martes, 20 de julio de 2010



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Guitar 1.jpg
A classical guitar (nylon string)
String instrument
Classification String instrument (plucked, nylon-stringed guitars usually played with fingerpicking, and steel-, etc. usually with a pick.)
Hornbostel-Sachs classification 321.322
(Composite chordophone)
Playing range
Range guitar.svg
(a standard tuned guitar)
Related instruments
The guitar is a musical instrument of the chordophone family.
It's a stringed instrument played by plucking, either with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number but sometimes more, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with either nylon or steel strings. Some modern guitars are made of polycarbonate materials. Guitars are made and repaired by luthiers. There are two primary families of guitars: acoustic and electric.
Acoustic guitars (and similar instruments) with hollow bodies, have been in use for over a thousand years. There are three main types of modern acoustic guitar: the classical guitar (nylon-string guitar), the steel-string acoustic guitar, and the archtop guitar. The tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the vibration of the strings, which is amplified by the body of the guitar, which acts as a resonating chamber. The classical guitar is often played as a solo instrument using a comprehensive fingerpicking technique. Electric guitars, introduced in the 1930s, rely on an amplifier that can electronically manipulate tone. Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but a solid body was found more suitable. Electric guitars have had a continuing profound influence on popular culture. Guitars are recognized as a primary instrument in genres such as blues, bluegrass, country, flamenco, jazz, jota, mariachi, reggae, rock, soul, and many forms of pop.


Illustration from a Carolingian Psalter from the 9th century, showing a guitar-like plucked instrument.
Before the development of the electric guitar and the use of synthetic materials, a guitar was defined as being an instrument having "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and a flat back, most often with incurved sides".[1] The term is used to refer to a number of related instruments that were developed and used across Europe beginning in the 12th century and, later, in the Americas.[2] These instruments are descended from ones that existed in ancient central Asia and India. For this reason guitars are distantly related to modern instruments from these regions, including the tanbur, the setar, and the sitar. The oldest known iconographic representation of an instrument displaying the essential features of a guitar is a 3,300 year old stone carving of a Hittite bard.[3]
The modern word "guitar", and its antecedents, have been applied to a wide variety of cordophones since ancient times and as such is the cause of confusion. The English word "guitar", the German "gitarre", and the French "guitare", were adopted from the Spanish guitarra,[4] which comes from the Andalusian Arabic qitara قيثارةر [5] itself derived from the Latin word cithara, which in turn came from the earlier Greek word kithara (κιθάρα),[6] a descendant of Old Persian sihtar ( سی تار) (Tar means string in Persian).[7]
Although the word guitar is descended from the Roman word cithara, the modern guitar itself is not generally believed to have descended from the roman instrument. Many influences are cited as antecedents to the modern guitar. One commonly cited influence is of the arrival of the four-string oud, which was introduced by the invading Moors in the 8th century.[8] Another suggested influence is the six-string Scandinavian lut (lute), which gained in popularity in areas of Viking incursions across medieval Europe. Often depicted in carvings c. 800 AD, the Norse hero Gunther (also known as Gunnar), played a lute with his toes as he lay dying in a snake-pit, in the legend of Siegfried.[9] It is likely that a combination of influences led to the creation of the guitar; plucked instruments from across the Mediterranean and Europe were well known in Iberia since antiquity.
Two four string medieval instruments that were called "guitars" (but weren't in the modern sense) were in use by 1200: the guitarra moresca (Moorish guitar) and the guitarra latina (Latin guitar). The guitarra moresca, though not Moorish, shows Moorish influences; it had a rounded back, wide fingerboard, and several soundholes. The guitarra latina had a single soundhole and a narrower neck.[10] By the 14th century the qualifiers "moresca" and "latina" had largely been dropped and these two four course cordophones were usually simply referred to as guitars.[11]
The Spanish vihuela or (in Italian) "viola da mano", a guitar-like instrument of the 15th and 16th centuries, is widely considered to have been a seminal influence in the development of the guitar. It had six courses (usually), lute-like tuning in fourths and a guitar-like body, although early representations reveal an instrument with a sharply cut waist. It was also larger than the contemporary four course guitars. By the late 15th century some vihuelas were played with a bow, leading to the development of the viol. By the sixteenth century the vihuela's construction had more in common with the modern guitar, with its curved one-piece ribs, than with the viols, and more like a larger version of the contemporary four-course guitars. The vihuela enjoyed only a short period of popularity in Spain and Italy during an era dominated elsewhere in Europe by the lute; the last surviving published music for the instrument appeared in 1576. Meanwhile the five-course baroque guitar, which was documented in Spain from the middle of the 16th century, enjoyed popularity, especially in Spain, Italy and France from the late 16th century to the mid 18th century.[12][13] Confusingly, in Portugal, the word vihuela referred to the guitar, whereas guitarra meant the "Portuguese guitar", a variety of cittern.

Types of guitars

The guitar player (c. 1672), by Johannes Vermeer
Guitars can be divided into two broad categories, acoustic and electric:

Acoustic guitars

There are several notable subcategories within the acoustic guitar group: classical and flamenco guitars; steel-string guitars, which include the flat-topped, or "folk," guitar; twelve-string guitars; and the arched-top guitar. The acoustic guitar group also includes unamplified guitars designed to play in different registers, such as the acoustic bass guitar, which has a similar tuning to that of the electric bass guitar.

Renaissance and Baroque guitars

These are the gracile ancestors of the modern classical guitar. They are substantially smaller and more delicate than the classical guitar, and generate a much quieter sound. The strings are paired in courses as in a modern 12-string guitar, but they only have four or five courses of strings rather than six. They were more often used as rhythm instruments in ensembles than as solo instruments, and can often be seen in that role in early music performances. (Gaspar Sanz' Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 constitutes the majority of the surviving solo corpus for the era.) Renaissance and Baroque guitars are easily distinguished because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with ivory or wood inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.

Classical guitars

Eminent South American guitarist, Agustin Barrios
These are typically strung with nylon strings, plucked with the fingers,[14] played in a seated position and are used to play a diversity of musical styles including classical music. The classical guitar's wide, flat neck allows the musician to play scales, arpeggios, and certain chord forms more easily and with less adjacent string interference than on other styles of guitar. Flamenco guitars are very similar in construction, but are associated with a more percussive tone. In Mexico, the popular mariachi band includes a range of guitars, from the tiny requinto to the guitarrón, a guitar larger than a cello, which is tuned in the bass register. In Colombia, the traditional quartet includes a range of instruments too, from the small bandola (sometimes known as the Deleuze-Guattari, for use when traveling or in confined rooms or spaces), to the slightly larger tiple, to the full sized classical guitar. The requinto also appears in other Latin-American countries as a complementary member of the guitar family, with its smaller size and scale, permitting more projection for the playing of single-lined melodies. Modern dimensions of the classical instrument were established by the Spaniard Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892).

Extended-range classical guitar

An Extended-range classical guitar is a classical guitar with more than 6 strings, usually up to 13.

Flamenco guitars

The flamenco guitar is similar to the classical guitar, but of lighter construction, with a cypress body and spruce top. Tuning pegs like those of a violin are traditional, although many modern flamenco guitars have machine heads. A distinguishing feature of all flamenco guitars is the tapping plates (golpeadores) glued to the table, to protect them against the taps with the fingernails that are an essential feature of the flamenco style.
Many modern soloists (following the lead of Paco de Lucía) play what is called a flamenca negra, a hybrid of the flamenco and classical guitar constructions

Flat-top (steel-string) guitars

Similar to the classical guitar, however, within the varied sizes of the steel-stringed guitar the body size is usually significantly larger than a classical guitar, and has a narrower, reinforced neck and stronger structural design. The robust X-bracing typical of the steel-string was developed in the 1840s by German-American luthiers of whom C. F. Martin is the best known. Originally used on gut-strung instruments, the strength of the system allowed the guitar to withstand the additional tension of steel strings when this fortunate combination arose in the early 20th century. The steel strings produce a brighter tone, and according to many players, a louder sound. The acoustic guitar is used in many kinds of music including folk, country, bluegrass, pop, jazz, and blues. Many variations are possible from the roughly classical-sized OO and Parlour to the large Dreadnought and Jumbo. Ovation makes a modern variation, with a rounded back/side assembly molded from artificial materials.

Archtop guitars

These are steel-string instruments in which the top (and often the back) of the instrument are carved from a solid billet in a curved rather than a flat shape; this violin-like construction is usually credited to the American Orville Gibson (1856-1918). Lloyd Loar of the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co introduced the violin-inspired f-hole design now usually associated with archtop guitars, after designing a style of mandolin of the same type. The typical archtop guitar has a large, deep, hollow body whose form is much like that of a mandolin or violin family instrument. Nowadays, most archtops are equipped with magnetic pickups and are therefore both acoustic and electric. F-hole archtop guitars were immediately adopted upon their release by both jazz and country musicians and have remained particularly popular in jazz music, usually with flatwound strings.

Selmer-Maccaferri guitars

These are usually played by those who follow the style of Django Reinhardt. It is an unusual-looking instrument, distinguished by a fairly large body with squarish bouts, and either a "D"-shaped or longitudinal oval soundhole. The strings are gathered at the tail like an archtop guitar, but the top is formed from thin spruce (like a flat-top or classical) forced into a shallow dome. It also has a wide fingerboard and slotted head like a nylon-string guitar. The loud volume and penetrating tone make it suitable for single-note soloing and it is frequently employed as a lead instrument in gypsy swing.
An 8-string baritone tricone resonator guitar.

Resonator, resophonic or Dobro guitars

All three principal types of resonator guitars were invented by the Slovak-American John Dopyera (1893-1988) for the National and Dobro (Dopyera Brothers) companies. Similar to the flat top guitar in appearance, but with a body that may be made of brass, nickel-silver, or steel as well as wood, the sound of the resonator guitar is produced by one or more aluminum resonator cones mounted in the middle of the top. The physical principle of the guitar is therefore similar to the loudspeaker. The original purpose of the resonator was to produce a very loud sound; this purpose has been largely superseded by electrical amplification, but the resonator guitar is still played because of its distinctive tone. Resonator guitars may have either one or three resonator cones. The method of transmitting sound resonance to the cone is either a "biscuit" bridge, made of a small piece of hardwood at the vertex of the cone (Nationals), or a "spider" bridge, made of metal and mounted around the rim of the (inverted) cone (Dobros). Three-cone resonators always use a specialized metal bridge. The type of resonator guitar with a neck with a square cross-section – called "square neck" or "Hawaiian" – is usually played face up, on the lap of the seated player, and often with a metal or glass slide. The round neck resonator guitars are normally played in the same fashion as other guitars, although slides are also often used, especially in blues.

12-string guitars

The twelve-string guitar usually has steel strings and is widely used in folk music, blues, and rock and roll. Rather than having only six strings, the 12-string guitar has six courses made up of two strings each, like a mandolin or lute. The highest two courses are tuned in unison, while the others are tuned in octaves. The 12-string guitar is also made in electric forms.

Russian guitars

These seven-string acoustic guitars were the norm for Russian guitarists throughout the 19th and well into the 20th centuries. The Russian guitar is traditionally tuned to open G major.

Acoustic bass guitars

Prime and bass acoustic guitars
These have steel strings or gut strings and often the same tuning as an electric bass guitar.


The guitarrón is a very large, deep-bodied Mexican 6-string acoustic bass played in mariachi bands. It is fretless with heavy gauge nylon strings, and is usually played by doubling notes at the octave, which is facilitated by the unusual tuning of A D G C E A.

Tenor guitars

A number of classical guitarists call the Niibori prime guitar a "Tenor Guitar" on the grounds that it sits in pitch between the alto and the bass. Elsewhere[citation needed]the name is taken for a 4-string guitar with a scale length of 23" (585 mm) – about the same as a Terz Guitar. The tenor guitar is tuned in fifths, C G D A, as is the tenor banjo and the cello. It is generally accepted[citation needed] that the tenor guitar was created to allow a tenor banjo player to follow the fashion as it evolved from Dixieland Jazz towards the more progressive Jazz that featured guitar. It allows a tenor banjo player to provide a guitar-based rhythm section with little to learn. A small minority of players (such as Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio) close tuned the instrument to D G B E to produce a deep instrument that could be played with the 4-note chord shapes found on the top 4 strings of the guitar or ukulele. The deep pitch warrants the wide-spaced chords that the banjo tuning permits, and the close tuned tenor does not have the same full, clear sound.

Harp guitars

Harp Guitars are difficult to classify as there are many variations within this type of guitar. They are typically rare and uncommon in the popular music scene. Most consist of a regular guitar, plus additional 'harp' strings strung above the six normal strings. The instrument is usually acoustic and the harp strings are usually tuned to lower notes than the guitar strings, for an added bass range. Normally there is neither fingerboard nor frets behind the harp strings. Some harp guitars also feature much higher pitch strings strung below the traditional guitar strings. The number of harp strings varies greatly, depending on the type of guitar and also the player's personal preference (as they have often been made to the player's specification).[15] The Pikasso guitar; 4 necks, 2 sound holes, 42 strings] and also the Oracle Harp Sympitar; 24 strings (with 12 sympathetic strings protruding through the neck) are modern examples.

Extended-range guitars

For well over a century guitars featuring seven, eight, nine, ten or more strings have been used by a minority of guitarists as a means of increasing the range of pitch available to the player. Usually, it is bass strings that are added. Classical guitars with an extended range are useful for playing lute repertoire, some of which was written for lutes with more than six courses. A typical example is the modern 11 string archguitar, invented and played by Peter Blanchette.[16]

Guitar battente

The battente is smaller than a classical guitar, usually played with four or five metal strings. It is mainly used in Calabria (a region in southern Italy) to accompany the voice.

Electric guitars

Glen Campbell playing a Fender electric guitar with three single-coil pickups
Electric guitars can have solid, semi-hollow, or hollow bodies, and produce little sound without amplification. Electromagnetic pickups convert the vibration of the steel strings into signals, which are fed to an amplifier through a cable or radio transmitter. The sound is frequently modified by other electronic devices or the natural distortion of valves (vacuum tubes) in the amplifier. There are two main types of magnetic pickups, single and double coil (or humbucker), each of which can be passive or active. The electric guitar is used extensively in jazz, blues, R & B, and rock and roll. The first successful magnetic pickup for a guitar was invented by George Beauchamp, and incorporated into the 1931 Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) "Frying Pan" lap steel; other manufacturers, notably Gibson, soon began to install pickups in archtop models. After World War II the completely solid-body electric was popularized by Gibson in collaboration with Les Paul, and independently by Leo Fender of Fender Music. The lower fretboard action (the height of the strings from the fingerboard), lighter (thinner) strings, and its electrical amplification lend the electric guitar to techniques less frequently used on acoustic guitars. These include tapping, extensive use of legato through pull-offs and hammer-ons (also known as slurs), pinch harmonics, volume swells, and use of a tremolo arm or effects pedals.
The first electric guitarist of note to use a seven-string guitar was jazz guitarist George Van Eps, who was a pioneer of this instrument. Solid body seven-strings were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s in part due to the release of the Ibanez Universe guitar, endorsed by Steve Vai. Other artists go a step further, by using an eight-string guitar with two extra low strings. Although the most common seven-string has a low B string, Roger McGuinn (of The Byrds and Rickenbacker) uses an octave G string paired with the regular G string as on a 12-string guitar, allowing him to incorporate chiming 12-string elements in standard six-string playing. In 1982 Uli Jon Roth developed the "Sky Guitar", with a vastly extended number of frets, which was the first guitar to venture into the upper registers of the violin. Roth's seven-string and 33-fret "Mighty Wing" guitar features a six-octave range.
The electric bass guitar is similar in tuning to the traditional double bass viol. Hybrids of acoustic and electric guitars are also common. There are also more exotic varieties, such as guitars with two, three,[17] or rarely four necks, all manner of alternate string arrangements, fretless fingerboards (used almost exclusively on bass guitars, meant to emulate the sound of a stand-up bass), 5.1 surround guitar, and such.
Some electric guitar and electric bass guitar models feature piezoelectric pickups, which function as transducers to provide a sound closer to that of an acoustic guitar with the flip of a switch or knob, rather than switching guitars. Those that combine piezoelectric pickups and magnetic pickups are sometimes known as hybrid guitars.[18]

Guitar construction and components

Acoustic guitar parts.pngElectric guitar parts.jpg
  1. Headstock
  2. Nut
  3. Machine heads (or pegheads, tuning keys, tuning machines, tuners)
  4. Frets
  5. Truss rod
  6. Inlays
  7. Neck
  8. Heel (acoustic) – Neckjoint (electric)
  9. Body
  10. Pickups
  11. Electronics
  12. Bridge
  13. Pickguard
  14. Back
  15. Soundboard (top)
  16. Body sides (ribs)
  17. Sound hole, with Rosette inlay
  18. Strings
  19. Saddle
  20. Fretboard (or Fingerboard)


Guitars can be constructed to meet the demands of both left and right-handed players. Traditionally the dominant hand is assigned the task of plucking or strumming the strings. For the majority of people this entails using the right hand. This is because musical expression (dynamics, tonal expression, color, etc.) is largely determined by the plucking hand, while the fretting hand is assigned the lesser mechanical task of depressing and gripping the strings. This is similar to the convention of the violin family of instruments where the right hand controls the bow. Left-handed players generally choose a left-handed (mirror) instrument, although some play in a standard right-handed manner, others play a standard right-handed guitar reversed, and still others (for example Jimi Hendrix) play a right-handed guitar strung in reverse. This last configuration differs from a true left-handed guitar in that the saddle is normally angled in such a way that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings to improve intonation. Reversing the strings therefore reverses the relative orientation of the saddle (negatively affecting intonation), although in Hendrix' case this is believed to have been an important element in his unique sound.


The headstock is located at the end of the guitar neck furthest from the body. It is fitted with machine heads that adjust the tension of the strings, which in turn affects the pitch. Traditional tuner layout is "3+3" in which each side of the headstock has three tuners (such as on Gibson Les Pauls). In this layout, the headstocks are commonly symmetrical. Many guitars feature other layouts as well, including six-in-line (featured on Fender Stratocasters) tuners or even "4+2" (Ernie Ball Music Man). However, some guitars (such as Steinbergers) do not have headstocks at all, in which case the tuning machines are located elsewhere, either on the body or the bridge.


The nut is a small strip of bone, plastic, brass, corian, graphite, stainless steel, or other medium-hard material, at the joint where the headstock meets the fretboard. Its grooves guide the strings onto the fretboard, giving consistent lateral string placement. It is one of the endpoints of the strings' vibrating length. It must be accurately cut, or it can contribute to tuning problems due to string slippage, and/or string buzz. To reduce string friction in the nut, which can adversely affect tuning stability, some guitarists fit a roller nut. Some instruments use a zero fret just in front of the nut. In this case the nut is used only for lateral alignment of the strings, the string height and length being dictated by the zero fret.


Also called the fingerboard, the fretboard is a piece of wood embedded with metal frets that comprises the top of the neck. It is flat on classical guitars and slightly curved crosswise on acoustic and electric guitars. The curvature of the fretboard is measured by the fretboard radius, which is the radius of a hypothetical circle of which the fretboard's surface constitutes a segment. The smaller the fretboard radius, the more noticeably curved the fretboard is. Most modern guitars feature a 12" neck radius, while older guitars from the 1960s and 1970s usually feature a 6-8" neck radius. Pinching a string against the fretboard effectively shortens the vibrating length of the string, producing a higher pitch. Fretboards are most commonly made of rosewood, ebony, maple, and sometimes manufactured or composite materials such as HPL or resin. See below on section "Neck" for the importance of the length of the fretboard in connection to other dimensions of the guitar.


Frets are metal strips (usually nickel alloy or stainless steel) embedded along the fretboard and located at exact points that divide the scale length in accordance with a specific mathematical formula. Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch. The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale. Standard classical guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 to 24 frets (though Caparison Guitars issue guitars with as many as 27 frets).[19]
Frets are laid out to a mathematical ratio that results in equal tempered division of the octave. The ratio of the spacing of two consecutive frets is the twelfth root of two. The twelfth fret divides the scale length in two exact halves and the 24th fret position divides the scale length in half yet again. Every twelve frets represents one octave. In practice, luthiers determine fret positions using the constant 17.817, which is derived from the twelfth root of two (17.817 = (1-2-1/12)−1). The scale length divided by this value yields the distance from the nut to the first fret. That distance is subtracted from the scale length and the result is divided in two sections by the constant to yield the distance from the first fret to the second fret. Positions for the remainder of the frets are calculated in like manner.[20] Actual fret spacing does not use this exact value; the fret spacing on the fretboard was also done by trial and error (testing) method over the ages.
There are several different fret gauges, which can be fitted according to player preference. Among these are "jumbo" frets, which have much thicker gauge, allowing for use of a slight vibrato technique from pushing the string down harder and softer. "Scalloped" fretboards, where the wood of the fretboard itself is "scooped out" between the frets allows a dramatic vibrato effect. Fine frets, much flatter, allow a very low string-action but require other conditions such as curvature of the neck to be well maintained to prevent buzz.
On steel-string guitars, frets are eventually bound to wear down; when this happens, frets can be replaced or, to a certain extent, leveled, polished, recrowned, or reshaped as required.

Truss rod

The truss rod is a metal rod that runs along the inside of the neck. It is used to correct changes to the neck's curvature caused by the neck timbers aging, changes in humidity or to compensate for changes in the tension of strings. The tension of the rod and neck assembly is adjusted by a hex nut or an allen-key bolt on the rod, usually located either at the headstock, sometimes under a cover, or just inside the body of the guitar underneath the fretboard and accessible through the sound hole. Some truss rods can only be accessed by removing the neck. The truss rod counteracts the immense amount of tension the strings place on the neck, bringing the neck back to a straighter position. Turning the truss rod clockwise tightens it, counteracting the tension of the strings and straightening the neck or creating a backward bow. Turning the truss rod counter-clockwise loosens it, allowing string tension to act on the neck and creating a forward bow. Adjusting the truss rod affects the intonation of a guitar as well as the height of the strings from the fingerboard, called the action. Some truss rod systems, called "double action" truss systems, tighten both ways, allowing the neck to be pushed both forward and backward (standard truss rods can only be released to a point beyond which the neck is no longer compressed and pulled backward).
Classical guitars do not require truss rods as their nylon strings exert a lower tensile force with lesser potential to cause structural problems. However their necks are often reinforced with a strip of harder wood, such as an ebony strip running down the back of a cedar neck. There is no tension adjustment on this form of reinforcement.


Inlays are visual elements set into the exterior surface of a guitar. The typical locations for inlay are on the fretboard, headstock, and on acoustic guitars around the soundhole, known as the rosette. Inlays range from simple plastic dots on the fretboard to intricate works of art covering the entire exterior surface of a guitar (front and back). Some guitar players have used LEDs in the fretboard to produce a unique lighting effects onstage.
Fretboard inlays are most commonly shaped like dots, diamond shapes, parallelograms, or large blocks in between the frets. Dots are usually inlaid into the upper edge of the fretboard in the same positions, small enough to be visible only to the player. These usually appear on the odd numbered frets, but also on the 12th fret (the one octave mark) instead of the 11th and 13th frets. Some older or high-end instruments have inlays made of mother of pearl, abalone, ivory, coloured wood or other exotic materials and designs. Simpler inlays are often made of plastic or painted. High-end classical guitars seldom have fretboard inlays as a well trained player is expected to know his or her way around the instrument.
In addition to fretboard inlay, the headstock and soundhole surround are also frequently inlaid. The manufacturer's logo or a small design is often inlaid into the headstock. Rosette designs vary from simple concentric circles to delicate fretwork mimicking the historic rosette of lutes. Bindings that edge the finger and sound boards are sometimes inlaid. Some instruments have a filler strip running down the length and behind the neck, used for strength and/or to fill the cavity through which the trussrod was installed in the neck.
Elaborate inlays are a decorative feature of many limited edition, high-end and custom-made guitars. Guitar manufacturers often release such guitars to celebrate significant or historic milestones.


A guitar's frets, fretboard, tuners, headstock, and truss rod, all attached to a long wooden extension, collectively constitute its neck. The wood used to make the fretboard usually differs from the wood in the rest of the neck. The bending stress on the neck is considerable, particularly when heavier gauge strings are used (see Tuning), and the ability of the neck to resist bending (see Truss rod) is important to the guitar's ability to hold a constant pitch during tuning or when strings are fretted. The rigidity of the neck with respect to the body of the guitar is one determinant of a good instrument versus a poor one. The shape of the neck can also vary, from a gentle "C" curve to a more pronounced "V" curve. There are many different types of neck profiles available, giving the guitarist many options. Some aspects to consider in a guitar neck may be the overall width of the fingerboard, scale (distance between the frets), the neck wood, the type of neck construction (for example, the neck may be glued in or bolted on), and the shape (profile) of the back of the neck. Other type of material used to make guitar necks are graphite (Steinberger guitars), aluminium (Kramer Guitars, Travis Bean and Veleno guitars), or carbon fiber (Modulus Guitars and ThreeGuitars).
Double neck electric guitars have two necks, allowing the musician to quickly switch between guitar sounds.

Neck joint or 'Heel'

This is the point at which the neck is either bolted or glued to the body of the guitar. Almost all acoustic steel-string guitars, with the primary exception of Taylors, have glued (otherwise known as set) necks, while electric guitars are constructed using both types. Most classical guitars have a neck and headblock carved from one piece of wood, known as a "Spanish heel."
Commonly used set neck joints include mortise and tenon joints (such as those used by CF Martin & Co.), dovetail joints (also used by CF Martin on the D-28 and similar models) and Spanish heel neck joints, which are named after the shoe they resemble and commonly found in classical guitars. All three types offer stability. Bolt-on necks, though they are historically associated with cheaper instruments, do offer greater flexibility in the guitar's set-up, and allow easier access for neck joint maintenance and repairs.
Another type of neck, only available for solid body electric guitars, is the neck-through-body construction. These are designed so that everything from the machine heads down to the bridge are located on the same piece of wood. The sides (also known as wings) of the guitar are then glued to this central piece. Some luthiers prefer this method of construction as they claim it allows better sustain of each note. Some instruments may not have a neck joint at all, having the neck and sides built as one piece and the body built around it.


The standard guitar has six strings but four-, seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-, eleven-, twelve-, thirteen- and eighteen-string guitars are also available.
Classical and flamenco guitars historically used gut strings but these have been superseded by polymer materials, such as nylon and fluorocarbon.
Modern guitar strings are constructed of metal, polymers, or animal or plant product materials. Instruments utilising "steel" strings may have strings made of alloys incorporating steel, nickel or phosphor bronze. Bass strings for both instruments are wound rather than monofilament.

Body (acoustic guitar)

In acoustic guitars, string vibration is transmitted through the bridge and saddle to the body via sound board. The sound board is typically made of tone woods such as spruce or cedar. Timbers for tone woods are chosen for both strength and ability to transfer mechanical energy from the strings to the air within the guitar body. Sound is further shaped by the characteristics of the guitar body's resonant cavity.
In electric guitars, transducers known as pickups convert string vibration to an electric signal, which in turn is amplified and fed to speakers, which vibrate the air to produce the sounds we hear. Nevertheless, the body of the electric guitar still performs a role in shaping the resultant tonal signature.
In an acoustic instrument, the body of the guitar is a major determinant of the overall sound quality. The guitar top, or soundboard, is a finely crafted and engineered element made of tonewoods such as spruce and red cedar. This thin piece of wood, often only 2 or 3 mm thick, is strengthened by differing types of internal bracing. The top is considered by many luthiers to be the dominant factor in determining the sound quality. The majority of the instrument's sound is heard through the vibration of the guitar top as the energy of the vibrating strings is transferred to it.
Body size, shape and style has changed over time. 19th century guitars, now known as salon guitars, were smaller than modern instruments. Differing patterns of internal bracing have been used over time by luthiers. Torres, Hauser, Ramirez, Fleta, and C.F. Martin were among the most influential designers of their time. Bracing not only strengthens the top against potential collapse due to the stress exerted by the tensioned strings, but also affects the resonance characteristics of the top. The back and sides are made out of a variety of timbers such as mahogany, Indian rosewood and highly regarded Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra). Each one is primarily chosen for their aesthetic effect and can be decorated with inlays and purfling.
The body of an acoustic guitar has a sound hole through which sound projects. The sound hole is usually a round hole in the top of the guitar under the strings. Air inside the body vibrates as the guitar top and body is vibrated by the strings, and the response of the air cavity at different frequencies is characterised, like the rest of the guitar body, by a number of resonance modes at which it responds more strongly.
Instruments with larger areas for the guitar top were introduced by Martin in an attempt to create louder volume levels. The popularity of the larger "dreadnought" body size amongst acoustic performers is related to the greater sound volume produced.

Body (electric guitar)

Most electric guitar bodies are made of wood, and include a plastic pick guard. Boards wide enough to use as a solid body are very expensive due to the worldwide depletion of hardwood stock since the 70's, so the wood is rarely one solid piece. Most bodies are made of two pieces of wood with some of them including a seam running down the centre line of the body. The most common woods used for electric guitar body construction include maple, basswood, ash, poplar, alder, and mahogany. Many bodies consist of good sounding but inexpensive woods, like ash, with a "top", or thin layer of another, more attractive wood (such as maple with a natural "flame" pattern) glued to the top of the basic wood. Guitars constructed like this are often called "flame tops". The body is usually carved or routed to accept the other elements, such as the bridge, pickup, neck, and other electronic components. Most electrics have a polyurethane or nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Other alternative materials to wood, are used in guitar body construction. Some of these include carbon composites, plastic material (such as polycarbonate), and aluminum alloys.


This Fender Stratocaster has features common to many electric guitars: multiple pickups, a vibrato unit/tremolo bar, and volume and tone knobs.
Pickups are transducers attached to a guitar that detect (or "pick up") string vibrations and convert the mechanical energy of the string into electrical energy. The resultant electrical signal can then be electronically amplified. The most common type of pickup is electromagnetic in design. These contain magnets that are tightly wrapped in a coil, or coils, of copper wire. Such pickups are usually placed right underneath the guitar strings. Electromagnetic pickups work on the same principles and in a similar manner to an electrical generator. The vibration of the strings causes a small voltage to be created in the coils surrounding the magnets; this signal voltage is later amplified.
Traditional electromagnetic pickups are either single-coil or double-coil. Single-coil pickups are susceptible to noise induced from electric fields, usually mains-frequency (60 or 50 hertz) hum. The introduction of the double-coil humbucker in the mid-1950s did away with this problem through the use of two coils, one of which is wired in a reverse polarity orientation.
The types and models of pickups used can greatly affect the tone of the guitar. Typically, humbuckers, which are two magnet–coil assemblies attached to each other are traditionally associated with a heavier sound. Single-coil pickups, one magnet wrapped in copper wire, are used by guitarists seeking a brighter, twangier sound with greater dynamic range.
Modern pickups are tailored to the sound desired. A commonly applied approximation used in selection of a pickup is that less wire (lower DC resistance) = brighter sound, more wire = "fat" tone. Other options include specialized switching that produces coil-splitting, in/out of phase and other effects. Guitar circuits are either active, needing a battery to power their circuit, or, as in most cases, equipped with a passive circuit.
Fender Stratocaster type guitars generally utilize three single-coil pickups, while most Gibson Les Paul types use humbucker pickups.
Piezoelectric, or piezo, pickups represent another class of pickup. These employ piezoelectricity to generate the musical signal and are popular in hybrid electro-acoustic guitars. A crystal is located under each string, usually in the saddle. When the string vibrates, the shape of the crystal is distorted, and the stresses associated with this change produce tiny voltages across the crystal that can be amplified and manipulated.
Some piezo-equipped guitars use what is known as a hexaphonic pickup. "Hex" is a prefix meaning six. In a hexaphonic pickup separate outputs are obtained from discrete piezoelectric pickups for each of the six strings. This arrangement allows the signal to be easily modified by on-board modelling electronics, as in the Line 6 Variax brand of electric guitars; the guitars allow for a variety of different sounds to be obtained by digitally manipulating the signal. This allows a guitar to mimic many vintage models of guitar, as well as output alternate tunings without the need to adjust the strings.
Another use for hexaphonic pickups is to send the output signals to a MIDI interpretation device, which determines the note pitch, duration, attack and decay characteristics and so forth. The MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) interpreter then sends the note information to a sound bank device. The resulting sound can closely mimic numerous types of instruments.


On guitars that have them, these components and the wires that connect them allow the player to control some aspects of the sound like volume or tone. These at their simplest consist of passive components such as potentiometers and capacitors, but may also include specialized integrated circuits or other active components requiring batteries for power, for preamplification and signal processing, or even for assistance in tuning. In many cases the electronics have some sort of shielding to prevent pickup of external interference and noise.

Lining, Binding, and Purfling

The top, back and ribs of an acoustic guitar body are very thin (1–2 mm), so a flexible piece of wood called lining is glued into the corners where the rib meets the top and back. This interior reinforcement provides 5 to 20 mm of solid gluing area for these corner joints. Solid linings are often used in classical guitars, while kerfed lining is most often found in steel string acoustics. Kerfed lining is also called kerfing (because it is scored, or kerfed to allow it to bend with the shape of the rib).
During final construction, a small section of the outside corners is carved or routed out and filled with binding material on the outside corners and decorative strips of material next to the binding, which are called purfling. This binding serves to seal off the end grain of the top and back. Purfling can also appear on the back of an acoustic guitar, marking the edge joints of the two or three sections of the back.
Binding and purfling materials are generally made of either wood or plastic.


The main purpose of the bridge on an acoustic guitar is to transfer the vibration from the strings to the soundboard, which vibrates the air inside of the guitar, thereby amplifying the sound produced by the strings.
On all electric, acoustic and original guitars, the bridge holds the strings in place on the body. There are many varied bridge designs. There may be some mechanism for raising or lowering the bridge to adjust the distance between the strings and the fretboard (action), and/or fine-tuning the intonation of the instrument. Some are spring-loaded and feature a "whammy bar", a removable arm that lets the player modulate the pitch by moving the bridge back and forth. The whammy bar is sometimes also referred to as a "tremolo bar" (see Tremolo for further discussion of this term – the effect of rapidly changing pitch produced by a whammy bar is more correctly called "vibrato"). Some bridges also allow for alternate tunings at the touch of a button.
On almost all modern electric guitars, the bridge is adjustable for each string so that intonation stays correct up and down the neck. If the open string is in tune but sharp or flat when frets are pressed, the bridge can be adjusted with a screwdriver or hex key to remedy the problem. In general, flat notes are corrected by moving the bridge forward and sharp notes by moving it backwards. On an instrument correctly adjusted for intonation, the actual length of each string from the nut to the bridge saddle is slightly but measurably longer than the scale length of the instrument. This additional length is called compensation, which flattens all notes a bit to compensate for the sharping of all fretted notes caused by stretching the string during fretting.


The saddle of a guitar refers to the structure on or parallel to the bridge. The saddle is most commonly found on acoustic guitars, but some models of hollow-bodied electric guitars have it. Its basic purpose is to hold the strings above the bridge and guitar, and to mute the vibration of the string so the strings do not buzz and/or damage themselves or the bridge. It is comparable in size and function to the nut, and variations in its design are not uncommon.


Also known as a scratchplate. This is usually a piece of laminated plastic or other material that protects the finish of the top of the guitar from damage due to the use of a plectrum or fingernails. Electric guitars sometimes mount pickups and electronics on the pickguard. It is a common feature on steel-string acoustic guitars. Vigorous performance styles such as flamenco, which can involve the use of the guitar as a percussion instrument, call for a scratchplate to be fitted to nylon-string instruments.

Whammy Bar (Tremolo Arm)

Many electric guitars are fitted with a vibrato and pitch bend device known as a "tremolo bar (or arm)", "sissy bar", "wang bar", "slam handle", "whammy handle", and "whammy bar". The latter two terms led stompbox manufacturers to use the term 'whammy' in coming up with a pitch raising effect introduced by popular guitar effects pedal brand Digitech.
The tremolo arm is common enough that there is a technical term, hard tail, for a guitar without one.
Leo Fender, who did much to create the electric guitar, also created much confusion over the meaning of the terms "tremolo" and "vibrato" by the naming the "tremolo" unit on many of his guitars and also the "vibrato" unit on his "Vibrolux" amps. In general, vibrato is a variation in pitch, whereas tremolo is a variation in volume, so the tremolo bar is actually a vibrato bar and the "Vibrolux" amps actually had a tremolo effect. However, following Fender's example, electric guitarists traditionally reverse these meanings when speaking of hardware devices and the effects they produce. See vibrato unit for a more detailed discussion, and tremolo arm for more of the history.
Another type of pitch bender is the B-Bender, a spring and lever device mounted in an internal cavity of a solid body electric, guitar that allows the guitarist to bend just the B string of the guitar using a lever connected to the strap handle of the guitar. The resulting pitch bend is evocative of the sound of the pedal steel guitar.

Guitar strap

A guitar strap is a strip of fabric with a leather or synthetic leather piece on each end. It is made to hold a guitar via the shoulders, at an adjustable length to suit the position favoured by the guitarist.
Guitars have varying accommodations for attaching a strap. The most common are strap buttons, also called strap pins, which are flanged steel posts anchored to the guitar with screws. Two strap buttons come pre-attached to virtually all electric guitars, and many steel-string acoustic guitars. Strap buttons are sometimes replaced with "strap locks" which connect the guitar to the strap more securely.
The lower strap button is usually located at the bottom (bridge end) of the body. The upper strap button is usually located near or at the top (neck end) of the body: on the upper body curve, at the tip of the upper "horn" (on a double cutaway), or at the neck joint (heel). Some electrics, especially those with odd-shaped bodies, have one or both strap buttons on the back of the body. Some Steinberger electric guitars, owing to their minimalist and lightweight design, have both strap buttons at the bottom of the body. Rarely, on some acoustics, the upper strap button is located on the headstock.
Some acoustic and classical guitars only have a single strap button at the bottom of the body – the other end must be tied onto the headstock, above the nut and below the machine heads.
Some acoustic and classical guitars come with no strap buttons at all. In this case, one or two strap buttons can usually be added to the guitar, or a "classical guitar strap" (also called a "guitar harness" or "neck strap") can be used, which supports the guitar by hooking into the sound hole.

Self-tuning guitars

Self-tuning guitars are computerized guitars programmed to tune themselves. The Gibson Robot Guitar, released in 2007, is often mistaken as the first of this kind, but was preceded by the Transperformance system by at least 20 years. Gibson has also released a second, self-tuning model called the Dark Fire.[citation needed] [21]


The guitar is a transposing instrument. Its pitch sounds one octave lower than it is notated on a score.
A variety of different tunings may be used. The most common tuning, known as "Standard Tuning," has the strings tuned from a low E, to a high E, traversing a two octave range – EADGBE. When all strings are played open the resulting chord is an Em7/add11.
The pitches are as follows:
String Scientific pitch Helmholtz pitch Interval from middle C Frequency
first E4 e' major third above 329.63 Hz
second B3 b minor second below 246.94 Hz
third G3 g perfect fourth below 196.00 Hz
fourth D3 d minor seventh below 146.83 Hz
fifth A2 A minor tenth below 110 Hz
sixth E2 E minor thirteenth below 82.41 Hz
The table below shows a pitch's name found over the six strings of a guitar in standard tuning, from the nut (zero), to the twelfth fret.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E F F♯ G A♭ A B♭ B C C♯ D E♭ E
B C C♯ D E♭ E F F♯ G A♭ A B♭ B
G A♭ A B♭ B C C♯ D E♭ E F F♯ G
D E♭ E F F♯ G A♭ A B♭ B C C♯ D
A B♭ B C C♯ D E♭ E F F♯ G A♭ A
E F F♯ G A♭ A B♭ B C C♯ D E♭ E
A guitar using this tuning can tune to itself using the fact, with a single exception, that the 5th fret on one string is the same note as the next open string; that is, a 5th-fret note on the sixth string is the same note as the open fifth string. The exception is the interval between the second and third strings, in which the 4th-fret note on the third string is equivalent to the open second string.
Standard tuning has evolved to provide a good compromise between simple fingering for many chords and the ability to play common scales with minimal left hand movement. Uniquely, the guitar's tuning allows for repeatable patterns, which also facilitates the ease of playing common scales.[22] There are also a variety of commonly used alternate tunings. Most of these are open tunings, i.e., the unfretted strings produce a simple chord, such as a G Major chord. Many open tunings, where all of the strings are tuned to a similar note or chord, are popular for slide guitar playing. Alternate tunings are used for two main reasons: the ease of playing and the variation in tone that can be achieved.
Many guitarists use a long established, centuries-old tuning variation where the lowest string is 'dropped' down a whole tone. Known as Drop-D (or dropped D) tuning it is, from low to high, DADGBE. This allows for open string tonic and dominant basses in the keys of D and D minor. It also enables simple fifths (powerchords) to be more easily played. Eddie Van Halen sometimes uses a device known as a 'D Tuna,' which he patented. It is a small lever, attached to the fine tuner of the 6th string on a Floyd Rose tremolo, which allows him to easily drop that string from E to D. Many contemporary rock bands retune all strings by several semi-tones, making, for example, Drop-C or Drop-B tunings, However this terminology is inconsistent with that of "drop-D" as "drop-D" refers to dropping a single string to the named pitch. Often these new tunings are also simply referred to as the "Standard" of the note in question e.g. – "D Standard" (DGcfad').
Some guitarists tune in straight fourths, avoiding the major third between the third and second strings. While this makes playing major and minor triads slightly more difficult, it facilitated playing chords with more complicated extended structures.[citation needed] One proponent of the straight fourth tuning (EADGCF) is Stanley Jordan.
As with all stringed instruments a large number of scordatura are possible on the guitar. A common form of scordatura involves tuning the 3rd string to F to mimic the standard tuning of the lute, especially when playing renaissance repertoire originally written for the lute.

Guitar accessories

Though a guitar may be played on its own, there are a variety of common accessories used for holding and playing the guitar.


A capo (short for capotasto) is used to change the pitch of open strings. Capos are clipped onto the fret board with the aid of spring tension, or in some models, elastic tension. To raise the guitar's pitch by one semitone, the player would clip the capo onto the fret board just below the first fret. Its use allows players to play in different keys without having to change the chord formations they use. Because of the ease with which they allow guitar players to change keys, they are sometimes referred to as "cheaters" or the "hillbilly crutch." Classical performers are known to use them to enable modern instruments to match the pitch of historical instruments such as the renaissance lute.


A slide, (neck of a bottle, knife blade or round metal bar) used in blues and rock to create a glissando or 'Hawaiian' effect. The necks of bottles were often used in blues and country music. Modern slides are constructed of glass, plastic, ceramic, chrome, brass or steel, depending on the weight and tone desired. An instrument that is played exclusively in this manner, (using a metal bar) is called a steel guitar or pedal steel. Slide playing to this day is very popular in blues music and country music. Some slide players use a so called Dobro guitar.
Some performers that have become famous for playing slide are Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Ry Cooder, George Harrison, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Duane Allman, Muddy Waters, Rory Gallagher, and George Thorogood.


A variety of guitar picks
A "guitar pick" or "plectrum" is a small piece of hard material generally held between the thumb and first finger of the picking hand and is used to "pick" the strings. Though most classical players pick with a combination of fingernails and fleshy fingertips, the pick is most often used for electric and steel-string acoustic guitars. Though today they are mainly plastic, variations do exist, such as bone, wood, steel or tortoise shell. Tortoise shell was the most commonly used material in the early days of pick-making, but as tortoises and turtles became endangered, the practice of using their shells for picks or anything else was banned. Tortoise-shell picks made before the ban are often coveted for a supposedly superior tone and ease of use, and their scarcity has made them valuable.
Picks come in many shapes and sizes. Picks vary from the small jazz pick to the large bass pick. The thickness of the pick often determines its use. A thinner pick (between .2 and .5 mm) is usually used for strumming or rhythm playing, whereas thicker picks (between .7 and 1.5+ mm) are usually used for single-note lines or lead playing. The distinctive guitar sound of Billy Gibbons is attributed to using a quarter or peso as a pick. Similarly, Brian May is known to use a sixpence coin as a pick. David Persons is known for using old credit cards, cut to the correct size, as plectrums.
Thumb picks and finger picks that attach to the finger tips are sometimes employed in finger-picking styles on steel strings. These allow the fingers and thumb to operate independently, whereas a flat pick requires the thumb and one or two fingers to manipulate.


  1. ^ Kasha, Dr. Michael (August 1968). "A New Look at The History of the Classic Guitar". Guitar Review 30,3-12
  2. ^ Wade, Graham A Concise History of the Classic Guitar Mel Publications, 2001
  3. ^, A Brief History of the Guitar .
  4. ^ "Guitar Origins". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  5. ^ Farmer, Henry George (1988), Historical facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, Ayer Publishing, p. 137, ISBN 040508496X 
  6. ^ Kithara appears in the Bible four times (1 Cor. 14:7, Rev. 5:8, 14:2 and 15:2), and is usually translated into English as harp. Strong's Concordance Number: 2788
  7. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  8. ^ Summerfield, Maurice J. (2003). The Classical Guitar, Its Evolution, Players and Personalities Since 1800 (5th ed.) Blaydon on Tyne: Ashley Mark Publishing. ISBN 1-872639-46-1
  9. ^, Viking Art & Architecture.
  10. ^, A Look At The History Of The Guitar.
  11. ^ Tom and Mary Anne Evans. Guitars: From the Renaissance to Rock. Paddington Press Ltd 1977 p.16
  12. ^ "The first incontrovertible evidence of five-course instruments can be found in Miguel Fuenllana's Orphenica Lyre of 1554, which contains music for a vihuela de cinco ordenes. In the following year Juan Bermudo wrote in his Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales: "We have seen a guitar in Spain with five courses of strings." Bermudo later mentions in the same book that "Guitars usually have four strings," which implies that the five-course guitar was of comparatively recent origin, and still something of an oddity". Tom and Mary Anne Evans Guitars: From the Renaissance to Rock. Paddington Press Ltd 1977 p.24
  13. ^ "We know from literary sources that the five course guitar was immensely popular in Spain in the early seventeenth century and was also widely played in France and Italy...Yet almost all the surviving guitars were built in Italy...This apparent disparity between the documentary and instrumental evidence can be explained by the fact that, in general, only the more expensively made guitars have been kept as collectors' pieces. During the early seventeenth century the guitar was an instrument of the people of Spain, but was widely played by the Italian aristocracy." Tom and Mary Anne Evans. Guitars: From the Renaissance to Rock. Paddington Press Ltd 1977 p.24
  14. ^ the classical guitar is well-known for its comprehensive fingerpicking technique
  15. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  16. ^ "Peter Blanchette, Composer & Archguitarist". Peter Blanchette. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  17. ^ "The Official Steve Vai Website: The Machines". 1993-08-03. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  18. ^ "Hybrid guitars". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  19. ^ "Caparison Horus-HGS". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  20. ^ Mottola, R.M.. "Lutherie Info – Calculating Fret Positions". 
  21. ^ "". 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  22. ^ "One Pattern To Rule Them All". Between the Licks. 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2008-07-02

Guitjo (double-neck)

A double-necked guitjo is a guitar-like, fretted, stringed, musical instrument that has two necks attached to a single body, generally with 14-strings, seven strings on each neck. It is strung more like a banjo rather than a traditional guitar. Both necks may be played simultaneously producing a sound that has elements of both guitar and harp. [1],[2]
The double-necked guitjo was developed in the late-twentieth century.[3] Guitjos are made and repaired by luthiers.

G-sharp guitar

The G-Sharp Guitar or A-Flat Guitar is an instrument in the guitar family produced by the G Sharp/A Flat Instrument Company, which is located in Norway. It is designed by luthier Øivin Fjeld, a Fender repairman. Starting with a specific sound which he hoped to achieve, he designed the standard tuning - which is G♯/A♭ D♯/E♭ B/C♭ F♯/G♭ C♯/D♭ G♯/A♭ - to achieve that sound.

The guitar is used by among others, Mark Knopfler , Eric Clapton and the bandmembers of the Norwegian band a-ha
Available in both electric and acoustic versions, it has a scale length of 20.87 inches (530 mm). [1]

Guitar amplifier

Mesa Boogie Mark IV, a guitar combo amplifier
A guitar amplifier (or guitar amp) is an electronic amplifier designed to make the signal of an electric or acoustic guitar louder so that it will produce sound through a loudspeaker. Guitar amplifiers also modify the instrument's tone by emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain frequencies and adding electronic effects.
Amplifiers consist of one or more circuit stages which have unique responsibilities in the modification of the input signal. The power amplifier or output stage produces a high current signal to drive a speaker to produce sound. One or more preamplifier stages precede the power amplifier stage. The preamplifier is a voltage amplifier that amplifies the guitar signal to a level that can drive the power stage. There may be one or more tone stages which affect the character of the guitar signal: before the preamp stage (as in the case of guitar pedals), in between the preamp and power stages (as in the cases of effects loop or many dedicated amplifier tone circuits), in between multiple stacked preamp stages, or in feedback loops from a post-preamp signal to an earlier pre-preamp signal (as in the case of presence modifier circuits). The tone stages may also have electronic effects such as equalization, compression, distortion, chorus, or reverb. Amplifiers may use vacuum tubes (in Britain they are called valves), or solid state (transistor) devices, or both.
There are two configurations of guitar amplifiers: combination ("combo") amplifiers, which include an amplifier and one, two, or four speakers in a wooden cabinet; and the standalone amplifier (often called a "head" or "amp head"), which does not include a speaker, but rather passes the signal to a speaker cabinet or "cab". Guitar amplifiers range in price and quality from small, low-powered practice amplifiers, designed for students, which sell for less than US$50, to expensive "boutique" amplifiers which are custom-made for professional musicians and can cost thousands of dollars.


The first electric instrument amplifiers were not designed for use with electric guitars. The earliest examples appeared in the early 1930s when the introduction of electrolytic capacitors and rectifier tubes allowed the production of economical built-in power supplies that could be plugged into wall sockets, instead of heavy multiple battery packs. While guitar amplifiers from the beginning were used to amplify acoustic guitar, electronic amplification of guitar was first widely popularized by the 1930s and 1940s craze for Hawaiian music, which extensively employed the amplified lap steel Hawaiian guitar.
Tone controls on early guitar amplifiers were very simple and provided a great deal of treble boost but the controls, the loudspeakers used and the low power of the amplifiers (typically 15 watts or less prior to the mid-1950s) gave poor high treble and bass output. Some models also provided effects such as spring reverb and/or an electronic tremolo unit. Early Fender amps labeled tremolo as "vibrato" and labeled the vibrato arm of the Stratocaster guitar as a "tremolo bar" (see vibrato unit, electric guitar, and tremolo).
In the 1960s, guitarists experimented with distortion produced by deliberately overdriving their amplifiers. The Kinks guitarist Dave Davies produced early distortion effects by connecting the already distorted output of one amplifier into the input of another. Later, most guitar amps were provided with preamplifier distortion controls, and "fuzz boxes" and other effects units were engineered to safely and reliably produce these sounds. In the 2000s overdrive and distortion has become an integral part of many styles of electric guitar playing, ranging from blues rock to heavy metal and hardcore punk.
Guitar amplifiers were at first used with bass guitars and electronic keyboards, but other instruments produce a wider frequency range and need a suitable amplifier and full-range speaker system. Much more amplifier power is required to reproduce low-frequency sound, especially at high volume. Reproducing low frequencies also requires a suitable woofer or subwoofer speaker and enclosure. Woofer enclosures need to be larger and more sturdily built than cabinets for mid-range or high-frequency (tweeter) speakers.

[edit] Types

Two combo amplifiers
Guitar amplifiers are manufactured in two main forms. The "combination" (or "combo") amplifier contains the amplifier head and guitar speakers in a single unit which is typically housed in a rectangular wooden box. The amplifier head or "amp head" contains the electronic circuitry constituting the preamp, built-in effects processing, and the power amplifier. Combo amps have at least one 1/4" input jack where the patch cord from the electric guitar can be plugged in. Other jacks may also be provided, such as an additional input jack, "send" and "return" jacks to create an effects loop (for connecting electronic effects such as compression, reverb, etc.), an extension speaker jack (for connecting an additional speaker cabinet). Some smaller practice amps have stereo RCA jacks for connecting a CD player or other sound source and a 1/4" headphone jack so that the player can practice without disturbing neighbours or family members.
Kustom 200 bass amp - amp head and speakers, 100 watts RMS, two channels, two 15" speakers, 1971
Some amplifiers have a line out jack for connecting the amplifier's signal to a PA system or recording console or to connect the amplifier to another guitar amp. In but most styles of rock and blues guitar, the line out is not used to connect the guitar amp to a PA system or recording console, because the tonal coloration and overdrive from the amplifier and speaker is considered an important part of the amplifier's sound. However, players do use the line out to connect one guitar amplifier to another amplifier, in order to create different tone colors or sound effects.
In the "amp head" form, the amplifier head is separate from the speakers, and joined to them by speaker cables. The separate amplifier is called an amplifier head, and is commonly placed on top of one or more loudspeaker enclosures. A separate amplifier head placed atop a guitar speaker enclosure or guitar speaker cabinet forms an amplifier "stack" or "amp stack". Amp heads may also have the different types of input and output jacks listed above in the combo section. In addition to a 1/4" input jack, acoustic guitar amplifiers typically have an additional input jack for a microphone, which is easily identified because it will use a three-pin XLR connector. Phantom power is not often provided on general-use amps, restricting the choice of microphones for use with these inputs. However, for high-end acoustic amplifiers, phantom power is often provided, so that musicians can use condenser microphones.
Amplifiers used with electric guitars may be solid state, which are lighter in weight and less expensive than tube amplifiers. Many guitarists, particularly in the genres of blues and rock, prefer the sound of vacuum tube amplifiers despite their higher cost, heavier weight, the need to periodically replace tubes and need to re-bias the output tubes (every year or two with moderate use). Some companies design amplifiers that require no biasing as long as properly rated tubes are used. Some modern amplifiers use a mixture of tube and solid-state technologies.
Since the advent of microprocessors and digital signal processing, "modeling amps" have been developed in the late 1990s, these can simulate the sounds of a variety of well-known tube amplifiers without needing to use vacuum tubes. Amplifiers with processors and software emulate the sound of a classic amp well, but from the player's point of view the response of these amplifiers may not feel the same as the digital modeling does not accurately model all aspects of a tube amplifier.
A wide range of instrument amplifiers is available, some for general purposes and others designed for specific instruments or particular sounds. These include:
  • "Traditional" guitar amplifiers, with a clean, warm sound, a sharp treble roll-off at 5 kHz or less and bass roll-off at 60–100 Hz, and often built-in reverb and tremolo ("vibrato") units. These amplifiers, such as the Fender "Tweed"-style amps, are often used by traditional rock, blues, and country musicians.Traditional amps have more recently become popular with musicians in indie and alternative bands
  • Hard rock-style guitar amplifiers, which often include preamplification controls, tone filters, and distortion effects that provide the amplifier's characteristic tone. Users of these amplifiers use the amplifier's tone to add "drive", intensity, and "edge" to their guitar sound. Amplifiers of this type, such as Marshall amplifiers, are used in a range of genres, including hard rock, metal, and punk.
  • Bass amplifiers, with extended bass response and tone controls optimized for bass guitars (or more rarely, for upright bass). Higher-end bass amplifiers sometimes include compressor or limiter features, which help to keep the amplifier from distorting at high volume levels, and an XLR DI output for patching the bass signal directly into a mixing board. Bass amplifiers are often provided with external metal heat sinks or fans to help keep the amplifier cool.
  • Keyboard amplifiers, with very low distortion and extended, flat frequency response in both directions. Keyboard amplifiers often have a simple onboard mixer, so that keyboardists can control the tone and level of several keyboards.
  • Acoustic amplifiers, similar in many ways to keyboard amplifiers but designed specifically to produce a "clean," transparent, "acoustic" sound when used with acoustic instruments with built-in transducer pickups and/or microphones.

[edit] Vacuum tube amplifiers

The glow from four "Electro Harmonix KT88" brand power tubes lights up the inside of a Traynor YBA-200 guitar amplifier
Vacuum tubes (valves) were by far the dominant active electronic components in most instrument amplifier applications until the 1970s, when semiconductors (transistors) started taking over for performance and economic reasons, including heat and weight reduction, and improved reliability. High-end tube instrument amplifiers have survived as one of few exceptions, because of the sound quality. Typically, one or more dual triodes are used in the preamplifier section in order to provide sufficient voltage gain to offset losses by tone controls and to drive the power amplifier section.
Rear view of a tube (valve) combo guitar amplifier. Visible are two glass output tubes, six smaller preamp tubes in their metal tube retainers, and both the power transformer and the output transformer.
The output tubes are often arranged in a class AB push-pull connection to improve efficiency; this requires another triode or dual triode to split the phase of the signal. The tubes of the power amplifier stage are almost always of the pentode or beam tetrode type (also known as "kinkless tetrodes", hence the KTxx nomenclature). Some high power models use paralleled pairs of output tubes (four or more in total) in push-pull. Except for the light negative feedback from the secondary end of the output transformer to the driver stage, most amplifying stages work in "raw" open-loop mode. Some designs employ current feedback via unbypassed cathode resistors.
Since most tubes show "soft clipping" gain non-linearity, applying an input signal high enough to overdrive any stage tends to produce favorably natural distortion. Today, most vacuum tube amplifiers are based on the ECC83/12AX7/7025 (dual triode) tubes for the preamplifier and driver sections and the EL84/6BQ5 or EL34/6CA7/KT77 or 6L6/KT66 or 6V6 tubes for the power output section. Some use the KT88/6550 beam power tubes in the output stage. The differing codes for equivalent tubes generally reflect those used by the original European or U.S.A. based manufacturers. These tubes are now mainly manufactured in Russia, China and Eastern European countries. Some amplifiers, such as the Marshall Silver Jubilee, use solid state components in the preamp, most commonly diodes, to create distortion, a design feature known as diode clipping.
Tube instrument amplifiers are often equipped with lower-grade transformers and simpler power regulation circuits than those of hi-fi amplifiers. They are usually not only for cost-saving reasons, but also are considered as a factor in sound creation. For example, a simple power regulation circuit's output tends to sag when there is a heavy load (that is, high output power) and vacuum tubes usually lose gain factors with lower power voltages. This results in a somewhat compressed sound which could be criticized as a "poor dynamic range" in case of hi-fi amplifiers, but could be desirable as "long sustain" of sounds on a guitar amplifier. Some tube guitar amplifiers use a rectifier tube instead of solid-state diodes specifically for this reason.
Some models have a "spring reverb" unit that simulates the reverberation of an echoic ambient. A reverb unit usually consists of one or more coil springs driven by the preamplifier section using a transducer driver similar to a loudspeaker at one end and an electro-magnetic pickup and preamplifier stage at the other end that picks up the long sustaining spring vibration, which is then mixed with the original signal. Some guitar amplifiers have a tremolo control. An internal oscillator generates a low frequency continuous signal which can modulate the input signal's amplitude or the output tubes' bias, thereby producing a tremolo effect.
Tube amps have the following disadvantages in comparison to solid-state amps. They are bulky and heavy, primarily due to the iron in power and output transformers. Solid-state amplifiers still require power transformers, but are usually direct-coupled and don't need output transformers. Glass tubes are fragile, and require more care and consideration when equipment is moved repeatedly. Tube performance can deteriorate slightly over time before eventual catastrophic failure.
When tube vacuum is maintained at a high level, though, excellent performance and life is possible. They are prone to pick up mechanical noises (microphonic noise), although such electro-mechanical feedback from the loudspeaker to the tubes in combo amplifiers may contribute to sound creation. Tubes benefit from a heater warm-up period before the application of high tension anode voltages; this allows the tube cathodes to operate without damage and so prolongs tube life. This is of particular importance for amplifiers with solid state rectifiers.
Tube amps have the following advantages over solid-state amps. Compared to semiconductors, tubes have a very low "drift" (of specs) over a wide range of operating conditions, specifically high heat/high power. Semiconductors are very heat-sensitive by comparison and this fact usually leads to compromises in solid-state amplifier designs. When a tube fails, it is replaceable. While solid state devices are also replaceable, it is usually a much more involved process (i.e., having the amplifier tested by a professional, removing the faulty component, and replacing it).
For working musicians this is usually a huge problem by comparison to looking in the back of a tube amp at the tubes and simply replacing the faulty tube. In addition, tubes can easily be removed and tested, while transistors cannot. Tube amplifiers respond differently from transistor amplifiers when signal levels approach and reach the point of clipping. In a tube-powered amplifier, the transition from linear amplification to limiting is less abrupt than in a solid state unit, resulting in a less grating form of distortion at the onset of clipping. For this reason, some guitarists prefer the sound of an all-tube amplifier; the aesthetic properties of tube versus solid state amps, though, are a topic of debate in the guitarist community.

[edit] Solid-state amplifiers

Most inexpensive guitar amplifiers currently produced are based on semiconductor (solid state) circuits, and some designs incorporate tubes in the preamp stage for their subjectively warmer overdrive sound. Tubes create warm overdrive sounds because instead of cutting the peaked signal off, they more or less pull the peaked audio information back (like natural compression) which creates a fuzzy overdrive sound. While this is a desirable attribute in many cases, the tube's characteristic will "color" all the sounds at any volume, unlike solid state. However, solid state in general have the quickest response time, perhaps even more so than modeling amps.
High-end solid state amplifiers are less common, since many professional guitarists tend to favor vacuum tubes. Some jazz guitarists, however, tend to favor the "colder" sound of solid-state amplifiers, preferring not to color the sound of their guitar with the tube distortion and compression so popular with rock, blues, and metal musicians.[citation needed]. Solid-state amplifiers vary in output power, functionality, size, price, and sound quality in a wide range, from practice amplifiers to professional models. Some inexpensive amplifiers have only a single volume control and a one or two tone controls[citation needed].
A tube power amp may be fed by a solid-state pre-amp circuit, as in the Fender Super Champ XD and the Roland Bolt amplifier, which is thereby classed as a 'hybrid' amp. Randall Amplifier's current flagship models, the V2 and T2, use hybrid amp technology.
The Roland Micro Cube, left, a small and portable digital modeling amplifier.

[edit] Modeling amplifiers

Modeling amplifiers simulate the sound of well-known guitar amps, cabinets, and effects, as well as simulating the way traditional speaker cabinets sound when mixed with different types of microphones. They may also be an original creation not meant to simulate any particular real world guitar amp at all, instead allowing the user to create their own unique sound. Such as the original creations of companies like AcmeBarGig, or Peavey. This is usually achieved through digital processing, although there are analog modeling amps as well, such as the Tech 21 Trademark. Modeling technology offers several advantages over traditional amplification. A modeling amp typically is capable of a wide range of tones and effects, and offers cabinet simulation, so it can be recorded without a microphone. Most modeling amps digitize the input signal and use a DSP, a dedicated microprocessor, to process the signal with digital computation. Some modeling amps incorporate vacuum tubes, digital processing, and some form of power attenuation.

[edit] Amplifier configuration

In the case of electric guitars, an amplifier stack consisting of a head atop one cabinet is commonly called a half stack, while a head atop two cabinets is referred to as a full stack. The cabinet which the head sits on often has an angled top in front, while the lower cabinet of a full stack has a straight front. The first version of the Marshall stack was an amp head on an 8x12 cabinet, meaning a single speaker cabinet containing eight 12" guitar speakers. After six of these cabinets were made, the cabinet arrangement was changed to an amp head on two 4x12 cabinets, meaning four 12" speakers, to enable transporting the amp rig.
In heavy metal bands, the term "double stack" or "full stack" is sometimes used to refer to two stacks, with a second amplifier head serving as a slave to the first and four speaker cabinets in total. Another name for the "Head & Cab" that comes from the 1960s and 1970s is "Piggyback". Vox amp stacks could be put on a tiltable frame with casters. Fender heads could be attached to the cab and had "Tilt-Back" legs, like those used on larger Fender combo amps. Typically, a guitar amp's preamplifier section provides sufficient gain so that an instrument can be connected directly to its input, and sufficient power to connect loudspeakers directly to its output, both without requiring extra amplification.
Another arrangement, often used for public address amplifier systems, is to provide two stages of amplification in separate units. First a preamplifier or mixer is used to boost the instrument output, normally to line level, and perhaps to mix signals from several instruments. The output from this preamplifier is then connected to the input of a power amplifier, which powers the loudspeakers.
Performing musicians that use the "two-stage" approach (as opposed to an amplifier with an integrated preamplifier and power amplifier) often want to custom-design a combination of equipment that best suits their musical or technical needs, and gives them more tonal and technical options. Some musicians require preamps that include specific features. Acoustic performers sometimes require preamps with "notch" filters (to prevent feedback), reverb, an XLR DI output, or parametric equalization. Hard rock, metal, or punk performers may desire a preamplifier with a range of distortion effects. As well, some musicians have specific power amplifier requirements, such as low-noise design, very high wattage, the inclusion of limiter features to prevent distortion and speaker damage, or biamp-capable operation.
With the "two-stage" approach, the preamplifier and power amplifier are often mounted together in a rack case. This case may be either free-standing or placed on top of a loudspeaker cabinet. If many rack-mounted effects are used, the rack may be a large unit on wheels. Some touring players need several racks of effects units to reproduce on stage the sounds they have produced in the studio. At the other extreme, if a small rack case containing both preamp and power amp is placed on top of a guitar speaker cabinet, the distinction between a rack and a traditional amp head begins to blur. Another variation is to combine the power amplifier into the speaker cabinet, an arrangement called a powered speaker, and use these with a separate preamp, sometimes combined into an effects pedal board or floor preamp/processor.
Preamplifiers are also used to connect very low-output or high-impedance instruments to instrument amplifiers. When piezoelectric transducers are used on upright bass or other acoustic instruments, the signal coming directly from the transducer is often too weak and it does not have the correct impedance for direct connection to an instrument amplifier. Small, battery-powered preamps are often used with acoustic instruments to resolve these problems.

[edit] Distortion, power, and volume

[edit] Power output

For electric guitar amplifiers, there is often a distinction between "practice" or "recording studio" guitar amps, which tend to have output power ratings of 20 watts down to a small fraction of a watt, and "performance" amps, which are generally 50 watts or higher. Traditionally, these have been fixed-power amplifiers, with a few models having a half-power switch to slightly reduce the listening volume while preserving power-tube distortion. The relationship between perceived volume and power output is not immediately obvious. A 5-watt amplifier is perceived to be half as loud as a 50-watt amplifier (a tenfold increase in power), and a half-watt amplifier is a quarter as loud as a 50-watt amp. Doubling the power of an amplifier results in a "just noticeable" increase in volume, so a 100-watt amplifier is held to be only just noticeably louder than a 50-watt amplifier. Such generalizations are also subject to the human ear's tendency to behave as a natural compressor at high volumes.
Power attenuation can be used with either low-power or high-power amplifiers, resulting in variable-power amplifiers. A high-power amplifier with power attenuation can produce power-tube distortion through a wide range of listening volumes. Speaker efficiency is also a major factor affecting a tube amplifier's maximum volume. For bass instruments, higher-power amplifiers are needed to reproduce low-frequency sounds. While an electric guitarist would be able to play at a small club with a 50-watt amplifier, a bass player performing in the same venue would probably need an amplifier with 200 or more watts.

[edit] Distortion and volume

Distortion is a feature available on many guitar amplifiers that is not typically found on keyboard or bass guitar amplifiers. Tube guitar amplifiers can produce distortion through pre-distortion equalization, preamp tube distortion, post-distortion EQ, power-tube distortion, tube rectifier compression, output transformer distortion, guitar speaker distortion, and guitar speaker and cabinet frequency response. Distortion sound or "texture" from guitar amplifiers is further shaped or processed through the frequency response and distortion factors in the microphones (their response, placement, and multi-microphone comb filtering effects), microphone preamps, mixer channel equalization, and compression. Additionally, the basic sound produced by the guitar amplifier can be changed and shaped by adding distortion and/or equalization effect pedals before the amp's input jack, in the effects loop just before the tube power amp, or after the power tubes.

[edit] Power-tube distortion

Power-tube distortion is required for amp sounds in some genres. In a standard master-volume guitar amp, as the amp's final or master volume is increased beyond the full power of the amplifier, power tube distortion is produced. The "power soak" approach places the attenuation between the power tubes and the guitar speaker. In the re-amped or "dummy load" approach, the tube power amp drives a mostly resistive dummy load while an additional low power amp drives the guitar speaker. In the isolation box approach, the guitar amplifier is used with a guitar speaker in a separate cabinet. A soundproofed isolation cabinet, isolation box, isolation booth, or isolation room can be used.

[edit] Volume controls

A variety of labels are used for level attenuation potentiometers in a guitar amplifier and other guitar equipment. Electric guitars and basses have a volume control to attenuate whichever pickup is selected. There may be two volume controls in parallel to mix the signal levels from the neck and bridge pickups. Rolling back the guitar's volume control also changes the pickup's equalization or frequency response, which can provide pre-distortion equalization.
The simplest guitar amplifiers have only a volume control. Most have at least a gain control and a master volume control. The gain control is equivalent to the distortion control on a distortion pedal, and similarly may have a side-effect of changing the proportion of bass and treble sent to the next stage.
A simple amplifier's tone controls typically include passive bass and treble controls. In some cases, a midrange control is provided. The amplifier's master volume control restricts the amount of signal permitted through to the driver stage and the power amplifier. When using a power attenuator with a tube amplifier, the master volume no longer acts as the master volume control. Instead, the power attenuator's attenuation control controls the power delivered to the speaker, and the amplifier's master volume control determines the amount of power-tube distortion. Power-supply based power reduction is controlled by a knob on the tube power amp, variously labeled "Wattage", "Power", "Scale", "Power Scale", or "Power Dampening".

[edit] Use with other instruments

A 3 x 6 stack of Marshall guitar cabinets on the main stage of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in 2008. This setup belongs to Jeff Hanneman of Slayer.
Musicians often run sound-sources other than guitars through guitar amps. For live performances, synthesizers and drum machines or keyboards are often put through guitar amps to create a richer sound than can be obtained by patching the direct-outs right into the PA system. Guitar amplifiers can add tonal coloration, roll off unwanted high frequencies, and add overdrive or distortion. Deep Purple's Jon Lord played his Hammond Organ through a distorted Marshall amp to create a sound more suitable for heavy rock. String instruments and vocals are also put through guitar amps to add distortion effects. Some blues harp players also use guitar amps to create a warmer overdrive sound for their harmonica playing; 1950s-style "tweed" amps are often used for this purpose, such as Fender Bassman combo amps.
Recording engineers occasionally run pre-recorded parts through miked guitar amps, a process called re-amping. When a guitar part is recorded "dry" (e.g., without effects or distortion), straight into the mixing board for a recording, this gives the producer and mixing engineer much more flexibility to create new re-mixes or new tones from the recording. If a guitar player records an electric guitar part that is run through a chorus pedal and a distortion pedal, there is little that can be done at the "mix-down" stage to change the sound of this recording, beyond "tweaking" the equalization and modifying the level. Since re-mixing or mixdown can take place weeks, months, or even years after the original recording session, it may be impossible to have the guitarist come in to re-record a new part.
If the dry guitar sound is recorded, though, the mixing engineers can add any effects they want to the signal and then re-play it through a miked guitar amplifier which is being recorded. The effects, amplifiers, cabinets, and miking processes can be changed to any combination. When a dry guitar has been recorded, it can be a useful tool for "updating" an older recording. For example, if a band wants to re-release a 1980s-era album on which the guitar has a very dated 1980s sound, with heavy flanging and artificial-sounding electronic distortion, the band can update the guitar sound by re-amping the dry signal and using 2000s-era effects.
Mixing guitar amp signals with other signals is also done by some musicians. Chris Squire of Yes produced his bass guitar sound by playing through a guitar amplifier with its bass turned down, treble turned up, and volume turned up well into distortion; the miked guitar speaker signal was then mixed with a direct-input (DI) signal, a technique that has been used for processing synth keyboards as well. A bass guitar can also be played through a bass amp in parallel with a distorted guitar amp by using a DI box; the bass amp provides the low frequencies, while the guitar amp – which is not capable of reproducing the lowest frequencies of the bass guitar– emphasizes the upper harmonics of the instrument's tone.

Guitar harmonics

Music using harmonics can contain very high pitch notes difficult or impossible to reach by fretting. Guitar harmonics also produce a different sound quality than fretted notes, and are one of many techniques used to create musical variety.

[edit] Technique

Harmonics are mainly generated manually by different playing techniques. Another method is sound wave feedback of a guitar amplifier at high volume, which causes an "infinite" vibration of certain string harmonics. A third method, magnetic string drivers like the EBow, can generate string harmonics.
Harmonics are most often played by lightly placing a finger on a string at a nodal point of one of the overtones at the moment when the string is driven. The finger immediately damps all overtones that do not have a node near the location touched. The lowest-pitch overtone dominates the resulting sound.

[edit] Overtones

The fundamental and the double- and triple-frequency overtones of a guitar string.
When a guitar string is plucked, the string vibrates most prominently at its fundamental frequency, but at the same time also vibrates at all integer multiples of that frequency. The vibration along the entire length of the string is known as the fundamental, while vibrations occurring between points along the string (known as nodes) are referred to as overtones. The fundamental and overtones, when sounded together, are perceived by the listener as a single tone, though the relative prominence of the frequencies varies among instruments, and contribute to its timbre.

[edit] Nodes

The nodes of natural harmonics are located at the following points along a guitar's neck. Note that for fretted strings, these locations shift up the fingerboard by the same number of frets, and resulting harmonics are called artificial harmonics.
Harmonic mode shapes and their 
corresponding node locations on a guitar
Mode Length Fraction Fret Note
1 1 open unison
2 1/2 12 octave
3 1/3, 2/3 7, 19 octave + perfect fifth
4 1/4, 3/4 5, 24 2nd octave
5 1/5 to 4/5 3.9, 8.8, 15.9, 27.9 2nd octave + just major third
6 1/6, 5/6 3.2, 31.0 2nd octave + perfect fifth
7 1/7 to 6/7 2.7, 5.8, 9.7, 14.7, 21.7, 33.7 2nd octave + septimal minor seventh
8 1/8, 3/8, 5/8, 7/8 2.3, 8.1, 17.0, 36.0 3rd octave
9 1/9, 2/9, 4/9, 5/9, 7/9, 8/9 2.0, 4.4, 10.2, 14.0, 26.0, 38.0 3rd octave + neutral second
10 1/10, 3/10, 7/10, 9/10 1.8, 6.2, 20.8, 39.9 3rd octave + just major third
The above fret numbers can be calculated:
F_{1..n} = \log_s {m\over{m-n}}
where s = 21 / 12, the frequency ratio of one musical half-step (i.e. one fret), m is the mode number (1-10 are given above), and n is the node number for that mode (1 to m − 1).
Note that certain nodes of higher harmonics are coincident with nodes of lower harmonics, and the lower sounds overpower the higher ones. For example, mode number 4 can be fingered at nodes 1 and 3; it will occur at node 2 but will not be heard over the stronger first harmonic. Ineffective nodes to finger are not listed above.

[edit] Intervals

harmonic stop note harmonic note cents reduced
2 octave P8 1200.0 0.0
3 just perfect fifth P8 + P5 1902.0 702.0
4 just perfect fourth 2P8 2400.0 0.0
5 just major third 2P8 + just M3 2786.3 386.3
6 just minor third 2P8 + P5 3102.0 702.0
7 septimal minor third 2P8 + septimal m7 3368.8 968.8
8 septimal major second 3P8 3600.0 0.0
9 Pythagorean major second 3P8 + pyth M2 3803.9 203.9
10 just minor whole tone 3P8 + just M3 3986.3 386.3
11 greater unidecimal neutral second 3P8 + just M3 + GUN2 4151.3 551.3
12 lesser unidecimal neutral second 3P8 + P5 4302.0 702.0
13 tridecimal 2/3-tone 3P8 + P5 + T23T 4440.5 840.5
14 2/3-tone 3P8 + P5 + septimal m3 4568.8 968.8
15 septimal (or major) diatonic semitone 3P8 + P5 + just M3 4688.3 1088.3
16 just (or minor) diatonic semitone 4P8 4800.0 0.0
Table of harmonics, indicating in colors on which positions the same overtones occur

[edit] Advanced techniques

[edit] Pinch harmonics

See Pinch harmonic
A pinch harmonic is produced by lightly touching the thumb of the picking hand against the string immediately after it is picked. This action is sufficient to silence the fundamental and all overtones except those that have a nodes at that location. This is generally accomplished by holding the plectrum so very little of its tip protrudes between the thumb and forefinger (roughly 3–5 mm), allowing the thumb to brush the string immediately after it is picked.
The technique must be performed at one of the appropriate harmonic nodes for the note to sound. For example, to produce a pinch harmonic one octave higher than the fundamental of a string that is stopped at the third fret of a guitar, the string must be plucked halfway between the third fret and the bridge (the 15th fret, as the neck is logarithmic). Other overtones of the same fundamental note may be produced in the same way at other nodes along the string. The point where the string is plucked therefore varies depending on the desired note. Most harmonics have several accessible nodes evenly spaced on the string, so the nodes used in practice are normally around where the string is normally picked (around the pickups on an electric guitar), rather than those above the neck as these are the easiest to access with the picking hand from normal playing.
Overtones with a frequency of a multiple of the intended overtone (i.e., the same note in a higher octave) will share the nodes of the lower overtones, so won't be muted. They will, however, be at a much lower volume and since they are the same note in a higher octave, don't detract from the sound of the note. If the string is pinched at the antinode of the intended overtone, no higher overtones will sound.
A single harmonic overtone is quieter than a normal note, which contains many overtones. For this reason, guitar players often increase the guitar volume to play harmonics. Thicker strings, stronger pickups and adjustment to amplifier settings (increasing gain) are some ways of doing this. Note that when the string vibrates primarily at a single fundamental, it has different volumes through different pickups, depending on the proximity of nodes or antinodes to the pickup. The different overtone volumes are why neck and bridge pickups sound different. If a node is directly over a pickup, little or no sound is heard.

[edit] Tapped harmonics

This technique was popularized by Eddie van Halen. Tapped harmonics are an extension of the tapping technique. The note is fretted as usual, but instead of striking the string the excitation energy required to sound the note is achieved by tapping at a harmonic nodal point. The tapping finger bounces lightly on and off the fret. The open string technique can be extended to artificial harmonics. For instance, for an octave harmonic (12 fret nodal point) press at the third fret, and tap the fifteenth fret, as 12+3=15.

[edit] Double attack harmonics

This technique has been attributed to Henry Deazeta of Jhojie Carnate, and generates the excitation of the string harmonic by forcing the shorter wavelength of a particular harmonic mode during the pluck of the string. The harmonic is generated by plucking the string "up" with the middle or ring finger of the plucking hand while holding the pick grasped between the thumb and the index finger against the string. The harmonic generated is dependent on the distance between the pick and the attack of the string by the middle or ring finger or fingernail (which establishes the nodal distance), and the distance of the application from the bridge of the guitar (which must match a multiple of the nodal distance). Using this technique, multiple harmonic modes may be generated no matter where the string is fretted on the neck, and these modes may be generated in the plucking area over the pickups of an electric guitar, or the sound hole of an acoustic guitar. These harmonics may then be modified by bending the string. According to J. K. Hays, the technique is more repeatable and reliable, and was developed out of frustration with the precision required by the pinch harmonics technique and its repeatability for live performances.

[edit] String harmonics driven by a magnetic field

This technique is used by effect devices producing a magnetic field that can agitate fundamentals and harmonics of steel strings. There are harmonic mode switches as provided by newer versions of the Ebow and by guitar build in sustainers like the Fernandes Sustainer and the Moog Guitar. Harmonics control by the playing technique is applied by the Guitar Resonator where harmonics can be alternated by changing the string driver position at the fretboard while playing.

3rd bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  (Redirected from 3rd Bridge)
Jump to: navigation, search

a Home Swinger, 3rd bridge zither
The 3rd bridge is an extended playing technique used on some string instruments (notably the electric guitar), which allows a musician to produce distinctive timbres and overtones which are unavailable on a conventional string instrument with two bridges. The timbre created with this technique is close to that of Gamelan instruments like the bonang and similar Indonesian types of pitched gongs.
Third bridge instruments can be custom-made by experimental luthiers (as with guitars designed and played by Hans Reichel); jury-rigged (as with conventional guitars modified with a pencil or screwdriver under the strings[1]); or may take advantage of design quirks of factory-built instruments (as with the Fender Jazzmaster which has strings which continue from the "standard" bridge to the tremolo piece).
Perhaps the best-known examples of this technique come from No Wave groups like Sonic Youth. The 3rd bridge technique has a physical connection with Pythagoras' monochord, because both function with the scale of harmonics. Also many non-Western musical scales and musical instruments share these consonant just pitch relations.

Physical explanation and examples

On a standard guitar, the string is held above the soundboard by two nodes: the "nut" (near the headstock) and the "bridge" (near the player's right hand on a standard guitar). When a player sounds a note on a standard guitar, he or she is vibrating only a single portion of the string (such as between the nut and the bridge, or between their fretting finger and the bridge).
In contrast, a third bridge divides the string into two pieces. When played at one part of a string, the opposed part starts to resonate, depending on a predictable mathematical ratio of the strings' lengths.[2] On harmonic positions the created multiphonic tone is consonant and increases in volume and sustain because of the reciprocal string resonance. The sound is comparable with the sound of bells of clocks.
From the 1930s, Harry Partch already experimented with this technique on his Kitaras with movable glass rods. From the late 1960s, Keith Rowe made occasional use of third bridge guitars, inspiring a slew of experimental guitarists (notably Fred Frith to use prepared guitars, inspired by John Cage's technique of the prepared piano. Classical guitar duo Elgart & Yates wrote a small book Prepared Guitar Techniques in which the technique is described and used in the added written musical piece, although not defined with the term 'third bridge' yet. From the 1970s, Hans Reichel's self-made and modified acoustic guitars sometimes featured third bridges.
From the late 1970s, Glenn Branca adopted Partch's theory and used amplified string tables for some of his symphonies [3]. After being trained in the Branca orchestra, Sonic Youth applied their own guitars with screwdrivers, mainly in their early years. On their debut EP and the album Confusion is Sex this technique is often used. Afterwards Bradford Reed developed the Pencilina. Reed plays mainly with drumsticks hitting the strings as well.
Yuri Landman invented the Moodswinger in 2006 to explore the possibilities of this technique. Landman's technique is partly based on muting the opposed part while striking, causing a sound which is reminiscent of a backwards-recorded sound. Landman published the essay 3rd Bridge Helix - From Experimental Punk to Ancient Chinese Music & the Universal Physical Laws of Consonance in which he clarifies the relation between this prepared guitar technique and the consonant overtone values present in non-Western scales especially the musical scale used on the Ancient Chinese musical instrument the guqin.[4] In 2009 he developed a simplified DIY-version of the Moodswinger, called the Home Swinger. He gives workshops at festivals and venues in Europe and the US, where participants can built their own Home Swinger.
The Boston based noise rock band Neptune made different types of experimental third bridge guitars employed with drumsticks, functioning as a third bridge. Also the band These Are Powers is using this technique on their bass guitar.

[edit] Without the 3rd bridge

The sound effect can also be achieved without an additional 3rd bridge or extended tail piece. If the player presses on a fret (not behind it, as with standard fretting) and strums the string at the head side, the resonance comes also through. Again on harmonic positions the result is much louder and clearer than on the inharmonic fret positions. The 5th, 7th, 12th and 19th fret generate low frequency humming overtones along with the complementary tone, which is usually played in the regular way. This playing technique causes a smooth round multiphonic sound. By muting the resonating part and letting it go after the pluck it sounds like an inverse recorded sound. On all other positions the tone is more undefined and comes with higher pitched lower volume overtones. With heavy distortion these tones can also become more clear.

[edit] Bowing behind the bridge

The technique is also widely used in many modern classical works on bowing instruments.The extended technique involves in that case bowing the instrument on the short length of string behind the bridge. The tone is very high and squeaky. By playing the instrument at a string part behind the bridge, the opposed part starts to resonate. The tone is louder at harmonic relations of the bridge string length. On violins the tone can be very high, even above our hearing capacity. Depending on the instrument the pitch of the tones may or may not be perceived (cellos and double basses are more likely to produce recognizable pitches because of the longer length of their strings). This technique is used extensively in Krzysztof Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. Another example is found in Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite where bowing behind the bridge in a violin cadenza represents a donkey’s braying.

[edit] Guitars commonly used for this effect

Guitar speaker

A 3 x 6 stack of Marshall ModeFour guitar cabinets on the main stage of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in 2008. This setup belongs to Jeff Hanneman of Slayer.
A guitar speaker is a loudspeaker – specifically the driver (transducer) part – designed for use in or with the guitar amplifier of an electric guitar. Typically these drivers produce only the frequency range relevant to guitars which is similar to a regular woofer type driver which is approximately 75 Hz — 5 kHz.
The cones of these drivers typically range in size from 6.5 in to 15 in with 10 and 12 in models being the most popular. As with all loudspeaker drivers, the magnets are usually made from Alnico, ceramic, or neodymium with higher quality Alnico magnets reserved for expensive models.
Well-known guitar speaker manufacturers include Fane, Jensen, Celestion, Eminence, Electro-Voice, JBL, Weber, and A Brown Soun (Tone Tubby).

[edit] Cabinet

A guitar speaker cabinet contains one or more guitar speakers - as many as eight, often 10" or 12" types. A speaker cabinet can be open-back, sealed or vented. A 4x12 cabinet is a guitar speaker cabinet containing four 12" speakers. A cabinet is usually mono, but may have two inputs for a "stereo" amplifier. Two speakers in a cabinet may be wired in parallel (lowering the impedance) or in series (increasing the impedance). Larger multiples will usually be series/parallel to maintain an impedance of 4 to 8 ohms. For vacuum tube amplifiers and solid state amplifiers, the overall impedance of the speakers in the cabinet must not be lower than the lower limit of the impedance of the output transformer of the amplifier or damage to the amplifier components can occur through over heating. Conventional wisdom holds that with solid-state amplifiers there is less need to precisely match the impedance of the speaker cabinet to the impedance selected on the amplifier, but as a rule, mismatches are discouraged to avoid either damage to equipment or reduction in usable power from the amplifier.
Often what is referred to as a "guitar amp" is in fact an amplifier, one or more speakers, and a cabinet to house them. A combo amp for guitar is, in other words, a single integrated cabinet that contains an amplifier and speaker(s). A 2x10 combo amp contains two 10" guitar speakers. Speaker complements are often abbreviated so that a 4x10" cabinet is written as 410 cab and a combo amplifier with a single 12" speaker is referred to as a 112 combo amplifier.
A guitar speaker isolation cabinet contains a guitar speaker and one or two microphones in a single- or double-layer soundproofed box. These are almost exclusively used in recording studios and/or during live performances to prevent "bleed through", hence, maintaining isolation in the mix.
The speaker cabinets which hold these drivers can be closed-back or open-back, along with variations such as a semi-open back 4x12 in cabinet, which may have a baffle deflecting two of the four speakers. Closed back cabinets can be acoustic suspension (rare, due in part to lower efficiency and distortion) or bass reflex (higher efficiency but, if properly designed, also low distortion). A 4x12 in speaker cabinet has four 12 in speakers; a 2x10 in speaker cabinet has two 10 in speakers. Bass cabinets often have multiple different-sized speakers.
When driven hard, guitar speakers produce complex behavior. There will be some power compression, several kinds of distortion, even mechanical limiting as one or more drivers approach their physical limits (e.g. cone excursion). A guitar speaker shows a nonlinear frequency response depending on the speakers load, e.g. the frequency response at small amplitudes is different from those at large amplitudes.
A guitar speaker cabinet simulator circuit attempts to emulate the complex behavior of a guitar speaker as an aid to design. A common microphone used to pick up guitar speaker sound is the Shure SM57 or the Sennheiser 421.
For convenience, there is often an amplifier head built into the cabinet. The combination can be—somewhat misleadingly – referred to as a guitar amplifier, but is actually called a "combo".

Tube sound

Vacuum tubes glowing inside the preamp section of a modern guitar amplifier.
Tube sound (or valve sound) is the characteristic sound associated with a vacuum tube-based audio amplifier.[1] The audible significance of tube amplification on audio signals is a subject of continuing debate among audio enthusiasts.[2]
Some electric guitar, electric bass, and keyboard players in a range of popular, rock, funk, blues, reggae and jazz genres also prefer the sound of tube instrument amplifiers or preamplifiers.

Effects unit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive pedal
Effects units are electronic devices that affect the sound of an electric or electronic instrument or other audio source. Effects can be used in "real time", during a live performance (typically used with an electric guitar, electronic keyboard, or electric bass), or in post-production, with recorded vocals and instruments. To use an effect in a live performance, the effect is plugged in to the electrical signal path of the instrument. In a post-production setting, the source's auxiliary output is patched into the effect. Effects can also be used on other instruments or sound sources, like the Rhodes electric piano, acoustic instruments, or drums. While some effect units "color" the sound in a subtle way, others transform the sound in a dramatic fashion.
An effects unit consists of analog or digital circuitry which processes audio signals. In some cases, effects processing circuitry is similar to that found in music synthesizers, as it may include active and passive filters, envelope followers or envelope modifiers, wave-shaping circuits, voltage-controlled oscillators, or digital delays.
Effects units come in several formats, the most common of which are the stomp-box and the rack-mount unit. A "stomp box" (or "pedal") is a small metal or plastic box containing the circuitry which is placed on the floor in front of the musician and connected in line with the patch cord connected to the instrument. The box is typically controlled by one or more foot-pedal on-off switches and it typically contains only one or two effects.
A rack-mount effects unit may contain the identical electronic circuit, but is mounted in a standard 19" equipment rack. Usually, however, rack-mount effects units contain several different types of effects. They are typically controlled by knobs or switches on the front panel, and often by a MIDI digital control interface. "Guitar pedalboards" are used by musicians who use multiple stomp-boxes; these may be a DIY project made with plywood or a commercial pedalboard.
Modern desktop and notebook computers often have sound processing capabilities that rival commercially available effects boxes. Some can process sound through VST or similar plugins, such as LADSPA, RTAS or Direct X. Musicians can play any instrument through a computer's sound card, emulating effects units or amplifiers. Many VST-plugins are can be downloaded for little or no cost.


[edit] Dynamics

Clean boost or any other "booster" (Often called a 'Volume Pedal')
Amplifies some aspect of the instrument's signal output. Generally used for preventing signal loss through long chains of effects units (pedals) and boosting volume for solos. On stage, guitarists who are switching between rhythm guitar and lead guitar may use a clean boost device to boost the volume of their guitar solos. Most clean boost pedals have an on-off switch that can be operated with the foot and a potentiometer to set the gain level. In cases where guitarists use a booster to get overdrive tones out of a tube amp, the booster can be considered to have a tone-modifying function.
The Studio Projects VTB1 Mic preamp
Mic pre-amp
A mic preamp accomplishes a similar result for microphones that the "clean booster" does for guitar, except that a mic preamp is designed for use with a microphone. It increases a microphone's low output voltage to a stronger, more usable level. Some mic pre-amps also provide phantom power for condensor mics and equalization pre-sets for different tonal effects. The least expensive single-channel mic preamps cost less than $100 USD; the most expensive tube preamps cost several thousand dollars.
This effect reduces the gain of the signal in high-frequency bandwidths when it contains heavy emphasis of high frequencies. De-essers are usually used to reduce or eliminate excess sibilant 's' or 't' sounds in recordings of the human voice. These unwanted sounds are typically in frequencies between 2 kHz-10 kHz.
This effect automatically varies the gain of an audio signal to reduce the dynamic range of the signal. In effect, a compressor is an automatic volume control which reduces loud sounds over a certain threshold. A compressor can also function as a limiter if with an extreme setting of the controls (in some cases, a compressor may be marketed as a limiter).
A Guyatone VT2 Vintage Tremolo
Tremolo produces a periodic variation in the amplitude (volume) of the note or chord, which creates a "shuddering" effect. A sine wave applied as input to a voltage-controlled amplifier produces this effect. Tremolo effects normally have a "rate" knob which allows a performer to change the speed of the variation. Some tremolo effects also have a "depth" knob (see Guyatone VT2 above). The "tremolo" effect described here should not be confused with the mis-named "tremolo bar", a device on a guitar bridge which allows the player to create a vibrato or pitch-bending effect.
Noise gate
This pedal attempts to remove hum, hiss and static by gating out sounds below a certain gain threshold. The entire signal is reduced in amplitude when the signal amplitude of the entire signal falls below a certain adjustable level. This significantly reduces noise as well as any other sounds coming into the pedal. (In some rare cases, musicians will use a pedal that does the exact opposite-the "lo-fi" pedal, which adds noise, hiss, and static; see below in the Tone section). As is the case with a number of pedals, even though the noise gate was intended to be a "transparent" effect, if it is used with extreme settings along with reverb, it can create unusual sounds, such as the gated drum effect used in 1980s pop songs, a style popularized by the Phil Collins song In the Air Tonight.

[edit] Tone

A ProCo Turbo RAT distortion pedal
Overdrive and distortion
Overdrive is a gain (amplification) and distortion obtained by pushing vacuum valves (called "tubes" in the US) to their limits, which creates warm, rich-sounding "soft clipping". If the valve is driven harder, the compression becomes more extreme and the peaks of the waveforms are clipped. This adds additional odd-order harmonics, creating a "dirty" or "gritty" tone.[1] A number of overdrive-style effects do not contain tubes (valves), and thus the effect is simulated by transistors or a computer chip. Distortion created using transistor "clipping" stages behaves far more linearly within their operating regions; when the input voltage falls outside its operating region of the amplifier, the signal is clipped without compression, known as "hard clipping", a sound which has more odd-order harmonics (see Fuzzbox). The number of controls on overdrive style pedals ranges from two knobs and an on-off switch on a relatively simple pedal like the FuzzFace to seven knobs, four tone-shaping switches, and two footswitches on a complex pedal such as the Radial Tonebone Classic TriMode distortion pedal.
A wah-wah pedal uses a rocking treadle housed in a rectangular chassis with rounded corners; a similar housing is used for volume pedals.
Wah-wah pedal 
An effect which mimics the human voice by sweeping the peak response of a filter up and down in frequency to create a spectral glide. The device is operated by a foot treadle that opens and closes a potentiometer. Examples include: Eric Clapton's guitar sound in "White Room" by Cream. It is also popular in funk and psychedelic rock, i.e. Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. A variant form of this effect is the auto-wah, a device that automatically creates the same effect. Some wah pedals come with other effects combined into the unit, typically fuzz or overdrive. When a wah pedal comes with an additional effect (e.g., fuzz), the player may be provided with a side-mounted foot-switch for toggling the fuzz effect on and off.
Ring modulation 
An effect that multiplies two signals, where one is typically a sine-wave or another simple waveform. It and outputs the sum and difference of the two pitches, creating a signal rich in overtones, with an unusual bell-like or metallic sound. A notable example is the guitar in the Black Sabbath song "Paranoid".
31-band Behringer 1/3-octave graphic equalizer with LEDs that show signal presence per frequency band
Adjusts the frequency response in a number of different bands of equalization. The effect, which is often referred to as an "EQ" has variants including the parametric EQ which instead of flatly boosting and cutting frequencies, curves the frequency response to include changes in adjacent frequencies. As well the paragraphic EQ, which combines the visual interface of the graphic EQ with the flexibility of the parametric EQ, giving each band its own adjustable "Q" ("Q" refers to the width of the band). Setting a very narrow "Q" allows a performer to make very precise adjustments (such as reducing a single note which is overly resonant), without adversely affecting the tone of the instrument.
Peter Frampton's Talk box
Talk box 
An effects device that allows a musician to modify the sound of a musical instrument by lip syncing, or by changing the shape of their mouth.The device contains a speaker attached with an airtight connection to a plastic tube with connectors for the connection to the speaker output of an instrument amplifier. The other end of the tube is taped to the side of a microphone, extending enough to direct the reproduced sound in or near the performer's mouth. The shape of the mouth filters the sound, with the modified sound being picked up by the microphone. The effect is manipulated by vocal technique. Notable uses include Rufus's "Tell Me Something Good", Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way", Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" and by Slash in many songs and solos. Also used in many Bon Jovi songs. One of the most prominent and consistent talk box users was Roger Troutman, Zapp frontman and solo artist.
Filter and synthesizer effects
Pedals such as the Moog MF-105 Moogerfooger MURF provide multiple filters and envelope control knobs to control modulation. The MF-107 FreqBox uses the input signal to modulate an internal VCO oscillator.
Lo-fi effects
These effects emulate the hiss, static, and poor tone quality of vintage analog electronic equipment. The "Radio Havana" pedal uses ceramic capacitors "to supply grit, and a distortion circuit" to " downgrade ... tone quality" and adds a Voltage Starve circuit to "further brea[k] down your tone" [2]. The Ibanez LF7 creates lo-fi "transistor radio and megaphone type sounds" by using "voltage controlled analog high and low pass filters"[3]. One of the more extreme lo-fi effects is the Z-Vex Lo-Fi Loop Junky, which adds "hiss, moan, distortion and...strangeness" that converts guitar tone to a "smashed,...shimmering/warbling" of a "warped, damaged 45-rpm record".[4]

[edit] Time-based

First used by Les Paul, e.g. I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles. Paul achieved time delay by stretching audiotape between two reel-to-reel tape decks spaced several feet apart. The first modern digital delay was the Eventide Harmonizer, which involved sound waves being converted from analog to digital signals, and clocked through large banks of RAM memory. The Edge of U2 is a notable user of this effect in his music. A well-known example of this is the song "Where the Streets Have No Name".
Unity Audio brand "The Echo Verb", a 6-head tape echo and reverb unit
Uses short, effected delays to simulate an echo. Early echo effects such as the 1959 Echoplex used a tape loop. The length of delay was adjusted by changing the distance between the tape record and playback heads. By the 1970s, many echo units used solid state circuitry. In the 1990s and 2000s, digital echo effects were widely used in mixers and effect pedals.
Simulates the persistence of sound in a hall or room after the original sound is removed [5] The first reverb effects created for recordings were created by piping the recorded sound into a real physical space such as a tiled bathroom, thus creating a natural echo chamber. In the 1950s and 1960s, portable reverb effects were created, such as the plate and spring reverb systems. A plate reverb system uses an electromechanical transducer to create vibration in a large plate of sheet metal. Spring reverb systems, which are often used in guitar amplifiers, use a transducer at one end of a spring and a pickup at the other. Some tape echo effects from the 1950s and 1960s could also produce a reverb effect. Digital reverb effects use various signal processing algorithms in order to create the reverb effect, often by using multiple feedback delay circuits.
Folded line reverberation device, which uses springs.
Uses very short variable delays to cause a changing comb filter effect. First notable uses were in "Itchycoo Park" by Small Faces, and "Sky Pilot" by The Animals. It creates a "sweeping" effect that is similar to the sound of a plane coming in for a landing or the swirling sound of water going down a drain. The flanger was a studio effect at first created by slowing one of the tape flanges in a reel-to-reel tape in regular time.
Phase shifting (or phasing
Modulates the phase of the signal. Popular during the 1970s; one example includes keyboard part of Paul Simon's "Slip-Slidin' Away". High phasing speeds produce an "underwater" effect, as used by Jimi Hendrix in "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)".
Looper pedal
Also called a "phrase looper", this pedal stores and plays back short loops or phrases, which allows a single performer to solo or "jam" over a backing part. As with the delay effect, the first forms of loop effects were created with reel-to-reel tape using a tape loop. High-end boutique tape loop effects are still used by some studios who want the vintage sound. Digital loop effects recreate this effect using an electronic memory. In the 1990s, digital effects could typically only store a few seconds; by the mid-2000s, some loop effects such as the Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro could store several minutes of sound, and flash memory-based effects such as the Electro-Harmonix 2880 could store nearly an hour of music in one or multiple loops. The DigiTech JamMan Looper Pedal can store up to 6.5 hours of samples, audio clips, or backing tracks [6].

[edit] Frequency

Pitch shifter 
An effect which enables a user to transpose the pitch of the input signal. The simplest pitch shift effects can add octaves above or below the input pitch. More sophisticated pitch shifters can add fourths or fifths. Some 2000s-era pitch shifters can harmonize an input pitch in thirds or sixths, based on the key that is set by the user. This allows a performer to play a melody and have it harmonized like a duo. Pitch shift devices often allow the user to mix the input signal with the effected signal, thus creating a thicker, richer sound (e.g., parallel octaves or fifths). Some pitch shifters can also add very tiny shifts in pitch, thus creating a chorus-like effect. The Harmonizer brand pedal can change the input pitch up or down any interval. Some pitch shifters, such as the Digitech Whammy have a treadle-style footpedal which allows users to create "whammy bar" note-bending effects. The Electro-Harmonix Polyphonic Octave Generator can produce pitches an octave below the note being played, or one or two octaves above the note being played.
The Electro-Harmonix POG pedal can pitch-shift an input signal down an octave or up one or two octaves.
To produce the effect, individual sounds with roughly the same timbre and nearly (but never exactly) the same pitch converge and are perceived as one, an effect which is created naturally in a choir of singers or a string orchestra. The effect creates this sound by splitting the signal into a vibrato effect and a clean path, so that the output is the sum of these inputs. A good quality chorus effect creates a rich, shimmering quality or a double-tracking effect when it is used subtly. It creates a "spacey" sound if it is used in a more pronounced fashion. Better-quality stompbox chorus pedals and almost all rackmount chorus units have stereo outputs, because the chorus effect is more effective when it is heard in stereo.
SmallClone chorus effect
Vibrato refers to a variation in frequency of a note. This is done naturally when an opera singer or violin player holding one note for a long time varies the frequency up and down using a fraction of a semitone. Most vibrato effects have a "rate" knob which allows the performer to set how fast the variation will occur. Some vibrato effects also have a "depth" knob that controls the pitch difference in the variation. A vibrato with a very shallow depth (e.g., a fraction of a semitone) can be a subtle effect. A vibrato with an exaggerated "depth" setting (e.g., half of a semitone or more) will produce a more dramatic, ululating sound. Electronically, the vibrato effect is created by taking a sine wave applied as input to a voltage-controlled oscillator.
Guitarists often use the terms "vibrato" and "tremolo" inconsistently. A so-called vibrato unit in a guitar amplifier actually produces tremolo, while a tremolo arm on a guitar produces vibrato. However, finger vibrato is genuine vibrato. See Electric guitar, tremolo, vibrato.
Harmonic Exciter
This effect, which is also known as a "psychoacoustic exciter", adds upper harmonic content and a subtle amount of controlled harmonic distortion to a sound source, which creates a richer tone colour in the upper mid and treble part of the spectrum. Unlike many effects, the Aural Exciter is not usually used in "real time" during the recording. It is usually added to the vocals or the entire track in the post-production stage. The effect was developed in the mid-1970s to add "brightness" to reel-to-reel tape mixes that had lost clarity due to repeated overdubs. Aphex, the company that invented the first "Aural Exciter" effect, claims that the effect provides increased presence and clarity, restored natural brightness, greater perceived loudness, and improved detail and intelligibility.[7]

[edit] Feedbacker/sustainer

An EBow acts like a "bow" for an electric guitar, in that it allows a player to hold a note continuously, like a violinist using a bow.
The Guitar Resonator is a magnetic string driver mounted on a stand. The player can generate feedback harmonics while normal playing with both hands.
While audio feedback in general is undesirable due to the high frequency overtone, when controlled properly, it can provide true sustain of the sound (instead of using a distortion/compressor to make quiet notes louder, or a feedback of a signal in a circuit as in a delay unit). Several approaches have been used to produce guitar feedback effects, which sustain the sound from the guitar. The most primitive form, as used by for example Jimi Hendrix, is to use the feedback created when the guitar is played in front of an instrument amplifier's loudspeaker when it is set to a high volume.
The neck pickup can be replaced by a magnetic string driver to push the strings based on the bridge pickup, such as the Sustainiac Sustainer and Fernandes Sustainer. A string driver can be mounted on a stand as in the Guitar Resonator. Feedback start, stop and harmonics can be controlled here by positioning the drivers distance to the strings and the position along the guitar neck while playing. A signal amplifier can be used to power the headstock transducer, which in turn sends feedback vibration down the string, as in Sustainiac's Model C. A handheld string driver can contain a pickup and driver, as in the EBow, which uses a small inductor coil to vibrate the string, creating a bow-like sustained sound. A dedicated high-gain guitar amplifier can be used in the control room, without a microphone, as a footswitch-controlled string feedback driver. The microphone is placed on the speaker cabinet of the main guitar amp in the isolation booth or live room. Many compressor pedals are also marketed as "sustainer pedals" as well. Compressor pedals accomplish a limited amount of sustain by compressing the low end signals of the guitar. As a note is sustained, it loses energy and volume because there is less vibration in the string. As the input volume gets lower, the compressor pedal boosts its signal to the specified dynamic range, giving a slightly longer sustain.[8]

[edit] Other specific effects

In the 2000s, several simulator effects were introduced that make a guitar sound like a different stringed instrument or like a different model. The defretter effect simulates the sound of a fretless bass guitar with a fretted bass. The effect creates a fretless sound through the use of an envelope-controlled filter and voltage controlled amplifier, whose parameters are controlled with an ADSR envelope. This creates a sound in which the note's attack is softened, both in volume and timbre. As well, some fretless simulators add a portamento effect so that one note glides up or down to the next note (a review of the BOSS GT-8 states that the defretter on this unit "slurs between the notes sliding up or down depending on which way you go")[9]. The acoustic guitar simulator makes an electric guitar sound like an acoustic guitar. A bass simulator effect makes an electric guitar sound like an electric bass. a pickup simulator can make a guitar with a single-coil pickup sound like a humbucker or vice-versa. A rarer simulator effect is the sitar simulator, which makes an electric guitar sound like an Indian sitar.
Rotary speaker simulator
An electronic effect which simulates the doppler effect sound of a rotating Leslie speaker system. One such pedal, the Uni-Vibe, was made famous by Jimi Hendrix when he used it with electric guitar. The most expensive rotary speaker simulators recreate the amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, and phase shift created by the two rotating speakers, along with the overdrive created by the Leslie's tube amplifier.
Envelope Follower 
Uses the signal amplitude envelope to control one or more effects. The envelope follower takes an audio input and converts it into a "control voltage" which rises and falls with the volume of the input signal.[10] The standard controls are threshold, filter, and volume. One effect which uses an envelope follower is the "auto-wah", which automatically produces a "wah" effect based on the dynamics of the notes being played.
Guitar amplifier modelling 
Uses digital signal processing to model or recreate the instrument tone produced by various amplifiers, especially to attain the valve sound with solid-state equipment. Some sophisticated modelling effects can simulate the effect of using different vintage tube amplifiers, speaker cabinets, and miking techniques (e.g., miking in front of the cabinet versus behind the cabinet). These types of effects are usually digital, and can therefore be found as features of effect processors such as the Boss ME series and Vox multieffects. Some 2000s-era guitar amplifiers have modelling processors built in.

[edit] Intended use

Many effects devices are not designed for a specific type of end user, and as such they are used by electric guitarists, bassists, singers, and other performers (e.g., rackmount compressors, reverb units, etc.). Some effects units are designed for and marketed to specific end users, typically electric guitarists, keyboard players, and bass players. In the 2000s, several new target markets for effects units developed, such as vocalists and acoustic instrument users.

[edit] Electric guitar

Many effects, and the majority of stomp-box pedals, are designed and marketed for use with an electric guitar (e.g., heavy metal distortion pedals; wah-wah pedals, etc). Some pedals are designed for a specific genre of electric guitar player. For example, Barber Electronic's Dirty Bomb, the DigiTech XMM Metal Master, the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone pedal and the MXR M116 Fullbore Metal pedal(all are distortion pedals) are designed to produce extreme distortion for metal guitarists. Other pedals, such as the Seymour Duncan SFX-11 Twin Tube Blues Distortion guitar pedal and the Boss Blues Driver are designed to produce the warm tube-amp overdrive sound used by blues electric guitar players. As well, many electric guitar effects are used by performers of other instruments. Keyboardists use wah-wah pedals and overdrive pedals, and some electric bass players use fuzzboxes or guitar overdrive pedals.

[edit] Keyboards

One of the most notable effects designed specifically for keyboard players is the rotary speaker simulator effect. This effect was designed so that Hammond organists could reproduce the chorus-type effect of a large Leslie rotating speaker without having to transport the heavy speaker cabinet around. Even though rotating speaker pedals are marketed to organ players, some models such as the Uni-Vibe pedal are also used by electric guitar players (e.g., Jimi Hendrix). Many electric guitar effects can be used successfully with keyboard instruments, and there are some combinations which have become well-known (e.g., a guitar phaser pedal used with a Fender Rhodes electric piano). Some effects pedal companies have taken note of this, and in the 2000s, a number of standard guitar pedals are cross-marketed to electronic keyboardists in advertisements (e.g., the Boss Blues Driver).

[edit] Bass

Most effects marketed for use with the bass guitar are the same, or almost the same as the similar effects sold for use with the electric guitar. In some cases, though, bass effects do have unique features designed for the electric bass or the double bass. Bass preamplifiers for double basses are designed to match the impedance of piezoelectric pickups with the input impedance of bass amplifiers. Some double bass preamplifiers may also provide phantom power for powering condenser microphones and anti-feedback features such as a notch filter. Makers of bass distortion (or "fuzz bass") effects claim that bass-specific distortion pedal maintain the low-range bass signal better than distortion pedals designed for electric guitar. Paul McCartney of The Beatles used fuzz bass on "Think for Yourself" in the 1965 album Rubber Soul and Hugh Hopper from the jazz rock band Soft Machine in 1968 and 1969[11]. Hopper's use of the fuzz bass sound allowed the bass to be forefronted more in the band, and take on more of a melodic, lead instrument role.[12] Fuzz bass went out of fashion for much of the 1970s, as the desired sound of the era was a clean "hi-fi" tone. In the 1980s and subsequent decades, bass distortion came back, but mostly in the metal and hardcore punk styles.
Some manufacturers sell bass equalizers, which, while similar in operation and design to an electric guitar graphic equalizer, have a lower frequency range that goes down to 40 Hz or even below. Bass-specific wah pedals and bass chorus effects are also available. Bass wah pedals optimize the frequency of the sweep so that it will work better with the lower range of the electric bass. Some bass chorus effects devices only apply the swirling chorus effect to the higher parts of the bass tone, leaving the instrument's low fundamental untouched. Multi-effects devices designed specifically for electric bass reconfigure the effects so that they are compatible with the electric bass' low range and include electric bass-oriented effects such as a fretless bass simulator effect or a bass synthesizer. Some multi-FX pedals for bass contain modelled versions of well-known bass effects pedals, bass amplifiers, and bass speaker cabinets. Just as some electric guitar pedals are cross-marketed to keyboard players, some electric guitar pedals are cross-marketed to bass players. Some BOSS electric guitar pedals (the AW-3 Dynamic Wah, BF-3 Flanger, OC-3 Super Octave) have an alternate 1/4" jack input for an electric bass which has circuitry which optimizes the effect for the lower range of the bass.

[edit] Vocal

Some floor-based effects units are designed for use by singers, such as harmonizer pedals (which add a harmony part to a vocal melody) and pitch correction pedals or rack-mount units. Examples include the TC Helicon VoiceLive 2 Floor-Based Vocal Processor (which vocal backup group); the Electro-Harmonix Voice Box Harmony Machine/Vocoder; the TC Helicon VoiceTone Correct Vocal Pedal; and the DigiTech Vocalist Live Pro Vocal Harmony Processor. Although of these portable, floor-based pedals were introduced in the 2000s, the innovation was largely the way that the technology was packaged into a rugged, road-ready chassis; many of these effects were only previously available in larger, heavier studio rack-mount units. As well, vocalists also use generic effects devices, such as compressors and reverb units. An example of a rack unit designed for vocalists is the Antares AVP Vocal Producer, which includes mic modeling technology, electronic pitch correction, tube pre-amp modellers, a de-esser, and parametric EQ, all of which is designed for use by a singer. More rarely, vocalists might route their microphone through a guitar pedal such as distortion pedal or a flanger to create an unusual effect.

[edit] Acoustic instruments

Another newer target market is acoustic instrument players who perform on acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin, and similar instruments. These units are often designed to be "all-in-one" devices that will condition and equalize acoustic instrument signals so that they can be plugged directly into a mixer or PA system. Several companies such as Fishman, L.R. Baggs and Boss make stomp-box pedal style effects units for this market. These pedals typically contain a pre-amp, impedance-matching circuitry for piezoelectric pickups, equalization filters, and a DI output.
Some of the more sophisticated pedals also include a compressor for smoothing out loud notes, a notch filter or feedback detector for preventing feedback howls (a common problem with acoustic instruments), and chorus or reverb effects. Many of these units have a microphone input and phantom power so that a condenser microphone can be mixed with the pickup sound. There is some variation in the format or housing. Many units are pedal-style units which have foot-operated switches for switching between pre-set sounds, activating reverb or chorus effects, etc. Units that are designed to be mounted on a belt clip or placed on a tabletop typically lack foot-operated switches.

[edit] Boutique pedal manufacturers

T-Rex brand "Mudhoney" overdrive pedal
Boutique pedals are typically handmade or produced in small batches and designed by smaller, independent companies. Usually, they are mainly distributed online, through mail-order, or through a small number of music stores. In some cases, these products depend on "word-of-mouth" advertising. The prices of boutique pedals are too high to compete with mass-produced brands such as Boss or Digitech. Boutique manufacturers offer products and features for the more discriminating guitar player—features such as true-bypass switching, higher-quality components, and innovative designs. Other boutique companies focus on re-creating classic or vintage effects that are no longer available. The Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and Dallas Rangemaster are classic effects that are produced in many variations by the boutique industry. Some boutique pedal manufacturers add hand-painted artwork to each pedal chassis.
Some boutique pedal manufacturers include:

[edit] Other boutique markets

There is also a niche market for the modification (nicknamed "modding") of effects. Typically, vendors provide either custom modification services or they sell new effects pedals which have been modified. The Ibanez Tube Screamer, the Boss DS-1, the ProCo Rat and Digitech Whammy are some of the most commonly modified effects. Mods typically encompass value changes in capacitors or resistors, adding true bypass (when deselected, the effect's circuitry is no longer in the signal path), the substitution of higher-quality components, the replacement of the unit's original operational amplifiers (opamps) with different ones, or adding additional functions to the device (e.g., allowing additional control of some factor or adding an additional output jack).

[edit] Form Factor

Effects units are available in a variety of form factors, which provide for the needs of varying musical situations (recording, live performance) and budgets, and integrate with particular instrument setups. Stomp-box style pedals are usually the smallest and least expensive type of effect device for a typical effect purpose, and they are the most rugged format. Rackmount devices are larger, and they need to be protected in a rack case if they are taken on the road; at the same time, rackmount devices typically offer a wider range of functions and input-output jacks than the equivalent stomp box. As well, a rack-mount compressor or reverb unit designed for use in a studio will often have less noise than its stomp-box counterpart that is intended for use with an electric guitar.

[edit] Stompboxes

Stompboxes, or effects pedals, are effects units designed to sit on the floor or a pedalboard and be turned on and off with the user's feet. They typically house a single effect. An effects pedal is connected into a signal chain using two 2-conductor (conductor and shield) instrument cables with 1/4" jack plugs (or "phone plugs"). The input jack is usually on the right side, and output on the left; thus the signal path for a chain of pedals is usually right-to-left. Some effects pedals have stereo out via two mono out signals, and a few have stereo input jacks as well as stereo output jacks. Some effects pedals have expression pedal in-jack (e.g., some ZOOM multiFX stompboxes) or an additional pedal-in jack (e.g., some overdrive pedals can have an additional switch added for a "turbo" distortion boost effect).
The simplest stompbox pedals have a single footswitch and one or two potentiometers for controlling the effect, gain, or tone, and a single LED to indicate the status of the effect to the player. The most complex stompbox pedals have multiple footswitches, eight to ten knobs, additional switches, and an alphanumeric display screen that can indicate the status of the effect with short acronyms (e.g.,DIST means "distortion").
Several pedals can be linked together in a chain. An effects chain can be placed between the guitar and the guitar amplifier's preamp section, within the guitar amplifier's effects loop, after a guitar amplifier's DI (Direct Inject) line-level tap jack, after a "dummy load" attached to the guitar amplifier's output jack, or at the mixing board to process the miked guitar-speaker signal.
Guitarists who use a number of effect pedals often use a pedalboard to so that the pedals can be hooked up and then carried to shows in a ready-to-use manner
When a pedal is off or inactive, the signal coming in to the pedal is shunted onto a bypass, so that the "dry" or unaffected signal can go on to other effects down the chain, and thus any combination of effects on a chain can be created without having to reconnect boxes during a performance. "True Bypass" means the presence of an isolated wire passing straight through the effects pedal, as opposed to "buffered bypass," which uses active circuit elements to connect the input to the output. While these are two popular configurations, there are other bypass methods, such as input-only bypass which is semi-passive.
The instrument signal can be routed through the stomp boxes in any combination, but to shape and preserve the clarity of the basic distortion tone, it is most common to put wah and overdrive pedals at the start of the chain; pedals which alter the pitch or color of the tone in the middle; and delay (echo) and reverb units at the end. When using many effects, unwanted noise and hum can be introduced into the sound. Some performers use a noise gate pedal at the end to reduce unwanted noise and hum introduced by overdrive units or vintage gear. Some performers make more complex signal chains by adding a loop selector pedal to switch between two effects loops. A guitarist might create a grungy rhythm guitar tone with an overdrive pedal, a lo-fi pedal, and a sub-octave pedal, and then use the loop selector pedal to switch to a shimmering, clear tone created with a reverb pedal, an acoustic guitar simulator pedal, and a chorus pedal. Another more complicated way of using multiple pedals is to use a line selector/mixer pedal to blend two effects loops together.

[edit] Rackmount

Two Millennia brand rackmount effects: a mic preamp and compressor/limiter. Even though these effects have rack "ears" so that the units can be mounted in a rack, here they are being used on shelves.
Rackmounted effects are built into a case designed to integrate into the 19-inch rack standard also used by the telecommunication and computing industries. Rack effects are commonly used in recording studios and front of house settings. Rackmount effects can be one, two, or three rackspaces high. As well, some rackmount effects do not have the full width of a 19-inch rack, so special rack "ear" adapters are needed to mount these devices (e.g., the Alesis Nanocompressor and Nanoverb units). In some cases, when a user does not intend to transport effects units (e.g., when the effects are used in a studio), rackmountable effects may be placed on a shelf or tabletop. Rackmount cases range from soft-sided cases built around a frame, intended for easy carrying with a strap, to hard plastic cases intended for musicians who are transporting the effects in a van, to "shock mount" cases, which cushion the entire rack frame in foam. Shock mount racks are designed for musicians who are shipping gear on major tours.

[edit] Tabletop units

A tabletop unit is one which is meant to sit on a desk and be controlled primarily with hands rather than feet. The Pod guitar amplifier modeller is a rare exception in the world of guitar effects, because it is not intended to be operated with the feet like a stomp-box pedal. Some portable effects designed for small studios are also intended to be placed on a tabletop, such as some tube preamp effects which are not sold with rack "ears". Digital effects designed for DJs are often sold in tabletop models as well, as it is anticipated that the unit will be placed alongside a mixer, turntables and CD scratching gear.

[edit] Built-in units

This vintage Teisco amplifier has built-in tremolo and echo effects
Effects are often incorporated into amplifiers, mixers, and even some types of instruments. Guitar amplifiers often come with built-in reverb and distortion effects. Guitar amps from the 1950s and 1960s often had tremolo effects and a spring- or plate reverb. In the 2000s, some guitar amplifiers have built-in multiFX units of digital modelling effects, which give the user access to a wide range of sounds. Keyboard amplifiers and acoustic guitar amplifiers often have a built-in reverb effect. While bass amplifiers are less likely to have built-in effects, in some cases bass amplifiers have a built-in compressor/limiter or an overdrive effect (an example of the latter is the Roland D-500 amplifier). More rarely, a high-end bass amplifier may have a sub-octave effect (e.g., the Mo'Bass amp head).
Even in the 1960s and 1970s, many mixers had simple built-in reverb or echo effects. Since the 2000s, many mixers have an onboard digital multi-effects unit which produces a variety of delay, reverb, and echo effects. Some instruments with built-in effects include Hammond organs (chorus and vibrato); electronic organs (chorus and reverb); and electronic pianos (reverb). In a few rare cases, effects are built into stringed instruments, as in the case of acoustic-electric guitars which have an on-board preamp and equalizer or electric guitars that have modelling effects built-in.

[edit] Multi-effects devices

The Zoom 505 multi-effect pedal.
A multi-effects device (also called a "multi-FX" device) is a single electronics effects pedal or rackmount device that contains many different electronic effects. In the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, multi-FX manufacturers such as Zoom and Korg produced devices that were increasingly feature-laden. Multi-FX devices allow several of the effects to be used together, and most devices allow users to set "preset" combinations of different effects including distortion, chorus, reverb, compression, and so on. This allows musicians to have quick on-stage access to different effects combinations. Some multi-FX pedals for contain modelled versions of well-known effects pedals or amplifiers.
The Boss GT-8 is a higher-end multi-effect processing pedal; note the preset switches and patch bank footswitches and built-in expression pedal.
Multi-effects devices have garnered a large share of the effects device market because they offer the user such a large variety of effects in a single package. A low-priced multi-effects pedal may provide 20 or more effects for the price of a regular single-effect pedal. More expensive multi-effect pedals may include 40 or more effects, amplifier modelling, and the ability to combine effects and/or modelled amp sounds in different combinations, as if the user was using multiple guitar amps. More expensive multi-effects pedals may also include more input and output jacks (e.g., an auxiliary input or a "dry" output), MIDI inputs and outputs, and an expression pedal, which can control volume or modify effect parameters (e.g., the rate of the simulated rotary speaker effect).

[edit] Other formats

A Leslie rotating speaker in a clear plastic cabinet
Some effects units are housed in a unique fashion. The "reverb tanks" of the 1950s come in a rectangular box the size of a guitar amplifier "head". Some 1950s and 1960s tape echo machines were in similarly-sized housings. Perhaps the largest effect is the Leslie rotating speaker system. It consists of a cabinet with a tube amplifier, a bass speaker with a rotating, motor-driven baffle, and a rotating, motor-driven horn for the high frequencies. While the Leslie speaker was first marketed only to church organists who wanted to reproduce the natural chorus effect of an air-blown pipe organ with their electromechanical Hammond organs, by the 1960s and 1970s, the chorusing, rich sound of the Leslie speaker had become an integral part of organ playing in hard bop, soul jazz, psychedelic rock, and even the earliest forms of heavy metal (e.g., Deep Purple).

[edit] Tributes by musicians

The garage rock revival band The Fuzztones, seen here in a Barcelona concert, are named after an influential 1960s-era fuzz pedal (the Fuzztone).
Some effects units, particularly stomp-box style pedals, are celebrated by the music subculture, as can be seen in the references to these pedals in pop and rock songs and even in band names. In some cases, the mystique that is built up around a pedal comes from the notable use of a pedal by an influential musician (e.g., Jimi Hendrix's use of the FuzzFace pedal). In other cases, effects pedal manufacturers have created a cult following for some of their pedals, due to the unique features, tone, or styling of the units. Overdrive and distortion effects have been referred to in songs such as "Big Muff" (Depeche Mode) or "Interstellar Overdrive" (Pink Floyd); album and EP titles such as the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP (Mudhoney,1988) and in band names We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It (an all-female British 1980s band) and The Fuzztones (a 1980s garage rock revival band). Other effects that have been referred to include the a vintage echo unit (in the Nine Inch Nails song "Echoplex"); the Harmonic Generator in a song by The Datsuns; pedals in general in the They Might Be Giants song "Stomp Box"; the Wah-wah pedal in George Harrison's 1970 song "Wah-Wah" and in the Buffalo Tom song "Besides" (2002); Joy Division's "Digital" was a reference to engineer/producer Martin Hannett penchant for his AMS digital delay units. The Super Furry Animals song 'Play It Cool' includes the lyric "The electric mistress always sounds so bold/She says I'm free to do anything I'm told", a reference to the Electric Mistress flanger pedal made by Electro-Harmonix.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Reamping is a process often used in multitrack recording in which a recorded signal is routed back out of the editing environment and run through external processing or reverb chamber. Originally, the technique was used mostly for guitars: it facilitates a separation of guitar playing from guitar amplifier processing—a previously recorded audio program is played back and re-recorded at a later time for the purpose of adding effects, ambience, or modified tonality. The technique has since evolved to include many other applications. Re-amping can also be applied to other instruments and program, such as recorded drums, synthesizers, and virtual instruments.
Examples of common re-amping objectives include musically useful amplifier distortion, room tone, compression, EQ/filters, envelopes, resonance, and gating. Re-amping is often used to "warm up" dry tracks, which often means adding complex, musically interesting compression, distortion, filtering, ambience, and other pleasing effects. By playing a dry signal through a studio's main monitors and then using room mics to capture the ambience, engineers are able to create realistic reverbs and blend the wet signal with the original dry recording to achieve the desired amount of depth.
The technique is especially useful for softening stereo drum tracks. By pointing the monitors away from each other and miking each speaker individually, the stereo image can be well-preserved and a new depth can be added to the track. It is important to check that the microphones being used are in phase to avoid problems with the mix.

Example of re-amping

A guitarist records a dry, un-processed, un-effected track in a recording studio. This is often achieved by connecting the guitar into a DI unit (a Direct Input or Direct Inject buffer box) that is fed to a recording console or, alternatively, bypassing the console by using an outboard preamplifier. Often, the guitarist's signal is sent to both recorder and guitar amp simultaneously, providing the guitarist with a proper amplifier "feel" while also tracking a dry signal.
At a later time, the dry, direct, un-processed guitar recording is fed to a bridging device (a Reamp or reverse DI box) to "re-record" the guitarist's unprocessed performance through a dedicated guitar amplifier and/or external effects box(es). The guitar amplifier is placed in the live room or isolation booth of the recording studio and is set up to produce the desired tonal quality, including distortion character and room reverberation. A microphone is placed near the guitar speaker and a new track is recorded, producing the re-amplified, processed track. The microphone cable is connected to the mixing console or mic preamp using a cable, as usual, without using a bridging device.
External effects such as stomp boxes and guitar multi-fx processors can also be included in the re-amping process. As well as physical devices that require an impedance-matched guitar pickup signal, software-based virtual guitar effects and amps can be included in the re-amping process.

[edit] Advantages of re-amping

Re-amping allows guitarists and other electronic musicians to record their tracks and go home, leaving the engineer and producer to spend more time dialing in "just right" settings and effects on pre-recorded tracks. When re-amping electric guitar tracks, the guitarist need not be present for the engineer to experiment long hours with a range of effects, mic positions, speaker cabinets, amplifiers, effects pedals, and overall tonality – continuously replaying the pre-recorded tracks while experimenting with new settings and tones. When a desired tone is finally achieved, the guitarist's dry performance is re-recorded, or "re-amped," with all added effects.
Manufacturers of instrument processing gear such as guitar effects, or equipment reviewers, can gather a library of dry performance tracks, performed and edited well, and then run these ideal tracks through the processing gear to demonstrate the sounds that the processing gear can produce. An unlimited number of performance playback passes, including looping, enables trying out many combinations of settings quickly, including microphone techniques.
When guitar amp or amp simulator designers try various circuit component values or settings, they can use the dry tracks as prepared, always-available input test signals, and consistent reference signals.

[edit] Electronic interfacing

Direct inject (DI) is a device or technique for connecting an unbalanced, high-impedance, low-level signal (commonly a guitar pickup) into audio equipment designed for a low-impedance balanced signal (such as a DAW). Reverse-DI means running this same device or technique in reverse – connecting a high-level (typically balanced, low-impedance) signal into audio equipment that was designed for low-level, unbalanced, high-impedance signals, such as a guitar amplifier.
Playing back a signal from recording studio equipment directly into a guitar amplifier can cause unwanted side-effects such as input-stage distortion, treble loss or overemphasis, and ground-loop hum; thus there is sometimes a need for impedance conversion, level-matching, and ground alteration. Like running a guitar signal through a guitar effects pedal that is set to Bypass, re-amping introduces some degree of sonic degradation compared to playing a guitar live directly into a guitar amp rig.
A re-amping device commonly employs a reversed Direct Inject (DI) transformer with some resistors added for level and impedance shift. Level and impedance adjustment can be achieved by adding a potentiometer or adjustable resistor. A proper re-amping device converts a balanced signal to an unbalanced signal, reduces a high studio-level (line-level) signal down to a low guitar-level signal, and shifts the output to a high instrument-level impedance (typically a guitar pickup impedance).
In conventional re-amplification, a dry recorded signal is sent into a balanced XLR input. An unbalanced ¼" (Tip-Sleeve) phone connector is typically used for the output, which is connected to the guitar amp rig. Some re-amping devices offer a pad (attenuator) switch to reduce a too-hot output level.
Sometimes a guitar volume pedal or buffered effects pedal can work adequately for re-amping, depending on grounding, levels, and impedance. Another approach to simulating the high impedance of a guitar pickup is to use a passive DI and add a 10 K-ohm resistor in series with the signal connection inside a 1/4" plug.

[edit] Terminology

While "reverse DI" re-recording techniques have been used for decades, the process was popularized in part by the introduction of the Reamp device in 1993. The registered trademark "Reamp" describes a patented invention (U.S. Patent 6,005,950) filed in 1994 by audio engineer John Cuniberti, perhaps best known for his lifelong engineering work with guitarist Joe Satriani. The Reamp inductively couples balanced line-level sources into unbalanced guitar-level destinations (e.g., DAW output to guitar amp input) and includes a potentiometer which alters both signal level and source impedance. Derivations of the Reamp trademark, such as "reamping" and "re-amplification," have become common terminology in professional audio to describe the process of amplified re-recording – much like the word "Band-aid" is often used to describe adhesive bandages (see Genericized trademark).

[edit] History

The process of re-recording has been used throughout the history of recording studios. Pierre Schaeffer in the 1930s and 1940s used recorded sounds, such as trains, and played them back with ambient alteration, re-recording the net result. Karlheinz Stockhausen and Edgard Varèse later used similar techniques.[1]
Les Paul and Mary Ford recorded layered vocal harmonies and guitar parts, modifying prior tracks with effects such as ambient reverb while recording the net result together on a new track. Les Paul placed a loudspeaker at one end of a tunnel and a microphone at the other end. The loudspeaker played back previously recorded material - the microphone recorded the resulting altered sound.
Roger Nichols claims to have used a guitar re-recording process (not reverse DI) in 1968, partly to spread the stress on cranked tube amps across multiple amps, one at a time. A sound would be dialed-in for several hours on one cranked guitar amplifier, and if this stress audibly wore down the amplifier components, another amplifier would be used to record the remaining work.
It's been noted that Phil Spector, re-mixing the original Beatles’ Let It Be master tapes in 1970, may have re-recorded dry electric guitar program through a guitar amplifier.
Film sound re-recording is a time-honored practice. Sound designer Walter Murch is known for a technique called "worldizing" in which "real world" ambience is added, via re-recording, to dry recorded program. Sound designer Nick Peck describes the worldizing process: "Place a speaker in a room or location with the desired aural fingerprint and position a microphone some distance from the speaker. Next, play back your original sounds through the speaker and re-record them on another recorder, capturing the sound with all the reverberant characteristics of the space. This requires much time and effort, but when only the most authentic reproduction will do, worldizing can get you there."[2]

[edit] Legal

Radial and Millennia Media products use the Reamp patent, or a variant of the patent, under license. The Reamp Company acknowledges that words such as "reamping" have become generic/colloquial audio expressions, but asserts that the word Reamp remains their legally registered trademark.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Example of numeric vihuela tablature from the book "Orphenica Lyra" by Miguel de Fuenllana (1554). Red numerals (original) mark the vocal part.
Tablature (or tabulature, or tab for short) is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.
Tablature is common for fretted stringed instruments such as the lute, vihuela, or guitar, as well as many free reed aerophones such as the harmonica. Tablature was common during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and is commonly used in notating rock, pop, folk, ragtime, and blues music.
Three types of organ tablature were used in Europe: German, Spanish and Italian. There are several types of ocarina tabulature.[1] Harp tablature was used in Spain and Wales.
To distinguish standard musical notation from tablature, the former is usually called "staff notation" or just "notation".
An alternate usage of the word "tab" is common on the Internet, where it can also refer to conventional chord symbols (for harmony), or note names (for melody).


[edit] Etymology

The word tablature originates from the Latin word tabulatura. Tabula is a table or slate, in Latin. To tabulate something means to put it into a table or chart.

[edit] Spelling

There are two different common spellings, with (tabulature) and without "u" (tablature). While "tabulature" is closer to the original Latin word, and thus more correct etymologically, the adapted version "tablature" seems to be more widespread in modern English.[2][original research?]
Both of these words are frequently shortened to "tab" in casual speech. To be less ambiguous, it is preceded by an instrument name, when required, e.g., "guitar tab", "bass tab", "organ tab".

[edit] Origin

The first known occurrence in Europe is around 1300, and was first used for notating music for the organ.[3][citation needed] In Asia there exist much older tablature notations.[citation needed]
Lute tablatures were of three main varieties, French, Italian (also widely used in Spain, Bavaria and southern France), and German, detailed below. A special variety of Italian tablature called "Neapolitan" was in use in southern Italy, and a Polish variety of French tablature appears in one manuscript.[citation needed] French tablature gradually came to be the most widely used. Tablatures for other instruments were also used from early on. Keyboard tablatures flourished in Germany c. 1450–1750 and in Spain c. 1550–1680. Much of the music for the lute and other historical plucked instruments during the Renaissance and Baroque eras was originally written in tablature, and many modern players of those instruments still prefer this kind of notation, often using facsimiles of the original prints or manuscripts, handwritten copies, modern editions in tablature, or printouts made with computer programs.[citation needed]

[edit] Concepts

While standard musical notation represents the rhythm and duration of each note and its pitch relative to the scale based on a twelve tone division of the octave, tablature is instead operationally based, indicating where and when a finger should be placed to generate a note, so pitch is denoted implicitly rather than explicitly. The rhythmic symbols of tablature tell when to start a note, but usually there is no indication of when to stop sounding it, so duration is at the discretion of the performer to a greater extent than is the case in conventional musical notation. Tablature for plucked strings is based upon a diagrammatic representation of the strings and frets of the instrument, keyboard tablature represents the keys of the instrument, and recorder tablature shows whether each of the fingerholes is to be closed or left open.

[edit] Tablature vs. standard staff notation

Tablature is more easily read by a novice fretted string musician than standard notation; all one needs to do is tune the instrument, place one's fingers on the indicated string and fret, and sound the note. During the Renaissance, tablature was used by professionals and amateurs alike to set down music for lute, cittern, bandora, orpharion, four- and five-course early guitar, and violas da gamba. Repertoire for lute began to change during the 1700s; use of the lute in orchestras to play basso continuo obliged lutenists to work from parts written in the staff notation suitable also for keyboard instruments and harps. Tabulature continued in use for solo lute and guitar works, but eventually lost popularity and nearly died out, remaining in informal use amongst amateurs, aficionados, and within folk idioms such as flamenco.[citation needed]
Victorian-era musicologists found themselves in a quandary when it came to publishing scholarly editions; players of the original instruments were uncommon, whereas most musicologists did play piano.[citation needed] Editions prior to the early music movement presented the music transcribed for guitar or piano (or both), leaving lute players at a loss for their own repertoire as it was originally published. Popular interest in early music created a need for performing editions of Renaissance repertoire in tablature.[citation needed]
After World War II ended, acoustic and electric guitar became popular, and guitar tablature was reborn.[citation needed]
Tablature notation has two significant deficiencies. First is an inability to convey the duration of notes sustained against a melisma. Only the beginning of each note can be shown; which notes of a chord should be sustained, and for how long, is an artistic decision for the player.
The second problem is one of choice. Historical lute tablature has three major forms (French, German, Italian); each of these has variants. Modern players usually specialize in just one form, and it is difficult to become facile at reading all of them. The surviving repertoire is divided roughly equally, with French and Italian being preferred by modern players over German (especially facsimile editions, as the originals were published in black letter type which is unfamiliar to modern readers). Modern publishers have a difficult decision to make in choosing a form for a modern anthology.[citation needed]

[edit] Differences between systems

  • Direct visual representation
When compared to standard notation, tablature is a closer visual representation of the instrument's fretboard. It does not require as much training for players to be able to read tablature; therefore it is often easier and quicker to interpret for beginners.
  • Fingering position determination
Tablature removes the requirement for the player to determine the fretboard position within which the notated music is to be executed. Notes on the guitar can be played in different fret hand positions and upon several different strings; for example the note C4 could be played on the third string at the fifth fret or on the fourth string at the tenth fret. In the case of fretted instruments such complexity makes the relationship between staff notation and playing technique less direct than in the case of the piano and many other instruments. Whilst standard staff notation can remove the string/fret ambiguity by further indicating the playing position (usually with Roman numerals), tablature does not contain this ambiguity. Tablature has two additional advantages. First, it clearly identifies the note. Tablature makes explicit all instances of musica ficta, so that there is no guesswork about whether a note is, for example, an F or an F. Second, tablature can notate music in different tunings and scordaturas.
  • Simple typewriter-font representation
Tablature can be easily (albeit crudely) represented as ASCII tab. This is a plain-text computer file using numbers, letters, and symbols to construct tablature. This characteristic makes it easy to distribute tablature electronically, a practice that has become very widespread; it is now possible to find free tablatures for virtually any popular music on the Internet, although a considerable number of those tablatures may be inaccurate and also illegal. (See Tablature (Legal Issue) below.)
  • Instrument-specific
Tablature is instrument-specific, while staff notation is generic. Tablature does not provide any skills transferable to other instrumental or general musical study. Tablature can only be read easily by a player of one particular instrument, whilst music written in staff notation can be played on any suitable instrument. Reading solely from tablature compromises communication with other musicians such as flаutists or violinists, who are commonly trained only in the use of standard notation. Reliance solely upon tablature limits the repertoire of the player to works published in tablature or transcribed into it. A player who can read both forms of notation is at a decided advantage.
  • Inherent harmonic or analytical information
The science of harmony and musical analysis is codified by recourse to standard musical notation. Standard musical scores enable musicians to utilise advanced tools for such analysis. These tools cannot be easily applied to, or from, tablature. Therefore the study of musical theory is hindered by reliance upon tablature.
  • Rhythmic information
Tablature notation provides limited information on rhythm and timing. Tablature writers sometimes provide limited rhythmic information by adding note stems, flags and beams above the fret glyphs but the system is not as well-defined as in standard notation.
  • Distinction between musical parts
Multiple parts cannot be rhythmically distinguished within tablature notation. This is serious limitation when conveying information required for the proper rendition of multiple-part music on any polyphonic instrument.
  • Indication of pitch
Tablature notation shows how the notes are fingered; relative pitch is shown and actual pitch can be calculated by considering the tuning, but it takes experience for a player to sing (or internalize) the notes by sight. Dynamic markup is usually left to the performers artistic sense. It can be difficult to get a general outline of the music by simply studying the tablature page without recourse to playing it through or listening to a recorded version beforehand. In contrast staff notation allows musicians to sing from sight.

[edit] Lute tablature

French Renaissance style lute tablature, with corresponding notation for guitar: a simple Renaissance dance, printed by Pierre Attaingnant.
Lute tablature is similar to guitar tablature, but comes in at least three different varieties. The most common variety used today is based on the French Renaissance system (see example at right). In this style the strings are represented by the lines on the staff (occasionally the spaces above the lines on the staff), and the stops are indicated by lowercase letters of the alphabet (rather than numbers), with the letter 'a' indicating an open string and the 'j' skipped (as it was not originally a separate letter from 'i'). A six-line staff is used, just as for modern guitar tablature. However, lutes were not limited to 6 strings or courses (they could have as many as 19), and stops for any courses beyond the sixth were shown below the bottom line, with short diagonal strokes (see below).
The letters soon developed somewhat stylized forms for ease of recognition. In particular, the letter 'c' often resembled 'r'. This was common in many styles of Renaissance handwriting, but also helped to differentiate 'c' from 'e'. Also, sometimes 'y' was used for 'i'.
Lute tablature provides flags above the staff to show the rhythms, often only providing a flag when the length of the beat changes, as shown in the example. (Notice that this piece begins with a half measure.)
Other variants of lute tablature use numbers rather than letters, write the stops on the lines rather than in the spaces, or even invert the entire staff so that the lowest notest are on top and the highest are at the bottom.
As with guitar, various different lute tunings may be used, all written using the same tablature method. A tenor viola da gamba can usually be played directly from lute tablature as it typically uses the same tuning. A guitar can often be played from lute tablature by tuning the G string down to an F and putting a capo at the third fret to preserve the original pitch.
In standard Baroque lute tabulature, each staff has six lines, representing the first six courses. The course of the highest pitch appears at the top, and that of the lowest appears at the bottom. (The Italian Archlute of the same period uses an opposite system.)
Lowercase letters or "glyphs"are placed on each of these lines to represent notes. If it is required to play an open D course, for instance, a small "a" will be placed on the appropriate line. For a note with the finger on the first fret a "b", a note on the second fret a "c", etc. However, as mentioned above, "j" was not used since it was not considered a separate letter from "i", and "c" often looked more like "r". Thus:
G - a
would represent a G-minor chord,
All open strings would represent a D-minor chord:
D- ///a
The strings below the sixth course are notated with additional short "ledger" lines: glyphs are placed below the staff. These courses are tuned in accordance with the key of each piece played:
G- a
F- /a
E- //a
D- ///a
C- 4
B- 5
A- 6
A number of slightly different systems were used to show rhythm: some scribes and printers used headed notes, but it was simpler for a scribe to use headless tails for the fast-moving notes these plucked instruments commonly played (breve to semi-fusa); and early printers followed the scribal practice. Individual tails were sometimes combined into 'grids', resemblimg today's beams. The semibreve was indicated by an untailed line, the breve by a circled line or a line flagged to the left. Regarding notation of rhythms, French manuscripts tend to use a more florid script for the rhythmic values while English and Germanic manuscripts tend to use a more conservative script.
The lute was a virtuoso's instrument, and rapid ornamentation in the form of graces, trills, shakes, fall-backs, mordents, etc. were expected of players ad libitum to ornament the music artfully, beyond just playing the written notes. Some of these ornaments may be written out, but more commonly a special symbol would mark places where they might be used; these symbols are the subject for a special discussion; each scribe and composer had a different style of ornamentation and there were a variety of ways to notate them. However, for a general discussion of French tablature ornaments see Furnas' dissertation discussing the Manchester Lyra viol manuscript.[citation needed]
The majority of viola da gamba tablature manuscripts is written in French Baroque tablature. The difference between viola da gamba tablature (also called lyra viol tablature) and lute tablute is that the chords in lyra viol music must include all the strings between the highest and lowest notes in the chord. Lutinists, however, can play broken chords (chords that do not include all the internal strings within a chord). Additionally, a diagonal slash often appears in lyra viol manuscript, indicating a slur. As these distinction are subtle, manuscripts have often beein misidentified.
Two features of French tablature are critical. French tablature does not use the letter i. It is replaced by the letter y. Second, the letter c is often written in a manner that suggest the letter r.
A few lyra viol manuscripts notate music above the octave. In such rare cases, no letters are ignored. Thus, letters follow: h, y, j, k, l, and m. Lyra viol music above the octave is extremely rare. Contemporary composers, including Peter H. Adams have written music up to the octave and a fifth above the open string.[citation needed]

[edit] German lute tablature

The origins of German lute tablature can be traced back well into the 15th century. Blind organist Conrad Paumann is said to have invented it.[4] It was used in German-speaking countries until the end of the 16th century. When German lute tablature was invented, the lute had only five courses, numbered 1 (the lowest sounding course) to 5 (highest). Each place where a course can be stopped at a fret is assigned with a letter of the alphabet, i.e., the first frets of courses 1 through 5 are represented by the letters a through e, the second frets by f through k, and so on. The letters j, u, w, are not used. Therefore, two substitutional signs are used, i.e., et (resembling the numeral 7) for the fourth course's fifth fret, and con (resembling the numeral 9) for the fifth course's fifth fret. From the sixth position upwards, the alphabetical order is resumed anew with added prime marks (a', b', ...), strokes above the letters, or the letters doubled (aa, bb, ...). When a 6th course was added to the lute around 1500 CE, different authors used different symbols for it. Chords are written in vertical order. Melodic motions are notated in the highest possible line, notwithstanding their actual register. Rhythmical signs, which are written in a line above the letters, are single stems (semibreves), shafts with one flag (minims), stems with two flags (crotchets), stems with three flags (quavers), stems with four flags (semiquavers). Stems with two or more flags can be grouped into units of two or four ("leiterlein" in German, i.e., small ladders).
French Italian German
 -r-     ---     k
 -d-     ---     o
 -d- =   -0-  =  n
 -a-     -3-     2
 ---     -3-
 ---     -2-

[edit] Computer programs for writing tablatures

Various computer programs are available for writing tablature. The two standard programs used by the lute community are Fronimo by Francesco Tribioli and Django by Alain Veylit. These were designed for the purpose of engraving tabulatures for various lutes and other plucked instruments for early music (these programs also provide fully implemented MIDI playback of tablature scores.[citation needed]
There are many other programs, some solely for tablature while others also write lyrics, guitar chord diagrams, chord symbols, and/or staff notation, e.g., Power Tab, Guitar Pro, TabDiv, TablEdit, Musedit, SmartScore, PriMus etc. ASCII tab files can be written (somewhat laboriously) with any ordinary word processor or text editor. VexTab is a more recent text-based tablature language that is simpler to edit than ASCII tab. An Opensource program written in Java is TuxGuitar, it supports writing notes, tablatures, playing them, and exporting to many formats. Internet sites such as TinyLick allow creation and sharing of tablature using a Web browser. Both Sibelius and Finale software offer some lute tablature support in Italian, Spanish, and French styles, but no German, as is offered by Fronimo. Sibelius and Finale do not provide fonts to score lute tablature giving an historic appearance, but can incorporate any fonts needed for any style desired, with extra set-up time, which can be easily transferred to additional scores.

[edit] Guitar tablature

Guitar tablature consists of a series of horizontal lines forming a staff (or stave) similar to standard notation. Each line represents one of the instrument's strings. Therefore standard guitar tablature has a six-line staff and bass guitar tablature has four lines. The top line of the tablature represents the highest-pitched string of the guitar. By writing tablature with the lowest pitched notes on the bottom line and the highest pitched notes on the top line of the tablature follows the same basic structure and layout of Western Standard Notation.
The following examples are labelled with letters on the left denoting the string names, with a lowercase e for the high E string. Tab lines may be numbered 1 through 6 instead, representing standard string numbering, where "1" is the high E string, "2" is the B string, etc.
The numbers that are written on the lines represent the fret used to obtain the desired pitch. For example, the number 3 written on the top line of the staff indicates that the player should press down at the third fret on the high E (first string). Number 0 denotes the nut — that is, an open string.
For chords, a letter above or below the tablature staff denotes the root note of the chord.
Examples of guitar tablature notation:
The chords E, F, and G:
     E   F   G
Tablature can use various lines, arrows, and other symbols to denote bends, hammer-ons, trills, pull-offs, slides, and so on. These are the tablature symbols that represent various techniques, though these may vary:
Symbol Technique
h hammer on
p pull off
b bend string up
r release bend
/ slide up
\ slide down
v vibrato (sometimes written as ~)
t right hand tap
s legato slide
S shift slide
* natural harmonic
[n] artificial harmonic
n(n) tapped harmonic
tr trill
T tap
TP tremolo picking
PM palm muting (also written as _)
\n/ tremolo arm dip; n = amount to dip
\n tremolo arm down
n/ tremolo arm up
/n\ tremolo arm inverted dip
= hold bend; also acts as connecting device for hammers/pulls
<> volume swell (louder/softer)
x on rhythm slash represents muted slash
o on rhythm slash represents single note slash
·/. pick slide
Guitar tablature is not standardized and different sheet-music publishers adopt different conventions. Songbooks and guitar magazines usually include a legend setting out the convention in use.
The most common form of lute tablature uses the same concept but differs in the details (e.g., it uses letters rather than numbers for frets). See below.

[edit] Musette tablature

Musette tablature from Borjon de Scellery
Borjon de Scellery's Traité de la musette includes pieces for musette de cour in both standard notation and tablature, plus a partial explanation of his system. The numbers refer to the keys on the instrument, and are shown on a five-line stave so that they also correspond with standard notation. Standard symbols for note lengths are written above each tablature staff.
The standard notation shown in the illustration is also taken from de Scellery; no explanation is given for the slur-like symbol; the comma , is explained as indicating a tremblement, starting on the note above. No explanation is given for the unusual beaming or the significance (if any) of where note-length symbols are repeated.

[edit] Harmonica tablature

The harmonica tablature was basically a one-to-one mapping of the notes to the corresponding hole and, thus, is a type of numbered musical notation. For each note, it will indicate the number of the hole to play, direction of breathing (in or out), and even bending (usually for diatonic) or "slide-in" (usually for chromatic)
One method of indicating direction of breath is by using arrows; another is by using either a "+" or "-" sign, or "i" (for inhale) and "e" (for exhale). Bending is shown with a bent arrow with the direction of breath, or by a circle around the note, or even a simple line next to the breath indicator. Additional lines and/or circles may be used to indicate how much to bend.
For example, on a "C" diatonic instrument:
Unbent    Bent lv1    Bent lv2    Bent  lv3
3i (B)    3i|  (Bb)   3i|| (A)    3i||| (G#)
To indicate button-press on a chromatic instrument, a similar indication to first-level bending may be used.
The breath indicator may be placed right next to the hole number, or below the number. The same is true for bending or button-press indicators.
To indicate the beat, in the arrow system the length of the arrow may be varied. However, the more popular method is to use a slightly simplified rhythm-symbol notation, such as "o" for a semibreve, // for a minim, "/" for a crotchet, "." for quavers, and place them above the characters, while spacing them accordingly.
For chords, the numbers to play are shown, so, for example: a C major (CEG) chord (on a C diatonic instrument): 456e However, they may simplify it, especially when playing blues. For chords, it was common to just play three or two holes instead (sometimes even just one), especially when the instrument is not of the same key. For example, in the blues progression in G (G G G G7 C C G G D7 D7 G G) it is common to use a C diatonic instrument, and notate the following:
  • G chord (G-B-D): 34i (BD)
  • G7 chord (G-B–D-F): 45i (DF).
  • D7 chord (D-F-A-C): 4i (D) or 4e (C)
There are many harmonica tablature systems in use. The easiest tablature system works like this.
Diatonic Harmonica tablature
 2  = blow the 2 hole
-2  = draw the 2 hole
-2' = draw the 2 hole with a half bend
-2" = draw the 2 hole with a full bend
chords are shown by grouping notes with parentheses
(2 3) = blow the 2 hole and the 3 hole at the same time
Chromatic Harmonica tablature
  2 = blow the 2 hole
 -2 = draw the 2 hole
 <2 = blow the 2 hole with the button in
<-2 = draw the 2 hole with the button in
Harmonica tablature is usually lined up with lyrics to show the tune and the timing and usually tells one the key of the harmonica for which the song is tabbed.
Here is an example of harmonica tablature:
"Mack the Knife" C Diatonic
5   6   -6   -6   5  6   -6     -6
Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear
-4  -5  -6    -6  -4 -5   -6
And he shows them pearly white
 6  -7  -8    7   -7   -6  7     -4
Just a jack knife has MacHeath, dear
 5  -5   7   -4  7  -7  -6
And he keeps it out of sight

[edit] Legal issues

There has been much controversy over the legal position of tablature available on the Internet, as many Internet tablature Web sites provide user-created tablature without properly acquiring a print license from, or paying royalties to, the original songwriter and, often, the music publisher that controls these licenses. Although many of the Internet tablature Web sites that offer user-created tablature do not charge consumers for these transcriptions, revenue generated from advertising on these Web sites is typically kept by the Web site owners as profit, or used to cover the Web site's maintenance costs, and no — or very limited — royalties are received by the original songwriter. Further, music publishers and artists have been wary to license content to certain user-generated tablature Web sites due to quality issues with the tablature created by amateur users.
Such free Internet tablature sites often attempt to defend themselves by claiming to be educational providers or non-profit organizations, even if not formally registered as such.[5][not in citation given] This leads to considerable difficulty justifying the service as legal under the fair use doctrine of copyright law (see Fair Use As A Defense). The legality of free Internet tablature served by such Web sites is disputed, largely because Web sites have thus far only been threatened with legal action; the issue has yet to be taken to court.
As of December 12, 2005, distributing free tablatures of copyrighted music using the Internet was considered illegal by the music industry in the United States. By early 2006, an unprecedented legal move was taken by the Music Publishers' Association (MPA), initiating legal action against tablature Web sites that hosted interpretations of songs and music. The Music Publishers' Association (MPA) had been pushing for Web sites offering free tablatures to be shut down. MPA president Lauren Keiser said that their goal is for owners of free tablature services to face fines and even imprisonment.[6] Several Web sites that offer free tablature have already taken their tablature off-line until a solution or compromise is found. One of the proposed solutions is an alternative compensation system, which allows the widespread reproduction of digital copyrighted works while still paying songwriters and copyright owners. In addition, there are now a number of "legal" services offering guitar tablature that have been licensed by music publishers.[7]
One site,, contacts the bands themselves for permission to post tablature. Few bands have declined the request.[8]
The tablature debate was featured on NPR's Morning Edition in a segment entitled "Music Industry Goes after Guitar Tablature Websites" on August 7, 2006.[9]
On April 10, 2010, Ultimate Guitar, a Russia based, free online tablature site has entered a licensing agreement with Harry Fox Agency[10]. The agreement included rights for lyrics display, title search and tablature display with download and print capabilities. HFA’s over 44,000 represented publishers have the opportunity to opt-in to the licensing arrangement with UG.

[edit] Rise of legal guitar tablature sites

In light of the legal questions surrounding user-created on-line guitar tablature, a number of companies have been formed that claim to offer consumers legal on-line tablature, which has been officially-licensed from songwriters and/or music publishers. These companies offering legal content generally fall into two categories:
  1. Web sites that offer "professionally-created" content: These Web sites typically hire professional musicians to transcribe songs into guitar tablature, and generally charge anywhere from $0.99 to $6.99 for the ability to purchase legal pieces of guitar tablature. These Web sites also claim to have acquired the proper licenses to display this tablature on-line. Several Web sites in this first category specifically cater to guitarists, including and
  2. Web sites that offer "user-created" tablature, but have obtained the proper legal clearances to post these transcriptions on-line. There are several Web sites that fall into this second category, including Guitar World Tabs and, which generally do not charge consumers for using these user-created tablature pieces, and share any advertising revenue with music publishers and/or songwriters.

[edit] had been closed down due to complaints from copyright holders. However, as of February 23, 2006, the owners of Mxtabs put the Web site back on-line with a letter explaining their position. In short, they believe that the purpose of Mxtabs is to "aid musicians in learning their instruments." They say that Mxtabs has accounted for as much as $3000 a month in sheet music sales, and offers many tablatures that do not have equivalent sheet music published, so Mxtabs and similar sites are the only place that musicians can find a way to play these songs (other than figuring the songs out for themselves). The letter concludes by pointing out that tablatures have never been proven to be illegal, then requesting that sheet-music companies contact Mxtabs in order to create a system of tablature licensing.
On February 29, 2008, relaunched as the first legitimately licensed site designed to provide musicians with access to free tablatures, while also compensating music publishers and songwriters for their intellectual property. Similar to other user generated content sites, users are encouraged to create, edit, rate, and review their own tablature interpretations of their favourite songs. However, unlike other user-generated content sites, only songs that have received explicit permission from participating copyright owners will be made available on-line.

[edit] Guitar Tab Universe

On 17 July 2006, Guitar Tab Universe (GTU) posted a letter on its home page that its ISP had been jointly threatened with legal action by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the MPA "on the basis that sharing tablature constitutes copyright infringement".[11]
In response, GTU's site owner(s) immediately created a Web site named Music Student and Teacher Organization (MuSATO) to attempt to reposition themselves from an illegal-copyrighted-materials provider to an "education provider". MuSATO's main objective is to use fair use as their rationale to publish tablature free of charge. By claiming to be an educational provider, they do not have to obtain publication rights nor pay royalties to the original composers. MuSATO claims to be educational by classifying users downloading tablatures as "music students" and transcribers as "music teachers".
Furthermore, MuSATO also argues that Internet guitar tablature does not infringe upon publishers' copyrights because the tablatures it provides does not contain rhythmic information and therefore is not an entirely accurate representation of the song. However, it did not note that some lyrics provided are copyrighted. It has since removed lyrics from all tablature in an attempt to appease the NMPA.[citation needed] Tablature is not directly provided to users unless it is through the forum, where members link to other Web sites hosting tablature. has been contacted by the NMPA and MPA with similar copyright infringement allegations. The NMPA and MPA have also threatened Guitar Tab Universe with similar legal action. A copy of the certified letter received by the site owner, along with a brief note similar to the one posted on Mxtabs, has been posted on their Web site.[12]

[edit] is another tablature site that has been removed after receiving letter from lawyers representing the NMPA and the MPA.[citation needed]

[edit] See also


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
A painting depicting a girl with a lyre-guitar] 
with a lyre-guitar.
A postcard showing a girl playing a lyre-guitar. The classical theme is typical of the period.
A painting depicting a woman with a 
A lyre-guitar depicted here in a painting by Francisco de Goya. Its popularity at the time was encouraged by the revival of classicism.
A musical instrument of the chordophone family, the lyre-guitar was a type of guitar shaped like a lyre. Invented in 1780 by Pierre Charles Mareschal[1], a prominent French luthier, it had six single courses and was tuned like the modern classical guitar, with a fretboard located between two curved arms recalling the shape of the ancient Greek lyre. The lyre-guitar nearly always had a built-in pedestal allowing it to stand upright when not in use.
The lyre-guitar enjoyed a great popularity as a salon instrument especially in Paris between the years 1780 and 1820. It became very much in vogue and pervaded the highest levels of society, Marie Antoinette played one[2] and the great guitarists of the day such as Ferdinando Carulli, Fernando Sor, Matteo Carcassi, Mauro Giuliani and Pierre Jean Porro wrote music and methods for it.
Its decline coincided with the waning of the popularity of the guitar as a salon instrument, increasingly supplanted by the piano which benefitted from ongoing improvements to its keyboard action. The lyre-guitar nevertheless persisted, not so much as a musical instrument, but more commonly as a symbol of classicist ideals appearing in numerous allegorical paintings, and later on, photographs as a prop for evoking ancient Greek and Roman themes.
"The idea was to create an instrument which looked pretty and provided a visual accessory to help ladies of fashion to assume the gracious pose of Greek “kithara” players. This visual likeness became a potent ingredient of the culture of the upper classes.",[3]
A painting depicting Beethoven with a 
Beethoven is depicted here with a lyre-guitar (W.J. Mahler 1804). The lyre-guitar became a popular prop for paintings with a musical or classical theme
Although the lyre-guitar is presently rarely heard or recorded it is not quite extinct. A body of nearly forgotten repertoire exists often by highly notable guitarists of the golden age of the guitar. Today lyre-guitars can be made to order by luthiers and authentic examples exist in museums and private collections. See External Links below for examples of modern recordings, museum artifacts and other resources.

Octave twelve

An octave twelve is a type of 12-string guitar fitted with a short-scale neck and a small solid body. It is tuned one octave higher than a standard guitar, giving it the tonal range of a mandolin, and enabling a guitarist to achieve a mandolin sound without learning mandolin fingering. The effect is similar to that of capoing a standard 12-string guitar at its twelfth fret. However, unlike a standard 12-string guitar, the courses of strings tuned in unison, rather than in octaves.
The octave twelve was invented by engineers at Vox, which sold the octave twelve as the "Mando-guitar" from 1964 to 1968. Notable users of the Mando-guitar include Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, and George Harrison of The Beatles, who used it prominently on the song "Words of Love." Most modern octave twelves are modeled after the distinctive body shape of the Vox Mando-guitar.

For more information go to

No hay comentarios:


Music is my life