- Steel-string acoustic guitar
name=Steel-string acoustic guitar
*Guitar family (
Classical guitar, Electric guitar, Flamenco guitar, Bass guitar)
A steel-string acoustic guitar, is a modern form of
guitardescended from the classical guitar, but strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound. Strictly speaking, the terms "steel-stringed guitar", "classical guitar", and "folk guitar" all refer to acoustic (that is, non-electric) guitars, though some of these terms refer to different types of instruments (nylon-strung vs. steel-strung). The term "acoustic guitar" is a retronym, since before the invention of the electric instrument, all guitars were "acoustic."
The standard tuning for an acoustic guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E (low to high), although many players, particularly fingerpickers, use alternate tunings (
scordatura), such as "open G" (D-G-D-G-B-D), " open D tuning" (D-A-D-Fmusic|sharp-A-D), or "drop D" (D-A-D-G-B-E). A common mnemonic for standard tuning is "Eddie ate dynamite; good-bye Eddie",or "Every animal deserves good breakfast everyday", which aids beginners in remembering the string tuning sequence from low to high.
One variation on the standard acoustic guitar is the
12-string guitar, which sports an additional doubling string for each of the traditional six strings. This guitar was made famous by artists such as Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, and Leo Kottke.
There are many different variations on the construction of, and materials used in, steel-string guitars. More expensive guitars feature solid
tonewoodtops (sometimes spruce), sides and backs (often rosewood, maple, or mahogany). Lower-priced guitars typically combine solid tops with laminated (layers of wood) backs and sides. Entry-level guitars are usually made entirely of laminated wood. Necks are generally made of mahogany (either Philippineor Honduran) and fretboards are usually made of dense, tropical hardwoods such as rosewoodor ebony. The various combinations of the different woods and their quality, along with design and construction elements(for example, how the top is braced), are among the factors affecting the timbreor "tone" of the guitar. Many players and builders feel a well-made guitar's tone improves over time.
Different body shapes acoustic guitars are commonly constructed in include the Dreadnought body style, an example of which would be the Martin HD-28, this is one of the most common styles, The Jumbo body style, an example of which would be the
Gibson J-200, and the Grand Auditorium style, an example of which would be the Taylor GuitarsGA7.
Typically, a steel-string acoustic guitar is built with a larger soundbox than a standard classical guitar. Because such instruments must withstand higher string tension than nylon-strung guitars, heavier construction is required overall. Steel-string guitars use different bracing systems from classical guitars, typically using X-bracing instead of the fan bracing used on classical and flamenco guitars. (Another simpler system, called ladder bracing, where the braces are all placed across the width of the instrument, is used on all types of flat-top guitars on the back.) Innovations in bracing design have emerged, most notably the A-brace developed by British luthier Roger Bucknall of Fylde Guitars.
Due to decreasing availability and rising prices of the premium-quality
tonewoods, many manufacturers have begun experimenting with alternate species of woods or more commonly available variations on the standard species. For example, some makers have begun producing models with redcedaror mahogany tops. Some have also begun using non-wood materials, such as plasticor graphite. Most luthiers and experienced players agree that a good solid (as opposed to laminated) top is the most important factor in the tone of the guitar and that solid backs and sides can also contribute to a pleasant sound, although laminated sides and backs are acceptable alternatives. Some jazzplayers prefer laminated backs and sides.fact|date=February 2008
Guitarfor more details on the construction of acoustic guitars."
Another style of acoustic guitar is the
archtop guitar. This incorporates a top, either carved out of solid wood or heat-pressed using laminations, that is arched like instruments in the violinfamily, usually with f-holes rather than a round sound hole. These guitars are most commonly used by swing and jazz players and often incorporate electronics in the form of a pickup. However, many other kinds of acoustic guitars may incorporate these kinds of electronics as well.
There are several prominent American makers of steel-string acoustic guitars. Martin, Guild, Taylor, and Gibson are known for both the quality and price of their instruments. The
Selmer-Maccaferri guitaris an unusual-looking instrument, distinguished by its "D"-shaped or longitudinal oval soundhole. It is usually played by those who follow the style of Django Reinhardt. In Europe, several steel string acoustic guitar makers have gained a worldwide reputation, although their production output is small relative to US and Asian makers. Among the leading European brands are Avalon ( Northern Ireland), Brook (UK) and Lakewood ( Germany).
teel-string guitar music and players
Until the 1960s, the predominant forms of music played on the flattop, steel-string guitar remained relatively stable and included acoustic
blues, country, bluegrass, folk, and several genres of rock. The concept of playing solo steel-string guitar in a concert setting was introduced by such performers as Davey Grahamand John Fahey in the early 1960s, who used country blues fingerpickingtechniques to compose original compositions with structures somewhat like European classical music. Fahey contemporary Robbie Bashoadded elements of Indian classical musicand Leo Kottkeused a Faheyesque approach to make the first solo steel string guitar "hit" record. Afterwards came Windham Hill Recordswhich brought in elements of Celtic musicto join the mix in this now-thriving genre. Today, scores of artists are steel-string soloists, including Al Petteway, Alex de Grassi, Duck Baker, Kaki King, Steffen Basho-Junghans, and Pierre Bensusan. Steel-string guitars are also important in the world of flatpicking, as utilized by such artists as Clarence White, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, Doc Watson, and David Grier. Luthiers have been experimenting with redesigning the acoustic guitar for these players. These flattop, steel-string guitars are constructed and voiced more for classical-like fingerpickingand less for chordal accompaniment (strumming). Luthiers such as Ervin Somogyi, Eric Schoenberg, Kevin Ryan and Stefan Sobell have increasingly focused their attention on the needs of fingerstylists and have developed unique guitars for this style of playing.
Many other luthiers attempt to recreate the guitars of the "Golden Era" of C.F. Martin & Co. Bill Collings, Marty Lanham,
Dana Bourgeois, Randy Lucas, Lynn Dudenbostel, and Wayne Henderson are but a few of the luthiers building guitars inspired by vintage Martins, the pre-World War II models in particular. As prices for vintage Martins continue to rise exponentially, upscale guitar enthusiasts have demanded faithful recreations and luthiers are working to fill that demand.
Since its creation, steel string acoustic guitars have evolved as well. Since they use steel strings, guitar manufacturers have built acoustic/electric guitars with magnetic pickups, allowing the sound to be converted into an electrical signal for direct amplification and recording from the instrument. Players can also add distortion or other effects to the electronic signal.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.