‘Still my guitar gently weeps’ – if you have been as touched by this haunting Beatles number as countless others have been but are clueless about guitars per se; well, here is a quick run-through.
Guitars basically fall into two categories; acoustic and electrical. Acoustic guitars are the most traditional and the most commonly used guitars. Made of thin wood, these guitars are hollow and large and do not use any external amplification. Because these are hollow, when attached to any electronic devices, the acoustic signals in them get transferred to an amplifier. They are suitable for any type of music but suit the genre of country or folk music best. Acoustic guitars again come in different categories and each has its own characteristics. They are the classical, twelve-string, steel, bass and resonator guitars.
Classical guitars have strings made of nylon and they have wider necks in comparison to other guitars. These guitars are mostly used for classical music and ballads and the sounds emanating from them are warm and gentle. A classical guitar is excellent for playing the Flamenco as the full-bodied sounds emerging from the guitar complements that particular style of music very well. This guitar is also great for chord-plucking, running arpeggios and nail-strumming. Since these guitars have wide necks with short fingers, playing them can be quite challenging.
The twelve-string guitar is made up of twelve strings as opposed to the more common six strings which make up the majority of the guitars. The strings are so paired that each pair has the same note but with one of the string tuned at a higher octave. A semi-chorus type of effect is achieved with his arrangement of the strings.
The steel guitars are played in a horizontal manner by either keeping them on their stands or placing them across the knees of the player. The two main types of the steel guitars are the lap steel guitars and the pedal steel guitars.
Bass guitars may have strings ranging from four to six with the four string guitar being most commonly used. The strings of a bass guitar are long and thick and tuning the guitar can be quite a difficult job. This guitar brings out the bass of the rhythm and electric bass guitars are beginning to be more popular.
Resonator guitars were basically invented to increase the volume of the music of the traditional acoustic guitar. These guitars are made of metal, unlike the usual wood and are most popularly used in country music, bluegrass and the blues. They are also known as resophonic guitars.
Electric guitars are different from the acoustic ones in that require amplification for the music to be heard properly. Unlike the classical guitars, they have longer necks and solid or semi-hollow bodies. They have to be connected to amplifiers to increase the vibrations which are generated by playing upon these guitars. The strings of electric guitars are fine-tuned with the help of control knobs and these also produce a variety of tunes. Electric guitars are much easier to play as less force is required to press its strings and tuning is also comparatively simpler. These guitars are used to generate heart-thumping music and thus are ideally suited for rock, hip-hop, funk and rap music.
Archtop guitars are hollow or semi-solid and use thick steel strings and can be either electric or acoustic. Jazz music is prominently played on these guitars and they are characterized by their arch-like shape at the top.
So, all you wannabe Elvis Presleys or Beatles fans can now take their pick from these guitars and strum to their hearts’ content!
Roberto Sedycias works as IT consultant for Polomercantil