Sound hole
A sound hole is an opening in the upper sound board of a stringed
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

 musical instrument
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...

The sound holes can have different shapes: round in flat-top guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. 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...

s, F-holes in instruments from the violin
Violin family
The violin family of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the sixteenth century. The standard modern violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass....

 or 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...

 families and in arched-top guitars, 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...

s in 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....

s. Bowed Lyras
Byzantine lyra
The Byzantine lyra or lira , was a medieval bowed string musical instrument in the Byzantine Empire and is an ancestor of most European bowed instruments, including the violin. In its popular form the lyra was a pear-shaped instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping...

 have D-holes and 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...

s may have round or oval holes. A round or oval hole is usually a single one, under the strings. F-holes and D-holes are usually made in pairs placed symmetrically on both sides of the strings. Some electric guitars
Electric Guitars
Electric Guitars were formed early in 1980 by Neil Davenport and Richard Hall who were both studying English at Bristol University. The band soon increased to a five-man line-up, with Andy Saunders , Matt Salt and Dick Truscott , they also later added two backing singers: Sara and Wendy...

, such as Fender Telecaster Thinline
Fender Telecaster Thinline
The Fender Telecaster Thinline is an electric guitar made by the Fender company. It is a Telecaster with body cavities. Designed by German luthier Roger Rossmeisl in 1968, it was introduced in 1969 and updated with a pair of Fender Wide Range humbucking pickups, Bullet truss-rod and 3-bolt neck...

 and the majority of Gretsch
The Gretsch Company was founded in 1883 by Friedrich Gretsch, a twenty-seven year old German immigrant recently arrived in the US. Friedrich Gretsch manufactured banjos, tambourines, and drums, until his death in 1895. His son, Fred, moved operations to Brooklyn, New York in 1916...

 guitars have one or two sound holes.

Though the purpose of sound holes is to help acoustic instruments project their sound more efficiently, the sound does not emanate solely (nor even mostly) from the location of the sound hole. The majority of sound emanates from the surface area
Surface area
Surface area is the measure of how much exposed area a solid object has, expressed in square units. Mathematical description of the surface area is considerably more involved than the definition of arc length of a curve. For polyhedra the surface area is the sum of the areas of its faces...

 of both sounding boards, with sound holes playing a part by allowing the sounding boards to vibrate
Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value or between two or more different states. Familiar examples include a swinging pendulum and AC power. The term vibration is sometimes used more narrowly to mean a mechanical oscillation but sometimes...

 more freely, and by allowing some of the vibrations which have been set in motion inside the instrument to travel outside the instrument.

Alternative sound hole designs

Some Ovation stringed instruments feature a unique soundhole architecture with multiple smaller soundholes that, being combined with a composite
Composite material
Composite materials, often shortened to composites or called composition materials, are engineered or naturally occurring materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties which remain separate and distinct at the macroscopic or...

 arch-top guitar body are said to produce a clear and bright sound.

Tacoma Guitars
Tacoma Guitars
Tacoma Guitars is a line of musical instruments from Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Tacoma brand guitars were originally manufactured in Tacoma, Washington.-History:...

has developed a unique "paisley" soundhole placed on the left side of the upper bout of their "Wing Series" guitars. This is a relatively low-stress area that requires less bracing to support the hole.

Holes not positioned on the top of an acoustic guitar are called soundports.They are usually supplementary to a main soundhole , and located on an instrument's side facing upward in playing position, allowing players to monitor their own sound.

External links

  • Stringworks U - brief explanation of the effects of sound holes, with a closeup diagram of an f-shaped soundhole
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