplified guitars designed to play in different registers, such as the acoustic bass guitar, which has a similar tuning to that of the electric bass guitar.

Renaissance and Baroque guitars

These are the gracile ancestors of the modern classical guitar
Classical guitar
The classical guitar is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones...

. They are substantially smaller and more delicate than the classical guitar, and generate a much quieter sound. The strings are paired in courses as in a modern 12-string guitar, but they only have four or five courses of strings rather than six. They were more often used as rhythm instruments in ensembles than as solo instruments, and can often be seen in that role in early music
Early music
Early music is generally understood as comprising all music from the earliest times up to the Renaissance. However, today this term has come to include "any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises,...

 performances. (Gaspar Sanz
Gaspar Sanz
Gaspar Sanz was an Aragonese composer, guitarist, organist and priest born to a wealthy family in Calanda in the Spanish comarca of Bajo Aragón. He studied music, theology and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music...

' Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 constitutes the majority of the surviving solo corpus for the era.) Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 guitars are easily distinguished because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with ivory or wood inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.

Classical guitars

These are typically strung with nylon strings, plucked with the fingers, played in a seated position and are used to play a diversity of musical styles including classical music. The classical guitar's wide, flat neck allows the musician to play scales, arpeggios, and certain chord forms more easily and with less adjacent string interference than on other styles of guitar. Flamenco guitar
Flamenco guitar
A flamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar. Flamenco guitar also refers to toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of Flamenco.-Brief history:...

s are very similar in construction, but are associated with a more percussive tone. In Mexico, the popular mariachi
Mariachi
Mariachi is a genre of music that originated in the State of Jalisco, in Mexico. It is an integration of stringed instruments highly influenced by the cultural impacts of the historical development of Western Mexico. Throughout the history of mariachi, musicians have experimented with brass, wind,...

 band includes a range of guitars, from the tiny requinto
Requinto
The term requinto is used in both Spanish and Portuguese to mean a smaller, higher-pitched version of another instrument. Thus, there are requinto guitars, drums, and several wind instruments.-Wind instruments:...

 to the guitarrón, a guitar larger than a cello, which is tuned in the bass register. In Colombia, the traditional quartet includes a range of instruments too, from the small bandola (sometimes known as the Deleuze-Guattari, for use when traveling or in confined rooms or spaces), to the slightly larger tiple
Tiple
Tiple is the Spanish word for treble or soprano, is often applied to specific instruments, generally to refer to a small chordophone of the guitar family. A tiple player is called a tiplista.-Colombian tiple:...

, to the full sized classical guitar. The requinto also appears in other Latin-American countries as a complementary member of the guitar family, with its smaller size and scale, permitting more projection for the playing of single-lined melodies. Modern dimensions of the classical instrument were established by the Spaniard Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892).

Extended-range classical guitars

An Extended-range classical guitar is a classical guitar with more than 6 strings, usually up to 13.

Flamenco guitars

The flamenco guitar is similar to the classical guitar, but of lighter construction, with a cypress body and spruce top. Tuning pegs like those of a violin are traditional, although many modern flamenco
Flamenco
Flamenco is a genre of music and dance which has its foundation in Andalusian music and dance and in whose evolution Andalusian Gypsies played an important part....

 guitars have machine heads. A distinguishing feature of all flamenco guitars is the tapping plates (golpeadores) glued to the table, to protect them against the taps with the fingernails that are an essential feature of the flamenco style.

Many modern soloists (following the lead of Paco de Lucía
Paco de Lucía
Paco de Lucía, born Francisco Sánchez Gómez , is a Spanish virtuoso flamenco guitarist and composer. He is considered by many to be one of the finest guitarists in the world and the greatest guitarist of the flamenco genre...

) play what is called a flamenca negra, a hybrid of the flamenco and classical guitar constructions.

Flat-top (steel-string) guitars

Similar to the classical guitar
Classical guitar
The classical guitar is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones...

, however, within the varied sizes of the steel-stringed guitar the body size is usually significantly larger than a classical guitar, and has a narrower, reinforced neck and stronger structural design. The robust X-bracing typical of the steel-string was developed in the 1840s by German-American luthiers of whom C. F. Martin is the best known. Originally used on gut-strung instruments, the strength of the system allowed the guitar to withstand the additional tension of steel strings when this fortunate combination arose in the early 20th century. The steel strings produce a brighter tone, and according to many players, a louder sound. The acoustic guitar is used in many kinds of music including folk, country, bluegrass, pop, jazz, and blues. Many variations are possible from the roughly classical-sized OO and Parlour to the large Dreadnought
Dreadnought (guitar type)
Dreadnought is a type of acoustic guitar body developed by guitar manufacturers C.F. Martin & Company. The Dreadnought style has since been copied by other guitar manufacturers and is now a common style of guitar body...

 and Jumbo. Ovation makes a modern variation, with a rounded back/side assembly molded from artificial materials.

Archtop guitars

These are steel-string instruments in which the top (and often the back) of the instrument are carved from a solid billet in a curved rather than a flat shape; this violin-like construction is usually credited to the American Orville Gibson
Orville Gibson
Orville H. Gibson was a luthier who founded the Gibson Guitar Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1896, makers of guitars, mandolins and other instruments....

 (1856-1918). Lloyd Loar
Lloyd Loar
Lloyd Allayre Loar was a Gibson sound engineer and master luthier in the early part of the 20th century. He is most famous for his F5 model mandolin, L5 guitar, H5 mandola, K5 mandocello, and A5 mandolin....

 of the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co
Gibson Guitar Corporation
The Gibson Guitar Corporation, formerly of Kalamazoo, Michigan and currently of Nashville, Tennessee, manufactures guitars and other instruments which sell under a variety of brand names...

 introduced the violin-inspired f-hole design now usually associated with archtop guitars, after designing a style of mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

 of the same type. The typical archtop guitar has a large, deep, hollow body whose form is much like that of a mandolin or violin family instrument. Nowadays, most archtops are equipped with magnetic pickups and are therefore both acoustic and electric. F-hole archtop guitars were immediately adopted upon their release by both jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 and country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 musicians and have remained particularly popular in jazz music, usually with flatwound strings.

Selmer-Maccaferri guitars

These are usually played by those who follow the style of Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt was a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer who invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture...

. It is an unusual-looking instrument, distinguished by a fairly large body with squarish bouts, and either a "D"-shaped or longitudinal oval soundhole. The strings are gathered at the tail like an archtop guitar, but the top is formed from thin spruce (like a flat-top or classical) forced into a shallow dome. It also has a wide fingerboard and slotted head like a nylon-string guitar. The loud volume and penetrating tone make it suitable for single-note soloing
Guitar solo
In popular music, a guitar solo is a melodic passage, section, or entire piece of music written for an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Guitar solos, which often contain varying degrees of improvisation, are used in many styles of popular music such as blues, jazz, rock and metal styles such...

 and it is frequently employed as a lead instrument
Lead guitar
Lead guitar is a guitar part which plays melody lines, instrumental fill passages, guitar solos, and occasionally, some riffs within a song structure...

 in gypsy swing.


Resonator, resophonic or Dobro guitars

All three principal types of resonator guitars were invented by the Slovak-American John Dopyera
John Dopyera
John Dopyera was a Slovak-American inventor and entrepreneur, and a maker of stringed instruments. His inventions include the resonator guitar and important contributions in the early development of the electric guitar....

 (1893-1988) for the National and Dobro (Dopyera Brothers) companies. Similar to the flat top guitar in appearance, but with a body that may be made of brass, nickel-silver, or steel as well as wood, the sound of the resonator guitar is produced by one or more aluminum resonator cones mounted in the middle of the top. The physical principle of the guitar is therefore similar to the loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

. The original purpose of the resonator was to produce a very loud sound; this purpose has been largely superseded by electrical amplification, but the resonator guitar is still played because of its distinctive tone. Resonator guitars may have either one or three resonator cones. The method of transmitting sound resonance to the cone is either a "biscuit" bridge, made of a small piece of hardwood at the vertex of the cone (Nationals), or a "spider" bridge, made of metal and mounted around the rim of the (inverted) cone (Dobros). Three-cone resonators always use a specialized metal bridge. The type of resonator guitar with a neck with a square cross-section–called "square neck" or "Hawaiian"–is usually played face up, on the lap of the seated player, and often with a metal or glass slide
Slide guitar
Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the guitar. The term slide refers to the motion of the slide against the strings, while bottleneck refers to the original material of choice for such slides: the necks of glass bottles...

. The round neck resonator guitars are normally played in the same fashion as other guitars, although slides are also often used, especially in blues.

Twelve-string guitars

The twelve-string guitar usually has steel strings and is widely used in folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

, blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

, and rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

. Rather than having only six strings, the 12-string guitar has six course
Course (music)
A course is a pair or more of adjacent strings tuned to unison or an octave and usually played together as if a single string. It may also refer to a single string normally played on its own on an instrument with other multi-string courses, for example the bass string on a nine string baroque...

s made up of two strings each, like a mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

 or lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

. The highest two courses are tuned in unison, while the others are tuned in octaves. The 12-string guitar is also made in electric forms.

Russian guitars

These seven-string acoustic guitars were the norm for Russian guitarists throughout the 19th and well into the 20th centuries. The Russian guitar is traditionally tuned to open G major.

Acoustic bass guitars

These have steel strings or gut strings and often the same tuning as an electric bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

.

Guitarrón

The guitarrón is a very large, deep-bodied Mexican 6-string acoustic bass played in mariachi bands. It is fretless with heavy gauge nylon strings, and is usually played by doubling notes at the octave, which is facilitated by the unusual tuning of A D G C E A.

Tenor guitars

A number of classical guitarists call the Niibori prime guitar a "Tenor Guitar" on the grounds that it sits in pitch between the alto and the bass. Elsewhere the name is taken for a 4-string guitar with a scale length of 23" (585 mm)—about the same as a Terz Guitar. The tenor guitar is tuned in fifths, C G D A, as is the tenor banjo and the cello. It is generally accepted that the tenor guitar was created to allow a tenor banjo player to follow the fashion as it evolved from Dixieland Jazz towards the more progressive Jazz that featured guitar. It allows a tenor banjo player to provide a guitar-based rhythm section with little to learn. A small minority of players (such as Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio) close tuned the instrument to D G B E to produce a deep instrument that could be played with the 4-note chord shapes found on the top 4 strings of the guitar or ukulele
Ukulele
The ukulele, ; from ; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings....

. The deep pitch warrants the wide-spaced chords that the banjo tuning permits, and the close tuned tenor does not have the same full, clear sound.

Harp guitars

Harp Guitars are difficult to classify as there are many variations within this type of guitar. They are typically rare and uncommon in the popular music scene. Most consist of a regular guitar, plus additional 'harp' strings strung above the six normal strings. The instrument is usually acoustic and the harp strings are usually tuned to lower notes than the guitar strings, for an added bass range. Normally there is neither fingerboard nor frets behind the harp strings. Some harp guitars also feature much higher pitch strings strung below the traditional guitar strings. The number of harp strings varies greatly, depending on the type of guitar and also the player's personal preference. The Pikasso guitar; 4 necks, 2 sound holes, 42 strings and also the Oracle Harp Sympitar
Sympitar
A Sympitar is a modern form of guitar combining functional aspects of the guitar and the Indian sitar. This instrument has a unique feature: there is a graphite channel which guides a series of "sympathetic" resonating strings through the neck from the bridge up to the headstock...

; 24 strings (with 12 sympathetic strings protruding through the neck) are modern examples.

Extended-range guitars

For well over a century guitars featuring seven
Seven-string guitar
A seven-string guitar is a guitar with seven strings instead of the usual six. Some types of seven-string guitars are specific to certain cultures . The standard 7-string guitar tuning is BEADGbe...

, eight, nine
Nine-string guitar
A nine-string guitar is a guitar with nine strings instead of the commonly used six strings. Such guitars are not as common as the six string variety, but are used by guitarists to modify the sound or expand the range of their instrument by adding three strings...

, ten
Ten-string guitar
There are many varieties of ten-string guitar, including:* Both electric and acoustic guitars.* Instruments used principally for classical, folk and popular music.* Both coursed and uncoursed instruments.-Ten-stringed harp guitars:...

 or more strings have been used by a minority of guitarists as a means of increasing the range of pitch available to the player. Usually, it is bass strings that are added. Classical guitars with an extended range are useful for playing lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

 repertoire, some of which was written for lutes with more than six courses. A typical example is the modern 11 string archguitar, invented and played by Peter Blanchette.

Guitar battente

The battente is smaller than a classical guitar, usually played with four or five metal strings. It is mainly used in Calabria
Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

 (a region in southern Italy) to accompany the voice.

Electric guitars

Electric guitars can have solid, semi-hollow, or hollow bodies, and produce little sound without amplification. Electromagnetic
Electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

 pickup
Pickup (music technology)
A pickup device is a transducer that captures mechanical vibrations, usually from suitably equipped stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, electric bass guitar, Chapman Stick, or electric violin, and converts them to an electrical signal that is amplified, recorded, or broadcast.-...

s convert the vibration of the steel strings into signals, which are fed to an amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

 through a cable
Cable
A cable is two or more wires running side by side and bonded, twisted or braided together to form a single assembly. In mechanics cables, otherwise known as wire ropes, are used for lifting, hauling and towing or conveying force through tension. In electrical engineering cables are used to carry...

 or radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 transmitter
Transmitter
In electronics and telecommunications a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which, with the aid of an antenna, produces radio waves. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating...

. The sound is frequently modified by other electronic devices or the natural distortion
Distortion
A distortion is the alteration of the original shape of an object, image, sound, waveform or other form of information or representation. Distortion is usually unwanted, and often many methods are employed to minimize it in practice...

 of valves (vacuum tube
Vacuum tube
In electronics, a vacuum tube, electron tube , or thermionic valve , reduced to simply "tube" or "valve" in everyday parlance, is a device that relies on the flow of electric current through a vacuum...

s) in the amplifier. There are two main types of magnetic pickups, single
Single coil
A single coil pickup is a type of magnetic transducer, or pickup, for the electric guitar and the electric bass. It electromagnetically converts the vibration of the strings to an electric signal...

 and double coil (or humbucker
Humbucker
A humbucker is a type of electric guitar pickup, first patented by Seth Lover and the Gibson company, that uses two coils, both generating string signal. Humbuckers have higher output than a single coil pickup since both coils are connected in series...

), each of which can be passive or active. The electric guitar is used extensively in jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

, R & B, and rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

. The first successful magnetic pickup for a guitar was invented by George Beauchamp
George Beauchamp
George Delmetia Beauchamp was an inventor of musical instruments and a co-founder of National Stringed Instrument Corporation and Rickenbacker guitars....

, and incorporated into the 1931 Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker
Rickenbacker
Rickenbacker International Corporation, also known as Rickenbacker, is an electric and bass guitar manufacturer based in Santa Ana, California...

) "Frying Pan"
Frying pan (guitar)
The "frying pan" was the first electric lap steel guitar ever produced. George Beauchamp created the instrument in 1931, and it was subsequently manufactured by Rickenbacker Electro...

 lap steel; other manufacturers, notably Gibson
Gibson Guitar Corporation
The Gibson Guitar Corporation, formerly of Kalamazoo, Michigan and currently of Nashville, Tennessee, manufactures guitars and other instruments which sell under a variety of brand names...

, soon began to install pickups in archtop models. After World War II the completely solid-body electric was popularized by Gibson in collaboration with Les Paul
Les Paul
Lester William Polsfuss —known as Les Paul—was an American jazz and country guitarist, songwriter and inventor. He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which made the sound of rock and roll possible. He is credited with many recording innovations...

, and independently by Leo Fender
Leo Fender
Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender was an American inventor who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, or "Fender" for short...

 of Fender Music. The lower fretboard action (the height of the strings from the fingerboard), lighter (thinner) strings, and its electrical amplification lend the electric guitar to techniques less frequently used on acoustic guitars. These include tapping
Tapping
Tapping is a guitar playing technique, where a string is fretted and set into vibration as part of a single motion of being pushed onto the fretboard, as opposed to the standard technique being fretted with one hand and picked with the other...

, extensive use of legato
Legato
In musical notation the Italian word legato indicates that musical notes are played or sung smoothly and connected. That is, in transitioning from note to note, there should be no intervening silence...

 through pull-off
Pull-off
A pull-off is a stringed instrument technique performed by plucking a string by "pulling" the string off the fingerboard with one of the fingers being used to fret the note.-Performance and effect:...

s and hammer-on
Hammer-on
Hammer-on is a stringed instrument playing technique performed by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on the fingerboard behind a fret, causing a note to sound. This technique is the opposite of the pull-off...

s (also known as slurs), pinch harmonic
Pinch harmonic
A pinch harmonic or pick harmonic is a guitar technique in which the player's thumb or index finger on the picking hand slightly catches the string after it is picked, canceling the fundamental of the string, and letting one of the overtones dominate. This results in a high pitched sound...

s, volume swells, and use of a tremolo arm
Tremolo arm
A whammy bar, tremolo arm/bar, or vibrato arm/bar is a component of a guitar, used to add vibrato to the sound by changing the tension of the strings, typically at the bridge or tailpiece...

 or effects pedals.

The first electric guitarist of note to use a seven-string guitar was jazz guitarist George Van Eps
George Van Eps
George Van Eps was an American swing and Mainstream jazz guitarist noted both for his recordings as a leader, and for his work as a session musician. He was also the author of instructional books that explored his approach to guitar-based harmony...

, who was a pioneer of this instrument. Solid body seven-string
Seven-string guitar
A seven-string guitar is a guitar with seven strings instead of the usual six. Some types of seven-string guitars are specific to certain cultures . The standard 7-string guitar tuning is BEADGbe...

s were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s in part due to the release of the Ibanez Universe
Ibanez Universe
The Ibanez Universe is the world's first modern, commercial seven-string electric guitar, developed by Steve Vai and manufactured by Ibanez. The Universe is a seven-string version of the Ibanez JEM series, Vai's signature model...

 guitar, endorsed by Steve Vai
Steve Vai
Steven Siro "Steve" Vai is a three time Grammy Award-winning American guitarist, songwriter and producer who has sold over 15 million albums. Steve Vai is widely known as a flamboyant guitar virtuoso....

. Other artists go a step further, by using an eight-string guitar with two extra low strings. Although the most common seven-string has a low B string, Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

 (of The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

 and Rickenbacker
Rickenbacker
Rickenbacker International Corporation, also known as Rickenbacker, is an electric and bass guitar manufacturer based in Santa Ana, California...

) uses an octave G string paired with the regular G string as on a 12-string guitar, allowing him to incorporate chiming 12-string elements in standard six-string playing. In 1982 Uli Jon Roth developed the "Sky Guitar", with a vastly extended number of frets, which was the first guitar to venture into the upper registers of the violin. Roth's seven-string and 33-fret "Mighty Wing" guitar features a six-octave range.

The electric bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

 is similar in tuning to the traditional double bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

 viol.
Hybrids of acoustic and electric guitars are also common. There are also more exotic varieties, such as guitars with two
Double neck guitar
A multi-neck guitar is a guitar that has multiple fingerboard necks. They exist in both electric and acoustic versions. Although multi-neck guitars are quite common today, they are not by any means a modern invention...

, three, or rarely four necks, all manner of alternate string arrangements, fretless fingerboards
Fretless guitar
A fretless guitar is a guitar without frets. It operates in the same manner as most other stringed instruments and traditional guitars, but does not have any frets to act as the lower end point of the vibrating string...

 (used almost exclusively on bass guitars, meant to emulate the sound of a stand-up bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

), 5.1 surround guitar, and such.

Some electric guitar and electric bass guitar models feature piezoelectric
Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure...

 pickups, which function as transducer
Transducer
A transducer is a device that converts one type of energy to another. Energy types include electrical, mechanical, electromagnetic , chemical, acoustic or thermal energy. While the term transducer commonly implies the use of a sensor/detector, any device which converts energy can be considered a...

s to provide a sound closer to that of an acoustic guitar with the flip of a switch or knob, rather than switching guitars. Those that combine piezoelectric pickups and magnetic pickups are sometimes known as hybrid guitars.

General

Guitars can be constructed to meet the demands of both left and right-handed players. Traditionally the dominant hand is assigned the task of plucking or strumming the strings. For the majority of people this entails using the right hand. This is because musical expression (dynamics, tonal expression, color, etc.) is largely determined by the plucking hand, while the fretting hand is assigned the lesser mechanical task of depressing and gripping the strings. This is similar to the convention of the violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 family of instruments
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

 where the right hand controls the bow. Left-handed players generally choose a left-handed (mirror) instrument, although some play in a standard right-handed manner, others play a standard right-handed guitar reversed, and still others (for example Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter...

) play a right-handed guitar strung in reverse. This last configuration differs from a true left-handed guitar in that the saddle
Saddle
A saddle is a supportive structure for a rider or other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse, but specialized saddles have been created for camels and other creatures...

 is normally angled in such a way that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings to improve intonation
Intonation (music)
Intonation, in music, is a musician's realization of pitch accuracy, or the pitch accuracy of a musical instrument. Intonation may be flat, sharp, or both, successively or simultaneously.-Interval, melody, and harmony:...

. Reversing the strings therefore reverses the relative orientation of the saddle (negatively affecting intonation), although in Hendrix' case this is believed to have been an important element in his unique sound.

Headstock

The headstock is located at the end of the guitar neck furthest from the body. It is fitted with machine heads that adjust the tension of the strings, which in turn affects the pitch. Traditional tuner layout is "3+3" in which each side of the headstock has three tuners (such as on Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul
The Gibson Les Paul was the result of a design collaboration between Gibson Guitar Corporation and the late jazz guitarist and electronics inventor Les Paul. In 1950, with the introduction of the Fender Telecaster to the musical market, electric guitars became a public craze. In reaction, Gibson...

s). In this layout, the headstocks are commonly symmetrical. Many guitars feature other layouts as well, including six-in-line (featured on Fender Stratocaster
Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster, often referred to as "Strat", is a model of electric guitar designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, and manufactured continuously by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top...

s) tuners or even "4+2" (Ernie Ball Music Man). However, some guitars (such as Steinberger
Steinberger
Steinberger refers to a series of distinctive electric guitars and bass guitars, designed and originally manufactured by Ned Steinberger. The word Steinberger can be used to refer to either the instruments themselves or the company that produced them...

s) do not have headstocks at all, in which case the tuning machines are located elsewhere, either on the body or the bridge.

Nut

The nut is a small strip of bone
Bone
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

, plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

, brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

, corian
Corian
Corian is the brand name for a solid surface material created by DuPont. It is composed of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate. Corian can be thermoformed by heating it to 300°F , allowing unique shapes to be created...

, graphite
Graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

, stainless steel
Stainless steel
In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass....

, or other medium-hard material, at the joint where the headstock meets the fretboard. Its grooves guide the strings onto the fretboard, giving consistent lateral string placement. It is one of the endpoints of the strings' vibrating length. It must be accurately cut, or it can contribute to tuning problems due to string slippage or string buzz. To reduce string friction in the nut, which can adversely affect tuning stability, some guitarists fit a roller nut. Some instruments use a zero fret just in front of the nut. In this case the nut is used only for lateral alignment of the strings, the string height and length being dictated by the zero fret.

Fretboard

Also called the fingerboard, the fretboard is a piece of wood embedded with metal frets that comprises the top of the neck. It is flat on classical guitars and slightly curved crosswise on acoustic and electric guitars. The curvature of the fretboard is measured by the fretboard radius, which is the radius of a hypothetical circle of which the fretboard's surface constitutes a segment. The smaller the fretboard radius, the more noticeably curved the fretboard is. Most modern guitars feature a 12" neck radius, while older guitars from the 1960s and 1970s usually feature a 6-8" neck radius. Pinching a string against the fretboard effectively shortens the vibrating length of the string, producing a higher pitch. Fretboards are most commonly made of rosewood
Rosewood
Rosewood refers to any of a number of richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining, but found in many different hues. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for guitars, marimbas, turnery , handles, furniture, luxury flooring, etc.In general,...

, ebony
Ebony
Ebony is a dense black wood, most commonly yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, but ebony may also refer to other heavy, black woods from unrelated species. Ebony is dense enough to sink in water. Its fine texture, and very smooth finish when polished, make it valuable as an...

, maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

, and sometimes manufactured or composite materials such as HPL or resin. See below on section "Neck" for the importance of the length of the fretboard in connection to other dimensions of the guitar.

Frets

Frets are metal strips (usually nickel alloy or stainless steel) embedded along the fretboard and located at exact points that divide the scale length in accordance with a specific mathematical formula. Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch. The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale
Chromatic scale
The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone apart. On a modern piano or other equal-tempered instrument, all the half steps are the same size...

. Standard classical guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 to 24 frets, although guitars have been made with as many as 27 frets.

Frets are laid out to a mathematical ratio that results in equal tempered
Equal temperament
An equal temperament is a musical temperament, or a system of tuning, in which every pair of adjacent notes has an identical frequency ratio. As pitch is perceived roughly as the logarithm of frequency, this means that the perceived "distance" from every note to its nearest neighbor is the same for...

 division of the octave. The ratio
Ratio
In mathematics, a ratio is a relationship between two numbers of the same kind , usually expressed as "a to b" or a:b, sometimes expressed arithmetically as a dimensionless quotient of the two which explicitly indicates how many times the first number contains the second In mathematics, a ratio is...

 of the spacing of two consecutive frets is the twelfth root of two. The twelfth fret divides the scale length
Scale (string instruments)
In stringed instruments, the scale length is the maximum vibrating length of the strings to produce sound. In the classical community, it may be called simply "string length" or less often "mensure." On instruments in which strings are not "stopped" or divided in length like for example the...

 in two exact halves and the 24th fret position divides the scale length in half yet again. Every twelve frets represents one octave. In practice, luthiers determine fret positions using the constant 17.817, which is derived from the twelfth root of two (17.817 = (1-2-1/12)−1). The scale length
Scale (string instruments)
In stringed instruments, the scale length is the maximum vibrating length of the strings to produce sound. In the classical community, it may be called simply "string length" or less often "mensure." On instruments in which strings are not "stopped" or divided in length like for example the...

 divided by this value yields the distance from the nut to the first fret. That distance is subtracted from the scale length and the result is divided in two sections by the constant to yield the distance from the first fret to the second fret. Positions for the remainder of the frets are calculated in like manner. Actual fret spacing does not use this exact value; the fret spacing on the fretboard was also done by trial and error (testing) method over the ages.

There are several different fret gauges, which can be fitted according to player preference. Among these are "jumbo" frets, which have much thicker gauge, allowing for use of a slight vibrato technique from pushing the string down harder and softer. "Scalloped" fretboards, where the wood of the fretboard itself is "scooped out" between the frets allows a dramatic vibrato effect. Fine frets, much flatter, allow a very low string-action but require other conditions such as curvature of the neck to be well maintained to prevent buzz.

On steel-string guitars, frets are eventually bound to wear down; when this happens, frets can be replaced or, to a certain extent, leveled, polished, recrowned, or reshaped as required.

Truss rod

The truss rod is a metal rod that runs along the inside of the neck. It is used to correct changes to the neck's curvature caused by the neck timbers aging, changes in humidity or to compensate for changes in the tension of strings. The tension of the rod and neck assembly is adjusted by a hex nut or an allen-key bolt on the rod, usually located either at the headstock, sometimes under a cover, or just inside the body of the guitar underneath the fretboard and accessible through the sound hole. Some truss rods can only be accessed by removing the neck. The truss rod counteracts the immense amount of tension the strings place on the neck, bringing the neck back to a straighter position. Turning the truss rod clockwise tightens it, counteracting the tension of the strings and straightening the neck or creating a backward bow. Turning the truss rod counter-clockwise loosens it, allowing string tension to act on the neck and creating a forward bow. Adjusting the truss rod affects the intonation of a guitar as well as the height of the strings from the fingerboard, called the action. Some truss rod systems, called "double action" truss systems, tighten both ways, allowing the neck to be pushed both forward and backward (standard truss rods can only be released to a point beyond which the neck is no longer compressed and pulled backward).

Classical guitars do not require truss rods as their nylon strings exert a lower tensile force with lesser potential to cause structural problems. However their necks are often reinforced with a strip of harder wood, such as an ebony
Ebony
Ebony is a dense black wood, most commonly yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, but ebony may also refer to other heavy, black woods from unrelated species. Ebony is dense enough to sink in water. Its fine texture, and very smooth finish when polished, make it valuable as an...

 strip running down the back of a cedar
Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata, commonly called Western or pacific red cedar, giant or western arborvitae, giant cedar, or shinglewood, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae native to western North America...

 neck. There is no tension adjustment on this form of reinforcement.

Inlays

Inlays are visual elements set into the exterior surface of a guitar. The typical locations for inlay are on the fretboard, headstock, and on acoustic guitars around the soundhole, known as the rosette
Rosette (design)
A rosette is a round, stylized flower design, used extensively in sculptural objects from antiquity. Appearing in Mesopotamia and used to decorate the funeral stele in Ancient Greece...

. Inlays range from simple plastic dots on the fretboard to intricate works of art covering the entire exterior surface of a guitar (front and back). Some guitar players have used LED
LEd
LEd is a TeX/LaTeX editing software working under Microsoft Windows. It is a freeware product....

s in the fretboard to produce a unique lighting effects onstage.

Fretboard inlays are most commonly shaped like dots, diamond shapes, parallelograms, or large blocks in between the frets. Dots are usually inlaid into the upper edge of the fretboard in the same positions, small enough to be visible only to the player. These usually appear on the odd numbered frets, but also on the 12th fret (the one octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

 mark) instead of the 11th and 13th frets. Some older or high-end instruments have inlays made of mother of pearl, abalone, ivory, coloured wood or other exotic materials and designs. Simpler inlays are often made of plastic or painted. High-end classical guitars seldom have fretboard inlays as a well trained player is expected to know his or her way around the instrument.

In addition to fretboard inlay, the headstock and soundhole surround are also frequently inlaid. The manufacturer's logo or a small design is often inlaid into the headstock. Rosette designs vary from simple concentric circles to delicate fretwork mimicking the historic rosette of lutes. Bindings that edge the finger and sound boards are sometimes inlaid. Some instruments have a filler strip running down the length and behind the neck, used for strength or to fill the cavity through which the trussrod was installed in the neck.

Elaborate inlays are a decorative feature of many limited edition, high-end and custom-made guitars. Guitar manufacturers often release such guitars to celebrate significant or historic milestones.

Neck

A guitar's frets, fretboard, tuners
Machine head
A machine head is part of a string instrument ranging from guitars to double basses, a geared apparatus for applying tension and thereby tuning a string, usually located at the headstock. A headstock has several machine heads, one per string...

, headstock
Headstock
Headstock or peghead is a part of guitar or similar stringed instrument. The main function of a headstock is holding the instrument's strings. Strings go from the bridge past the nut and are usually fixed on machine heads on headstock...

, and truss rod
Truss rod
The truss rod is part of a guitar or banjo used to stabilize and adjust the lengthwise forward curvature , of the neck. Usually it is a steel rod that runs inside the neck and has a bolt that can be used to adjust its tension...

, all attached to a long wooden extension, collectively constitute its neck
Neck (music)
The neck is the part of certain string instruments that projects from the main body and is the base of the fingerboard, where the fingers are placed to stop the strings at different pitches. Guitars, lutes, the violin family, and the mandolin family are examples of instruments which have necks.The...

. The wood used to make the fretboard usually differs from the wood in the rest of the neck. The bending stress on the neck is considerable, particularly when heavier gauge strings are used (see Tuning), and the ability of the neck to resist bending (see Truss rod) is important to the guitar's ability to hold a constant pitch during tuning or when strings are fretted. The rigidity of the neck with respect to the body of the guitar is one determinant of a good instrument versus a poor one. The shape of the neck can also vary, from a gentle "C" curve to a more pronounced "V" curve. There are many different types of neck profiles available, giving the guitarist many options.
Some aspects to consider in a guitar neck may be the overall width of the fingerboard, scale (distance between the frets), the neck wood, the type of neck construction (for example, the neck may be glued in or bolted on), and the shape (profile) of the back of the neck. Other type of material used to make guitar necks are graphite (Steinberger
Steinberger
Steinberger refers to a series of distinctive electric guitars and bass guitars, designed and originally manufactured by Ned Steinberger. The word Steinberger can be used to refer to either the instruments themselves or the company that produced them...

 guitars), aluminium (Kramer Guitars
Kramer Guitars
Kramer Guitars is an American manufacturer of electric guitars and basses. Kramer produced aluminum-necked electric guitars and basses in the 1970s and wooden-necked guitars catering to hard rock and heavy metal musicians in the 1980s; Kramer is currently a division of Gibson Guitar Corporation...

, Travis Bean
Travis Bean
Clifford Travis Bean was an American luthier and machinist from California.In 1974, he partnered with Marc McElwee and Gary Kramer to start Travis Bean Guitars, which made high-end electric guitars and basses featuring machined aluminum necks. This was an unusual design, departing from more...

 and Veleno guitars
Veleno (guitar)
The Veleno guitar is a highly-regarded series of aluminum guitars built by metal craftsman John Veleno. The first guitars were built in 1972. Veleno guitars are known for their unique sound quality. Public Image Ltd...

), or carbon fiber (Modulus Guitars
Modulus Guitars
Modulus Guitars is an American manufacturer of musical instruments, most notably bass guitars built with carbon fiber necks. The company, originally called Modulus Graphite, was founded in part by Geoff Gould, a bassist who also worked for an aerospace company in Palo Alto, California.The name may...

 and ThreeGuitars
ThreeGuitars
ThreeGuitars is the brand of an Italian manufacturing company specialized to the production of high-end electric guitars and electric bass made with carbonfiber and aluminium alloy....

).

Double neck electric guitars have two necks, allowing the musician to quickly switch between guitar sounds.

Neck joint or "Heel"

This is the point at which the neck is either bolted or glued to the body of the guitar. Almost all acoustic steel-string guitars, with the primary exception of Taylors, have glued (otherwise known as set) necks, while electric guitars are constructed using both types. Most classical guitars have a neck and headblock carved from one piece of wood, known as a "Spanish heel."

Commonly used set neck joints include mortise and tenon
Mortise and tenon
The mortise and tenon joint has been used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world to join pieces of wood, mainly when the adjoining pieces connect at an angle of 90°. In its basic form it is both simple and strong. Although there are many joint variations, the basic mortise and tenon...

 joints (such as those used by CF Martin & Co.), dovetail joints (also used by CF Martin on the D-28 and similar models) and Spanish heel neck joints, which are named after the shoe they resemble and commonly found in classical guitars. All three types offer stability. Bolt-on necks, though they are historically associated with cheaper instruments, do offer greater flexibility in the guitar's set-up, and allow easier access for neck joint maintenance and repairs.

Another type of neck, only available for solid body electric guitars, is the neck-through-body construction. These are designed so that everything from the machine heads down to the bridge are located on the same piece of wood. The sides (also known as wings) of the guitar are then glued to this central piece. Some luthiers prefer this method of construction as they claim it allows better sustain of each note. Some instruments may not have a neck joint at all, having the neck and sides built as one piece and the body built around it.

Strings

The standard guitar has six strings
Strings (music)
A string is the vibrating element that produces sound in string instruments, such as the guitar, harp, piano, and members of the violin family. Strings are lengths of a flexible material kept under tension so that they may vibrate freely, but controllably. Strings may be "plain"...

 but four-
Tenor guitar
1932 Martin 0-18 T Sunburst Tenor Guitar|thumb|rightThe tenor guitar or four-string guitar is a slightly smaller, four-string relative of the steel-string acoustic guitar or electric guitar. The instrument was developed so that players of the four-string tenor banjo could double on the guitar...

, seven-
Seven-string guitar
A seven-string guitar is a guitar with seven strings instead of the usual six. Some types of seven-string guitars are specific to certain cultures . The standard 7-string guitar tuning is BEADGbe...

, eight-, nine-
Nine-string guitar
A nine-string guitar is a guitar with nine strings instead of the commonly used six strings. Such guitars are not as common as the six string variety, but are used by guitarists to modify the sound or expand the range of their instrument by adding three strings...

, ten-
Ten-string guitar
There are many varieties of ten-string guitar, including:* Both electric and acoustic guitars.* Instruments used principally for classical, folk and popular music.* Both coursed and uncoursed instruments.-Ten-stringed harp guitars:...

, eleven-, twelve-, thirteen- and eighteen-string guitars are also available.

Classical and flamenco guitars historically used gut
Catgut
Catgut is a type of cord that is prepared from the natural fibre found in the walls of animal intestines. Usually sheep or goat intestines are used, but it is occasionally made from the intestines of cattle, hogs, horses, mules, or donkeys.-Etymology:...

 strings but these have been superseded by polymer materials, such as nylon and fluorocarbon.

Modern guitar strings
Strings (music)
A string is the vibrating element that produces sound in string instruments, such as the guitar, harp, piano, and members of the violin family. Strings are lengths of a flexible material kept under tension so that they may vibrate freely, but controllably. Strings may be "plain"...

 are constructed of metal, polymers, or animal or plant product materials. Instruments utilising "steel" strings may have strings made of alloys incorporating steel, nickel or phosphor bronze. Bass strings for both instruments are wound rather than monofilament.

Body (acoustic guitar)

In acoustic guitars, string vibration is transmitted through the bridge and saddle to the body via sound board. The sound board is typically made of tone woods such as spruce or cedar. Timbers for tone woods are chosen for both strength and ability to transfer mechanical energy from the strings to the air within the guitar body. Sound is further shaped by the characteristics of the guitar body's resonant cavity.

In electric guitars, transducer
Transducer
A transducer is a device that converts one type of energy to another. Energy types include electrical, mechanical, electromagnetic , chemical, acoustic or thermal energy. While the term transducer commonly implies the use of a sensor/detector, any device which converts energy can be considered a...

s known as pickups convert string vibration
Vibrating string
A vibration in a string is a wave. Usually a vibrating string produces a sound whose frequency in most cases is constant. Therefore, since frequency characterizes the pitch, the sound produced is a constant note....

 to an electric signal, which in turn is amplified
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

 and fed to speakers, which vibrate the air to produce the sounds we hear. Nevertheless, the body of the electric guitar still performs a role in shaping the resultant tonal signature.

In an acoustic instrument, the body of the guitar is a major determinant of the overall sound quality. The guitar top, or soundboard, is a finely crafted and engineered element made of tonewood
Tonewood
Tonewood generally refers to any wood which may be used in the construction of a musical instrument. Many acoustic properties are often assigned to specific wood species; however the description of these properties is itself a large subject and beyond the scope of this article...

s such as spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 and red cedar
Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata, commonly called Western or pacific red cedar, giant or western arborvitae, giant cedar, or shinglewood, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae native to western North America...

. This thin piece of wood, often only 2 or 3 mm thick, is strengthened by differing types of internal bracing
Guitar bracing
Guitar bracing refers to the system of wooden struts which support and reinforce the soundboard and back of the instrument.Soundboard or top bracing transmits the forces exerted by the strings from the bridge to the rim...

. The top is considered by many luthiers to be the dominant factor in determining the sound quality. The majority of the instrument's sound is heard through the vibration of the guitar top as the energy of the vibrating strings is transferred to it.

Body size, shape and style has changed over time. 19th century guitars, now known as salon guitars, were smaller than modern instruments. Differing patterns of internal bracing have been used over time by luthiers. Torres, Hauser, Ramirez, Fleta, and C.F. Martin were among the most influential designers of their time. Bracing not only strengthens the top against potential collapse due to the stress exerted by the tensioned strings, but also affects the resonance characteristics of the top. The back and sides are made out of a variety of timbers such as mahogany, Indian rosewood
Rosewood
Rosewood refers to any of a number of richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining, but found in many different hues. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for guitars, marimbas, turnery , handles, furniture, luxury flooring, etc.In general,...

 and highly regarded Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra). Each one is primarily chosen for their aesthetic effect and can be decorated with inlays and purfling.

The body of an acoustic guitar has a sound hole through which sound projects. The sound hole is usually a round hole in the top of the guitar under the strings. Air inside the body vibrates as the guitar top and body is vibrated by the strings, and the response of the air cavity at different frequencies is characterised, like the rest of the guitar body, by a number of resonance modes at which it responds more strongly.

Instruments with larger areas for the guitar top were introduced by Martin in an attempt to create louder volume levels. The popularity of the larger "dreadnought" body size amongst acoustic performers is related to the greater sound volume produced.

Body (electric guitar)

Most electric guitar bodies are made of wood, and include a plastic pick guard. Boards wide enough to use as a solid body are very expensive due to the worldwide depletion of hardwood stock since the 1970s, so the wood is rarely one solid piece. Most bodies are made of two pieces of wood with some of them including a seam running down the centre line of the body. The most common woods used for electric guitar body construction include maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

, basswood, ash
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

, poplar
Poplar
Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar , aspen, and cottonwood....

, alder
Alder
Alder is the common name of a genus of flowering plants belonging to the birch family . The genus comprises about 30 species of monoecious trees and shrubs, few reaching large size, distributed throughout the North Temperate Zone and in the Americas along the Andes southwards to...

, and mahogany
Mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

. Many bodies consist of good sounding but inexpensive woods, like ash, with a "top", or thin layer of another, more attractive wood (such as maple with a natural "flame" pattern) glued to the top of the basic wood. Guitars constructed like this are often called "flame tops". The body is usually carved or routed to accept the other elements, such as the bridge, pickup, neck, and other electronic components. Most electrics have a polyurethane or nitrocellulose
Nitrocellulose
Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating cellulose through exposure to nitric acid or another powerful nitrating agent. When used as a propellant or low-order explosive, it is also known as guncotton...

 lacquer finish.
Other alternative materials to wood, are used in guitar body construction. Some of these include carbon composites, plastic material (such as polycarbonate), and aluminum alloys.

Pickups

Pickups are transducer
Transducer
A transducer is a device that converts one type of energy to another. Energy types include electrical, mechanical, electromagnetic , chemical, acoustic or thermal energy. While the term transducer commonly implies the use of a sensor/detector, any device which converts energy can be considered a...

s attached to a guitar that detect (or "pick up") string vibrations and convert the mechanical energy of the string into electrical energy. The resultant electrical signal can then be electronically amplified
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

. The most common type of pickup is electromagnetic
Electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

 in design. These contain magnets that are tightly wrapped in a coil, or coils, of copper wire. Such pickups are usually placed right underneath the guitar strings. Electromagnetic pickups work on the same principles and in a similar manner to an electrical generator
Electrical generator
In electricity generation, an electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. A generator forces electric charge to flow through an external electrical circuit. It is analogous to a water pump, which causes water to flow...

. The vibration of the strings causes a small voltage to be created in the coils surrounding the magnets; this signal voltage is later amplified.

Traditional electromagnetic pickups are either single-coil or double-coil. Single-coil pickups are susceptible to noise induced from electric fields, usually mains-frequency (60 or 50 hertz) hum. The introduction of the double-coil humbucker
Humbucker
A humbucker is a type of electric guitar pickup, first patented by Seth Lover and the Gibson company, that uses two coils, both generating string signal. Humbuckers have higher output than a single coil pickup since both coils are connected in series...

 in the mid-1950s did away with this problem through the use of two coils, one of which is wired in a reverse polarity orientation.

The types and models of pickups used can greatly affect the tone of the guitar. Typically, humbuckers, which are two magnet–coil assemblies attached to each other are traditionally associated with a heavier sound. Single-coil pickups, one magnet wrapped in copper wire, are used by guitarists seeking a brighter, twangier sound with greater dynamic range.

Modern pickups are tailored to the sound desired. A commonly applied approximation used in selection of a pickup is that less wire (lower DC resistance) = brighter sound, more wire = "fat" tone. Other options include specialized switching that produces coil-splitting, in/out of phase and other effects. Guitar circuits are either active, needing a battery to power their circuit, or, as in most cases, equipped with a passive circuit.

Fender Stratocaster
Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster, often referred to as "Strat", is a model of electric guitar designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, and manufactured continuously by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top...

 type guitars generally utilize three single-coil pickups, while most Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul
The Gibson Les Paul was the result of a design collaboration between Gibson Guitar Corporation and the late jazz guitarist and electronics inventor Les Paul. In 1950, with the introduction of the Fender Telecaster to the musical market, electric guitars became a public craze. In reaction, Gibson...

 types use humbucker pickups.

Piezoelectric, or piezo, pickups represent another class of pickup. These employ piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure...

 to generate the musical signal and are popular in hybrid electro-acoustic guitars. A crystal is located under each string, usually in the saddle. When the string vibrates, the shape of the crystal is distorted, and the stresses associated with this change produce tiny voltages across the crystal that can be amplified and manipulated.

Some piezo-equipped guitars use what is known as a hexaphonic pickup. "Hex" is a prefix meaning six. In a hexaphonic pickup separate outputs are obtained from discrete piezoelectric pickups for each of the six strings. This arrangement allows the signal to be easily modified by on-board modelling electronics, as in the Line 6 Variax brand of electric guitars; the guitars allow for a variety of sounds to be obtained by digitally manipulating the signal. This allows a guitar to mimic many vintage models of guitar, as well as output alternate tunings without the need to adjust the strings.

Another use for hexaphonic pickups is to send the output signals to a MIDI interpretation device, which determines the note pitch, duration, attack and decay characteristics and so forth. The MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface
Musical Instrument Digital Interface
MIDI is an industry-standard protocol, first defined in 1982 by Gordon Hall, that enables electronic musical instruments , computers and other electronic equipment to communicate and synchronize with each other...

) interpreter then sends the note information to a sound bank device. The resulting sound can closely mimic numerous types of instruments. The MIDI setup can also enable the guitar to be used as a game controller (i.e. Rock Band Squier) or as an instructional tool, as with the Fretlight Guitar.

Electronics

On guitars that have them, these components and the wires that connect them allow the player to control some aspects of the sound like volume or tone. These at their simplest consist of passive components such as potentiometer
Potentiometer
A potentiometer , informally, a pot, is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. If only two terminals are used , it acts as a variable resistor or rheostat. Potentiometers are commonly used to control electrical devices such as volume controls on...

s and capacitors, but may also include specialized integrated circuits or other active components requiring batteries
Battery (electricity)
An electrical battery is one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Since the invention of the first battery in 1800 by Alessandro Volta and especially since the technically improved Daniell cell in 1836, batteries have become a common power...

 for power, for preamplification and signal processing, or even for assistance in tuning. In many cases the electronics have some sort of shielding to prevent pickup of external interference and noise.

Lining, binding, and purfling

The top, back and ribs of an acoustic guitar body are very thin (1–2 mm), so a flexible piece of wood called lining is glued into the corners where the rib meets the top and back. This interior reinforcement provides 5 to 20 mm of solid gluing area for these corner joints. Solid linings are often used in classical guitars, while kerfed lining is most often found in steel string acoustics. Kerfed lining is also called kerfing (because it is scored, or kerfed to allow it to bend with the shape of the rib).

During final construction, a small section of the outside corners is carved or routed out and filled with binding material on the outside corners and decorative strips of material next to the binding, which are called purfling
Purfling
Purfling is a narrow binding inlaid into the edges of the top and often bottom plates of stringed instruments. Purfling serves to reinforce the plates and prevent cracking along their edges....

. This binding serves to seal off the end grain of the top and back. Purfling can also appear on the back of an acoustic guitar, marking the edge joints of the two or three sections of the back.

Binding and purfling materials are generally made of either wood or plastic.

Bridge

The main purpose of the bridge on an acoustic guitar is to transfer the vibration from the strings to the soundboard, which vibrates the air inside of the guitar, thereby amplifying the sound produced by the strings.

On all electric, acoustic and original guitars, the bridge holds the strings in place on the body. There are many varied bridge designs. There may be some mechanism for raising or lowering the bridge saddles to adjust the distance between the strings and the fretboard (action), or fine-tuning the intonation of the instrument. Some are spring-loaded and feature a "whammy bar", a removable arm that lets the player modulate the pitch by changing the tension on the strings. The whammy bar is sometimes also referred to as a "tremolo bar" (see Tremolo
Tremolo
Tremolo, or tremolando, is a musical term that describes various trembling effects, falling roughly into two types. The first is a rapid reiteration...

 for further discussion of this term—the effect of rapidly changing pitch produced by a whammy bar is more correctly called "vibrato"). Some bridges also allow for alternate tunings at the touch of a button.

On almost all modern electric guitars, the bridge has saddles which are adjustable for each string so that intonation stays correct up and down the neck. If the open string is in tune but sharp or flat when frets are pressed, the bridge saddle position can be adjusted with a screwdriver or hex key to remedy the problem. In general, flat notes are corrected by moving the saddle forward and sharp notes by moving it backwards. On an instrument correctly adjusted for intonation, the actual length of each string from the nut to the bridge saddle is slightly but measurably longer than the scale length
Scale (string instruments)
In stringed instruments, the scale length is the maximum vibrating length of the strings to produce sound. In the classical community, it may be called simply "string length" or less often "mensure." On instruments in which strings are not "stopped" or divided in length like for example the...

 of the instrument. This additional length is called compensation, which flattens all notes a bit to compensate for the sharping of all fretted notes caused by stretching the string during fretting.

Saddle

The saddle of a guitar refers to the part of the bridge that physically supports the strings. It may be one piece ( typically on acoustic guitars) or separate pieces, one for each string ( electric guitars and basses). The saddle's basic purpose is to provide the end point for the string's vibration at the correct location for proper intonation, and on acoustic guitars to transfer the vibrations through the bridge into the top wood of the guitar. Saddles are typically made of plastic or bone for acoustic guitars, though synthetics and some exotic animal tooth variations (e.g. fossilized tooth, ivory, etc. ) have become popular with some players. Electric guitar saddles are typically metal, though some synthetic saddles are available.

Pickguard

Also known as a scratchplate. This is usually a piece of laminated plastic or other material that protects the finish of the top of the guitar from damage due to the use of a plectrum or fingernails. Electric guitars sometimes mount pickups and electronics on the pickguard. It is a common feature on steel-string acoustic guitars. Vigorous performance styles such as flamenco
Flamenco
Flamenco is a genre of music and dance which has its foundation in Andalusian music and dance and in whose evolution Andalusian Gypsies played an important part....

, which can involve the use of the guitar as a percussion instrument, call for a scratchplate to be fitted to nylon-string instruments.

Whammy Bar (Tremolo Arm)

Many electric guitars are fitted with a vibrato and pitch bend device known as a "tremolo bar (or arm)", "sissy bar", "wang bar", "slam handle", "whammy handle", and "whammy bar". The latter two terms led stompbox manufacturers to use the term 'whammy' in coming up with a pitch raising effect introduced by popular guitar effects pedal brand Digitech.

The tremolo arm is common enough that there is a technical term, hard tail, for a guitar without one.

Leo Fender
Leo Fender
Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender was an American inventor who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, or "Fender" for short...

, who did much to create the electric guitar, also created much confusion over the meaning of the terms "tremolo" and "vibrato" by the naming the "tremolo" unit
Tremolo arm
A whammy bar, tremolo arm/bar, or vibrato arm/bar is a component of a guitar, used to add vibrato to the sound by changing the tension of the strings, typically at the bridge or tailpiece...

 on many of his guitars and also the "vibrato" unit
Vibrato unit
A vibrato unit is an effects unit used to add tremolo to the sound of an electric instrument, most often an electric guitar. Vibrato units may be individual stomp boxes or built in to multi-effects units, but are traditionally built in to guitar amplifiers....

 on his "Vibrolux" amps. In general, vibrato is a variation in pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

, whereas tremolo is a variation in volume, so the tremolo bar is actually a vibrato bar and the "Vibrolux" amps actually had a tremolo effect. However, following Fender's example, electric guitarists traditionally reverse these meanings when speaking of hardware devices and the effects they produce. See vibrato unit
Vibrato unit
A vibrato unit is an effects unit used to add tremolo to the sound of an electric instrument, most often an electric guitar. Vibrato units may be individual stomp boxes or built in to multi-effects units, but are traditionally built in to guitar amplifiers....

for a more detailed discussion, and tremolo arm
Tremolo arm
A whammy bar, tremolo arm/bar, or vibrato arm/bar is a component of a guitar, used to add vibrato to the sound by changing the tension of the strings, typically at the bridge or tailpiece...

for more of the history.

Another type of pitch bender is the B-Bender
B-Bender
B-Bender is a guitar accessory that enables a player to mechanically bend the B-string up a whole tone to C-sharp. There are several different designs, but all use levers or pulleys inside or outside the guitar body that are activated by a pull or push of the guitar neck, body, or bridge...

, a spring and lever device mounted in an internal cavity of a solid body electric, guitar that allows the guitarist to bend just the B string of the guitar using a lever connected to the strap handle of the guitar. The resulting pitch bend is evocative of the sound of the pedal steel guitar
Pedal steel guitar
The pedal steel guitar is a type of electric guitar that uses a metal bar to "fret" or shorten the length of the strings, rather than fingers on strings as with a conventional guitar. Unlike other types of steel guitar, it also uses pedals and knee levers to affect the pitch, hence the name "pedal"...

.

Guitar strap

A guitar strap is a strip of fabric with a leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

 or synthetic
Synthetic fiber
Synthetic fibers are the result of extensive research by scientists to improve on naturally occurring animal and plant fibers. In general, synthetic fibers are created by forcing, usually through extrusion, fiber forming materials through holes into the air, forming a thread...

 leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

 piece on each end. It is made to hold a guitar via the shoulders
Shoulders
Shoulders is drinking game that involves players competing in a fast paced game attempting to "count" to 21.-Game play:*The game begins with a player slapping his left/right shoulder, this starts the count at 1....

, at an adjustable length to suit the position favoured by the guitarist.

Guitars have varying accommodations for attaching a strap. The most common are strap buttons, also called strap pins, which are flanged steel posts anchored to the guitar with screws. Two strap buttons come pre-attached to virtually all electric guitars, and many steel-string acoustic guitars. Strap buttons are sometimes replaced with "strap locks" which connect the guitar to the strap more securely.

The lower strap button is usually located at the bottom (bridge end) of the body. The upper strap button is usually located near or at the top (neck end) of the body: on the upper body curve, at the tip of the upper "horn" (on a double cutaway), or at the neck joint (heel). Some electrics, especially those with odd-shaped bodies, have one or both strap buttons on the back of the body. Some Steinberger electric guitars, owing to their minimalist and lightweight design, have both strap buttons at the bottom of the body. Rarely, on some acoustics, the upper strap button is located on the headstock.

Some acoustic and classical guitars only have a single strap button at the bottom of the body—the other end must be tied onto the headstock, above the nut and below the machine heads.

Some acoustic and classical guitars come with no strap buttons at all. In this case, one or two strap buttons can usually be added to the guitar, or a "classical guitar strap" (also called a "guitar harness" or "neck strap") can be used, which supports the guitar by hooking into the sound hole.

Self-tuning guitars

Self-tuning guitars are computerized guitars programmed to tune themselves. The Gibson Robot Guitar
Gibson Robot Guitar
The Gibson Robot Guitar typically refers to a sub-class of Les Paul style guitars from Gibson. This is because the first run of limited edition Robot Guitars was exclusively made up of Les Paul bodies...

, released in 2007, is often mistaken as the first of this kind, but was preceded by the Transperformance system by at least 20 years. Gibson has also released a second, self-tuning model called the Dark Fire.

Tuning

The guitar is a transposing instrument
Transposing instrument
A transposing instrument is a musical instrument for which written notes are read at a pitch different from the corresponding concert pitch, which a non-transposing instrument, such as a piano, would play. Playing a written C on a transposing instrument will produce a note other than concert C...

. Its pitch sounds one octave lower than it is notated on a score.

A variety of tunings may be used. The most common tuning, known as "Standard Tuning," has the strings tuned from a low E, to a high E, traversing a two octave range—EADGBE. When all strings are played open the resulting chord is an Em7/add11.

The pitches are as follows:
String Scientific pitch
Scientific pitch notation
Scientific pitch notation is one of several methods that name the notes of the standard Western chromatic scale by combining a letter-name, accidentals, and a number identifying the pitch's octave...

 
Helmholtz pitch
Helmholtz pitch notation
Helmholtz pitch notation is a musical system for naming notes of the Western chromatic scale. Developed by the German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz, it uses a combination of upper and lower case letters , and the sub- and super-prime symbols to describe each individual note of the scale...

 
Interval
Interval (music)
In music theory, an interval is a combination of two notes, or the ratio between their frequencies. Two-note combinations are also called dyads...

 from middle C
Middle C
C or Do is the first note of the fixed-Do solfège scale. Its enharmonic is B.-Middle C:Middle C is designated C4 in scientific pitch notation because of the note's position as the fourth C key on a standard 88-key piano keyboard...

 
Frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

first E4 e' major third
Major third
In classical music from Western culture, a third is a musical interval encompassing three staff positions , and the major third is one of two commonly occurring thirds. It is qualified as major because it is the largest of the two: the major third spans four semitones, the minor third three...

 above
329.63 Hz
second B3 b minor second
Minor second
In modern Western tonal music theory a minor second is the interval between two notes on adjacent staff positions, or having adjacent note letters, whose alterations cause them to be one semitone or half-step apart, such as B and C or C and D....

 below
246.94 Hz
third G3 g perfect fourth
Perfect fourth
In classical music from Western culture, a fourth is a musical interval encompassing four staff positions , and the perfect fourth is a fourth spanning five semitones. For example, the ascending interval from C to the next F is a perfect fourth, as the note F lies five semitones above C, and there...

 below
196.00 Hz
fourth D3 d minor seventh
Minor seventh
In classical music from Western culture, a seventh is a musical interval encompassing seven staff positions , and the minor seventh is one of two commonly occurring sevenths. The minor quality specification identifies it as being the smallest of the two: the minor seventh spans ten semitones, the...

 below
146.83 Hz
fifth A2 A minor tenth below 110 Hz
sixth E2 E minor thirteenth below 82.41 Hz


The table below shows a pitch's name found over the six strings of a guitar in standard tuning, from the nut (zero), to the twelfth fret.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E F F G A A B B C C D E E
B C C D E E F F G A A B B
G A A B B C C D E E F F G
D E E F F G A A B B C C D
A B B C C D E E F F G A A
E F F G A A B B C C D E E


A guitar using this tuning can tune to itself using the fact, with a single exception, that the 5th fret on one string is the same note as the next open string; that is, a 5th-fret note on the sixth string is the same note as the open fifth string. The exception is the interval between the second and third strings, in which the 4th-fret note on the third string is equivalent to the open second string.

Standard tuning has evolved to provide a good compromise between simple fingering for many chords
Guitar chord
In music, a guitar chord is a chord, or collection of tones usually sounded together at once, played on a guitar. It can be composed of notes played on adjacent or separate strings or all the strings together...

 and the ability to play common scales with minimal left hand movement. Uniquely, the guitar's tuning allows for repeatable patterns, which also facilitates the ease of playing common scales. There are also a variety of commonly used alternate tunings
Guitar tuning
Guitar tunings almost always refers to the pitch of the open string, though some tunings may only realistically be attained by the use of a capo on an unmodified instrument....

. Most of these are open tunings
Guitar tuning
Guitar tunings almost always refers to the pitch of the open string, though some tunings may only realistically be attained by the use of a capo on an unmodified instrument....

, i.e., the unfretted strings produce a simple chord, such as a G Major chord. Many open tunings, where all of the strings are tuned to a similar note or chord, are popular for slide guitar playing. Alternate tunings are used for two main reasons: the ease of playing and the variation in tone that can be achieved.

Many guitarists use a long established, centuries-old tuning variation where the lowest string is 'dropped' down a whole tone
Major second
In Western music theory, a major second is a musical interval spanning two semitones, and encompassing two adjacent staff positions . For example, the interval from C to D is a major second, as the note D lies two semitones above C, and the two notes are notated on adjacent staff postions...

. Known as Drop-D (or dropped D) tuning it is, from low to high, DADGBE. This allows for open string tonic and dominant basses in the keys of D and D minor. It also enables simple fifths (powerchords) to be more easily played. Eddie Van Halen sometimes uses a device known as a 'D Tuna, ' which he patented. It is a small lever, attached to the fine tuner of the 6th string on a Floyd Rose tremolo, which allows him to easily drop that string from E to D. Many contemporary rock bands retune all strings by several semi-tones, making, for example, Drop-C or Drop-B tunings, However this terminology is inconsistent with that of "drop-D" as "drop-D" refers to dropping a single string to the named pitch. Often these new tunings are also simply referred to as the "Standard" of the note in question e. g.–"D Standard" (DGcfad').

Some guitarists tune in straight fourths, avoiding the major third between the third and second strings. While this makes playing major and minor triads slightly more difficult, it facilitated playing chords with more complicated extended structures. One proponent of the straight fourth tuning (EADGCF) is Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan is an American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist, best known for his development of the tapping technique for the guitar....

.

As with all stringed instruments a large number of scordatura
Scordatura
A scordatura , also called cross-tuning, is an alternative tuning used for the open strings of a string instrument, in which the notes indicated in the score would represent the finger position as if played in regular tuning, while the actual pitch is altered...

 are possible on the guitar. A common form of scordatura involves tuning the 3rd string to F to mimic the standard tuning of the lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

, especially when playing renaissance repertoire originally written for the lute.

Guitar accessories

Though a guitar may be played on its own, there are a variety of common accessories used for holding and playing the guitar.

Capotasto

A capo (short for capotasto) is used to change the pitch of open strings. Capos are clipped onto the fret board with the aid of spring tension, or in some models, elastic tension. To raise the guitar's pitch by one semitone, the player would clip the capo onto the fret board just below the first fret. Its use allows players to play in different keys without having to change the chord formations they use. Because of the ease with which they allow guitar players to change keys, they are sometimes referred to as "cheaters" or the "hillbilly crutch." Classical performers are known to use them to enable modern instruments to match the pitch of historical instruments such as the renaissance lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

.

Slides

A slide
Slide guitar
Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the guitar. The term slide refers to the motion of the slide against the strings, while bottleneck refers to the original material of choice for such slides: the necks of glass bottles...

, (neck of a bottle, knife blade or round metal bar) used in blues and rock to create a glissando
Glissando
In music, a glissando is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, to glide. In some contexts it is distinguished from the continuous portamento...

 or 'Hawaiian
Lap steel guitar
The lap steel guitar is a type of steel guitar, an instrument derived from and similar to the guitar. The player changes pitch by pressing a metal or glass bar against the strings instead of by pressing strings against the fingerboard....

' effect. The necks of bottles were often used in blues and country music. Modern slides are constructed of glass, plastic, ceramic, chrome, brass or steel, depending on the weight and tone desired. An instrument that is played exclusively in this manner, (using a metal bar) is called a steel guitar
Steel guitar
Steel guitar is a type of guitar or the method of playing the instrument. Developed in Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a steel guitar is usually positioned horizontally; strings are plucked with one hand, while the other hand changes the pitch of one or more strings with the use...

 or pedal steel. Slide playing to this day is very popular in blues music
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 and country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

. Some slide players use a so called Dobro
Dobro
Dobro is a registered trademark, now owned by Gibson Guitar Corporation and used for a particular design of resonator guitar.The name has a long and involved history, interwoven with that of the resonator guitar...

 guitar.

Some performers that have become famous for playing slide are Robert Johnson, Elmore James
Elmore James
Elmore James was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and band leader. He was known as "the King of the Slide Guitar" and had a unique guitar style, noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice.-Biography:James was born Elmore Brooks in the old Richland community in...

, Ry Cooder
Ry Cooder
Ryland Peter "Ry" Cooder is an American guitarist, singer and composer. He is known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States, and, more recently, his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.His solo work has been eclectic, encompassing...

, George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

, Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Lynn Raitt is an American blues singer-songwriter and a renowned slide guitar player. During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of acclaimed roots-influenced albums which incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country, but she is perhaps best known for her more commercially...

, Derek Trucks
Derek Trucks
Derek Trucks is a Grammy Award-winning, American guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. He founded The Derek Trucks Band and worked as a session musician when he was still in his early teens. Throughout those teenage years, he toured with The Allman Brothers Band primarily as a slide...

, Warren Haynes
Warren Haynes
Warren Haynes is an American rock and blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. Haynes is best known for his work as long time guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band and as founding member of the jam band Gov't Mule. Early in his career he was a guitarist for David Allan Coe and The Dickey...

, Duane Allman
Duane Allman
Howard Duane Allman was an American guitarist, session musician and the primary co-founder of the southern rock group The Allman Brothers Band...

, Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
McKinley Morganfield , known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician, generally considered the "father of modern Chicago blues"...

, Rory Gallagher
Rory Gallagher
William Rory Gallagher, ; 2 March 1948  – 14 June 1995, was an Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, and raised in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste...

, and George Thorogood
George Thorogood
George Thorogood is an American blues rock vocalist/guitarist from Wilmington, Delaware, United States, known for his hit song "Bad to the Bone" as well as for covers of blues standards such as Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" and John Lee Hooker's "House Rent Boogie/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One...

.

Plectrum

A "guitar pick
Guitar pick
A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. A pick is generally made of one uniform material; examples include plastic, nylon, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, and stone...

" or "plectrum
Plectrum
A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick, and is a separate tool held in the player's hand...

" is a small piece of hard material generally held between the thumb and first finger of the picking hand and is used to "pick" the strings. Though most classical players pick with a combination of fingernails and fleshy fingertips, the pick is most often used for electric and steel-string acoustic guitars. Though today they are mainly plastic, variations do exist, such as bone, wood, steel or tortoise shell. Tortoise shell was the most commonly used material in the early days of pick-making, but as tortoises and turtles became endangered, the practice of using their shells for picks or anything else was banned. Tortoise-shell picks made before the ban are often coveted for a supposedly superior tone and ease of use, and their scarcity has made them valuable.

Picks come in many shapes and sizes. Picks vary from the small jazz pick to the large bass pick. The thickness of the pick often determines its use. A thinner pick (between .2 and .5 mm) is usually used for strumming or rhythm playing, whereas thicker picks (between .7 and 1.5+ mm) are usually used for single-note lines or lead playing. The distinctive guitar sound of Billy Gibbons
Billy Gibbons
William Frederick "Billy" Gibbons is an American musician, actor and car customizer, best known as the guitarist of the Texas blues-rock band ZZ Top. He is also the lead singer and composer for many of the band's songs. Gibbons is known for playing his Gretsch Billy Bo guitar and his famous 1959...

 is attributed to using a quarter
Quarter (United States coin)
A quarter dollar, commonly shortened to quarter, is a coin worth ¼ of a United States dollar, or 25 cents. The quarter has been produced since 1796. The choice of 25¢ as a denomination, as opposed to 20¢ which is more common in other parts of the world, originated with the practice of dividing...

 or peso
Peso
The word peso was the name of a coin that originated in Spain and became of immense importance internationally...

 as a pick. Similarly, Brian May
Brian May
Brian Harold May, CBE is an English musician and astrophysicist most widely known as the guitarist and a songwriter of the rock band Queen...

 is known to use a sixpence coin
British sixpence coin
The sixpence, known colloquially as the tanner, or half-shilling, was a British pre-decimal coin, worth six pence, or 1/40th of a pound sterling....

 as a pick. David Persons is known for using old credit cards, cut to the correct size, as plectrums.

Thumb picks and finger picks that attach to the finger tips are sometimes employed in finger-picking styles on steel strings. These allow the fingers and thumb to operate independently, whereas a flat pick requires the thumb and one or two fingers to manipulate.

External links

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