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Kris with Strat
Kris with Strat

The guitar is the basis for GuitarMasterClass GuitarWiki.


An Introduction To Guitars

The guitar is a generally a six stringed instrument and is used in a variety of musical styles and areas. However, guitars are not limited to 6 strings and may have 4, 7, 8, 10 or even 12. As an instrument the guitar sees common use in Pop, Jazz, Metal, Blues, Indie and Rock music genres whilst maintaining a small influence in Classical circles.

Guitars vary drastically in style - coming in many different types of wood, shape and sizes. For example popular forms of wood used in guitars are Mahogany, Alder, Maple, Ash, Basswood and Agathis.

Guitars are both acoustic and electric meaning that some may be amplified by their hollow body and others by a sound created from magnetic pickups through a designated amplifier.

Electric Guitar

One form of guitar is the electric, as aforementioned, these use magnetic pickups to produce sound which is then amplified by an amplifier.

Body Woods

Electric guitars are generally made with Mahogany (Gibson Les Paul, Parker Fly), Alder (Fender Stratocaster) or Basswood (Ibanez Jem), although many cheaper electric guitars are made with Agathis.

Each wood has a different tonal quality, Mahogany produces a large wall of sound with a great amount of sustain whilst Alder creates a sound with strong mids and highs, with less bass. Basswood is similar to Alder but produces less sound in the high frequency, it is said to be the least inhibiting wood on an electric guitars tone as it leaves more of the sound up to the pickup in use on the guitar. Agathis on lower end guitars is heavily criticised by some players for lacking in tonal quality overall.

Neck Woods

There are several different types of guitar necks - many differ in shape and physical construction with most guitars either having 'C' or 'V' styled necks. Differences in neck size and construction have effect on the responsiveness of the sound as well as the overall comfort of the guitar player.

Guitar necks are generally made out of maple due to its stability and improved resistance to natural changes eg temperature. Mahogany also sees common use due to the hightened response it produces on the overall sound of the guitar compared to maple.

Most guitar necks have a Rosewood fretboard as due to the woods physical strengh it does not mark easily. Rosewood fretboards also have a natural oil that copes well with lots of contact from the hands.

Different guitar companies generally have a certain type of neck as their signature - Schecters are renound for having wide, chunky necks whilst Ibanez are known for their thinner, more delicate necks.

Passive Pickups

Traditionally pickups come in two types - humbucker (double coil) and single coil. The humbucker pickup produces a deeper, heavier sound whilst the single coil gives a twangy, sharper tone.

The humbucker was initially introduced to do away with the problems of single coil guitars, some of which were susceptible to interference from electrical fields and produced greater amounts of high pitched feedback. The term humbucker came into use because the double coiled pickups were said to "Buck the hum" or to get rid of it.

The pickups sound comes from copper wire wrapped round a electromagnet, this changes the vibrations of the strings into electrical energy which can then be channelled to an amplifier. Many pickup manufacturers today vary the amount of wiring used in passive pickups to produce different tones, pickups which are overwound are said to produce a "hot" or "fat" sound whereas underwound pickups will give a lighter, sharp twang.

Active Pickups

Recently pickup manufacturers have experimented with different types of pickup - the most common of which has been the Active Pickup:- these pickups are battery powered to pick up a greater range of sound than would a passive pickup and also included advanced features such as electric pre-amping and EQ shaping.

The most notable company for producing such pickups is generally considered to be EMG who produce the 81 and 85 active pickups that have become heavily popular with players of the heavy metal genre such as Kerry King of Slayer and famous guitar virtuoso Michael Angelo Batio. Many guitar players are of the opinion that this type of pickup is solely for use in Metal on the whole but this stance is debatable.

Acoustic and Classical Guitars

Information Here.

Bass Guitar

Information Here.

See also

Guitar Wood Information - Bodies, Finishes and Necks - here.