Guitar Varieties

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There are many varieties of guitars. Some kinds of varieties intersect and can create numerous varieties. Some brands specialize in different and various types of guitars.It is often important to find which guitar can suit the player's needs and tastes.preferences. This guide will help differentiate and show the differences between guitars.

Acoustic and Electric guitars

There are two primary categories: acoustic and electric. The electric is generally easier for the student to play, but it is far more important to find a guitar the student likes. Somebody wishing to learn classical guitar (a specific kind of acoustic guitar) will probably be unhappy with an electric guitar. If one wishes to play both, there are hybrid guitars: acoustic guitars with electric pickups, acoustic guitars outfitted with a jack for an amplifier, resonator guitars, and hollow body electric guitars. However, acoustic guitars with internal equipment are not useful for electric-style playing; that is, they are usually played in the manner of an acoustic guitar.

Acoustic guitars

The acoustic guitar

Acoustic Guitars are used in a variety of genres. Because of the long history of the acoustic guitar, there are many different kinds; some other musical instruments such as the mandolin and ukulele are other stringed instruments that may loosely be considered guitars. The body of the guitar is large and hollow, allowing the sounds to resonate and providing a natural means of amplification. The sound of the acoustic guitar is characterized partly by a weak sustain, meaning notes will "fade out" after being struck. However, some master-built classical guitars (sometimes referred to as concert guitars) feature very good sustain and excellent overall performance. You may have heard of 'electro-acoustic' guitars, this basically means that the guitar has been outfitted with a jack for amplification. For electric-acoustic guitars, a preamplifier is essential for quality playing with an amplifier.

Classical guitars

The classical guitar (or Spanish guitar) is an acoustic instrument and has its own genres, such as flamenco. It can be easily distinguished from other acoustic guitars because it is equipped with nylon strings that instead of the metal ones found on other guitars, have no inlays, and the tuning keys are set parallel to the neck as opposed to perpendicular. Relatively few classical pieces were written specifically for it; instead, many such pieces that were originally written for other instruments, such as the lute, were later adapted to the guitar. Most of the Latin and many world music artists use this particular kind of guitar exclusively (flamenco, gypsy, Latin jazz, etc.). It is more difficult to play than an electric guitar, but less painful to fret than a a steel-string. This makes it the ideal guitar for beignners, provided that they understand its limited applicability to American popular music.

Terz Guitars

The terz guitar is a small size (classical) guitar, which is tuned a minor third higher than a normal guitar (top string in g'). The higher tuning of the gut or nylon strings gives it a bright tone.

Acoustic ("Country") guitars

When we refer to Acoustic guitars, we usually think of country guitars (sometimes also called "jazz guitars"). They are usually bigger than classical guitars, and feature a somewhat thinner neck and metal strings. They have distinctive warm (although sometimes metallic) sound and are widely used for playing rhythm in a wide range of popular music genres, especially in country and some forms of rock.

Electric guitars

The electric guitar is the workhorse of rock, but has its uses in other genres such as jazz. The electric guitar makes use of magnetic pick-ups to translate the movement of the string int electric signals which are fed through a speaker, in this case that of an amplifier, to turn the electric signals into sound. While an acoustic guitar can be played right off the rack, an electric guitar requires amplification to give off any significant levels of sound. It is still possible to actually play an electric guitar without amplification, but it will be much quieter than an acoustic guitar, and electric guitars are never played this way in performances. The sound of an amplified electric guitar is very different from that of an acoustic guitar, even when no effects or distortion are used. Like the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar has a poor sustain; however, amplification and especially overdrive will increase the apparent sustain, and feedback can allow a note to be sustained indefinitely, even for several minutes. Many distinct effects exist for the guitar which can create a virtually unlimited set of sounds, including enhancement such as overdrive and sustain.

Many, but by no means all, people who play the electric guitar wish to use the distortion and other effects. This is covered in more detail in Anatomy of a Guitar.

Treble and Bass guitars

Another variety to consider is Bass and Treble guitars, and other types that exist, though are rare.

Treble Guitar

"Treble guitar" is a term that can be applied to the traditional 6-string guitar. Including the acoustic and electric varieties, it is one of the most widely recognized and iconic instruments and possibly one of the most played. It has most of the guitar varieites under it's belt, making it one of the most adapted and customized instruments.

Tenor Guitars

A tenor guitar is a fretted four stringed instrument, most commonly shaped like a guitar, sometimes smaller than a normal guitar, which usually has a scale length of 23 inches and which is tuned in "fifths" to CGDA. It has been around for 100 years or more, built by some of the most famous companies and played by several well-known musicians in a wide variety of musical styles.

Baritone Guitars

The baritone guitar is a variation on the standard guitar, but it can be tuned to a lower range thean the guitar. It can be used as a bass if properly tuned, though it will usually be played in its own unique tuning. It has a scale length that allows it to be tuned to a lower range. They are usually played in an open tuning.

Bass Guitar

The Bass guitar, or simply the Bass, is another musical instrument similar to the guitar, but designed for the very low Bass range of music. Bass guitars can be very easily told apart from others by the four strings that most basses are suited with, though a more subtle feature is an elongated neck. The sound of the Bass is very low and is often used in the background noise of many songs as a backing for the guitar, rhythm and atmosphere sound. The Bass is often an electric instrument, though it does come in an acoustic model, and has 5, 6, and 8 string models as well.

Variations of the Guitar

Both electric and acoustic guitars can be subdivided further into other varieties. Most of the variations are common only in acoustic guitars, but they can just as easily be applied to electric guitars.

Twelve string guitars

The twelve string guitar is usually an acoustic instrument, but electric twelve string guitars do exist. They are played the same as a six string guitar, as the strings are grouped in pairs, or "sets"; but playing them is more difficult than a six string guitar because the additional string requires more pressure to depress. They produce a fuller, ringing tone with a natural chorus sound due to two strings being tuned apart. They will often require some effort to tune as the strings in a set will be tuned differently. Because the they are a bit harder to play than the standard guitar, they are usually confined to niche roles, and are usually used strictly for rhythm.

Resonator, Steel, and Lap Guitars

The uncommon Resonator guitar, sometimes called the steel guitar, is similar to the acoustic, but has distinct metallic inner workings inside of the body. This gives it the distinct look and "steel" sound, but it can be fitted with pick-ups for playing it as an electric guitar. Resonator guitars are sometimes used in Hawaiian, blues, folk, and country music, often as slide guitars. While there is some mixing of terminology, the term "steel guitar" is a method for playing guitar horizontally, laying it in the lap, instead of vertically and with a slide called a "steel." Steel guitar uses often utilizes Resonator guitars, but also uses "lap steel guitars." These guitars are incredibly unusual: they are a pair of tails with out the body of the guitar, attached to a table. They are played in a position that is similar to a keyboard, but are played normally otherwise.

Acoustic-Electric and Semi-Acoustic Guitars

The acoustic-electric guitar can refer to an acoustic guitar built to have amplifier support, and the semi-acoustic guitar will specifically refer to an electric guitar that has has some hollow areas in the body but is purposely to be played as an electric guitar. Though these two varieties are quite different, by default both terms will refer to the latter, and can be used interchangeably. The semi-acoustic, in the strict sense as described, is also known as the hollow-body electric. The semi-acoustic guitar can be considered a luxury model as many high-end and expensive guitars are semi-acoustic. Though meant as an electric guitar, they can be played with or without an amplifier.

Left-Handed Guitars

A meta-group of guitars is the left-handed guitar. A left-handed guitar can have a loose definition, as it can strictly mean that the guitar is held with the fretboard in the right hand and picking done with the left hand. This can mean that a normal guitar can be played upside down or strung in the opposite order and flipped to play as a left-handed guitar, but some guitars are manufactured to be left-handed specifically. In these cases, the defining trait of a left-handed guitar is reversed strings and cutouts (on some models), so that a left-handed guitar looks like a mirror image of a right-handed guitar, so that it will be in the exact style or shape that it's counterpart can be found in (see: Left-Handed Guitars).

Archtop Guitars

Archtop guitars have tops and backs that are hand carved and arched. They can be either acoustic or electric and usually have steel strings. Archtops are also called Jazz guitars, though they have been used extensively in both Country and Rock & Roll. An archtop sometimes features 'F-holes' and humbucker pickups. One of the most famous makers of the archtop is Gibson, with the ES series (electric spanish). This series of guitars features the ES 335 DOT model (named after the origional models 'dot' inlays), this model has been used extensivly by artists such as Eric Clapton and Tom delonge. Another of Gibsons modles is the Casino model, ever since the three guitar players of the Beatles purchased themselves one each in the 60's, the guitar has become a massivly popular choice.

7 and 8 String Guitars

7-string and 8-string guitars such as these have a slightly wider body, neck and saddle to accommodate at least one additional string. Typically used by Heavy Metal artists like Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah, and Deftones to achieve very low, chugging riffs. Any extra strings can be kept in standard tuning but areoften drop-tuned or variations thereof, for metal especially. Surprisingly, these have been around for up to 150 years and are quite important to both Brazilian and Russian music. The extra string will usually add to extend the bass range of the instrument, but adding to the high strings is also viable.

Warr Guitars

A Warr guitar is a guitar that can be considered an unusual guitar variety. It is manufactured only by the company of the same name, making it unavailable elsewhere. The guitar has an extra width neck and body to accompany it for the purpose of extra strings. They are built to hold 7 to 15 strings and can be fretted or fretless. The extra strings often will be tune slightly differently for the sake of variety in playing. While the guitar can be played as a normal guitar, albeit with some difficulty, it can be set vertically to be played with specifically with finger tapping.

Fretless Guitars

The Fretless guitar is any guitar with the frets removed or not included in the building process. Without the frets, conditioning of the fretting hand will be needed to accurately hit notes, though lack of frets allow one to slide the hand across the fretboard with ease to produce a sliding note that has a vivid sound. The effect made by this kind guitar is often used most in Blues music and improvisation.

Multineck guitars

Most often in the form of Doubleneck guitars, but having up to as many as five, these guitars have multiple necks that will suit different purposes. The reason for having a large and sometimes cumbersome instrument like this is to be able to play another guitar with a different setup without having to take the time to change instruments. These rare guitars most often come in double neck versions that have one regular guitar setup and a bass or 12-string setup. Though other iterations include fretless guitars, regular guitars for alternate tuning schemes, and many combinations of basic guitar types. The level of customization in these guitars are often some of the most options that a single individual can choose from above other guitars variations.