A guitar is a musical instrument, usually with six strings. This six-stringed guitar finds its origin in Spain. It can be played by handpicking or by finger-picks or plectrum. Plastic plectrums find wide usage today. However, the tonal quality is higher when tortoise shell picks are used.
Guitars can broadly be divided into two categories: acoustic and electric.
Acoustic guitars are generally crafted from wood, be it the low cost laminates or the pure hard wood like spruce, or a combination of both. Acoustic guitars are hollow-bodied and do not need an external amplifier. However, their utility is hampered in bands and orchestras which call for mandatory electric amplification. Amplification can be done through piezo and magnetic pick-ups.
There are many types of acoustic guitars. Among them, classical and steel string guitars are the most popular. The classical guitar is adorned with nylon strings. The strings are plucked with the fingers or finger-nails. Besides pure classical music all kinds of modern music too can be played on it. The music repertoire of the classical guitar is vast and varied. The roots of the classical guitar can be traced back to the lute, the vihuela and the renaissance guitar.
The steel strings of a steel-string acoustic guitar offer a brighter and louder sound. It is essentially larger than the classical guitar to accommodate the tension of the steel strings. A plectrum is a must for playing a steel-string guitar.
Unlike the case of an acoustic guitar, pick-ups are a must in electric guitars. Pick-ups convert the mechanical energy to electrical energy. A proper and compatible pick-up is a must for good tonal quality. Pick-ups which have found popularity among most musicians are either electromagnetic or piezoelectric.
The modern day electric guitar is made of solid wood like maple and mahogany. Some plastic material and aluminum alloys are used to give a sleek finish. Jazz, blues and rock-and-roll are the popular versions of music played on an electric guitar.
Lloyd Loar was one of the earliest inventors of the electric guitar but the first commercial guitar was made by Stromberg-Voisinet in 1928. In recent times, the electric guitar has revolutionized the music industry, especially rock music. The American culture is incomplete without the electric guitar.
The thin neck of an electric guitar allows the musician to comfortably hold and play the strings of the guitar. Being lightweight is another advantage of the electric guitar. Sophisticated equipment complements the electric guitar and a variety of effects can be produced like tapping and effects pedals. Modern electronics has a say in the tremendous sound effects that an electric guitar can produce.
Electric guitars can be of many types: solid body, hollow body and metal body. A solid body electric guitar is carved from hardwood and sports a lacquer finish. Pick-ups are used to reproduce sounds, which then pass through an amplifier and are heard from a speaker. Les Paul was one of the earliest inventors of this form of the guitar.
The hollow body electric guitar has a lighter weight and greater resonance. The pick-ups are lined up on the body of the guitar and it has one or two sound holes.
Metal body guitars were first manufactured in the 1950`s, but did not gain much popularity because of their inherent weight problem. Holes were dug into some of their variants which hampered the sound effects of the electric guitar.
So, all we can infer is that acoustic guitars are a classical musician`s delight whereas an electric guitar is the soul and life of a band.