The Physics of a Guitar Essay

The Physics of a Guitar Essay.

The guitar is the most played instrument in the music world. The oldest surviving guitar is thought to be made around 1776 in Italy by Gaetano Vinaccia. Though, the guitar looks like a simple instrument to construct or play there is a lot of physics behind the creation of it, from the strings to the air inside, the anatomy, and the sound spectrum. There are three types of guitars that are made: nylon acoustic, steel-string, and electric. Acoustic guitars produce sound due to a complicated interaction called coupling.

Coupling refers to the interaction between two or more vibrating elements.

It depends on geometry, sound frequency, and the materials that are used to make it. There are 3 parts to how a guitar works: the strings, body, and the air inside. The pitch of the string vibrating depends in four things. If the strings are the vibration will be slower. The frequency can be changes by string tension by turning the pegs on the guitar.

Also, the frequency depends on how long the string that is free to vibrate and finally the mode of vibration. The body of the guitar is to transmit the vibration of the bridge into the vibration of the air. It needs a relatively large surface area for the vibration of both the bridge and air.

The body of the guitar is usually made of spruce wood or a light springy wood and it’s about 2. 5 mm thickness. The top plate is made so that it can vibrate up and down easily enough. Now, the inside of the plate has a series of bridges that strengthen the plate. Those braces will also affect the way in which the top plate vibrates. The air inside of the body of the guitar is important, especially for the lower rang on the instrument. That air is also coupled effectively to the lowest resonance of the top plate. There is something called the Helmholtz resonance, which is due to the air at the sound hole oscillating.

That is driven by the springiness of the air inside of the body. Air is springy, if it’s compressed the pressure increases which can vibrate like a mass on a spring. A guitar’s sound board is the most important element in sound production and displays resonant modes, similar to strings/pipes. Though there are two differences between a guitar & strings/pipes. First, the sound board can be considered 2 dimensional in a guitar, while the other would be 1 dimensional. Second, the frequency of the resonant modes generally does not follow a simple harmonic progression.

To observe the resonance modes of the soundboard there are various ways. Optically: holographic, interferometry, and laser velocimetry which has a laser beam that is reflected off various points on the soundboard. Acoustically, that had an array of microphone or a single microphone while scanning the area that detects various peaks in sound intensity while the guitar is excited. Electronically, it examines the capacitance between a charged plate on the vibrating soundboard and another charged plate held steady. Lastly mechanically, an accelerometer/ velocity transducer with which the mechanically vibrations are measured directly.

Most of the sounds are made of a complicated mixture of vibrations. The sound spectrum is a representation of a sound in the terms of an amount of vibration at each of the individual frequency. It’s presented as a graph of either power or pressure that is a function of frequency. The sound spectra are usually measured using a couple different things. They use a microphone that measures the sound pressure over a certain interval, analogue that is a digital converter which converts this to a series of numbers as a function of time, and a computer which performs a calculation upon those numbers.

The Physics of a Guitar Essay

Electric Guitar vs. Acoustic Guitar Essay

Electric Guitar vs. Acoustic Guitar Essay.

Acoustic guitar is type of guitar that uses acoustic method in projecting its sound. This kind of guitar is hollow and has a sound hole on its surface and mostly they have six strings. They were most common in folk dances and mellow songs but their usage has of late extended to blues and country music. Acoustic guitars are different from electric guitars in that the latter has more whistles and bells than the former.

In electric guitar, an amplifier is needed to project its sound whereas in acoustic guitars, only a sound hole is needed in other words; electric guitar requires electric power to play while acoustic guitar only requires a sound hole.

How do the two types of guitars compare and differ? This is what this research paper will mainly focus on. Electric guitars according to Waring (2001; 112) were originally used in playing rock music but the first one to be used was in 1930 by a jazz guitarist.

Unlike in other products where it is clear who invented them, in musical instruments is a bit different because it is not known who invented many of them but there are those who claim to be the one like Gibson who claims to have invented an electric guitar.

Most acoustic guitars have six strings but an electric one could have even twelve strings. Unlike in an electric guitar where pickups that are connected to an amplifier are used to project the sound, it is different when it comes to acoustic guitar as where it the sound hole that is used to project the sound.

Contrary to the electric guitar, (Roth Arlen, 2002; 78) acoustic guitar is more complex both in its look and in playing but once you get used, it becomes an easy and enjoyable thing. An electric guitar requires pickups to convert vibrations that are made by the chords into an electric current. One of the advantages of using this type of guitar is that the musical signals that are produced when one plays it could be altered electronically with some guitar effects such as distortion and reverb to suit your needs unlike in acoustic guitar where you have no choice apart from enjoying the preset sound which cannot be altered electronically.

(Roth Arlen, 2002; 90) Whenever one intends to buy a guitar, there are various factors that one should consider but the most important of these factors is whether you would be comfortable with the kind of guitar you are intending to buy and the kind of music you want to play. The two types of guitars are used for playing music and are played with hands however they differ in various ways. An electric guitar is much easier to play than acoustic and this is due to the way it is designed.

Electric guitar has strings that are near the frets thereby making it easier to push the strings down without straining while in acoustic guitar, you have to push the wires harder to the sound hole so that the produced sound would be amplified by the resonator. In electric guitar there are pickups and an amplifier whose work is to improve the quality of sound. (Millard A. J. 2002) When it comes to comparing the size of the two guitars according to String Letter Publishing, (2000, 52) definitely one finds that an electric guitar is smaller than acoustic guitar.

This is because the latter requires heavier gauge strings that are used in causing vibrations from its wooden top whereas an electric guitar has thinner wires and does not require a wide top to cause vibrations as there are pickups that take the sound to the amplifier. The neck of an electric guitar is also thinner than that of the acoustic and for this reason, it is much easier to play an electric guitar because its design allows one to wrap hands around it and allows one to position fingers in a way that facilitates playing.

Again when it comes to playing, one finds that an electric guitar is much easier toplay that the other one. This is because the thin wires of an electric guitar do not need to be pushed down harder than in acoustic guitar obviously novices who play acoustic guitar find themselves getting sores on their fingers unlike in electric ones. An electric guitar could be played in different postures because you can hold it in many ways provided you are comfortable but in acoustic you have no choices because the guitar is big, heavy and its edgy body makes it uncomfortable to play.

When it comes to the price of buying these guitars, their price greatly differ in that an electric guitar costs twice the amount that acoustic guitar costs. The big difference in price is because an electric guitar requires other gadgets such as pickups, buttons and an amplifier that needs an extra amount of money but an acoustic guitar does not need them. Thus, if you don’t have a lot of money and you still want to play some music on your guitar then acoustic guitar is the best. (Arlen R.

, 2002, 98) Apart form the price, there are those who find electronic guitar to be confusing than acoustic guitar. They say that in the former you have to master how to play its many buttons and knobs but the good thing about it is that you cannot get sores on your fingers. According to Cross (2008), the two guitars play different roles in music because an electric guitar is mostly used to play chords and guitar leads while acoustic guitar is used in strumming musical chords to many songs.

When people are deciding what kind of a guitar they should buy, they should not be guided by the shape of the guitar but by the type of music that one intends to play for example, if you want to play rock music then the best choice is an electric guitar but if you want to strum your favorite song you can go for the acoustic guitar. (Millard A. J. 2004, 34-38) Both the guitars are portable but one is more reliable than the other. If you want to go camping then acoustic guitar is the guitar you need.

This is because an electric guitar requires electric power to play it but the other one don’t. You can only carry your electric guitar if an only if you are sure where you are going there is electric power because its amplifier cannot work if there is no power. Another area where the two differ as per Roth Arlen (2002) is when it comes to the quality of the sound produced. Electric guitar produces better sound than acoustic. This is because electric guitars have adjustable pedals, loop stations and buttons that improve the quality of the sound produced.

Another good thing about this guitar is that you can keep up with the times without buying a new guitar because its gadgets can be replaced with more sophisticated ones. (String Letter Publishing, 2000, 59) Acoustic just like eclectic guitars come in different designs for example there are steel strings, classical guitar which has nylon strings and the lap steel guitar and in electric ones we have acoustic electric that is modified with pickups instead of using an extra microphone, hollow bodied, solid bodied and another one with a metal body.

The two guitars have more differences than what they have in common. We have seen that an electric guitar is better than the other one but one should not be misled by the looks of the guitar in fact it is the type of music you want to play and the reason for playing it should be the guide on the kind of guitar you need for example, if you want to entertain many people then an electric guitar is the best. An electric guitar is smaller than acoustic guitar but the latter is more portable than an electric guitar because it does not need any electrical power.

Works Cited.

Cross Dan. Electric vs. Acoustic Guitar. 2008. Accessed online at http://guitar. about. com/od/commonbeginnerquestions/a/rec_guitars. htm Millard A. J. The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon. JHU Press. 2004. Roth Arlen. Complete Acoustic Guitar: Complete Acoustic Guitar. Music Sales Group. 2002 String Letter Publishing. Acoustic Guitar Owner’s Manual: The Complete Guide. Hal Leonard. 2000 Waring D. and Thomas D. R. Make Your Own Electric Guitar and Bass. Sterling Publishing Company. 2001

Electric Guitar vs. Acoustic Guitar Essay