What is guitar tone


This man plays a classical guitar. He has his left hand on the fingerboard in order to change the pitches with various grips. He plucks the strings with his right hand.

The guitar is a musical instrument. Guitars consist firstly of a hollow body made of wood, the so-called body, secondly the neck with the fingerboard and thirdly the head with the vertebrae. The strings are stretched from the head to the bridge on the body. When you pluck a string, it begins to vibrate and produces a sound in the process. This tone reaches the hollow body via the bridge, which amplifies the tone.

Most guitars have six strings. They are of different thicknesses. The thickest sounds the deepest. The thinner the strings and the tighter they are, the higher they sound. But there is a third way to change the pitch:

The fingerboard is on the neck. There are frets on it. These are slight increases. In between are the so-called frets. If you press a string with your finger in a certain fret, you change the pitch: the closer to the body you push the string into the fret, the shorter the string becomes and the higher the tone sounds. It's the same as with the string instruments, only that there are no frets.

At the top of the fingerboard is the head with the tuning pegs. These are used to tension the strings so that they emit the right tone. This is called tuning the strings. The wood and the strings warp with the warmth or humidity of the air.

What kind of guitars are there?

The individual parts of a guitar are marked here.

The classical type of guitar is called a concert guitar. These have the classic hollow wooden body in the shape of a figure eight. The strings of a concert guitar are made of nylon, i.e. najlon. It's a certain type of plastic. This nylon is softer than metal strings and is easy to pluck with your fingers. Concert guitars are the oldest and most widely used type of guitar.

Another type is called a western guitar. A western guitar also has a hollow wooden body. However, the fingerboard is a little narrower than that of classical guitars. Western guitars also have steel strings. They are harder than nylon strings and also sound louder and harder. Because of their hardness, they are often plucked with a small, pointed plate called a plectrum. It also takes more strength to press them into the frets with your fingers.

The third type are the electric guitars, also called electric guitars. The body of electric guitars is not hollow, but solid. It can also be made of a different material and has a different shape. If you pluck the steel sides, the vibrations are picked up by a pickup, which converts them into electricity. The electrical signals are then amplified in an amplifier and sound from a large loudspeaker.

These electrical tones can be distorted and made quieter and louder. With electric guitars, many different sounding tones can be created. This is why they are often used in the music genres rock, punk and heavy metal.

How was the guitar invented?

This double neck guitar sometimes has six strings, sometimes twelve. You take turns playing that. The six strings are suitable for plucking. That doesn't work on the twelve strings, but it sounds so full.

Musical instruments with strings that you pluck have been around for many thousands of years. Early advanced civilizations such as the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians had similar instruments with wooden bodies and strings. The ancient Greeks knew a plucked instrument they called the kithara. The name guitar comes from this Greek word, although the kithara had no body and is therefore not a direct pre-form of the guitar.

Around the year 700 the Moors immigrated to Spain, a people from Arabia. They brought a plucked instrument called the oud. An oud has a body made of wood that is round at the back and resembles the lute that was already known in Europe in the Middle Ages. The Spaniards turned it into an instrument called a vihuela, which had a flat body. The guitar ultimately developed from the vihuela.

In the Middle Ages and modern times, guitars were mostly used for church music or classical music. It wasn't until the 19th century that people in the US started playing blues or country music with it. The western guitar was created during this time. It's so called because cowboys and settlers who roamed the American West used it to make music around their campfires. With the advent of rock and roll and beat music between 1950 and 1970, the electric guitar was invented and soon became the most important instrument in rock music.

  • A brightly painted electric guitar

  • A semi-resonant guitar, so classic and electric at the same time

  • This bass guitar has five strings, but most of the time there are only four.

  • A scale played on a classical guitar with nylon strings

  • Here you can clearly hear the steel strings.