Biyernes, Setyembre 16, 2011

What String Thickness Should I Choose?

When it comes to dealing with anything related to guitars, it is critical to be as specific as possible. This certainly is true, when you are deciding on the appropriate strings for your guitar, since it will affect your style of playing and personal perception of the process. You may spend just $5 for a string set and in the same time you can go up to $35 per set. There are numbers of different string materials and with different thicknesses. Do you actually know which strings are the right ones for you? Read on to see what can help you define the best guitar strings’ type for you.

Type of the Guitar

The finest way to start off with restricting your string options will be looking at the kind of the guitar you possess. Your choice will ultimately depend on whether you’re an electric guitar player, a classical nylon string guitar user, or a twelve-string guitar player, because all of these demand individual approach. Fortunately, these options still leave tons of choices for you to decide on the proper kind of strings for your instrument.

String Thickness and Gauge

There are many different thickness sizes for guitar strings, both standard and custom. Normally, there are extra light strings, light strings, medium strings, heavy strings, and even extra heavy (mostly used with baritone guitars) available for purchase. In dependence upon the gauge you select, you will need to take several things into account. First of all, you must know the strength of your fingers and if you are actually able to press the strings down properly.If your fingers aren’t strong enough and you can’t press the strings good enough, you will have to forget about the heavy gauge strings, because they will be harder to fret, or you should be prepared to spend some time on learning to play them and training your finger strength.

If you are a regular player, quickly wearing out your fingers, you may consider getting a lighter gauge strings in order to not get callosities or hurt your fingers. Another string thickness difference is the sound produced by the strings. Thicker strings will produce a sharper bright tune, whereas lighter strings will produce a softer tune. In the end, the thickness of strings you choose will primarily depend upon your musical favor, despite other factors, such as your finger strength.

Set Your Guitar Up Properly

When a guitar is released from the factory it’s initially made and meant for the use of the stock strings. In dependence upon the brand of your guitar, the included strings will usually be medium thickness – not too heavy, not too light. In case you decide to use lighter or thicker strings, you’ll eventually have to do a good set-up for your guitar in order to use the new strings. This is necessary in order to ensure that the neck’s tension doesn’t change during its regulation.

It would be good to find the strings you actually like and then continue playing them on your guitar for several months. After you do this, take your guitar to a music store in your neighborhood to correctly set the bridge height and intonation. This will help you to get the best you can in terms of playing your instrument and its sound. The sole exclusion from this rule is if you’re aiming some major changes, for instance moving from light to heavy gauge strings, where you first would need to take your guitar for the adjustment, put the strings on, and then bring the guitar back again for final set-up. This all is meant to protect the guitar’s neck. The last thing you want is to misalign or damage it.


Various guitar types, such as acoustic, classical, and electric guitars, all use distinct kinds of materials for their stock, or should we say standard, strings. During the play, these materials provide different tones, tensions, and the feel during. Remember this one, while selecting a proper set of strings for your guitar.

Strings for Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitar strings are commonly made out of bronze wound steel. They look very bright, when they’re brand new, but they will lose color very quickly over time as you play them. These strings are the most usual in acoustic guitars, but there are still lots of alternatives you can consider. For instance, you may consider using phosphor bronze strings, which produce a warmer sound that may last longer, comparing to usual bronze strings. Another variant is silk and steel strings – they frequently have a lighter sound, but are much more durable, than most other string types.

Strings for Classical Guitars

Most frequently, classical guitars are supplied with nylon strings and are actually not meant to be used with metal strings on them.The nylon refers to the core material of the string itself, rather than the outside string coil. For instance, the three last strings on classical guitars are copper-wounded or are coiled with another metal, but have nylon in their cores. Same as steel strings should not be used on classical guitars, nylon strings shouldn’t ever be used on acoustic guitars designed for steel strings.

Strings for Electric Guitars

One of the most common electric guitar string types is nickel-plated strings. There are other options available as well, such as pure nickel strings with the wire wrapping around each string; these are made of pure nickel in place of being simply nickel-plated. They produce a softer tone, which provides worse output in electric guitars.

Final Thoughts

For the overall good condition and endurance of your guitar, remember to not switch between different string thicknesses on it regularly. However, if you do so, you will get an unpredictable, varying tension in the neck and with the lapse of time it will cause serious damage to your guitar. If you decide to use a particular set of strings, you should do all you can to steadily stick to it. There’s one exception, however – in case you find a set of strings with the same gauge, produced by another manufacturer, and you really prefer them over the strings you have, you may put them instead of your old ones without damaging your guitar.

In case you still have any particular questions regarding string thickness, you may ask a guitar tech at your neighbor music store – they are normally glad to help fellow guitarists out with their issues. Don’t forget the following points, when choosing the appropriate strings for your guitar:

-          Define whether your guitar needs classical nylon, electric nickel, or acoustic bronze strings;
-          Select the thickness or gauge that you personally favor for playability and sound;
-          Decide on the cost you are willing to spend, define your budget;
-          The entire cost of setting your guitar up, if you’re planning to switch to another gauge.

Certain strings are better than others, in dependence on the materials they’re made of. Some manufacturers and brands will provide long-lasting products, while others will offer you superb-sound products. In the end, it is all up to what you want your guitar to sound like.

The Uses of Drop D and Drop C Tunings Today

The tuning of the guitar can be easily changed from standard to alternate, like on the majority of other string instruments. Tunings of guitar nearly always refer to the open string – unfretted – pitch, even though some tuning types may not be attained without a capo. When we speak of standard guitar tuning, the EADGBE row refers to the string pitches from the lowest – low E – to the highest – high E – respectively.

Dropped tunings suggest tuning of the 6th string low relative to the other five strings, frequently (but not all the time) by a full step, also referred to as “drop 1” tuning. Certain dropped tunings can require the use of a baritone guitar because of the string tension needed for drastically low sounds, while others can be attained by the use of capo or partial capo technique.

The relative relationship between the strings is what really matters for fingering purposes. For instance, in drop B tuning all strings are tuned to notes different from  standard tuning, but the strings still have the same relationship between them, like in the drop D tuning – this is where only the 6th string is swayed away from standard tuning – and, as a result, you have almost the same fingerings for them as if you would be playing a guitar with a standard tuning.

A lot of the terms presented in this article are equivocal, whether it’s about only the 6th string tune down – a “N” tuning in the standard “E” key – or all strings are in lower tune with the 6th string tuned lower than the other strings – normally, a “drop 1” tuning in some sort of other key. For instance, a drop C tuning is normally referred to as “drop 1” tuning in the D key; in other words, the sixth string gets tuned two full steps down and all other strings are tuned one full step down. This is similar to a standard drop D guitar tuning, where the 6th string is one step lower from the standard, while other strings remain in the standard tuning. Nevertheless, there’s also a “drop C tuning”, which is a “drop 2” tuning in the E key – the sixth string is tuned two full steps down, while other strings remain in the standard tune. The former employs fingerings for standard drop D, as in all drop 1 tunings, while the latter needs separate fingerings due to the distinct relationship of the 6th string to other strings.

Another drop tuning type is tuning two distinct strings each in a different way. Tuning the 1st and 6th strings down similarly frequently gets a new name. The described above are not the only possible tunings. For instance, in “Stacked Actors” by Foo Fighters the guitarists use an AADGBE tuning, where 5th and 6th strings are forming an octave on the A note. In this tuning, they’ve dropped the 6th string down a perfect fifth and raised the 5th string a major second. At times, this tuning is referred to as “drop A,” since the 6th string is lowered to A. However, it is distinct from either “drop A” variants of drop D – drop 1 in the B key – or even the less common “drop A” tuned by such bands as Periphery and Mastodon – drop A 4th string in the D key.

Drop D

This tuning is also known simply as DADGBE. It is probably the simplest alternate guitar tuning. When your guitar is tuned in Drop D, you will have no issues forming a power chord on the last three strings, anywhere along the neck. It is comfortable to shift around it, moving up and down, barring just the last 3 strings at the same fret with a single finger. The sole difference between the standard tuning and Drop D is that the 6th string is lowered a whole tone to a D, while in the standard tuning it is tuned at an E.

Drop D tuning is often employed in heavy metal and alternative rock genres. It is due to the frequent need of the guitarists to maintain extremely quick transitions between power chords. Nevertheless, Drop D has also found use in a lot of other music genres, such as folk, country, classical music, and blues. Because of Drop D’s similarity to standard tuning, it is recognized to be a good introduction into alternative guitar tunings, logically bringing to the exploration of Open D, DADGAD, and Drop D Drop G – both the 6th and 5th strings are lowered a tone.

Drop D permits taking chords with a bass or root note of D to be played with a D note an octave lower, than in the standard tuning. It also allows playing open D chords, which involved the 5th and 6th strings, helping to reach the full resonance of the guitar. This can particularly be of use for songs in the D major and D minor keys and has a very effective sounding when executed on acoustic guitar. Drop D tuning as well lets fingerpickers play chord shapes on higher positions along the neck, while keeping an alternate bass sounding. If you leave the last three strings open, they will vibrate in a sympathetic manner. It is pretty easy to achieve a drone effect using chords on the top three strings, while leaving the bottom three to vibrate freely.

Drop D is one of the most popular alternative guitar tunings in general. It is used by a wide range of modern metal and rock bands and artists, including Zakk Wylde, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Lamb of God, Lordi, Helmet, Rammstein, Avenged Sevenfold, Radiohead, Tool, Audioslave, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Incubus, Quicksand, Creed, Silverchair, Muse, Evanescence, Fugazi, Soundgarden, Hatebreed, Terror, and many others.

Drop C

Drop C tuning is quite similar to the tuning described above. If you’ve got a Drop D tuning on your guitar, you can easily tune it to Drop C by dropping all strings down by 2 semi-notes. Knowing this, it is pretty easy to tune your guitar to Drop C. There might be other ways of tuning as well, but this one seems to be the easiest. So, you can use standard tuning as a starting point, because it is the most common.

However, the term “Drop C tuning” may be employed to refer to two separate alternative tunings of the guitar.

CGCFAD is the most common tuning for what is called Drop C, although the term is not absolutely correct. This actually could be described as ‘dropping to a C in a standard D tuning,’ or ‘Drop D tuned down a whole step,’ where the entire tuning is moved to the D key and the low D is tuned down an additional full step to C. You can review the abovementioned and described Drop D in a previous section.

This tuning has a wide use in the rock and metal culture, implemented by such bands, as Bullet for My Valentine, Ill Nino, Mastodon, As I Lay Dying, Children of Bodom, Slo Burn, P.O.D., Killswitch Engage, Breaking Benjamin, System of a Down, Bring Me the Horizon, Staind, Helmet, Skillet, Seventh Star, Slipknot, Mudvayne, August Burns Red, Disturbed, Cult of Luna, Atreyu, Sleeping Giant, Norma Jean, The Carrier, and many others.

CADGBE is actually the technical determination of dropped C tuning. There’s no other way of defining it other than a “dropped C tuning.” You can achieve it by tuning your guitar in standard E key and then dropping the sixth string to a C. Although the actual dropped C tuning is rarely used today, there are some artists and bands, who implement it anyway (for example, John Mayer in the “Neon” song, and Muse in the “Map of the Problematique” song).

Although there are many different alternative guitar tunings, Drop D and Drop C take the lead in the modern world of rock music. They are the simplest to handle since they are very similar to the standard tuning and don’t require much time to learn playing them. If you need faster riffs with the tone close to the standard tuning, just go Drop D and play it. If you need a lower sound for greater drive and heavier tone, it’s definitely Drop C. Although these tunings are mostly used by rock bands and metal bands, there have been some singer-songwriters playing acoustic guitar, who have also employed them, such as Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional. It just takes thought, imagination, inspiration, and effort to make it sound the way you want.

History of Electric Guitar

The History of the electric guitar takes us back to 1930’s, when George Beauchamp started to look for a new means of increasing guitar volumes after being fired by the National String Instrument Company. It was already well known that a wire passed through magnetic field produces an alteration in its intenseness, which could be employed for creation of a changing current in an appropriately paired wire coil. The same principle became the basis for electric generators and motors, acoustic speakers, phonograph needles, and lots of other things evolved during that period. About 1925, Beauchamp had been trying the use of phonograph needles for production of a single string electric guitar. He believed that if he could make a device that would pick up each separate string’s vibration and convert it into a proportional electric current variation, then it can be amplified via one of the tube amplifiers commonly used in Radio and PA systems of those times.

After long months of trials and failures, Beauchamp and Paul Barth made a functioning pick-up, using two horseshoe magnets and six poles. The strings passed through the magnets, with every pole located for proper concentration of an independent magnetic field over every separate string. They taped the coil with Beauchamp’s washing machine engine, which ended by taping the coil with a sewing machine engine, according to Barth.

When the pick-up was finally fine-tuned, Beauchamp contacted Harry Watson, a National String Instrument Corporation director, and a team of craftsmen, who then carved the body and neck of the very first functioning electric guitar. Using hand tools, they made it in several hours at Beauchamp’s kitchen table and called the instrument the “Frying Pan.”

Beauchamp, with the Frying Pan at hand, approached Adolph Rickenbacker, a cousin of the WWI flying ace, Eddie Rickenbacker. He owned a local tool and dye company and was associated with Beauchamp at National, working on metal body manufacturing for Resonators. With the help of Rickenbacker’s funds and influence, they established a company and decided to name it Ro-Pat-In Corporation, which later became Rickenbacker International Corporation. They started producing the “Frying Pan,” which instantly became popular as a Hawaiian lap style slide guitar and turned the company on its historical way of becoming the first electric guitar manufacturer.

Perhaps, the first man in history, who built and marketed a Spanish style electric guitar, was Lloyd Loar. He was an acoustical engineer at Gibson. He is also noted for his contribution to mandolin design and development. Loar had been experimenting with electrical guitar amplification since 1920’s. In 1933, he founded a new company, Vivi-Tone, as an independent Gibson subdivision. Vivi-Tone has had one special aim – the development of Spanish style electric guitars. Vivi-Tone failed within a year, but Gibson re-took the trend promoted by the failed enterprise and created the electric guitar that revolutionized the guitar world – the ES-150 was born.

In 1935, Gibson employed Alvino Rey – a prominent slide guitarist – to help with the new guitar pick-up development. Rey, together with engineers of the Lyon & Healy Company, developed a prototype pick-up. The final product was created by Walter Fuller, another Gibson employee. The pick-up was initially built in a lap steel model in late 1935. However, it was soon moved onto a standard f-hole archtop guitar and gave birth to the ES-150 (where ES stood for Electro Spanish, and 150 for price in dollars). The first ES-150 was shipped from Kalamazoo MIchigan ,on 20th of May, 1936. This was the birth of the first modern electric guitar.

Although the ES-150 had an unbelievable success, it still wasn’t perfect. The hollow vibrations of the body could often be picked up and amplified. Moreover, there were issues with distortion of the sound, feedback, and unwanted harmonics. Les Paul, an outstanding jazz guitarist and inventor (who died  in 2009 aged 94), believed that introducing a solid body instrument would be the solution. His first successful attempt to get rid of these issues was kindly named “the log.” It was made out of two simple magnetic pick-ups made by Les Paul, which were mounted on a 4x4 in. piece of pine. In order to give “the log” a guitar look, Les Paul glued two truncated halves of a hollow body guitar to his 4x4 inch piece. In the result, he got a fine sounding jazz guitar that didn’t produce unwanted harmonics and feedback. In 1946, Les Paul brought his new solid body guitar to the Gibson Corporation.

However, Gibson wasn’t too enthusiastic about the perspectives that the solid body guitar has had, because he was convinced that the audience would not accept this new product. All of the previous solid body guitar introductions have failed. However, another legend,Leo Fender believed that the future guitar market was meant for solid body guitars.

Now there was a man, Leo owned a radio repair shop in Anaheim California, and also looked into the electric guitar development. He built a pattern solid body guitar out of oak in 1943. Fender rented it out to musicians in order to get their suggestions. In 1949, Leo Fender introduced the first successful solid body electric guitar, named the Esquire, which was later named Broadcaster, and in the end became the Telecaster. This guitar had all the benefits of Les Paul’s guitar: long sustain, no unwanted harmonics or feedback, but it didn’t become a favorite among jazz guitarists. They preferred the mellower, rounder, and somewhat acoustic Gibson ES-150 sound. However, the Telecaster became unbelievably popular among blues, country, and rock and roll (1950’s and 1960’s) musicians. The innovative sound of the instrument made it the pioneer rock’n’roll guitar.

After the success of Fender’s solid body guitars, Gibson decided to give Les Paul’s design a second chance. In 1952, Gibson decided to create a solid body guitar that would become the standard in the industry. Even though, the inspiration for this instrument came from Les Paul and the guitar was named after the inventor, the final design came from the new Gibson president, Ted McCarty. The pick-ups were P-90, originally made in 1946 – they had a mellow, warm sound and were very many-sided. The original Les Paul guitars have become some of the most popular guitars in the world.

In the early 1960’s, Ted McCarty introduced a semi-hollow body guitar, the ES-335. It was meant to unite the best of both the solid body and hollow body designs. ES-335 quickly gained popularity and some of the most influential guitarists, like Chuck Berry and B.B. King, have enjoyed using it. At that time, both Fender and Gibson have introduced new futuristic looks in their designs. Both Fender Stratocaster and Gibson SG became a standard among rock musicians. Stratocaster had even become the guitar of choice in the hands of the great Jimi Hendrix.

Electric guitar manufacturers have persisted to improve the basic characteristics and features of the instrument over the years. And, they did succeed in one way or another. But, even so, and even though there have been a lot of other guitar manufacturers throughout history, such as B. C. Rich,  Gretch  and others  including Burns ,and Watkins in the uk, that have participated in the development of the electric guitar, the way we know it today hasn’t changed a bit since 1961. Its rather ironic that us guitarists spend a fortune on equipment that will allow us to reproduce distortion,feedback,harmonics etc that Gibson,Fender etc tried so hard to remove.

Choosing the Right Guitar Pick

Choosing the Right Guitar Pick

If you choose your guitar picks by shape and color and you are actually happy with this, you don’t have to waste your time on this article. BUT! If you really want to comprehend what these little guitar accessories are made of, when it is better to play with a thick guitar pick instead of a thin pick (or contrariwise), how to better your grip using a common school-supply thing, and a lot of other things, you should continue reading it.

Guitar picks, also known as plectrums, are employed to strum or pluck strings on the guitar. There are tons of different shapes, colors, thicknesses, and sizes of guitar picks available today. You can customize your picks with graphics, text, or both. Hundreds of musicians throw their guitar picks to the audience. Thousands of people even collect guitar picks. In other words, this little item is a very big thing in the world of music.

Flat Guitar Pick Shapes

The majority of guitar picks have a triangle shape. The wider part provides a firmer grip. The narrow part of the pick is, logically, for strumming and picking.

Standard guitar picks are the most common in the world. They are wide enough to provide a firm grip, while having a gentle point for good strumming. When using a standard pick, this point slightly slides off the strings, which provides a mellow, pleasant sound.

Jazz and teardrop guitar picks are a little odd comparing to the standard ones, although they have the same thickness. Guitar players love these picks for their bright tone and quick response. When playing with this pick and looking for softer sounding, you should slightly slide your fingers back and relax the grip of yours.

Equilateral guitar picks are simple to hold, because they have equal edges. These picks can be more durable, since you may turn to another angle, in case one of them breaks or wears down. These picks are as well good for guitarists, who like experimenting with filing down the angle, because you have three angles for experiments.

Sharkfin picks are employed in two ways – first, as standard guitar picks, and second, turned to play with the multi-point edge in order to make multiple contacts per each strum. Some guitarists like the latter, since it produces a sort of multi-contact tone.

Finger Picks and Thumb Picks

These guitar picks are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, thicknesses and materials. These picks are very good for picking separate strings. There are even guitarists that use artificial nails on their fingers instead of guitar picks.

You may want to try some of these thumb and finger guitar picks, even if you aren’t really into classic fingerpicking. At times, you might want to play a song, which sounds perfect, when played with one of these picks. Moreover, you can appreciate the sound in the end.

Irregular Guitar Picks

Every single guitarist has had the issue of a guitar pick slipping or falling from their fingers during a song. Hence, some inventors have developed various unusual guitar picks, which allow a tighter hold.

Some of these picks use your fingers’ natural grip by cutting a part of the guitar pick away, letting your thumb’s skin touch your index finger’s skin. There are two companies that make such picks – Planet Waves with a Surepick that has a spiral-like pattern cut into it, and the Everly Star pick.

Other companies use different materials and surface-textures in order to provide better grip conditions. Clayton provides a guitar pick with cork. Wedgie produces various contoured picks with different patterns carved into them.

You may as well locate rarities, such as Wirething, mixing the acrylic grip with a copper or steel wire for bright tone and fast picking, or the electronic bow, Ebow – employed for the creation of string instrument or synth effects. There’s also Fred Kelly Bumblebee Jazz Pick, which employs a loop to provide a use similar to a flat-pick and a thumb-pick. Ultimately, there’s the Jellyfish guitar pick, which features an angular metallic string set that can be employed as a usual pick or brush sideways as if being a good comb.

Customized Guitar Picks

A lot of people fight for guitar picks thrown into the audience by their favorite artists or bands. Each of them has an individual message or image meant to carry some information about them. Did you know that you may actually customize your guitar picks, carving or printing your personal graphic or message into, on them? You can decide on the color, choose the message, choose the material, and even choose the shape of your plectrum. In other words, you can order guitar picks that will respond to your own requirements.


Guitar picks are available in a broad range of materials. Plastic is the most popular of all materials. Other materials that picks are made of involve wood, stone, rubber, felt, and even metal. Each of them has its unique sound, longevity, and cost features.

There are also guitar picks known as tortoise shells. There’s a story behind this name. Some time ago, natural tortoise shell was in great demand for its tone, longevity, and the ability to be shaped by the guitarist. Nevertheless, back in 1973, the use of the hawksbill turtle’s shell for guitar picks got banned. Although some guitarists still have genuine tortoise shell guitar picks, today’s “tortoise shell” picks are made of synthetic materials.

Speaking of plastic picks, the ones made of celluloid were the most popular once. The celluloid popularity has abated because of the availability of other materials and its high inflammability. Nylon is durable and is pretty expensive. Delrin is immensely durable and lightweight. Delrex and tortex are synthetic materials, which simulate tortoise shell.

You should buy several of each kind, in different thicknesses to feel the difference. You will perhaps find two or four picks that suit you best.

Guitar Pick Thicknesses

Plectrums vary from very thick to very thin in their thicknesses. Certain picks, like those made of nylon, are fragile, when are very thin. Other guitar picks, like the Tortex ones, are very dense, lest made in extremely thin thicknesses.

Thinner plectrums have better flexibility, but they are more fragile and can easily break and crack. Thinner guitar picks are perfect, if you’re looking for fast strumming.

Thicker guitar picks provide brighter sounding. You can use them to obtain distinct, bright notes in solos, scales, and runs.

Pick thicknesses are measured in millimeters. Some companies, like Everly, releaseguitar picks with have color codes on gauges to provide a simpler choice for guitarists. This essentially helps to stick to one color, instead of spending time looking for a pick with the needed figures on it.

Other Features

The tone you get from a guitar pick is dependent upon the thickness, shape, material, and the way you hold it. The looser you hold the pick, the mellower and quieter sound you’ll get.

Guitar picks are released in a lot of different colors, almost any imaginable. They can be customized with your texts and logos. You can also choose from a broad range of materials and shapes.

Tips on Holding a Guitar Pick

In case you have a trouble keeping your pick in a steady grip, you should consider the following tips: 

-          First of all, ensure you are gripping your guitar pick correctly;
-          It is also good to wash your hands before playing. Natural grime and oils will make your fingers slick;
-          Make a hole in the middle of your guitar pick with a usual puncher. You will get a guitar pick, like an Everly Star pick, which is a very good one;
-          Make a rough surface on your guitar pick by rubbing it with a quality flint paper.

These tips will help you to use your guitar pick the best and the most convenient way.

Final Choice

The choice is all dependent on you and your preferences in music. When you will be choosing guitar picks, remember all the things mentioned in this article and you will end up with a perfect selection. One thing is an oracle – thicker picks are for heavier music and thinner picks are for lighter music. Be thoughtful and practical to come up with an excellent solution.

Brief Guitar History

Brief Guitar History

The history of the guitar can be traced back to more than 4,000 years. There are a lot of theories about the instrument’s origin. Some of them even claim it’s a development of the ancient Greek kithara or the lute. However, the research maintained in the 1960’s showed that such claims are groundless.

The only testimony for the theory of kithara is the resemblance of the words “kithara” (Greek) and “quitarra” (Spanish). Moreover, it’s hard to imagine how the kithara could have developed in the guitar, since it was an entirely different instrument type, being a square-framed lyre or lap harp.

The Forefathers

The earliest string instruments archeologists have found are tanburs and bowl harps. Since the ancients have made bowl harps from calabashes and tortoise shells, as resonators, with a bent stick as a neck, and one or more silk or intestine strings. There are a lot of such “harps” from ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, and Sumerian civilizations in the museums.

A tanbur is determined as a long-necked string instrument with a small pear- or egg-shaped body and a round or arched back, normally with a hide or wood soundboard, and a straight, long neck. Perhaps, it evolved from the bowl harp as it straightened out to allow pressing down the strings for the creation of more notes. Egyptian tomb paintings testify that tanburs and harps come from about 4000 years ago.

The Guitar We Know

To tell guitars from other tanbur family instruments, we have to define the guitar first. It has a long, fretted neck, ribs, flat wood soundboard, and a flat back, most frequently with concaved sides. The oldest representative of the kind is a stone thread of a 3300 years old Hittite instrument with a long, fretted neck, flat top, perhaps flat back, and with very concave sides found at Alaca Huyuk, Turkey.

The Lute (Oud, Al’ud)

Oud was brought to Spain by the Moors. In the Arabian countries, the tanbur took another direction, remaining fretless, changing the proportions. In European culture, the oud was added with frets and called a “lute,” which springs from the Arabic “Al’ud.” It is defined as a short-necked instrument with a lot of strings, a large pear-shaped body with very salient back, and a sharply angled, elaborate peg head.

The Guitar

The word “guitar” springs from the ancient word “string” – “tar” – in Sanskrit. A lot of Central Asian folklore string instruments have made it through the years and are still being used in almost the same form for about a thousand years, as evidenced by archeological findings.

Harps and tanburs were spread around the world by travellers, seamen, and merchants. The four-string Persian chartar got to Spain, where it has gone through several form and construction changes, gained pairs of strings tuned in unison, and later was called “chitarra” or “quitarra.”

A Long Way from Four- to Six-String Guitar

So, the guitar forefathers came to Europe from Mesopotamia and Egypt, more often, than not, it had four strings. Similar instruments, and their five-string variations, are mentioned in lots of illustrated medieval manuscripts and stone carvings in cathedrals and churches, from Roman to Medieval times.

At the beginning of the Renaissance, most of Europe was dominated by the four-course guitar (four pairs of strings tuned in unison). The oldest music written for the four-course “chitarra” known to us comes from 16th century, from Spain. The five-course chitarra battente appeared in Italy at about the same era, and bit by bit replaced the four-course guitar.

Chitarra battente was added with a sixth course of strings in the 17th century. It was a popular trend followed by guitar smiths all over Europe. This principle slowly developed into six single strings, where the Italians were the ones to take the lead again.

At the beginning, of the 19th century, modern guitars started to acquire a new shape. However, the instruments still had very small and narrow bodies.

In 1850’s, a Spanish guitar smith, Antonio Torres, increased the size of the instrument’s body, changed the proportions, and added the revolutionary “fan” top bracing model. Torres’s design drastically bettered the volume, projection, and tone of the guitar. Very soon, it became accepted as the instrument’s construction standard. This is how the modern classical guitar became the way we know it today.

Popular Guitars of Today

German immigrants to the USA had started to make guitars with X-braced tops at about the same time Torres begun making his trend. In the 1900’s, steel strings became broadly obtainable. They provided louder sounds, but the Torres-kind guitars couldn’t stand the increased tension. A strengthened X-brace induced by the Germans proved to be durable and it quickly became the standard for the steel string flat-top guitars.

Orville Gibson was a man, who created archtop guitars with oval sound holes, at the end of the 19th century. He combined a cello-like body with the still string guitar. This allowed freer vibration of the top and produced greater volume. In the beginning of 1920’s, Gibson was joined by Lloyd Loar, who improved the archtop guitar, providing it with f-holes, cello-type tailpiece, and floating bridge.

In the late 1920’s, when jazz and Hawaiian guitars were added with pickups, the electric guitar was born. It didn’t make much success till 1936, when Gibson presented the ES150 model, which was made famous by Charlie Christian.

With the arrival of sound amplification, it became possible to finish with the sound box all at once. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, several guitar smiths were experimenting with the construction and equipment. It is still not clear whether Leo Fender, Les Paul, O.W. Appleton, or Paul Bigsby made the very first solid-body guitar. However, the electric guitar as we know it made it to these days and is here to stay.