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Acoustic guitar

An acoustic guitar is a guitar that


produces sound acousticallyby
transmitting the vibration of the
strings to the airas opposed to
relying on electronic amplification
(see electric guitar). The sound waves
from the strings of an acoustic guitar
resonate through the guitar's body,
creating sound. This typically
involves the use of a sound board and
a sound box to strengthen the
vibrations of the strings.

The main source of sound in an


acoustic guitar is the string, which is
plucked or strummed with the finger
or with a pick. The string vibrates at a
necessary frequency and also creates
many harmonics at various different
frequencies. The frequencies
produced can depend on string Example of a concert-shaped
length, mass, and tension. The string guitar by C.F. Martin
causes the soundboard and sound
box to vibrate, and as these have their
own resonances at certain frequencies, they amplify some string harmonics
more strongly than others, hence affecting the timbre produced by the
instrument.
Contents
1 History
2 Acoustic properties
3 Amplification
4 Types
4.1 Body shape
5 Gallery
6 References
7 Further reading

History
Gitterns, a small plucked guitar were the first small guitar-like instruments
created during the Middle Ages with a round back like that of a lute.[1]
Modern guitar shaped instruments were not seen until the Renaissance era
where the body and size began to take a guitar-like shape.

The earliest string instruments that related to the guitar and its structure
where broadly known as the vihuelas within Spanish musical culture.
Vihuelas where string instruments that were commonly seen in the 16th
century during the Renaissance. Later, Spanish writers distinguished these
instruments into 2 categories of vihuelas. The vihuela de arco was an
instrument that mimicked the violin, and the vihuela de penola was played
with a plectrum or by hand. When it was played by hand it was known as the
vihuela de mano. Vihuela de mano shared extreme similarities with the
Renaissance guitar as it used hand movement at the sound hole or sound
chamber of the instrument to create music.[2]

The real production of guitars kicked off in France where the popularity and
production first began increasing with large quantities. Spain became the
homeland of the guitar but there's very little information on the early makers
there, unlike France, where many inventors and artists first began
overproducing these instruments and their music. The production became so
large that early famous creators such as Gaspard Duyffooprucgar's (http://w
ww.si.edu/encyclopedia_si/nmah/violduif.htm) (a string instrument maker)
instruments were being sold as copies by other guitar makers in Lyon.
Benoist Lejeune, a guitar maker, offered and sold guitar copies of
Duyffoprucgar's instruments and was later imprisoned for using his mark and
work. During this time, the production was increasing tremendously but it
was not until Robert and Claude Denis appeared overproducing the early
Renaissance guitar in Paris, France. As father and son, Robert and Claude
produced hundreds of guitars that increased the popularity of the instrument
greatly. Because of them and the great many guitar inventors of this time, the
word guiterne gradually shifted to guitarre during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.[3]

By 1790 only six-course vihuela guitars (6 unison-tuned pairs of strings) were


being created and had become the main type and model of guitar used in
Spain. Most of the older 5-course guitars were still in use but were also being
modified to a six-coursed acoustical guitar. Fernando Ferandiere's (http://ww
w.tecla.com/authors/ferandiere.htm) Book Arte de tocar la guitarra
espanola por musica (Madrid, 1799) describes the standard Spanish guitar
from his time as an instrument with seventeen frets and six courses with the
first two 'gut' strings tuned in unison called the terceras and the tuning
named to 'G' of the two strings. The acoustic guitar at this time really began to
take its shape with extreme similarities to the acoustic guitar today with the
exception of the coursed strings which later were removed for single strings
instead of pairs.[4]

By the 19th century, coursed strings where evolved into 6 single-stringed


instruments much like that of the guitar today. It had evolved into the
modern look except for size, retaining a smaller frame.

Acoustic properties
The acoustic guitar's soundboard,
or top, also has a strong effect on
the loudness of the guitar. Woods
that are good at transmitting
sound, like spruce, are commonly
used for the soundboard.[5] No
amplification actually occurs in
this process, because no external
energy is added to increase the
Basic anatomy of an acoustic guitar.
loudness of the sound (as would
be the case with an electronic
amplifier). All the energy is provided by the plucking of the string. But
without a soundboard, the string would just "cut" through the air without
actually moving it much. The soundboard increases the surface of the
vibrating area in a process called mechanical impedance matching. The
soundboard can move the air much more easily than the string alone, because
it is large and flat. This increases the entire system's energy transfer
efficiency, and a much louder sound is emitted.

Acoustic Guitar Sample


0:00 MENU
Spanish Romance.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Acoustic Guitar Sample


0:00 MENU
An example of the sounds an
acoustic guitar can create through
vibration of its strings. This guitar
uses steel strings.

Problems playing this file? See media help.


In addition, the acoustic guitar has a hollow body, and an additional coupling
and resonance effect increases the efficiency of energy transmission in lower
frequencies. The air in a guitar's cavity resonates with the vibrational modes
of the string and soundboard. 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 again depending on whether the air in the
box moves in phase or out of phase with the strings. When in phase, the
sound increases by about 3 decibels. In opposing phase, it decreases about 3
decibels.[6] As a Helmholtz resonator, the air at the opening is vibrating in or
out of phase with the air in the box and in or out of phase with the strings.
These resonance interactions attenuate or amplify the sound at different
frequencies, boosting or damping various harmonic tones. Ultimately, the
cavity air vibrations couple to the outside air through the sound hole,[7]
though some variants of the acoustic guitar omit this hole, or have holes,
like a violin family instrument (a trait found in some electric guitars such as
the ES-335 and ES-175 models from Gibson). This coupling is most efficient
because here the impedance matching is perfect: it is air pushing air.

A guitar has several sound coupling modes: string to soundboard,


soundboard to cavity air, and both soundboard and cavity air to outside air.
The back of the guitar also vibrates to some degree, driven by air in the cavity
and mechanical coupling to the rest of the guitar. The guitaras an acoustic
systemcolors the sound by the way it generates and emphasizes harmonics,
and how it couples this energy to the surrounding air (which is ultimately
what we perceive as loudness). Improved coupling, however, comes at the
expense of decay time, since the string's energy is more efficiently
transmitted. Solid body electric guitars (with no soundboard at all) produce
very low volume, but tend to have long sustain.

All these complex air coupling interactions, and the resonant properties of the
panels themselves, are a key reason that different guitars have different tonal
qualities. The sound is a complex mixture of harmonics that give the guitar its
distinctive sound.
Amplification
Classical gut-string guitars had little projection,
and so were unable to displace banjos until
innovations increased their volume.

Two important innovations were introduced by the


American firm, Martin Guitars. First, Martin
introduced steel strings. Second, Martin increased
the area of the guitar top; the popularity of Martin's
larger "dreadnought" body size amongst acoustic
performers is related to the greater sound volume
produced. These innovations allowed guitars to
compete with and often displace the banjos that
had previously dominated jazz bands. The steel-
strings increased tension on the neck; for stability,
Martin reinforced the neck with a steel truss rod,
which became standard in later steel-string An Ovation
guitars.[9] Adamas,[8] whose
parabolic shape
reduces feedback
and increases
volume.

An acoustic guitar can be amplified by


using various types of pickups or
microphones. However, amplification of
Many acoustic guitars acoustic guitars had many problems with
incorporate rosettes around audio feedback. In the 1960s, Ovation's
the sound hole.
parabolic bowls dramatically reduced
feedback, allowing greater amplification
of acoustic guitars.[10] In the 1970s, Ovation developed thinner sound-boards
with carbon-based composites laminating a thin layer of birch, in its Adamas
model, which has been viewed as one of the most radical designs in the
history of acoustic guitars. The Adamas model dissipated the sound-hole of
the traditional soundboard among 22 small sound-holes in the upper
chamber of the guitar, yielding greater volume and further reducing feedback
during amplification.[10] Another method for reducing feedback is fit a rubber
or plastic disc into the sound hole.

The most common type of pickups used for acoustic guitar amplification are
piezo and magnetic pickups. Piezo pickups are generally mounted under the
bridge saddle of the acoustic guitar and can be plugged into a mixer or
amplifier. A Piezo pickup made by Baldwin was incorporated in the body of
Ovation guitars, rather than attached by drilling through the body;[11] the
combination of the Piezo pickup and parabolic ("roundback") body helped
Ovation succeed in the market during the 1970s.[10]

Magnetic pickups on acoustic guitars are generally mounted in the sound


hole, and are similar to those in electric guitars. An acoustic guitar with
pickups for electrical amplification is called an acoustic-electric guitar.

In the 2000s, manufacturers introduced new types of pickups to try to


amplify the full sound of these instruments. This includes body sensors, and
systems that include an internal microphone along with body sensors or
under-the-saddle pickups.

Types
Historical and modern acoustic guitars are extremely varied in their design
and construction, far more so than electric guitars. Some of the most
important varieties are the classical guitar (nylon-stringed), steel-string
acoustic guitar and lap steel guitar.

Nylon/gut stringed guitars:

Vihuela
Gittern
Baroque guitar
Romantic guitar
Classical guitar, the modern version
of the original guitar, including
additional strings models

Flamenco guitar
Russian/Gypsy guitar
Lute
Steel stringed guitars:

Steel-string acoustic guitar, also


known as western, folk or country
guitar
Twelve string guitar
Baroque guitar, c. 1630.
Resonator guitar (such as the Dobro)
Archtop guitar
Selmer/Maccaferri (Manouche) guitar
Battente guitar
Lap steel guitar
Lap slide guitar
Parlor guitar
Lyre-guitar
Other variants:

Harp guitar
Pikasso guitar (a variant of harp
guitar)
Contraguitar (Viennese variant of harp
guitar) Gibson L-3 archtop.
Acoustic bass guitar
Banjo guitar

Body shape
Common body shapes for modern acoustic guitars, from smallest to largest:
Range The smallest body
shape, also considered a "mini
jumbo", is three-quarters the size
of a jumbo shaped guitar. A range
shape typically has a rounded
back which provides projection
Common guitar body shapes: A.
and volume for the smaller
Range B. Parlor C. Grand Concert
body.[12] The smaller body and D. Auditorium E. Dreadnought F.
scale length make the range guitar Jumbo
an option for players who struggle
with larger body guitars.

Parlor Parlor guitars have small compact bodies and have been described
as punchy sounding with a delicate tone.[13] The smaller body makes the
parlor a more comfortable option for players who find large body guitars
uncomfortable.

Grand Concert This mid-sized body shape is not as deep as other full-size
guitars, but has a full waist. Because of the smaller body, grand concert
guitars have a more controlled overtone[14] and are often used for its sound
projection when recording.

Auditorium Similar in dimensions to the dreadnought body shape,[15] but


with a much more pronounced waist. The shifting of the waist provides
different tones to stand out. The auditorium body shape is a newer body when
compared to the other shapes such as dreadnought.

Dreadnought This is the classic guitar body shape. Used for over 100
years, it is still the most popular body style for acoustic guitars.[16] The body is
large and the waist of the guitar is not as pronounced as the auditorium and
grand concert bodies. This allows mid-range frequencies to stand out, helping
the guitar cut through an ensemble of instruments.
Jumbo The largest standard guitar body shape found on acoustic guitars.
The large body provides more punch and volume,[17] while accenting the
boomy low end of the guitar.

Gallery

Gittern (1450) Baroque (17th century)

Lute (17th century) Romantic (c. 1830)


Classical/Spanish Ten-string

Folk/country Resonator

Battente Lyre-guitar
Pikasso Hawaiian (c. 1920)

Harp guitar Mexican vihuela

References
1. "Gittern" (http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-music/gittern.
htm). www.medieval-life-and-times.info. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
2. Grunfeld, Frederic (1971). The Art and Times of the Guitar. 866 Third
Avenue, New York: Macmillan Company. pp. 6163.
3. Turnbull, Harvey (1978). The Guitar from the Renaissance to the Present
Day. New York: Charles Scribners Sons. pp. 1819.
4. Tyler, James (2002). The Guitar and its Music. United Kingdom: Oxford
University Press. pp. 229231. ISBN 978 0 19 921477 8.
5. "The Physics of the Acoustic Guitar - Body" (http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/2
11.web.stuff/billington/body.html). Retrieved 2017-09-27.
6. "Helmholtz Resonance" (http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/Helmholtz.htm
l). newt.phys.unsw.edu.au. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
7. "How does a guitar work?" (http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/guitar/gu
itarintro.html). newt.phys.unsw.edu.au. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
8. Carter (1996, p. 127)
9. Denyer (1992), pp. 4445
10. Denyer (1992, p. 48)
11. Carter (1996, pp. 4852)
12. "Teton Range Guitars Demo - Home on the Range - Teton Guitars" (htt
ps://tetonguitars.com/teton-range-guitars-demo-home-on-the-range/).
2015-11-20. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
13. "Parlor Pickin: The 2015 Guide to Buying a Parlor Guitar" (http://acoustic
guitar.com/parlor-pickin-the-2015-guide-to-buying-a-parlor-guitar/).
Acoustic Guitar. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
14. "Grand Concert" (https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/features/
shapes/grand-concert). Taylor Guitars. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
15. "Auditorium Body Shape Overview" (http://breedlovemusic.com/guitars/s
hapes/auditorium). breedlovemusic.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
16. "Dreadnought | Fender Acoustic Guitars" (http://www.fender.com/acoustic
s/dreadnought/). www.fender.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
17. LTD., BubbleUp,. "Products by Body Type" (http://www.takamine.com/Ju
mbo-Body). Takamine Guitars. Retrieved 2016-02-16.

Further reading
Carter, Walter (1996). Eiche, Jon, ed. The history of the Ovation guitar.
Musical Instruments Series (first ed.). Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 1128. HL00330187; ISBN 978-0-7935-
5876-6; ISBN 0-7935-5876-X (softcover); ISBN 0-7935-5948-0
(hardcover).
Denyer, Ralph (1992). The guitar handbook. Special contributors
Isaac Guillory and Alastair M. Crawford; Foreword by Robert Fripp (Fully
revised and updated ed.). London and Sydney: Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-
32750-X.
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