Electric guitar - Guitarra eléctrica

Electric guitar
Gibson Les Paul 54 Custom.jpg
Range guitar.svg
(guitar with standard tuning)
Classification Chordophone ( plucked or strummed , both with the fingers and the pick ).
Related instruments Bass , guitar , lute , bandurria , ukulele , charango , guitarrón , cuatro , cavaquinho , timple , banjo , dinarra , mandolin , zither , balalaica , tiple
Musicians Guitarists
Manufacturers Among the best known: Gibson , Fender , Taylor guitars and BC Rich

The electric guitar is a type of guitar, which unlike the Spanish guitar and the acoustic guitar , its body does not resonate, since this is by electrical induction through a guitar amplifier or also through an effects pedal . The sound of the guitar will be influenced by the design and placement of the pickups, the scale and to a lesser extent by the bridge and nut, the use of the scale circles will modify the sound of each of its strings.

Since the generated signal is relatively weak, it is amplified before being sent to a loudspeaker . This electric guitar output signal can be easily altered by electronic circuits to modify some aspects of the sound. The signal is often modified with effects like reverb and distortion . Conceived in 1915, the electric guitar arose out of a need for jazz musicians , trying to amplify their sound. Since then, it has evolved into a string musical instrument, capable of a multitude of sounds and styles thanks to the development of external systems such as analog and digital pedals. Serves as an important component in the development of rock and rolland other genres of music, especially funk .


Sale of electric guitars, Israel 1969
Sale of electric guitars, Israel 1969

The electric guitar was invented in the first half of the twentieth century with the work of Leo Fender, who would start the revolution of this instrument, becoming commercialized worldwide. Unknowingly, Fender would create a great story with their new invention. From that moment on, many instruments suffered alterations in their traditional acoustic design and incorporated some type of electrical system. The guitar was one of the first to adapt and despite the fact that several brands innovated in that direction in a short time, the manufacture of the first electric guitar can be attributed to the Rickenbacker brand .

The first musicians to adopt this system to play were operetta and jazz guitarists, who previously did not have the means for their instrument to be heard within orchestras. Leo Fender designed the first solid electric guitar with a detachable neck and few parts, so that players would not have problems with having to change parts of the instrument worn or broken by use. It was the birth of the Fender Broadcaster , which was shaped like a telecaster but had problems with the name with Gretsch who forbade him to use that name.The guitars of those years are known as Nocaster until the name of Telecaster was invented, the first of many guitars solid body electrics, ushering in an era of musicians.


Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar with Two Humbucker Pickups .

The electric guitar is made up of the following parts:

  1. clavijero.
  2. Eyebrow or capo .
  3. Peg .
  4. Frets .
  5. Neck tensioner or "Alma" .
  6. Position markers .
  7. Fretboard .
  8. Mast .
  9. Body .
  10. Capsules or Pills .
  11. volume and tone controls .
  12. Puente .
  13. Protector or pickguard .

Apart from those mentioned, you can add accessories such as external parts of the guitar; such as the pick or vellum, slides, bridges, among others.

  • The body is usually made of wood (traditional solid body models used alder , mahogany , or ash , although in recent times a wide variety of new woods have been used). More modern and alternative models use carbon fiber, iron or synthetic materials such as polycarbonate. It houses the electronic components inside and can be solid, semi-solid or totally hollow, it has been experimented in recent years with variables such as cardboard and plastic, in the same way the physical shape of the guitar body has been fused with digital systems. to achieve different sounds using midi systems.
  • The neck is also usually made of one or more pieces of wood (traditionally maple or mahogany, sometimes covered by a layer of wood called rosewood fingerboard , ebony or other hardwoods), it is built with a steel bar or other very material. resistant inside, called soul, which has the purpose of counteracting the tension of the strings and maintaining its linearity. The two most popular build systems have it bolted to the body (as on most Fender guitars ) or glued to the body (typical Gibson brand system). Another alternative is neck-trough type guitars, where the neck continues through the body, with the sides of the same glued to it. The headstock or headstock, is the end of the neck where the strings are wound to the pins (mechanisms operated by an endless screw that regulates their tension). The logo of the brand and the name of the guitar model are usually inscribed, since it is the part that is never covered by the interpreter when playing.
  • The headstock starts at the top of the neck and where the pins are located. In addition, in this the guitar strings are grasped. Generally it is the part where the manufacturer prints its logo, in the last decade robotic tuning systems have been developed leaving aside the tuners.
  • Thin fret metal strips embedded in the neck fingerboard. The height of the fret has a great influence on how the instrument feels when played. It is dominated by the distance between the string and the surface of the fingerboard. Among the different types of frets we can mention:
    • Very tall and wide frets . They are recommended for soloists. They allow great speed due to the absence of friction between the fingerboard and the tips of the fingers. It also facilitates stretching, such as "bendings," "hammer on," and "pull off." Wider frets are more comfortable moving across the fingerboard than tall, narrow ones. High frets can cause tuning problems if you put too much pressure on the strings.
    • Wide and low frets . They are usually very comfortable to slide down the fingerboard but not so comfortable for the "bendings" due to the friction between the fingers and the fingerboard. They allow fewer levels of leveling, so they must be changed more often.
    • Low, narrow frets . In the 50's and 60's the electric guitar played a mainly rhythmic role and was equipped with very narrow and low frets. This type of fret is typical for vintage instruments.
    • Medium Jumbo Frets . They offer a good feel for bendings and are more comfortable to move across the fretboard. Their narrow construction improves tuning and they can be leveled multiple times before being replaced. They are ideal for versatile musicians who play both the rhythmic part and the solos.
  • Fixed point bridge that holds the guitar strings. In general, there are two types of bridges: fixed and mobile (the latter are sometimes called tremolo).
    • Fixed bridges . They are common in acoustic, semi-acoustic, and many solid-body guitars. What they have in common in their design is that the tension of the strings does not change momentarily while the instrument is played.
    • Moving bridges or tremolo . They allow the guitarist to ease the tension on the strings by pushing a special lever. When released, the bridge returns to its original position, resulting in the same original tension and tuning.
    • Semi-floating bridges . They allow the guitarist to use a lever (tremolo), but with less flexibility than a movable bridge.

Components (edit)

Pickup humbucker and two pills single coil in the body of a Stratocaster
Floyd rose bridge, used for vibrato.

The tablets electromagnetic ( pickup English) are formed by a magnet permanently surrounded by a winding of copper wire. When a ferromagnetic metal body moves within the permanent magnet's magnetic field, an induced current is caused in the winding proportional to the amplitude of movement and frequency equal to that of the body's oscillation. This current is very weak, so the wiring inside the guitar and the one that goes from it to the amplification must be very well shielded, to avoid parasitic noises.

Electromagnetic pickups come in a variety of forms, but typically two: single coils with a single magnetic core, and humbuckers ( hum , hum) with two magnetic cores and dual windings to eliminate noise. The former are the most common, the single coil gives the instrument a brighter sound but generates a shock or noise when saturated by some distortion effect. This type of pickups can be seen in Stratocaster or Telecaster type guitars . The double winding of the latter basically eliminates that noise and the discharge that is generated with the single pickups, and also, a deeper, thicker and clearer sound. Brand guitarsGibson , like the Les Paul and SG models , use these types of microphones. The latter are usually preferred for distorting your signal in "harder" rock styles .

Piezoelectric tablets are based on the piezoelectric effect of some materials such as quartz that, when deformed in a plane, cause a current proportional to the deformation produced. They usually go on the bridge or on the seats of the strings as they must be in almost direct contact with the string. Their sound is more natural than electromagnetic ones. Unlike single or dual pickups, these feature a built-in preamp that gives the sound much more gain, clarity, and volume. They are also called ceramic pickups since they do not present the magnets in sight as the previously mentioned microphones do. They can be seen placed on various Jackson or ESP brand guitars. They are not affected by electric or magnetic fields so they are immune to the so-called electrical "noise" from motors, fluorescent lights or electronic devices.

The rest of the circuits found in the electric guitar are made up of volume knobs , a pickup switch, capacitors as a tone filter, and tone potentiometers associated with these capacitors. They can become more complex, depending on the needs of the guitarist, even introducing a small preamplifier (previous) or transistorized equalizer powered by a battery or battery. This increases the output signal and causes less clutter. In this case we speak of "active circuitry" as opposed to "passive circuitry" that lacks this prior. These preamps are usually built around op amps characterized by its high performance, low consumption and small size.

One step further is the inclusion of MIDI pickups to use the guitar with synthesizers and generate sounds with them.

Some electric guitars also have a bridge system that generates a vibrato effect called a lever or tremolo.

This device was first introduced in the guitars of the 1950s, replacing the fixed bridge. This new system has springs that allow a movement that can stretch and loosen the strings generating vibration and the modification of the tone to the preference of the musician.

The first lever system was the "Bigsby", it consisted of a metallic arm whose tension was sustained by a single spring. As the arm moved, the strings varied the tension by changing their pitch. These systems are still observed in semi-solid guitars, especially in Gretsch brand models .

Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar

The Fender lever system was the most widely used in the 70s and 80s and is currently chosen by thousands of musicians around the world. Unlike the Bigsby, which had only one spring, this system has an optional five springs on the back of the guitar body, but generally when you buy a factory guitar with this type of lever, you only bring three . This allows the tuning to be more "perfect" and not out of tune once the lever is actuated.

The Floyd Rose system is also one of the devices most used today by many guitarists, generally of heavy rock styles, be it metal, heavy or hard rock. This system has the option of five springs like Fender, but unlike this one, it has a vice that "locks" the strings in the headstock preventing friction. For this reason, initially, once the strings were locked, it was not possible to play in tune, so a system of micro-tuners was created on the bridge that manage to tune the guitar once locked.

The floating system is a variation of the Floyd Rose. It has all the characteristics of the previous one but unlike the former, this one has double action, that is, it both loosens the strings and stretches them beyond their standard tuning. The system basically works like this: the springs located at the back of the guitar create a force that is directly proportional to the force exerted by the strings on the bridge. This creates the feeling, being carefully calibrated, that the system is "in the air", or as the name implies, is floating. The most successful brand is Edge, an improved version of the Floyd Rose , made by Ibanez . live


The electric guitar is an instrument that has a large number of ways to play a note and, although its sustain is limited as in the piano, unlike in this, there are numerous ways to vary the sound once played. Despite being an instrument of relatively recent creation (compared to classical instruments in general), many guitarists have been innovating and adding new expressions, many taken from other instruments and adapted to the electric guitar. Today, many guitarists constantly use many of these expressions, especially in solos, to achieve a hyper-expressive effect.

Right hand techniques

  • Palm mute
  • Pick scrape o pick slide
  • Alternate picking or alternate pick
  • Downpicking or spike down
  • Rake
  • Ripped
  • Sweep picking o barridos
  • Fingerpicking or finger technique
  • Hybrid picking
  • Trémolo
  • Chicken picking
  • Tapping
  • Slap
  • Natural harmonic
  • Bar tremolo techniques

Left hand techniques

  • Bending
    • Bending up
    • Bending down
    • Prebend
  • Vibrato
  • Glissando o slide
    • Legato slide (connected by sliding)
    • Shift slide (sliding change)
    • Slide from bottom to note
    • Slide from the top to the note
    • Slide from note down
    • Slide from note up
  • Linked
    • Hammer on
    • Pull off
  • Trino
  • Dead note
  • Tapping left hand
  • Artificial harmonic
    • Pinch
    • Tap
    • Semi
    • Feedback

Sounds and effects

While an acoustic guitar produces sound by the effect of the vibration caused by the strings in the body and by the air inside it, the sound of an electric guitar is a signal produced by an induced electromagnetic field, generated by the vibration of the string. metal close to the pickup and some sensitive receptors ("pickup" in English). The signal is then shaped its way to the amplifier using a variety of devices or components that modify the tone and other characteristics of the signal.

Music for guitar or bass, in many cases is not written in traditional staves, but is written in tablature. They are like staves, but usually have six or four lines, each line representing a chord. Unlike staves, the note is not represented, but the position of the fingers on the frets. To indicate that it is a tablature and not a staff, it is indicated with the letters TAB vertically at the beginning of the work. This TAB would have the same meaning as the percussion clef.

In guitar or in vocal music, tenors are tuned one octave lower than indicated by the key in which their scores are written, in this case, the treble clef. In other cases, the opposite is true, and the instrument is tuned one octave higher than its key indicates, such as the piccolo flute, which has its scores written in the treble clef. This is called an octave transposition.

To indicate that the instrument is emitting the sounds an octave different from what is written in the score, a small 8 is added to the lower part of the clef, if it is an octave lower, and an 8 in the top of it in case it is an octave higher.


The strings of the guitar are named from bottom to top —from the highest to the lowest— with ordinal numbers: first string or prime string, second string, third string, and so on. They are also known by the name of their tuning note, as is also done on violins, violas, cellos and double basses:

  1. Rope my (first string, tuned in my 4 ) [ 1 ]
  2. Rope if (the second string, tuned in if 3 ).
  3. The G string (the third string, tuned to G 3 ).
  4. The D string (the fourth string, tuned to D 3 ).
  5. The rope 's (the fifth string, tuned in the two ).
  6. The E string (the sixth string, tuned to E 2 ).

This tuning is the normal one, but many times others are used. Some of the most common are: · All strings lowered one semitone. · All strings lowered one tone. · All strings lowered two tones. · D Dropped: common tuning, but with the 6th string lowered one tone. · C Dropped: tuning lowered one tone, but with the 6th string lowered two tones with respect to the common tuning.

In scores the strings are named with Roman numerals: I, II, III, IV, V and VI. The works for guitar are written in the treble clef .

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 work of music.

The tones of the strings are also changed by placing a capo that is placed one fret higher for each semitone that you want to increase. For example, if a capo is placed on the first fret, the tuning would be as follows: F 1 , C 1 , Lab 2 , Eb 2 , Bb 3 and F 3 .

The ten - string guitar is like the sum of a common six - string guitar and a double bass (usually tuned: sun 1 , re 1 , the (0) and I (0) ).


Electric guitar amplifier.

Amplification is the process of multiplying the electrical signal and making it audible electronically. This process occurs in several stages until reaching the loudspeaker, which is the last link in the chain.

The tone of the electric guitar is modified by four main factors: the guitar, the pickups , the power amp , and the speakers. The amplifiers can be operated with valves or transistors . Initially they incorporated valves, but with the appearance of new technologies in electronics they were gradually replaced by transistors, of smaller size and cost. However, the distinctive sound that tubes provide, especially when the sound is distorted, makes tubes the preferred choice of many guitarists and has been the reason for their continued production. Even so, the price of this equipment is always higher: an amplifierVox AC15 15-watt tube -equipped can cost more than triple that of an equal-wattage Vox pathfinder equipped with transistors, with that being the main difference between the two (along with the use of Celestion Blue speakers on the AC15 and a cheaper replica on the Pathfinder).

Transistor amplifiers are therefore more focused on the amateur musician market, while tube amplifiers are aimed at both professionals and amateurs. Usually it is rare to find a high end amp that is not equipped with tubes.

For public amplification the take can be made directly from the guitar output, which would give an optimal separation from the rest of the instruments. The output of the guitar must go to the line input of the table, and it may happen that the delivered signal is very weak and needs a strong amplification, in which case it must be routed to the microphone input of the table. Since the output of the guitar can be of high impedance (for example 10 kilo-ohms), the attenuator , PAD, of the microphone input of the table will have to be switched on, which raises the input impedance of the table and reduces the strong gain of the MIC amplifier . If this is not enough, you can use aimpedance step-down transformer (direct-box) that, for example, presents 50 kilo-ohms to the output of the guitar and 600 ohms to the cable that goes to the microphone input of the table this same transformer can perform the asymmetric line transformation to symmetric.

Most musicians prefer the sound from their amp and monitor, to that obtained through a direct connection. In these cases, the shooting must be done with a microphone, which will be located at a short distance (5-30 cm) from the monitor speaker. If you want to obtain a hard sound, loaded to the middle tones, it is advisable to align the axis of the microphone to the axis of the speaker; For a sweeter sound, with greater treble presence, suitable for rhythm guitars, the angle of the microphone in relation to the axis of the speaker can be altered until the desired tone is obtained. Although some recommend occupying the amplifier at low volume, to avoid distortion that are usually introduced, many guitarists like the sound of distortion produced by overloading the amplifier, so it will be advisable to have equipment that can respond adequately to high volumes.

It is also possible to mix with both types of jacks if a double transformer, in Y, is connected to the guitar output, which allows giving a signal adapted to the channel of the table and the guitar amplifier; in this case you can play with the balance of both shots. Since both jacks are taken live or very close to the speaker, no reverb is picked up , which must be supplied artificially.

Many guitarists include effects to their sound to color it or give some of their songs a personal or special nuance. This is achieved with effects processors or effects pedals , (digital or analog) included in some stage of the amplification. Effects used are the previously named reverb , delay (delay or echo ), chorus ( chorus effect), phaser ( wave phase variator ), wah-wah , tremolo , octavers , audio compression , etc.

Guitarists place as much importance on the instrument as on the amplifier , creating artist-guitar-amplifier triangles, such as:

Being an intrinsic part of your particular sound and using different models and brands according to your creative or tonal needs.

See also


  1. E 3 according to the Franco-Belgian notation , which calls C 3 to the central note of a piano .

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