What is a guitar?

by Michael Korte

What counts as a guitar and what belongs to the branch of guitars?

In general, a guitar is a musical instrument, that needs to have a corpus, a neck and strings to belong to the family of guitars.

The tone is produced by the strings and the corpus. When a string is picked it vibrates at a certain frequency, which is the note that you hear.

The history of the guitar goes back around 5,000 years. Some believe that it is derived from a bow and arrow and over time and through different pathways of development, the lute was formed, which comes very close to the guitars of the present.

The guitar shape that resembles the one that we know today came up around 500 years ago.

Most guitars have between 18 and 24 frets, which are the sections on the guitar neck, that lets you produce note in different pitches. If you combine several pitches on different strings in the right way you get a nice ringing chord of notes.

The pitch range usually goes over four octaves from a low E2 which is around 82.5 Hz. to the E6, which is around 1319 Hz in frequency.

A guitar has 6 strings which are tuned from lowest to highest with the notes of E-A-D-G-B-e. The lower strings are thicker than the higher strings, which give a lower sound to the thicker strings. This can be manipulated by either tuning of the guitar or by gripping a fret on the fretboard. The higher the fret, the higher the pitch.

The guitar needs to have the right tuning to sound good. On the top side of the guitar at the end of the neck, there is the headstock, which has pegs. They are used to tighten or loosen the strings, which changes the tuning up or down, depending on the direction which you turn them to.

Since its introduction in the 1930s the electric guitar rose to be a significant influence on today’s music. Without it, we would not have styles that developed from blues and rock, such as metal, punk and hard rock, but also our popular music would sound very different.

The electric guitar was then used by jazz guitarists, so that guitar players could be heard easier in bigger ensembles and big bands, because they wanted to play single note solos and still be heard against the brass instruments and drums.

For me, it is the greatest instrument in the world.

About the Author:
Michael Korte is a professional musician and guitar teacher, who teaches at sähkökitara Tampere. He specializes in teaching guitar players how to improvise and write songs on their own, while finding their own style without copying others.