Guitar - Guitarra

Classical Guitar two views.jpg
Range guitar.svg
Classification Chordophone ( plucked string )
Related instruments Lute , bandurria , electric guitar , bass , acoustic bass , ukulele , charango , guitarrón , cuatro , cavaquinho , timple , banjo , dinarra , mandolin , zither , balalaica , tiple , dobro , 12-string guitar , Chitarra battente
Musicians Guitarists

The guitar , also known as classical guitar or Spanish guitar , [ 1 ] is a musical instrument of the chordophone family, that is, the instruments that produce their sound by vibrating the strings. It is a plucked string musical instrument , made up of a resonance box , a neck on which the fingerboard or storage room is attached —generally with an acoustic hole in the center of the top (soundhole) - and six strings. On the fingerboard are embedded the frets, which allow dividing the continuum of sounds into the 12 notes of the tonal system, making it possible to interpret them more easily.

The guitar is the fruit of centuries of evolution of these chordophones. The origins of the instrument come from civilizations of Asia minor [ 2 ] (Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians ...) of. 2,500 BC Since then chordophones have developed in many different ways over time with different numbers of strings and shapes. Some instruments of the family are the cuatro , the ukulele , the requinto , the charango and different types of guitarrón , such as the Mexican guitarrón , often used by mariachis .

The guitar as we know it today is the heir to the instrument devised by Antonio de Torres, a builder from Almería who established the current standards and proportions [ 3 ] . The guitar is today a multifaceted instrument that is used in both classical music and popular music. In its electrified version it is the most widely used instrument in genres such as blues , rock and heavy metal . It is also the protagonist in the popular music of roots from Spain and Latin America. It should be noted the importance that the guitar has in flamenco, musical genre that was born in Spain during the 18th century. Nowadays, flamenco guitarists usually use a guitar with slight variations in construction [ 4 ] , known as a flamenco guitar . The classical guitar is also quite common among singer-songwriters .

Guitar parts

Acoustic guitar-es.svg

The guitar has undergone variations in its shape over the centuries. In addition to the number of strings, variations of the instrument have arisen to adapt it to the needs of the player to adopt the current form. This instrument is made of wood almost entirely. Today many different types are used, although commonly the most commonly used are mainly wood rosewood from India and other: fir , mahogany , cedar from Canada , pine , cypress (very popular among guitars that are used between flamenco guitarists ) and ebony. Today builders differentiate between building a classical or flamenco instrument. This is due to the historical evolution that these two instruments have had in relation not only to the sound issue, but also to the social origin of their players. Cypress was an abundant and more accessible wood in the SXIX than Jacarandá, which influenced the final price of the instrument, making it more accessible for players of rural and humble origin who were dedicated to flamenco. On the other hand, the percussive sound with a great attack was sufficient and appropriate to accompany the cante in the bustling Madrid cafes where flamenco began to spread. The truth is that, as the flamenco guitar began to assume a leading role as a solo instrument, it became closer to the classical guitar,

Basically, it is made up of the soundboard , the neck, the bridge , the fingerboard , the frets , the strings and the pegbox. However, some guitarists have customized their guitars and may have more than one fingerboard or exceed 6 strings. The most popular 7-string are used in Brazilian popular music , the 8-string popularized by the great José Tomás , or the 10-string by Narciso Yepes . However, it is not a general question. During the 19th century there were guitars of very different types, such as harp guitars with numerous strings.

Even recently and with criteria of loudness and volume, the Uruguayan guitarist Abel Carlevaro patented a model in which the volume of the box was increased by eliminating the upper oval of the guitar, and the hole in the soundboard was dispensed with, so that it would greater vibration surface, and therefore better sound and higher volume. However, the model that has always prevailed for the last two centuries is still the conventional 6-string guitar and the 8-shape that we all recognize. [ 5 ]

After all the elements that make up the resonance box are glued , it is joined with the handle and reinforcements are included in the contour of the two covers (borders), in the center of the back and in the lower and upper joints of the rings. Subsequently the fingerboard adheres. Between the neck and the pegbox is placed the nut that serves to support and separate the strings. The nut is usually made of ivory , bone , plastic or even metal , depending on the quality of the instrument. [ 5 ]

Once all the elements that make it up have been joined, it is varnished . There are two ways to carry out this process, one more expensive and laborious which consists of varnishing the instrument by hand with shellac ; and the other varnishing it with a polyurethane- based gun that dries quickly. The disadvantage of this last method is that the varnish forms a plate on the resonance box that reduces the sound of the instrument. [ 5 ]

Subsequently, the fingerboard is flattened and the frets are placed, which are usually made of nickel silver or brass . It is extremely important that the fretting is perfect since the tuning of the guitar depends on it. The pegs and strings are then placed on the bottom of the soundboard. Formerly the strings were made of animal gut but in modern guitars they are made of nylon . [ 5 ]


Classical guitar strings are usually made of nylon . In the past, strings made with animal gut were common, but today they are in disuse due to the better performance and lower price that nylon offers. The lower strings also have a wound, usually made of bronze or nickel.

Other guitars, such as acoustic or electric , usually have strings made entirely of metal, also with wound in the lower ones.

Sounding board

The resonance box is made up of the back, the soundboard and the side sides. The first two are flat. The bottom can be made of rosewood (there are many varieties such as Indian or bay), walnut, and even local woods are currently used. While the top can be pine, fir, cedar or, occasionally, cypress. The soundboard has a perforation in its middle part, called the "mouth", adorned with the so-called "rosette" that can be built by the luthier himself (and, in fact, many times the drawings made on the rosette act as a distinctive seal of each luthier) or manufactured in series. The top is reinforced by five to nine thin wooden bars called "spinet".fan (although nowadays luthiers have begun to experiment with other arrangements, combining the use of balsa wood with synthetic materials in order to achieve a better distribution of sound and vibration in the lid). The number of double crochet within a guitar depends on the manufacturer of the guitar. The rings are two long and narrow pieces made of the same wood as the back, curved by fire and joined at the upper and lower ends of the case. Their union is ensured on the inside with two wooden blocks placed one at the base of the handle and the other on the opposite side. The hoops are reinforced along the inside with two wooden strips that are called "contrabajas". [ 5 ]


The neck is made of cedar or walnut or pine wood and is made up of the pegbox, the neck and the keel or socket. In modern guitars the pegs are enclosed within metal pegs, unlike the method used in previous guitars which consisted of inserting the pegs directly into the wood of the pegbox. The headstock is located at the end of the fingerboard. Modern tuners have two vertical cuts and are prepared to receive the bones, which are the small pieces in which the strings are wound. The metal pegs are on the outside of the headstock and are used for tuningthe instrument by the tension they exert on the strings. Its tension can be modified for tuning by means of a system of endless screws driven by the pegs, which involve small rollers on which the strings are wrapped. These then pass through the upper bridge, in which small grooves are dug that guide each string towards the fingerboard until it reaches the pegbox. The pegbox can also be called a shovel or machinery ; the tuning of the guitar strings depends on this mechanism.

The longest part of the neck is called the neck and is covered with the fingerboard, which is a piece of wood, usually rosewood or ebony , on which the guitar strings press the fingers. The keel or socket is the base of the handle that is fixed to the resonance box. [ 5 ]


Collection of guitars of the Museum of Music of Barcelona
Illustration of a viola de pendola , instrument of a Carolingian psalter of the 9th century .


The origins and evolution of the guitar and its family are not too clear, since numerous similar instruments were used in ancient times , so it is usual to follow the trajectory of this instrument through the pictorial and sculptural representations found throughout the history. There is archaeological evidence in bas-reliefs found in Alaça Hüyük (north of present-day Turkey ) that around 1000 BC. C. The Hittites and Assyrians created stringed instruments like the lyre (the instrument of several simplest and oldest of the world strings) but with the addition of asoundboard , so they would be predecessors of the guitar. Representations have also been found in drawings from ancient Egypt that resemble the guitar. [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ]

There are several hypotheses about its origins. One of them gives it a Greco-Latin origin and affirms that it is a descendant of the fidicle . Another of the most popular considers that the guitar is an instrument introduced by the Arabs during the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and that it later evolved in Spain . [ 6 ]

Both hypotheses have their etymological reason. Apparently the first chordophones reached the Greeks , who slightly distorted their name, kithára or kettarah. According to Corominas, the accentuation reveals the origin of the word in Greek kithára. The word cithara that would later derive in zither and finally cedra in Spanish seems to be used for the instrument without a handle (more similar to the lyre), while it is assumed that the Greek word would have been used for the instrument to which it would have been added. a mango at the beginning of our era. Many scholars and musicologists attribute the arrival of the guitar to Spain through the Roman Empirein the year 400 . [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ]

The other hypothesis has its etymological foundation in the Arabic word for guitar , qīṯārah , [ 8 ] which, although equally original from Greek, could have been introduced by the Arab conquerors and not by the Romans. There is also an Arabist hypothesis about the origin of the lute that maintains that the first instrument with a neck was the Arabic ud , whose name the Spaniards ended up mistakenly merging with their article: the feminine " ud " became the masculine " lute ". It was precisely the Arabs who introduced the instrument in Spain, where it evolved according to the musical tastes of the populace under Arab domination.

In India these instruments were known in the Sanskrit language as sitar (instrument descended from the vina ), a word that comes from two Indo-European words that would give rise to the Spanish word "guitar": the root guīt (which produced the Sanskrit words guitá: ' song '(as in the Bhagavad-guita , the' song of the Lord '), or sangīt: ' music ') and the root tar , which means' string' or 'chord'.

Middle Ages

A Moorish or mandora guitar .

In the 11th and 12th centuries, two types of "guitars" or "guiternes" can be distinguished. On the one hand the Moorish or Mandora , with an oval shape of half a pear and that resembles the Arab lute and the mandolin . On the other hand, the Latin guitar , an evolution of the old cedars , cytolas and zither , with a flat bottom, joined by rings with a long handle and whose pegbox was similar to that of the violin . The first of them agrees with the hypothesis of the oriental origin of the guitar, a kind of Assyrian lute that would have spread throughout Persia and Arabia., until reaching Spain during the Islamic presence in the Iberian Peninsula . The second would reinforce the hypothesis of the Greco-Latin origin of the instrument. Both types are represented in the miniatures of the Cantigas de Santa María of Alfonso X the Wise , from 1270, although one of the oldest representations that are preserved is in Western Europe , in a Passionary of the abbey of Zwiefalten , from the year 1180. [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ]

In the fourteenth century , the medieval French poets Guillaume de Machaut and Eustache Deschamps name the "guiterna" in their works, without specifying the type. [ 5 ]

The Latin guitar evolved to give rise to two different instruments: the vihuela , which was equipped with six orders (double strings) and which had a wide diffusion among the aristocracy and professional troubadours and musicians; and the guitar, of four orders and more popular in use. [ 6 ]

Century XVI

Three books of music in cipher for vihuela , published in 1546 by Alonso Mudarra , contains the first four-order guitar work.

In the 16th century , numerous compositions for guitar began to be written. This great production is centered in Spain. [ 5 ]

The first known work for four-order guitar appears in the work Three books of music in cipher for vihuela , published in 1546 by Alonso Mudarra in Seville . At that time it was common to confuse the names of these instruments, and it was at the end of the century that they began to differentiate. The guitar was used mainly as an accompaniment instrument and mainly with the rasguado technique. [ 6 ] [ 9 ]

XVII century

The oldest treatise on the Spanish guitar was published in Barcelona in 1596 by Juan Carlos Amat with the title of Spanish guitar of five orders ... [ 10 ] In 1606 Girolamo Montesardo published in Bologna the first great work for guitar entitled Nuova inventione d'per sonare Il Balletti involatura espagnuola sopra la chitarra and GA Colonna Intavolatura alla chitarra di spagnuola in 1620. [ 9 ]

Although all countries claim their intervention in the invention of the guitar (with special mention of France) aspects such as shape, structure and tuning, derive directly from the guitar as the Iberian violets designed it, without forgetting the Europeans like Johan Stauffer , from whom the designs of his disciple CF Martin derive . [ 11 ] The inclusion of the fifth string is attributed to the Malaga musician and poet Vicente Espinel , ( Ronda , 1550) the attribution of this invention was made by Lope de Vega , but it was refuted by Nicolao Dolci de Velasco (1640) and by Gaspar Sanz(1684) in his treatises on the Spanish guitar. Their assertions are supported by the fact that eleven years before Espinel's birth, Bermudo mentioned a five-order guitar. However, although Espinel was not the inventor of the Spanish five-order guitar, he was probably the one who was most in charge of its popular dissemination among all social classes in Spain. [ 9 ] Gaspar Sanz says respect in the preface to his book Instruction of music on the Spanish guitar : [ 12 ]

Italians, French and other nations graduate it from Spanish to guitar, the reason is because in the past it had only four strings and in Madrid the Spanish maestro Espinel added the fifth and for this reason, as from here, it originated its perfection. The French, Italians and other nations, in imitation of us, also added the fifth to their guitar and for this reason they call it the Spanish Guitar.

The new method figure for five - string guitar tañer published in 1630 Doici de Velasco is the oldest known and it says: [ 5 ]

In France , Italy and other countries, the guitar has been called Spanish since Espinel put the fifth string on, making it as perfect as the lute , harp , theorbo and clavichord and even more abundant than these.
Gaspar Sanz , Instruction of music on the Spanish guitar , 1674.

Other authors contributed prominently to the literature on the guitar, such as Luis de Briceño in 1626, Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz and Francisco Guerau , among others. In the Iberian Peninsula, the guitar was already widely used at the end of the seventeenth century , when Gaspar Sanz composed his Instruction of music on the Spanish guitar and the method of its first rudiments, until he played it skillfully . [ 9 ] Previously there were nine-string guitars: a single string and four "orders".

In any case, it seems clear that it was in Spain where it took on its nature, because unlike the guitars built in other countries and places in Europe, where guitars were made overloaded with inlays and ornaments that made it almost impossible to play, the guitar Spanish was made to be played and was so popular that even Sebastián de Covarrubias , Felipe II's chaplain and Spanish lexicographer, even said: "The guitar is not worth more than a cowbell, it is so easy to play that there is no peasant who does not be a guitarist. " [ 11 ]

18th and 19th centuries

At the beginning of the 18th century, Jacob Otto added the sixth string to the guitar and the modern tuning was standardized, the most significant change suffered by this instrument. In the middle of the 19th century, the history of the modern guitar reached a great apogee with the Spanish Francisco Tárrega , creator of the modern school and author of the change in the use of hand positioning and the way of plucking the strings. [ 7 ]

Romantic guitar. Around 1830.

At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19thSome guitars used six single strings and used reinforcing bars under the soundboard. These bars were added to reinforce the structure and made it possible to thin the top for greater resonance and better sound distribution throughout the soundboard. Other contemporary developments include the use of a reinforced, raised neck using ebony or rosewood, and the appearance of a metal screw mechanism in place of wooden tuning pegs. It is important to note that the raised storage room has had a great impact on the technique of the instrument because the strings were too far from the soundboard so that one of the fingers of the right hand had to be supported to serve as support for the others.

In the early nineteenth century, in the works of the Spanish Agustín Caro, Manuel González, Antonio de Lorca, Manuel Gutiérrez and other European builders, including René Lacote and the Viennese Johann Stauffer, we find the characteristics of the most direct precursors of the classical guitar. modern. Johann Stauffer has a legendary reputation. In his shop he learned how to build CF Martin guitars , which would later move to the United States and whose firm continues to build guitars today. He also developed the raised storage room, at the request of Luigi Legnani , the guitarist and first performer of the Genoese violinist Niccolò Paganini's concerts.. Its other advancements in guitar construction include an adjustable, steel-reinforced neck and the worm-gear heads that are still used on modern guitars.

In the 19th century the guitar began to approach the shape and dimensions of today. In southern Spain, some builders such as Manuel Soto and Solares began to build instruments of great value and it was around 1850 when the work of Antonio de Torres began , who in the end would be the guitar maker who would set the standard measures of the modern instrument. With the support of Julián Arcas , both from Almeria, and his own brilliant intuitions, Antonio Torres Jurado refined the structural supports of the guitar by including seven rods extended under the soundboard. Also increased the size of the soundboard and the width of the neck. These innovations influenced the improvement of sound volume and bass response as well as the discovery of a left-hand technique for repertoire enrichment. Now the guitar was ready for the demands of both the soloist and the instrumental ensemble. The construction tradition in Almería has been maintained to this day with builders such as Gerundino Fernández García and Juan Miguel González .

Twentieth century

The Spanish luthier José Ramírez III together with the guitarist Narciso Yepes added four more strings in the bass, on a wide neck whose multiple frets allow to significantly expand the range of sounds of the left hand. Narciso Yepes first played this ten-string guitar in Berlin in 1964 and, from that year on, it was his regular instrument at concerts, specializing in Renaissance and Baroque pieces.

Guitar, ukulele and charango .

Types of guitar

There are innumerable types of guitars, although today we could differentiate two basic types: the classical guitar and the flamenco guitar. The flamenco guitar as it is understood today, has a resonance box that is slightly smaller than the classical one, and uses different woods in its construction (traditionally cypress). There are a few other variations that make your playing more percussive .

A variety of the classical or Spanish guitar is the acoustic guitar , whose main difference is the material of its strings, which is metal instead of gut or nylon, and the size of the body that gives it better acoustics than the guitar. classical. It comes from the United States . [ citation needed ] It is usually larger and over time it evolved to adopt a system powered by electric power (electric pickups), giving rise to the electric guitar .

Acoustic guitar

Classical guitar sound . Anonymous Romance

The acoustic guitar is a type of guitar with strings of nylon , wire or metal , whose sound is generated by vibration of the strings that are amplified in an enclosure of wood or some acrylic . The adjective "acoustic" is taken directly from the English acoustic guitar due to the use that English speakers make of this adjective , to differentiate the box guitar with respect to the electric guitar. It is clearly redundant, since the guitar, by definition, is an acoustic instrument. The acoustic guitar derives from the designs ofCF Martin and Orville Gibson , mainly, American luthiers who developed their activity mainly at the end of the 19th century . They are also known as western guitars (literally " western guitars "), which is closer to their nature and the kind of music that made them popular.

Like the Spanish ones, these guitars are so called because they emit their sound without any type of electrical amplification, only by transduction of mechanical force.

Flamenco guitar

Flamenco guitar with two pickguards

In Spain there is a very widespread variant, similar to the classical guitar, which is difficult to distinguish with the naked eye, known as flamenco guitar or flamenco guitar. Its sound varies due to a slightly different construction and the use of different types of woods. The flamenco guitar has a more percussive sound, its body is a little narrower, and generally the strings are closer to the fingerboard to facilitate its execution.

The flamenco guitar has less loudness and offers less volume than a Spanish concert guitar, but its sound is brighter, and its execution is easier and faster, due to the shorter distance from the strings to the fingerboard, which allows it to be make less pressure with the fingers of the left hand on the fretboard. Traditionally, the tuning pegs were completely made of wood and were embedded in the headstock of the guitar perpendicular to it. Nowadays some builders can use modern mechanical tuners, but that imitate the old ones, thus combining the precision of modernity while keeping the traditional aesthetics. It usually has under the rosette or hole a cover, pickguard or protector (sometimes also a superior one), to avoid strumming and hits that occur on the soundboard,flamenco , affect the wood.

The flamenco guitar has traditionally had a clear role as an accompaniment to singing and dancing. Only in the 1970s has the flamenco concert guitar been recognized, by the hand of the guitarist from Algeciras Paco de Lucía .

Italian guitarra

Knocker guitar

The Italian guitar ( chitarra battente ) is a type of traditional guitar from southern Italy (Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise and Campania). It has existed since the 14th century and one of its distinctive characteristics is that it is shaped like an elongated eight.

Electric guitar

Electric Guitar Brand Epiphone Model Les Paul.

An electric guitar is a guitar with one or more electromagnetic transducers called pickups or microphones that convert the vibrations of the strings into electrical signals capable of being amplified and processed.

There are three fundamental types of electric guitars: solid body, semi-solid body, and hollow body. Historically, the first to be invented were hollow body guitars, as they were derived from box guitars to which a microphone was incorporated so that they could be heard in jazz bands .

Solid-body guitars lack a soundboard , so the body is a solid piece (almost always made of wood, but there are some cases of plastic or metal -especially experimental- in which the pickups are embedded.

Semi-solid body electric guitars are sometimes characterized by having "f" -shaped holes on the outside, similar to those found in the soundboards of violins and other acoustic instruments. Semi-solid guitars have a central block to avoid coupling or "feedback".

Some electric guitars also have a system that, by operating a lever on the bridge , generates a vibrato effect . The electric guitar always needs to be connected to an amplifier or an amplification system, by means of a cable.

Among the recognized manufacturers of this type of guitar are brands such as Rickenbacker , Gibson , BC Rich , Fender , Epiphone , Squier , Ibanez , PRS , Jackson , Parker , Cort , Yamaha , Dean , ESP , Schecter, among others.

Electroacoustic guitar

An electroacoustic guitar is an acoustic guitar to which pickups, microphones, or drivers have been added to amplify its sound. They are also called electrified guitars, a term that we must consider synonymous, and which highlights the fact that the pre-set may have been installed at the source or by the user himself.

The electrification of a snare guitar makes the use of the external microphone unnecessary , as it connects like an electric guitar to an amplifier. This largely avoids coupling and makes recording easier for the sound engineer . However, the sound is not exactly the same, since the microphone that picks up the sound is inside the box and not outside, which is where the actual sound of the guitar is heard.

The difference between a metal-stringed electro-acoustic guitar and a box electric guitar (which are commonly used in jazz ) is above all the type of transducer: in the former a piezoelectric transducer is used , which gives a more crystalline, sharp and natural; In the electric guitar electromagnetic transducers are incorporated , which give a different sound, more loaded with medium frequencies.

MIDI guitar

They are special guitars or adapters for conventional guitars that allow you to control a synthesizer via MIDI (data transmission protocol that allows you to send musical information between different devices connected by cables). In this way, a guitarist who does not have the ability to play a keyboard or electronic organ can trigger them from a MIDI guitar.

A basic technique is to use a monophonic audio-to-MIDI frequency converter by taking the audio signal from the guitar by placing a microphone in the sound hole or via its audio output. More sophisticated bridges are also marketed that can detect the vibration of each string separately so that chords can be played , that is, they have 6-voice polyphony or note triggering simultaneity.

Renaissance and Baroque guitars

Detail from The Guitarist , by Johannes Vermeer (1672), where a young woman can be seen playing a baroque guitar .

The Renaissance guitar and the Baroque guitar are the instruments that were played during the Renaissance and Baroque. They are ancestors of classical guitars. In recent years, the construction of modern reproductions of these instruments has proliferated with which music of the time is usually interpreted. They are more delicate guitars and produce a weaker sound, because the construction techniques used did not allow the instrument to have the firmness of current guitars. The strings supported much less tension and therefore their volume is much lower. They are easier to distinguish from other guitars, since their body is thinner and flatter and in many cases they tend to have a very profuse ornamentation, which often even covers the hole in the soundboard with decorative rosettes of great beauty.

Country guitar (country guitar)

This guitar, common in Brazilian folklore, is smaller in size than a Spanish guitar, although its proportions are similar. It consists of five orders of metallic strings that, unlike acoustic guitars, are plucked with the fingernails. It can be tuned in many ways, open tunings being common.

Russian guitar

This guitar has seven strings instead of six. The tuning of this guitar is completely different from the Spanish one; traditionally, an open tuning in G major is used. Another popular Russian instrument is the balalaica , which although plucked string is not very similar in form or in interpretive technique to the guitar since it has three strings and two with the same tuning.

Variations on the traditional guitar

Horizontal guitar
Electric guitars

From its beginnings the guitar was the object of very numerous experimentations, and only a part of these instruments are still used today, even in a marginal way.

The first guitars had four strings like the instruments from which it came, then a fifth was added and later a sixth (the staff), which ended up being the standard six-string model.

One of the most frequent variations is to increase the number of strings. For example doubling your number, from six to twelve; the usual six, individually coupled to their respective octave (except for the two highest, which are doubled in unison). In addition to the twelve-string guitar, the four- string tenor guitar (used among others by the jazz guitarist Tiny Grimes ) is of relative importance .

Narciso Yepes popularized a ten-string guitar, trying to add strings to be able to interpret the repertoire of the baroque lute , a multi-stringed instrument. Many of his disciples adopted his technique, although nowadays there are not many we can still find guitarists who interpret the guitarist repertoire on this instrument.

The fact that some players adjust their instrument to their playing style has nothing to do with the design issue, such as members of the rock group The Presidents of the United States of America , who use a guitar on which three of the six strings have been removed, and a two-string bass. Likewise, Keith Richards (guitarist for The Rolling Stones ), often retires the cord of my grave of his guitars.

A man plays a dobro in Recife

They can also be cited:

  • The fretless guitar (without frets), whose neck is completely smooth, without frets, with which the notes are obtained in the manner of a cello (the tuning is not given by the fret, but you have to “look for it”). Fretless basses are more common .
  • The baritone guitar, which has six strings but a longer throw.
  • The guitars for learning, of reduced dimensions (size 1/2 or 3/4), to facilitate its execution by children
  • The guitar with a double fingerboard. It allows you to play with two different tunings (alternatively or even simultaneously) during the same work, without having to change guitar. Most double guitars have one guitar with twelve strings and the other with six strings. There are other versions such as the instrument of Mike Rutherford , bassist of Genesis , which is a twelve- string guitar attached to a bass, or the case of the Argentine bassist Javier Malosetti who uses a five-string bass attached to a 6-string guitar.
  • The headstockless electric guitar, built since the mid-eighties by the Steinberger company . The headstock is located on the bridge of the guitar, rather than on the head.
  • The slide guitar or horizontal guitar. It is almost always used with the slide or metal or glass tube that covers the entire finger. Widely used by David Gilmour , guitarist for Pink Floyd .
  • The Silent Guitar. A bodyless guitar created by Yamaha designed to travel, which also turns out to be very quiet; their models have nylon or steel strings.
  • The seven-string guitar. In addition to the six strings on the guitar, a lower, seventh string is added. The note of the seventh string is a YES. There are also eight-string guitars with the same idea. There are even guitars with other instruments incorporated into the body of the guitar, such as the Pikasso guitar that has 42 strings (by Pat Metheny ).
  • The Foldaxe, folding guitar invented by Roger Field for Chet Atkins to travel (in Atkins' book Me and My Guitars ).
  • The dinarra , a microtonal dynamic guitar.
  • The harp guitar ( harp guitar ), a guitar with an added headstock of five or six more strings to make the basses, and also another entrance to the soundboard that, to which an addition is also made in the form of a wavy arm.
  • The synth guitar ( guitar synth ), which turns out to be a guitar with a built -in synthesizer.

The contemporary guitar

Currently the field of guitar luthery has had a great development as a result of the various experiments carried out by different luthiers. This is partly due to the search for a greater sound projection, but also to the search for a tone more in line with contemporary guitar music (thus escaping the sweet and friendly sound of the traditional guitar). Some of the changes it has undergone have occurred in the construction of the neck, which now had fixed tensioners (and in some cases adjustable), and even a slight inclination to improve the action of the strings. Also, in some cases, the return from the mouth to the rim has been moved so that the player has a clearer idea of ​​what is sounding. Guitara covers also underwent changes in their making, such as the use of the "


The strings of the guitar are numbered from the bottom up - from the highest to the most serious , with ordinal numbers : first string or raw string, second string, third string, etc. They are also named by their tuning note , as is done with the violin, viola, cello, and double bass:

  1. the E string (the first string, tuned to E 4 ); [ 13 ]
  2. rope if (the second string, tuned on whether 3 );
  3. the G string (the third string, tuned to G 3 );
  4. the D string (the fourth string, tuned to D 3 );
  5. la chord la (the fifth string, tuned to la 2 );
  6. the E string (the sixth string, tuned to E 2 ).

The same tuning of the four bass strings lowered one octave (from the third to the sixth) is that corresponding to the bass.

In some works the composer asks the guitarist to lower the sixth string by two semitones (that is, one tone) - from E 2 to D 2 -.

In sheet music the strings are named after the number of the string around a circumference.

The three lowest strings - the fourth, fifth and sixth strings and, particularly, the latter - are called "bordones", because "bordonear" is the execution of a bass accompanying a piece of music.

The tones of the strings are also changed by putting a nut that is placed one fret higher for each semitone that you want to increase. For example if a nut is placed on the first fret pitch would be: fa 4 , I do 4 , sun 3 , re 3 , the 2 , and F 2 .

The ten - string guitar is like the sum of a common six - string guitar and a double bass (usually tuned one octave: Sun 2 , re 2 , the one and my 1 ).

Table showing the classical temper E, Si, G, D, A, E per string and in each of the first 12 frets:

String 1. er fret 2nd fret 3. er fret 4th fret 5th fret 6th fret 7th fret 8th fret 9th fret 10th fret 11th fret 12th fret
And we Fa #fa Sol Sol# The The# And Do Do# Re Re# Me
II - Si Do Do# Re Re# Me Fa #fa Sol Sol# The The# And
III - Sun Sol# The The# And Do Do# Re Re# Me Fa #fa Sol
IV - Re Re# Me Fa #fa Sol Sol# The The# And Do Do# Re
V - La The# And Do Do# Re Re# Me Fa #fa Sol Sol# The
VI - We Fa #fa Sol Sol# The The# And Do Do# Re Re# Me

Basic tuning method for 6-string guitars

The classic method of tuning a guitar is by ear. To do this, a series of rules must be followed:

  • a string is adjusted, preferably the 5th, to our liking or with some reference if it is going to be played accompanied (it is usually set at 110 Hz);
  • now the 6th string struck at the 5th fret sounds the same as the 5th string played open;
  • the 5th string at the 5th fret sounds the same as the 4th string played open;
  • the 4th string at the 5th fret sounds the same as the 3rd string played open;
  • the 3rd string at the 4th fret sounds the same as the 2nd string played open (this difference is important to remember);
  • the 2nd string at the 5th fret sounds the same as the 1st string played open.

This way of tuning is called "unison" but you can also tune "harmonics" or combine both methods.

Possible references to fine tune

The guitar can also be tuned with respect to:

  • a tuning fork or whistle (acoustic tools that offer a la to guide the tuner);
  • an electronic tuner or computer program;
  • the sound of the telephone signal (it is also a la );
  • other instruments.


When it comes to tuning the guitar, there are mnemonics that make it easier to remember which note is the one that sounds on the air on each guitar string. Three of them are the following phrases (starting with the lowest chord, the sixth):

  • " My Randa, the re ina, sun ed if LBAR" (for the five gravest ropes);
  • " My walk La ura re gaba, Sun age if mplemente my Raba '(for the six strings).
  • " My ra la re stauración sol ar if n me " (likewise for the six strings)

Cut in the box for high notes

Guitar with recess for high notes

The shape of the guitars is not always symmetrical. The electric guitars and some acoustic and classical usually have a kind of curve to facilitate access to those closest to her mouth fretted, to reach the high notes. This cut in the box is often called a cutaway . Depending on whether the guitarist is right-handed or left-handed, the guitar will be built with the cutaway located on either side of the soundboard.


Shrub decorated with a guitar
Fret tapping technique : both hands finger notes on the fretboard. Van Halen popularized this technique in the 1970s.

The guitar is played by resting the soundboard on the lap, with the neck or fingerboard to the left. This puts the lowest strings at the top and the highest strings at the bottom.

To play the guitar, the fingers of the left hand (the right hand for left-handed people) rest on the strings, pressing them against the fingerboard between the frets just after the one that will delimit the vibrating string segment, so that the corresponding length is free to the desired musical note.

Once the length of all the strings or strings to be struck has been set in this way, the right hand strums, plucks or arpeggiates them, using the fingers or a pick , generating a melody if it plays one sound at a time. , a chord if two or more sounds are played, or a harmony if that chord is arpeggiated.

Various techniques are often used on the electric guitar. Among them are tapping (popularized by Eddie Van Halen ), sweep picking ( Yngwie Malmsteen , Jason Becker ), palm mute , etc.

Guitars and lefties

Example of movement of the left hand
18th century illustration of a southpaw playing a sitar

Just as in some instruments, see the piano or the flute , they vary little depending on the laterality of the interpreter , others such as the guitar and the strings of the orchestra , violins , violas , cellos and double basses perform a very different task with each hand. On this issue there are conflicting positions without ever reaching an agreement regarding the advantage or disadvantage of changing the common way of playing with the guitar neck to the left.

With right-handed guitar

Some examples of left-handed guitarists playing "right-handed" on normal guitars:

With left-handed guitar

There are also many left-handed guitarists who play with a "symmetrical" or sometimes "turned" guitar, with the neck on the right hand side and placing the strings in such a way that the basses are above the treble,

In the event that the guitarist wants to use a guitar with a cutaway (a hole in the body that allows the highest notes to be played better), the construction of the instrument is usually special for left-handed users, with the controls, outputs, headstock and cutouts and guitar shape arrangements made as a mirror image of an ordinary guitar. These guitarists are often unable to play on regular guitars.

With right-handed guitar turned with the strings not inverted

There is a third option, although few left-handed guitarists - playing with the guitar upside down (with the neck to the right) - keep the strings as they are in the normal order of the guitar, even though the bass strings are below the treble ones. This involves learning new finger positions to play the same chords and playing by reversing the gesture of strumming and plucking: instead of normally going down, they go up. These guitarists can play on ordinary guitars.

Here is a list of guitarists who play that way:

See also



  1. Ignacio Ramos Altamira. "History of the guitar and Spanish guitarists" . Editorial Club Universitario . Retrieved December 27, 2015 .
  2. «Chordophones I String Instruments I Meló» . Melomaniacs . Retrieved June 16, 2020 .
  3. «The Firm: The Construction of the Flamenco Guitar» . La Flamenca Magazine . December 21, 2014 . Retrieved June 16, 2020 .
  4. «How do you build a Spanish guitar? (II) | Felipe Conde » . Felipe Conde | Guitars since 1915 . August 24, 2015 . Retrieved June 16, 2020 .
  5. a b c d e f g h i j k l (ed.). "Guitar" . Retrieved February 6, 2008 .
  6. a b c d e f Monroy, Juan José. "Guitar. Brief historical introduction » . Archived from the original on December 19, 2007 . Retrieved February 6, 2008 .
  7. a b c d «History of the guitar» . Archived from the original on December 19, 2007 . Retrieved February 6, 2008 .
  8. Guitar , Dictionary of the Spanish Language. Royal Spanish Academy
  9. a b c d «History of the guitar» . Archived from the original on January 30, 2008 . Retrieved February 6, 2008 .
  10. Ronald E. Surtz, «Musical images in the Prayer Book (1518?) Of Sister María de Santo Domingo», Antonio Vilanova (coord.) Acts of the X Congress of the International Association of Hispanists (Barcelona, ​​21-26 of August 1989), vol. I, Barcelona, ​​University Promotions and Publications, 1992, pp. 563-570. Cf. p. 566, n. 11. ISBN 978-84-7665-751-5 (vol. I). ISBN 978-84-7665-409-5 (Complete work).
  11. ^ A b «The Spanish guitar» . . Retrieved April 5, 2009 .
  12. ^ Sanz, Gaspar (1674). "Prologue" . Music instruction on the Spanish guitar (in old Spanish) . p. 9 . Retrieved March 20, 2019 .
  13. This number in subscript is indicated according to the international registry index , which denominates do 4 to the central note of a piano ; On the other hand, according to the Franco-Belgian registry index , that same mi is called mi 3 .


  • Alcaraz Iborra, Mario & Díaz Soto, Roberto: The guitar: History, organology and repertoire . University Club, 2010. ISBN 84-845-4903-8 (Google Books).
  • Kasha, Dr. Michael: «A New Look at The History of the Classic Guitar» en Guitar Review, 30:3-12, 1968.
  • Evans, Tom & Evans, Mary Anne: Guitars: From the Renaissance to Rock. Nueva York: Paddington Press, 1977.

external links

  • The Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy has a definition for guitar .