In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety.
The Best Ibanez In Riverside
High on the list is “Am I too old to learn guitar in Indian Wells ?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let’s see…off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer
.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period and any place in Riverside
If you've had a bit of experience playing or fixing unrestored vintage guitars, then chances are you are aware of the sight of very small cracks appearing all throughout the finish. It is described as finish checking and it is particularly typical on aged guitars that have a lacquer finish, but could possibly appear on new instruments also under the right (or wrong) circumstances.Lacquer is a very "breathable" finish. It has the ability to contract and expand with the wood of the guitar while it moves through a range of temperature and humidity levels. This is an important feature on high quality instruments given that it isn't going to lock the wood of the guitar below the finish as would a polyurethane finish, which won't expand and contract similarly.Nevertheless, the disadvantage is that after some time the lacquer finish can begin to crack or "check" as it is typically described as. If you're in the camp that doesn't want to see this on your guitar, you will be wise to pay attention to this warning when dealing with a lacquer finished instrument which has no current checking.Should your guitar be subjected to cold temperatures, say in the rear of an automobile, for an extended duration (even in the hardshell case), never pull the guitar out and expose it to room temperatures as soon as you get it inside. The guitar will need to have time for it to slowly adapt to the new warm temperatures, so leave it in the case until it has had enough time to do so. Otherwise your lovely laquer finish will likely commence to crack as the wood in the guitar heats up and begins to swell before the lacquer has a chance to adjust.Poorly humidified guitars can also be a factor in finish checking, normally as a result of drying out. So keep the humidity correct at between 45-50% and ease into temperature changes and you should be good.While I undoubtedly would not be happy to see this occur to a brand new $4,000 guitar that I just acquired, on a vintage guitar I look at things just a bit different. I could never think about a finish-checked guitar from the 1950's or 1960's as less than desirable. Nor would I ever think of refinishing one.As I said there are two schools of thought on this subject however the natural finish checking, if you ask me, creates a degree of individuality and history that you simply can't obtain on a fresh, new guitar. Each knick, ding, buckle scrape and finish fracture is a part of the battered history of the instrument. Every musician who picked it up and played it left a tiny bit of himself behind. All those campfire melodies, lounge room singalongs, bar room gigs and late-night jam sessions are all right there, and the finish cracks are a part of that story.I would personally not ever wish to obscure that beneath a glistening finish. We have new guitars for that.
Jump to navigation Jump to search An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, or taps the strings. The pickup used to sense the vibration generally uses electromagnetic induction to do so, though other technologies exist. In any case, the signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is fed to a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound. Since the output of an electric guitar is an electric signal, it can be electronically altered to change the timbre of the sound. Often, the signal is modified using effects such as reverb, and distortion and "overdrive"; the latter effect is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing. Invented in 1931, the amplified electric guitar was adopted by jazz guitar players, who wanted to play single-note guitar solos in large big band ensembles. Early proponents of the electric guitar on record include Les Paul, Lonnie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, T-Bone Walker, and Charlie Christian. During the 1950s and 1960s, the electric guitar became the most important instrument in popular music. It has evolved into an instrument that is capable of a multitude of sounds and styles in genres ranging from pop and rock to country music, blues and jazz. It served as a major component in the development of electric blues, rock and roll, rock music, heavy metal music and many other genres of music. Electric guitar design and construction vary greatly in the shape of the body and the configuration of the neck, bridge, and pickups. Guitars may have a fixed bridge or a spring-loaded hinged bridge, which lets players "bend" the pitch of notes or chords up or down, or perform vibrato effects. The sound of an electric guitar can be modified by new playing techniques such as string bending, tapping, and hammering-on, using audio feedback, or slide guitar playing. There are several types of electric guitar, including: the solid-body guitar; various types of hollow-body guitars; the six-string guitar (the most common type), which is usually tuned E, A, D, G, B, E, from lowest to highest strings; the seven-string guitar, which typically adds a low B string below the low E; and the twelve-string guitar, which has six pairs of strings. In pop and rock music, the electric guitar is often used in two roles: as a rhythm guitar, which plays the chord sequences or progressions, and riffs, and sets the beat (as part of a rhythm section); and as a lead guitar, which provides instrumental melody lines, melodic instrumental fill passages, and solos. In a small group, such as a power trio, one guitarist switches between both roles. In larger rock and metal bands, there is often a rhythm guitarist and a lead guitarist. Many experiments at electrically amplifying the vibrations of a string instrument were made dating back to the early part of the 20th century. Patents from the 1910s show telephone transmitters were adapted and placed inside violins and banjos to amplify the sound. Hobbyists in the 1920s used carbon button microphones attached to the bridge; however, these detected vibration from the bridge on top of the instrument, resulting in a weak signal. With numerous people experimenting with electrical instruments in the 1920s and early 1930s, there are many claimants to have been the first to invent an electric guitar. The "Frying Pan", 1932 Electric guitars were originally designed by acoustic guitar makers and instrument manufacturers. Some of the earliest electric guitars adapted hollow-bodied acoustic instruments and used tungsten pickups. The first electrically amplified guitar was designed in 1931 by George Beauchamp, the general manager of the National Guitar Corporation, with Paul Barth, who was vice president. The maple body prototype for the one-piece cast aluminium "frying pan" was built by Harry Watson, factory superintendent of the National Guitar Corporation. Commercial production began in late summer of 1932 by the Ro-Pat-In Corporation (Electro-Patent-Instrument Company), in Los Angeles, a partnership of Beauchamp, Adolph Rickenbacker (originally Rickenbacher), and Paul Barth. In 1934, the company was renamed the Rickenbacker Electro Stringed Instrument Company. In that year Beauchamp applied for a United States patent for an Electrical Stringed Musical Instrument and the patent was later issued in 1937. Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts, 1935 By early-mid 1935, Electro String Instrument Corporation had achieved mainstream success with the A-22 "Frying Pan" steel guitar, and set out to capture a new audience through its release of the Electro-Spanish Model B and the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts which was the first full 25" scale electric guitar ever produced.  The Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts was revolutionary for its time, providing players a full 25" scale, with 17 frets free of the fretboard.  Unlike other lap-steel electrified instruments produced during the time, the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts was designed to play standing vertical, upright with a strap.  The Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts was additionally, the first instrument to feature a hand operated vibrato, as a standard appointment found on every model.  The vibrato device was called the "Vibrola" and was invented by Doc Kauffman.   It is estimated that fewer than 50 Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts were constructed between 1933 and 1937; fewer than 10 are known to survive today. The demand for amplified guitars began during the big band era; as orchestras increased in size, guitar players soon realized the necessity in guitar amplification & electrification.  The first electric guitars used in jazz were hollow archtop acoustic guitar bodies with electromagnetic transducers. Early electric guitar manufacturers include Rickenbacker in 1932; Dobro in 1933; National, AudioVox and Volu-tone in 1934; Vega, Epiphone (Electrophone and Electar), and Gibson in 1935 and many others by 1936. Fender Stratocaster has one of the most often emulated electric guitar shapes The solid-body electric guitar is made of solid wood, without functionally resonating air spaces. The first solid-body Spanish standard guitar was offered by Vivi-Tone no later than 1934. This model featured a guitar-shaped body of a single sheet of plywood affixed to a wood frame. Another early, substantially solid Spanish electric guitar, called the Electro Spanish, was marketed by the Rickenbacker guitar company in 1935 and made of Bakelite. By 1936, the Slingerland company introduced a wooden solid-body electric model, the Slingerland Songster 401 (and a lap steel counterpart, the Songster 400). Gibson's first production electric guitar, marketed in 1936, was the ES-150 model ("ES" for "Electric Spanish", and "150" reflecting the $150 price of the instrument, along with matching amplifier). The ES-150 guitar featured a single-coil, hexagonally shaped "bar" pickup, which was designed by Walt Fuller. It became known as the "Charlie Christian" pickup (named for the great jazz guitarist who was among the first to perform with the ES-150 guitar). The ES-150 achieved some popularity but suffered from unequal loudness across the six strings. Early proponents of the electric guitar on record include Alvino Rey (Phil Spitalney Orchestra), Les Paul (Fred Waring Orchestra), Danny Stewart (Andy Iona Orchestra), George Barnes (under many aliases), Eddie Durham, Lonnie Johnson, Floyd Smith, Big Bill Broonzy, T-Bone Walker, George Van Eps, Charlie Christian (Benny Goodman Orchestra), Tampa Red, Memphis Minnie, and Arthur Crudup. According to jazz historian James Lincoln Collier, Floyd Smith can be credited as the first person to rig up an amplified guitar. According to Collier, "Floyd's Guitar Blues" may be the first important use of the electric guitar on record.  A functionally solid-body electric guitar was designed and built in 1940 by Les Paul from an Epiphone acoustic archtop. His "log guitar" (so called because it consisted of a simple 4x4 wood post with a neck attached to it and homemade pickups and hardware, with two detachable Epiphone hollow-body halves attached to the sides for appearance only) shares nothing in design or hardware with the solid-body Gibson Les Paul introduced in 1952. However, the feedback associated with hollow-bodied electric guitars was understood long before Paul's "log" was created in 1940; Gage Brewer's Ro-Pat-In of 1932 had a top so heavily reinforced that it essentially functioned as a solid-body instrument. In 1945, Richard D. Bourgerie made an electric guitar pickup and amplifier for professional guitar player George Barnes. Bourgerie worked through World War II at Howard Radio Company, making electronic equipment for the American military. Barnes showed the result to Les Paul, who then arranged for Bourgerie to have one made for him. 1. Headstock 1.1 machine heads 1.2 truss rod cover 1.3 string guide 1.4 nut 2. Neck 2.1 fretboard 2.2 inlay fret markers 2.3 frets 2.4 neck joint 3. Body 3.1 "neck" pickup 3.2 "bridge" pickup 3.3 saddles 3.4 bridge 3.5 fine tuners and tailpiece assembly 3.6 whammy bar (vibrato arm) 3.7 pickup selector switch 3.8 volume and tone control knobs 3.9 output connector (output jack)(TS) 3.10 strap buttons 4. Strings 4.1 bass strings 4.2 treble strings Electric guitar design and construction vary greatly in the shape of the body and the configuration of the neck, bridge, and pickups. However, some features are present on most guitars. The photo below shows the different parts of an electric guitar. The headstock (1) contains the metal machine heads (1.1), which use a worm gear for tuning. The nut (1.4)—a thin fret-like strip of metal, plastic, graphite or bone—supports the strings at the headstock end of the instrument. The frets (2.3) are thin metal strips that stop the string at the correct pitch when the player pushes a string against the fingerboard. The truss rod (1.2) is a metal rod (usually adjustable) that counters the tension of the strings to keep the neck straight. Position markers (2.2) provide the player with a reference to the playing position on the fingerboard. The neck and fretboard (2.1) extend from the body. At the neck joint (2.4), the neck is either glued or bolted to the body. The body (3) is typically made of wood with a hard, polymerized finish. Strings vibrating in the magnetic field of the pickups (3.1, 3.2) produce an electric current in the pickup winding that passes through the tone and volume controls (3.8) to the output jack. Some guitars have piezo pickups, in addition to or instead of magnetic pickups. Some guitars have a fixed bridge (3.4). Others have a spring-loaded hinged bridge called a vibrato bar, tremolo bar, or whammy bar, which lets players bend notes or chords up or down in pitch or perform a vibrato embellishment. A plastic pickguard on some guitars protects the body from scratches or covers the control cavity, which holds most of the wiring. The degree to which the choice of woods and other materials in the solid-guitar body (3) affects the sonic character of the amplified signal is disputed. Many believe it is highly significant, while others think the difference between woods is subtle. In acoustic and archtop guitars, wood choices more clearly affect tone. Woods typically used in solid-body electric guitars include alder (brighter, but well rounded), swamp ash (similar to alder, but with more pronounced highs and lows), mahogany (dark, bassy, warm), poplar (similar to alder), and basswood (very neutral). Maple, a very bright tonewood, is also a popular body wood, but is very heavy. For this reason it is often placed as a "cap" on a guitar made primarily of another wood. Cheaper guitars are often made of cheaper woods, such as plywood, pine or agathis—not true hardwoods—which can affect durability and tone. Though most guitars are made of wood, any material may be used. Materials such as plastic, metal, and even cardboard have been used in some instruments. The guitar output jack typically provides a monaural signal. Many guitars with active electronics use a jack with an extra contact normally used for stereo. These guitars use the extra contact to break the ground connection to the on-board battery to preserve battery life when the guitar is unplugged. These guitars require a mono plug to close the internal switch and connect the battery to ground. Standard guitar cables use a high-impedance 1⁄4 inch (6.35 mm) mono plug. These have a tip and sleeve configuration referred to as a TS phone connector. The voltage is usually around 1 to 9 millivolts. A few guitars feature stereo output, such as Rickenbacker guitars equipped with Rick-O-Sound. There are a variety of ways the "stereo" effect may be implemented. Commonly, but not exclusively, stereo guitars route the neck and bridge pickups to separate output buses on the guitar. A stereo cable then routes each pickup to its own signal chain or amplifier. For these applications, the most popular connector is a high-impedance 1⁄4 inch (6.35 mm) plug with a tip, ring and sleeve configuration, also known as a TRS phone connector. Some studio instruments, notably certain Gibson Les Paul models, incorporate a low-impedance three-pin XLR connector for balanced audio. Many exotic arrangements and connectors exist that support features such as midi and hexaphonic pickups. The bridge and tailpiece, while serving separate purposes, work closely together to affect playing style and tone. There are four basic types of bridge and tailpiece systems on electric guitars. Within these four types are many variants. A hard-tail guitar bridge anchors the strings at or directly behind the bridge and is fastened securely to the top of the instrument. These are common on carved-top guitars, such as the Gibson Les Paul and the Paul Reed Smith models, and on slab-body guitars, such as the Music Man Albert Lee and Fender guitars that are not equipped with a vibrato arm. A floating or trapeze tailpiece (similar to a violin's) fastens to the body at the base of the guitar. These appear on Rickenbackers, Gretsches, Epiphones, a wide variety of archtop guitars, particularly Jazz guitars, and the 1952 Gibson Les Paul. Pictured is a tremolo arm or vibrato tailpiece style bridge and tailpiece system, often called a whammy bar or trem. It uses a lever ("vibrato arm") attached to the bridge that can temporarily slacken or tighten the strings to alter the pitch. A player can use this to create a vibrato or a portamento effect. Early vibrato systems were often unreliable and made the guitar go out of tune easily. They also had a limited pitch range. Later Fender designs were better, but Fender held the patent on these, so other companies used older designs for many years. Detail of a Squier-made Fender Stratocaster. Note the vibrato arm, the 3 single-coil pickups, the volume and tone knobs. With expiration of the Fender patent on the Stratocaster-style vibrato, various improvements on this type of internal, multi-spring vibrato system are now available. Floyd Rose introduced one of the first improvements on the vibrato system in many years when, in the late 1970s, he experimented with "locking" nuts and bridges that prevent the guitar from losing tuning, even under heavy vibrato bar use. Tune-o-matic with "strings through the body" construction (without stopbar) The fourth type of system employs string-through body anchoring. The strings pass over the bridge saddles, then through holes through the top of the guitar body to the back. The strings are typically anchored in place at the back of the guitar by metal ferrules. Many believe this design improves a guitar's sustain and timbre. A few examples of string-through body guitars are the Fender Telecaster Thinline, the Fender Telecaster Deluxe, the B.C. Rich IT Warlock and Mockingbird, and the Schecter Omen 6 and 7 series. Main article: Pickup (music technology) Compared to an acoustic guitar, which has a hollow body, electric guitars make much less audible sound when their strings are plucked, so electric guitars are normally plugged into a guitar amplifier and speaker. When an electric guitar is played, string movement produces a signal by generating (i.e., inducing) a small electric current in the magnetic pickups, which are magnets wound with coils of very fine wire. The signal passes through the tone and volume circuits to the output jack, and through a cable to an amplifier. The current induced is proportional to such factors as string density and the amount of movement over the pickups. Pickups on a Fender Squier "Fat Strat" guitar—a "humbucker" pickup on the left and two single-coil pickups on the right. Because in most cases it is desirable to isolate coil-wound pickups from the unintended sound of internal vibration of loose coil windings, a guitar's magnetic pickups are normally embedded or "potted" in wax, lacquer, or epoxy to prevent the pickup from producing a microphonic effect. Because of their natural inductive qualities, all magnetic pickups tend to pick up ambient, usually unwanted electromagnetic interference or EMI. The resulting hum is particularly strong with single-coil pickups, and it is aggravated by the fact that many vintage guitars are insufficiently shielded against electromagnetic interference. The most common source is 50- or 60-Hz hum from power transmission systems (house wiring, etc.). Since nearly all amplifiers and audio equipment associated with electric guitars must be plugged in, it is a continuing technical challenge to reduce or eliminate unwanted hum. Double-coil or "humbucker" pickups were invented as a way to reduce or counter the unwanted ambient hum sounds (known as 60-cycle hum). Humbuckers have two coils of opposite magnetic and electric polarity to produce a differential signal. Electromagnetic noise that hits both coils equally tries to drive the pickup signal toward positive on one coil and toward negative on the other, which cancels out the noise. The two coils are wired in phase, so their signal adds together. This high combined inductance of the two coils leads to the richer, "fatter" tone associated with humbucking pickups. Piezoelectric pickups use a "sandwich" of quartz crystal or other piezoelectric material, typically placed beneath the string saddles or nut. These devices respond to pressure changes from all vibration at these specific points. Optical pickups are a type of pickup that sense string and body vibrations using infrared LED light. These pickups are not sensitive to EMI. Some "hybrid" electric guitars are equipped with additional microphone, piezoelectric, optical, or other types of transducers to approximate an acoustic instrument tone and broaden the sonic palette of the instrument. Electric guitar necks vary in composition and shape. The primary metric of guitar necks is the scale length, which is the vibrating length of the strings from nut to bridge. A typical Fender guitar uses a 25.5-inch (65 cm) scale length, while Gibson uses a 24.75-inch (62.9 cm) scale length in their Les Paul. While the scale length of the Les Paul is often described as 24.75 inches, it has varied through the years by as much as a half inch. Frets are positioned proportionally to scale length—the shorter the scale length, the closer the fret spacing. Opinions vary regarding the effect of scale length on tone and feel. Popular opinion holds that longer scale length contributes to greater amplitude. Reports of playing feel are greatly complicated by the many factors involved in this perception. String gauge and design, neck construction and relief, guitar setup, playing style and other factors contribute to the subjective impression of playability or feel. A bolt-on neck Necks are described as bolt-on, set-in, or neck-through, depending on how they attach to the body. Set-in necks are glued to the body in the factory. They are said to have a warmer tone and greater sustain. This is the traditional type of joint. Leo Fender pioneered bolt-on necks on electric guitars to facilitate easy adjustment and replacement. Neck-through instruments extend the neck the length of the instrument, so that it forms the center of the body, and are known for long sustain and for being particularly sturdy. While a set-in neck can be carefully unglued by a skilled luthier, and a bolt-on neck can simply be unscrewed, a neck-through design is difficult or even impossible to repair, depending on the damage. Historically, the bolt-on style has been more popular for ease of installation and adjustment. Since bolt-on necks can be easily removed, there is an after-market in replacement bolt-on necks from companies such as Warmoth and Mighty Mite. Some instruments—notably most Gibson models—continue to use set-in glued necks. Neck-through bodies are somewhat more common in bass guitars. Materials for necks are selected for dimensional stability and rigidity, and some allege that they influence tone. Hardwoods are preferred, with maple, mahogany, and ash topping the list. The neck and fingerboard can be made from different materials; for example, a guitar may have a maple neck with a rosewood or ebony fingerboard. In the 1970s, designers began to use exotic man-made materials such as aircraft-grade aluminum, carbon fiber, and ebonol. Makers known for these unusual materials include John Veleno, Travis Bean, Geoff Gould, and Alembic. Aside from possible engineering advantages, some feel that in relation to the rising cost of rare tonewoods, man-made materials may be economically preferable and more ecologically sensitive. However, wood remains popular in production instruments, though sometimes in conjunction with new materials. Vigier guitars, for example, use a wooden neck reinforced by embedding a light, carbon fiber rod in place of the usual heavier steel bar or adjustable steel truss rod. After-market necks made entirely from carbon fiber fit existing bolt-on instruments. Few, if any, extensive formal investigations have been widely published that confirm or refute claims over the effects of different woods or materials on electric guitar sound. A neck-through bass guitar Several neck shapes appear on guitars, including shapes known as C necks, U necks, and V necks. These refer to the cross-sectional shape of the neck (especially near the nut). Several sizes of fret wire are available, with traditional players often preferring thin frets, and metal shredders liking thick frets. Thin frets are considered better for playing chords, while thick frets allow lead guitarists to bend notes with less effort. An electric guitar with a folding neck called the "Foldaxe" was designed and built for Chet Atkins by Roger C. Field. Steinberger guitars developed a line of exotic, carbon fiber instruments without headstocks, with tuning done on the bridge instead. Fingerboards vary as much as necks. The fingerboard surface usually has a cross-sectional radius that is optimized to accommodate finger movement for different playing techniques. Fingerboard radius typically ranges from nearly flat (a very large radius) to radically arched (a small radius). The vintage Fender Telecaster, for example, has a typical small radius of approximately 7.25 inches (18.4 cm). Some manufacturers have experimented with fret profile and material, fret layout, number of frets, and modifications of the fingerboard surface for various reasons. Some innovations were intended to improve playability by ergonomic means, such as Warmoth Guitars' compound radius fingerboard. Scalloped fingerboards added enhanced microtonality during fast legato runs. Fanned frets intend to provide each string with an optimal playing tension and enhanced musicality. Some guitars have no frets—and others, like the Gittler guitar, have no neck in the traditional sense. While an acoustic guitar's sound depends largely on the vibration of the guitar's body and the air inside it, the sound of an electric guitar depends largely on the signal from the pickups. The signal can be "shaped" on its path to the amplifier via a range of effect devices or circuits that modify the tone and characteristics of the signal. Amplifiers and speakers also add coloration to the final sound. Main article: Pickup (music technology) Modern electric guitars most commonly have two or three magnetic pickups. Identical pickups produce different tones depending on location between the neck and bridge. Bridge pickups produce a bright or trebly timbre, and neck pickups are warmer[when defined as?] or more bassy. The type of pickup also affects tone. Dual-coil pickups sound warm, thick, perhaps even muddy; single-coil pickups sound clear, bright, perhaps even biting. Guitars don't require a uniform pickup type: a common mixture is the "fat Strat" arrangement of one dual-coil at the bridge position and single coils in the middle and neck positions, known as HSS (humbucker/single/single). Some guitars have a piezoelectric pickup in addition to electromagnetic pickups. Piezo pickups produce a more acoustic sound. The piezo runs through a built-in equalizer (EQ) to improve similitude and control tone. A blend knob controls the mix between electromagnetic and piezoelectric sounds. Where there is more than one pickup, a switch selects between the outputs of individual pickups or some combination; two-pickup guitars have three-way switches, and three-pickup guitars have five-way switches. Further circuitry sometimes combines pickups in different ways. For instance, phase switching places one pickup out of phase with the other(s), leading to a "honky", "nasal", or "funky" sound. Individual pickups can also have their timbre altered by switches, typically coil tap switches that effectively short-circuit some of a dual-coil pickup's windings[vague] to produce a tone similar to a single-coil pickup (usually done with push-pull volume knobs). The final stages of on-board sound-shaping circuitry are the volume control (potentiometer) and tone control (a low-pass filter which "rolls off" the treble frequencies). Where there are individual volume controls for different pickups, and where pickup signals can be combined, they would affect the timbre of the final sound by adjusting the balance between pickups from a straight 50:50. The strings fitted to the guitar also have an influence on tone. Rock musicians often[when?] prefer the lightest gauge of roundwound string, which is easier to bend, while jazz musicians go for heavier, flatwound strings, which have a rich, dark sound. Steel, nickel, and cobalt are common string materials, and each gives a slightly different tone color. A Fender Bassman amp head with a 15" speaker cabinet. Main article: Guitar amplifier The solid-body electric guitar does not produce enough sound for an audience to hear it in a performance setting unless it's electronically amplified—plugged into an amplifier, mixing console, or PA. Guitar amplifier design uses a different approach than sound reinforcement system power amplifiers and home "hi-fi" stereo systems. Audio amplifiers generally are intended to accurately reproduce the source signal without adding unwanted tonal coloration (i.e., they have a flat frequency response) or unwanted distortion. In contrast, most guitar amplifiers provide tonal coloration and overdrive or distortion of various types. A common tonal coloration sought by guitarists is rolling off some of the high frequencies. Guitarists in some musical genres (e.g., blues, rock) intentionally choose amplifiers or effects units that distort or otherwise alter the sound to some degree. This was not actually a new development in the musical instrument or its supporting gear, but rather a shift of aesthetics, such sounds not having been thought desirable previously. Guitar amplifiers generally incorporate at least a few effects, the most basic being tone controls for bass and treble. There may be some form of "overdrive" control, where the preamplifier's output is increased to the point where the amplitude overloads the input of the power amplifier stage, causing clipping. In the 1970s, as effects pedals proliferated, their sounds were combined with tube amp distortion at lower, more controlled volumes by using power attenuators, such as Tom Scholz's Power Soak, as well as re-amplified dummy loads, such as Eddie Van Halen's use of dummy-load power resistor, post-power-tube effects, and a final solid-state amp driving the guitar speakers. Among the first actual on-board effects were a tremolo system (sometimes incorrectly labeled and marketed as vibrato), or a mechanical spring reverb unit. In the 2010s, guitar amps often contain multiple effects, such as distortion, chorus, flanger, phaser, or octave shift. Recent amplifiers may include digital technology similar to effects pedals, up to the ability to model or emulate a variety of classic amplifiers. Some modeling systems also emulate the tonal characteristics of different speaker configurations, cabinets, and microphones. Nearly all amp and speaker cabinet modeling is done digitally, using computer techniques (e.g., Digital Signal Processing or DSP circuitry and software). Main article: Effects unit A Boss distortion pedal in use In the 1960s, the tonal palette of the electric guitar was further modified by introducing effect units in its signal path, before the guitar amp, of which one of the earliest units was the fuzz pedal. Effects units come in several formats, the most common of which are the stompbox "pedal" and the rackmount unit. A stomp box (or pedal) is a small metal or plastic box containing the circuitry, which is placed on the floor in front of the musician and connected in line with the patch cord connected to the instrument. The box is typically controlled by one or more foot-pedal on-off switches and it typically contains only one or two effects. Pedals are smaller than rackmount effects and usually less expensive. "Guitar pedalboards" are used by musicians who use multiple stomp-boxes; these may be a DIY project made with plywood or a commercial stock or custom-made pedalboard. A rackmount effects unit may contain an electronic circuit nearly identical to a stompbox-based effect, but it is mounted in a standard 19" equipment rack, which is usually mounted in a road case that is designed to protect the equipment during transport. More recently, as signal-processing technology continuously becomes more feature-dense, rack-mount effects units frequently contain several types of effects. They are typically controlled by knobs or switches on the front panel, and often by a MIDI digital control interface. Typical effects include: The Zoom 505 multi-effect pedal A multi-effects device (also called a "multi-FX" device) is a single electronics effects pedal or rack-mount device that contains many electronic effects. In the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, multi-FX manufacturers such as Zoom and Korg produced devices that were increasingly feature-laden. Multi-FX devices combine several effects together, and most devices allow users to use preset combinations of effects, including distortion, chorus, reverb, compression, and so on. This allows musicians to have quick on-stage access to different effects combinations. Some multi-FX pedals contain modelled versions of well-known effects pedals or amplifiers. The Boss GT-8, a higher-end multi-effect processing pedal; note the preset switches and patch bank foot switches and built-in expression pedal. Multi-effects devices have garnered a large share of the effects device market, because they offer the user such a large variety of effects in a single package. A low-priced multi-effects pedal may provide 20 or more effects for the price of a regular single-effect pedal. More expensive multi-effect pedals may include 40 or more effects, amplifier modelling, and the ability to combine effects or modelled amp sounds in different combinations, as if the user was using multiple guitar amps. More expensive multi-effects pedals may also include more input and output jacks (e.g., an auxiliary input or a "dry" output), MIDI inputs and outputs, and an expression pedal, which can control volume or modify effect parameters (e.g., the rate of the simulated rotary speaker effect). By the 1980s and 1990s, software effects became capable of replicating the analog effects used in the past. These new digital effects attempt to model the sound produced by analog effects and tube amps, with varying degrees of quality. There are many free guitar effects computer programs that can be downloaded from the Internet. Now, computers with sound cards can be used as digital guitar effects processors. Although digital and software effects offer many advantages, many guitarists still use analog effects. Main article: Guitar synthesizer A prepared guitar The sound of a guitar can not only be adapted by electronic sound effects but is also heavily affected by various new techniques developed or becoming possible in combination with electric amplification. This is called extended technique. Extended techniques include: The hammer-on technique Palm muting of the strings using the picking hand Slide guitar Other techniques, such as axial finger vibrato, pull-offs, hammer-ons, palm muting, harmonics and altered tunings, are also used on the classical and acoustic guitar. Shred guitar is a genre involving a number of extended techniques. Paul Reed Smith Standard 22 Gittler electric guitar, a bodyless guitar without fingerboard or neck Fender Esquire Unlike acoustic guitars, solid-body electric guitars have no vibrating soundboard to amplify string vibration. Instead, solid-body instruments depend on electric pickups and an amplifier (or amp) and speaker. The solid body ensures that the amplified sound reproduces the string vibration alone, thus avoiding the wolf tones and unwanted feedback associated with amplified acoustic guitars. These guitars are generally made of hardwood covered with a hard polymer finish, often polyester or lacquer. In large production facilities, the wood is stored for three to six months in a wood-drying kiln before being cut to shape. Premium custom-built guitars are frequently made with much older, hand-selected wood. One of the first solid-body guitars was invented by Les Paul. Gibson did not present their Gibson Les Paul guitar prototypes to the public, as they did not believe the solid-body style would catch on. Another early solid-body Spanish style guitar, resembling what would become Gibson's Les Paul guitar a decade later, was developed in 1941 by O.W. Appleton, of Nogales, Arizona. Appleton made contact with both Gibson and Fender but was unable to sell the idea behind his "App" guitar to either company. In 1946, Merle Travis commissioned steel guitar builder Paul Bigsby to build him a solid-body Spanish-style electric. Bigsby delivered the guitar in 1948. The first mass-produced solid-body guitar was Fender Esquire and Fender Broadcaster (later to become the Fender Telecaster), first made in 1948, five years after Les Paul made his prototype. The Gibson Les Paul appeared soon after to compete with the Broadcaster. Another notable solid-body design is the Fender Stratocaster, which was introduced in 1954 and became extremely popular among musicians in the 1960s and 1970s for its wide tonal capabilities and more comfortable ergonomics than other models. The history of Electric Guitars is summarized by Guitar World magazine, and the earliest electric guitar on their top 10 list is the Ro-Pat-In Electro A-25 “Frying Pan” (1932) described as 'The first-fully functioning solid-body electric guitar to be manufactured and sold'. The most recent electric guitar on this list is the Ibanez Jem (1987) which featured '24 frets', 'an impossibly thin neck' and was 'designed to be the ultimate shredder machine'. Numerous other important electric guitars are on the list including Gibson ES-150 (1936), Fender Telecaster (1951), Gibson Les Paul (1952), Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet (1953), Fender Stratocaster (1954), Rickenbacker 360/12 (1964), Van Halen Frankenstein (1975), Paul Reed Smith Custom (1985) many of these guitars were 'successors' to earlier designs . Electric Guitar designs eventually became culturally important and visually iconic, with various model companies selling miniature model versions   of particularly famous electric guitars, for example the Gibson SG used by Angus Young from the group AC/DC. Some solid-bodied guitars, such as the Gibson Les Paul Supreme, the PRS Singlecut, and the Fender Telecaster Thinline, among others, are built with hollows in the body. These hollows are designed specifically not to interfere with the critical bridge and string anchor point on the solid body. In the case of Gibson and PRS, these are called chambered bodies. The motivation for this may be to reduce weight, to achieve a semi-acoustic tone (see below) or both. Main article: Semi-acoustic guitar Epiphone semi-acoustic hollow-body guitar Semi-acoustic guitars have a hollow body (similar in depth to a solid-body guitar) and electronic pickups mounted on the body. They work in a similar way to solid-body electric guitars except that, because the hollow body also vibrates, the pickups convert a combination of string and body vibration into an electrical signal. Whereas chambered guitars are made, like solid-body guitars, from a single block of wood, semi-acoustic and full-hollowbody guitars bodies are made from thin sheets of wood. They do not provide enough acoustic volume for live performance, but they can be used unplugged for quiet practice. Semi-acoustics are noted for being able to provide a sweet, plaintive, or funky tone. They are used in many genres, including blues, funk, sixties pop, and indie rock. They generally have cello-style F-shaped sound holes. These can be blocked off to prevent feedback, as in B. B. King's famous Lucille. Feedback can also be reduced by making them with a solid block in the middle of the soundbox. Main article: Archtop guitar Full hollow-body guitars have large, deep bodies made of glued-together sheets, or "plates", of wood. They can often be played at the same volume as an acoustic guitar and therefore can be used unplugged at intimate gigs. They qualify as electric guitars inasmuch as they have fitted pickups. Historically, archtop guitars with retrofitted pickups were among the very earliest electric guitars. The instrument originated during the Jazz Age, in the 1920s and 1930s, and are still considered the classic jazz guitar (nicknamed "jazzbox"). Like semi-acoustic guitars, they often have f-shaped sound holes. Having humbucker pickups (sometimes just a neck pickup) and usually strung heavlly, jazzboxes are noted for their warm, rich tone. A variation with single-coil pickups, and sometimes with a Bigsby tremolo, has long been popular in country and rockabilly; it has a distinctly more twangy, biting tone than the classic jazzbox. The term archtop refers to a method of construction subtly different from the typical acoustic (or "folk" or "western" or "steel-string" guitar): the top is formed from a moderately thick (1 inch (2.5 cm)) piece of wood, which is then carved into a thin (0.1 inches (0.25 cm)) domed shape, whereas conventional acoustic guitars have a thin, flat top. Main article: Acoustic-electric guitar Some steel-string acoustic guitars are fitted with pickups purely as an alternative to using a separate microphone. They may also be fitted with a piezoelectric pickup under the bridge, attached to the bridge mounting plate, or with a low-mass microphone (usually a condenser mic) inside the body of the guitar that converts the vibrations in the body into electronic signals. Combinations of these types of pickups may be used, with an integral mixer/preamp/graphic equalizer. Such instruments are called electric acoustic guitars. They are regarded as acoustic guitars rather than electric guitars, because the pickups do not produce a signal directly from the vibration of the strings, but rather from the vibration of the guitar top or body. Electric acoustic guitars should not be confused with semi-acoustic guitars, which have pickups of the type found on solid-body electric guitars, or solid-body hybrid guitars with piezoelectric pickups. The one-string guitar is also known as the Unitar. Although rare, the one-string guitar is sometimes heard, particularly in Delta blues, where improvised folk instruments were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Eddie "One String" Jones had some regional success. Mississippi blues musician Lonnie Pitchford played a similar, homemade instrument. In a more contemporary style, Little Willie Joe, the inventor of the Unitar, had a rhythm and blues instrumental hit in the 1950s with "Twitchy", recorded with the Rene Hall Orchestra. The four-string guitar is better known as the tenor guitar. One of its best-known players was Tiny Grimes, who played on 52nd Street with the beboppers and played a major role in the Prestige Blues Swingers. Multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis (musician) of Dirty Three and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is a contemporary player who includes a tenor guitar in his repertoire. The four-string guitar is normally tuned CGDA, but some players, such as Tiny Grimes, tune to DGBE to preserve familiar 6-string guitar chord fingerings. The tenor guitar can also be tuned like a soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele, using versions of GCEA tuning. Main article: Seven-string guitar Stephen Carpenter playing a 7-string electric guitar in 2009 Most seven-string guitars add a low B string below the low E. Both electric and classical guitars exist designed for this tuning. A high A string above the high E instead of the low B string is sometimes used. Another less common seven-string arrangement is a second G string situated beside the standard G string and tuned an octave higher, in the same manner as a twelve-stringed guitar (see below). Jazz guitarists using a seven-string include George Van Eps, Lenny Breau, Bucky Pizzarelli and his son John Pizzarelli. Seven-string electric guitars were popularized among rock players in the 1980s by Steve Vai. Along with the Japanese guitar company Ibanez, Vai created the Universe series seven-string guitars in the 1980s, with a double locking tremolo system for a seven-string guitar. These models were based on Vai's six-string signature series, the Ibanez Jem. Seven-string guitars experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 2000s, championed by Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Slayer, KoRn, Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore, Muse and other hard rock and metal bands. Metal musicians often prefer the seven-string guitar for its extended lower range. The seven-string guitar has also played an essential role in progressive metal rock and is commonly used in bands such as Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation and by experimental guitarists such as Ben Levin. Main article: Eight-string guitar Eight-string electric guitars are rare but not unused. One is played by Charlie Hunter, which was manufactured by Novax Guitars. The largest manufacturer of eight- to 14-string instruments is Warr Guitars. Their models are used by Trey Gunn (ex King Crimson), who has his own signature line from the company. Similarly, Mårten Hagström and Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah used 8-string guitars made by Nevborn Guitars and now guitars by Ibanez. Munky of the nu metal band KoRn is also known to use seven-string Ibanez guitars, and it is rumored that he is planning to release a K8 eight-string guitar similar to his K7 seven-string guitar. Another Ibanez player is Tosin Abasi, lead guitarist of the progressive metal band Animals as Leaders, who uses an Ibanez RG2228 to mix bright chords with very heavy low riffs on the seventh and eighth strings. Stephen Carpenter of Deftones also switched from a seven-string to an eight-string in 2008 and released his signature STEF B-8 with ESP Guitars. In 2008, Ibanez released the Ibanez RG2228-GK, which is the first mass-produced eight-string guitar. Jethro Tull's first album uses a nine-string guitar. Bill Kelliher, guitarist for the heavy metal group Mastodon, worked with First Act on a custom mass-produced nine-string guitar. Main article: Ten-string guitar B.C. Rich manufactured a ten-string six-course electric guitar, the Bich, whose radical shape positioned the machine heads for the four secondary strings onto the body, avoiding the head-heaviness of many electric twelve-string guitars. However, many players bought it for the body shape or electrics and simply removed the extra strings. The company recognized this and released six-string models of the Bich, a shape now generally incorporated into their standard Warlock. Main article: Twelve-string guitar Twelve-string electric guitars feature six pairs of strings, usually with each pair tuned to the same note. The extra E, A, D, and G strings add a note one octave above, and the extra B and E strings are in unison. The pairs of strings are played together as one, so the technique and tuning are the same as a conventional guitar, but they create a much fuller tone, with the additional strings adding a natural chorus effect. They are used almost solely to play harmony and rhythm parts, rather than for guitar solos. They are relatively common in folk rock music. Lead Belly is the folk artist most identified with the twelve-string guitar, usually acoustic with a pickup. George Harrison of the Beatles and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds brought the electric twelve-string to notability in rock and roll. During the Beatles' first trip to the United States, in February 1964, Harrison received a new 360/12 model guitar from the Rickenbacker company, a twelve-string electric made to look onstage like a six-string. He began using the 360 in the studio on Lennon's "You Can't Do That" and other songs. McGuinn began using electric twelve-string guitars to create the jangly, ringing sound of the Byrds. Both Jimmy Page, the guitarist with Led Zeppelin, and Leo Kottke, a solo artist, are well known as twelve-string guitar players. Main article: 3rd bridge The third-bridge guitar is an electric prepared guitar with an additional, third bridge. This can be a normal guitar with, for instance, a screwdriver placed under the strings, or it can be a custom-made instrument. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth plays with a third bridge. Main article: Double neck guitar A Gibson EDS-1275 Double-neck (or, less commonly, "twin-neck") guitars enable guitarists to play both guitar and bass guitar or, more commonly, both a six-string and a twelve-string. In the mid-1960s, one of the first players to use this type of guitar was Paul Revere & the Raiders' guitarist Drake Levin. Another early user was John McLaughlin. The double-neck guitar was popularized by Jimmy Page, who used a custom-made, cherry-finished Gibson EDS-1275 to perform "Stairway to Heaven", "The Song Remains the Same" and "The Rain Song", although for the recording of "Stairway to Heaven" he used a Fender Telecaster and a Fender XII electric twelve-string. Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Mike + the Mechanics is also famous for his use of a double-neck guitar during live shows. Don Felder of the Eagles used the Gibson EDS-1275 during the Hotel California tour. Muse guitarist and vocalist Matthew Bellamy uses a silver Manson double-neck on his band's Resistance Tour. Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson is also known for using double-neck guitars in the live performance of several songs. In performances of the song "Xanadu" during the band's 2015 R40 anniversary tour, Lifeson played a white Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck guitar with six-string and twelve-string necks, while bassist Geddy Lee performed with a double-neck Rickenbacker guitar with four-string bass and twelve-string guitar necks. Popular music typically uses the electric guitar in two roles: as a rhythm guitar to provide the basic chord progression and rhythm, and a lead guitar that plays melody lines, melodic instrumental fill passages, and solos. In some bands with two guitarists, both may play in tandem, and trade off rhythm and lead roles. In bands with a single guitarist, the guitarist may switch between these roles, playing chords to accompany the singer's lyrics, and a solo. Gibson Les Paul has been used in many genres, including rock, country, pop, soul, rhythm and blues, blues, jazz, reggae, punk, and heavy metal In the most commercially available and consumed pop and rock genres, electric guitars tend to dominate their acoustic cousins in both the recording studio and live venues, especially in the "harder" genres such as heavy metal and hard rock. However the acoustic guitar remains a popular choice in country, western and especially bluegrass music, and it is widely used in folk music. Even metal and hard rock guitarists play acoustic guitars for some ballads and for MTV unplugged acoustic performances. Jazz guitar playing styles include rhythm guitar-style "comping" (accompanying) with jazz chord voicings (and in some cases, walking basslines) and "blowing" (improvising solos) over jazz chord progressions with jazz-style phrasing and ornaments. The accompanying style for electric guitar in most jazz styles differs from the way chordal instruments accompany in many popular styles of music. In rock and pop, the rhythm guitarist typically performs chords in dense and regular fashion to define a tune's rhythm. Simpler music tends to use chord voicings focused on the first, third, and fifth notes of the chord. In contrast, more complex music styles of pop might intermingle periodic chords and delicate voicings into pauses in the melody or solo. Complex guitar chord voicings are often have no root, especially in chords that have more than six notes. Such chords typically emphasize the third and seventh notes of the chord. These chords also often include the 9th, 11th and 13th notes of the chord, which are called extensions, or color notes. When guitarists who play jazz and other more complex styles improvise, they use scales, modes, and arpeggios associated with the chord progression. The must learn how to use scales (whole tone scale, chromatic scale, etc.) to solo over chord progressions. Soloists try to imbue melodic phrasing with the sense of natural breathing and legato phrasing used by players of other instruments. Jazz guitarists are influenced by trumpet, saxophone, and other horn players. Celtic fingerstyle players are influenced pipes and fiddles. Jazz guitarists typically play hollow-body instruments, but also use solid-body guitars. Hollow-body instruments were the first guitars used in jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. During the 1970s jazz fusion era, many jazz guitarists switched to the solid body guitars that dominated the rock world, using powerful guitar amps for volume. Until the 1950s, the acoustic, nylon-stringed classical guitar was the only type of guitar favored by classical, or art music composers. In the 1950s a few contemporary classical composers began to use the electric guitar in their compositions. Examples of such works include Luciano Berio's Nones (1954) Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gruppen (1955–57); Donald Erb's String Trio (1966), Morton Feldman's The Possibility of a New Work for Electric Guitar (1966); George Crumb's Songs, Drones, and Refrains of Death (1968); Hans Werner Henze's Versuch über Schweine (1968); Francis Thorne's Sonar Plexus (1968) and Liebesrock (1968–69), Michael Tippett's The Knot Garden (1965–70); Leonard Bernstein's MASS (1971) and Slava! (1977); Louis Andriessen's De Staat (1972–76); Helmut Lachenmann's Fassade, für grosses Orchester (1973, rev. 1987), Valery Gavrilin Anyuta (1982), Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint (1987), Arvo Pärt's Miserere (1989/92), György Kurtág's Grabstein für Stephan (1989), and countless works composed for the quintet of Ástor Piazzolla. Alfred Schnittke also used electric guitar in several works, like the "Requiem", "Concerto Grosso N°2" and "Symphony N°1". In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, a growing number of composers (many of them composer-performers who had grown up playing the instrument in rock bands) began writing contemporary classical music for the electric guitar. These include Frank Zappa, Shawn Lane, Steven Mackey, Nick Didkovsky, Scott Johnson, Lois V Vierk, Tim Brady, Tristan Murail, Brian May and Randall Woolf. Yngwie Malmsteen released his Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in 1998, and Steve Vai released a double-live CD entitled Sound Theories, of his work with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra in June 2007. The American composers Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca have written "symphonic" works for large ensembles of electric guitars, in some cases numbering up to 100 players, and the instrument is a core member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars (played by Mark Stewart). Still, like many electric and electronic instruments, the electric guitar remains primarily associated with rock and jazz music, rather than with classical compositions and performances. R. Prasanna plays a style of Indian classical music (Carnatic music) on the electric guitar. In the 21st century, European avant garde composers like Richard Barrett, Fausto Romitelli, Peter Ablinger, Bernhard Lang, Claude Ledoux and Karlheinz Essl have used the electric guitar (together with extended playing techniques) in solo pieces or ensemble works. Probably the most ambitious and perhaps significant work to date is Ingwe (2003–2009) by Georges Lentz (written for Australian guitarist Zane Banks), a 60-minute work for solo electric guitar, exploring that composer's existential struggles and taking the instrument into realms previously unknown in a concert music setting. In Vietnam, electric guitars are often used as an instrument in cải lương music (traditional southern Vietnamese folk opera), sometimes as a substitute for certain traditional stringed instruments like the Đàn nguyệt (two-stringed lute) when they are not available. Electric guitars used in cải lương are played in finger vibrato (string bending), with no amplifiers or sound effects. An electric guitar store
Jump to navigation Jump to search The lap steel guitar is a type of steel guitar which is typically played with the instrument in a horizontal position on the performer’s lap or otherwise supported. The performer changes pitch by pressing a metal or glass bar against the strings as opposed to a traditional guitar where the performer's fingertips press the strings against frets. The bar placed against the strings is called a "steel" or "tone bar". There are three types of lap steel guitars: Freddie Roulette holding console or double-neck steel guitar. A lap steel guitar's strings are raised at both the nut and bridge ends of the fingerboard, typically to about half an inch. The strings are too high to contact the surface of the neck, so frets, if present, are only for reference and are often replaced by markers. Some lap steel guitars can be converted between lap and fretted playing, or are modified versions of conventional guitars—the only difference is usually string height. Round-necked resonator guitars set up for steel playing fall into this category. Instruments designed exclusively as lap steel guitars typically have modified necks that make fretted playing impossible. The hollow neck acoustic lap steel, developed by Chris Knutsen and popularized by Weissenborn, extends the body cavity behind the neck all the way to the head. The square-necked resonator guitar has a strengthened square profile neck, allowing heavier string gauges and/or higher tunings that would normally be considered impossible (or certainly ill-advised) on a conventional guitar. The electric lap steel guitar typically incorporates the entire neck into the solid body of the guitar, again providing extra strength to allow a greater variety of string gauges and tunings. Console steel guitars, typically with more than six strings and/or multiple necks, are rarely played in lap steel fashion (without their legs), but are often referred to as lap steel guitars by many makers and authorities. See table steel guitar. Kaki King performing on lap steel guitar. The lap steel guitar is typically placed on the player's lap, or on a stool in front of the seated player. When playing with stand-up musicians, such as in a bluegrass band, it has become an alternative for the player to also play standing up; supporting the guitar with a guitar strap around the neck, with the guitar suspended horizontally, resting against the stomach area; providing stage mobility, such as for mic accessibility for singing. Unlike a conventional guitar, the strings are not pressed to a fret when sounding a note; rather, the player holds a metal slide called steel (or tone bar) in the left hand, which is moved along the strings to change the instrument's pitch while the right hand plucks or picks the strings. This method of playing greatly restricts the number of chords available, so lap steel music often features melodies, a restricted set of harmonies (such as in blues), or another single part. David Gilmour playing lap steel guitar - 26 January 1977 The steel guitar, when played in Hawaiian, Country, Bluegrass, or Western Swing styles, is almost always plucked using a plastic thumbpick affixed to the right hand's thumb, and metal or plastic "fingerpicks" fitted to the first 2, 3, or even all 4 fingers of the right hand. This allows the player greater control when picking sets of notes on non-adjacent strings. Some Blues players, especially those who use a round-neck resonator guitar played upright, conventional-guitar-style, with a bottleneck or hollow metal slide on one left-hand finger, forgo the fingerpicks and thumbpicks, and use their bare fingers and thumb instead. On the other hand, a minority of Blues players, and many Rock players, use a conventional flatpick. Tut Taylor is one of the few Dobro players that use a flatpick. Ben Keith playing lap steel guitar + pedal steel guitarIt is widely reported that the lap steel guitar was invented by a man named Joseph Kekuku in 1885. It is said that, at the age of 7, Kekuku was walking along a railroad track and picked up a metal bolt, slid the metal along the strings of his guitar and was intrigued by the sound. He taught himself to play using this method with the back of a knife blade. Various other people have also been credited with the innovation. The instrument became a major fad in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. The instrument became especially popular in Hawaii, as musicians played in tent-rep shows. It was electrified in the early 1930s, and in 1932 the first production electric guitar was introduced, the aluminum Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) A22 "Frying Pan" lap steel. This made the so-called "Hawaiian" guitar the first electric stringed instrument (just a few years before Les Paul and Charlie Christian modified their instruments and after the theremin was patented in 1928). The earliest documented performance with an electrically amplified guitar was in 1932, by Gage Brewer. The Wichita, Kansas-based musician had an electric Hawaiian A-25 (frypan, lap-steel) and a standard electric Spanish from George Beauchamp of Los Angeles, California. Brewer publicized his new instruments in an article in the Wichita Beacon of October 2, 1932 and through performances that month. The first electric instrument on a commercial recording was made and played in 1935 by Bob Dunn, a musician in Houston, Texas who played in the Western swing band Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies. Dunn owned a music store that bore his name in the Houston area. The lap steel, dobro and pedal steel guitar are associated most closely with Hawaiian music, country music and bluegrass, though some players have used them in rock music, jazz, blues, and other musical genres. The round neck, metal-bodied resonator guitar is used almost exclusively by blues, rock, or blues-rock musicians. Harmon Davis playing steel guitar The Lap steel guitar is not tuned in standard guitar tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E, low to high). Rather, it is usually tuned to an open chord, often an extended chord like a 6th, 7th, or 9th. (All tunings are shown low-to-high; that is, thickest string to thinnest, or 6th string to 1st string). The earliest Hawaiian lap steel tuning was A low bass, E A E A C# E. Blues and Rock players tend to favor one of two tuning families: open G/open A, or open D/open E. Open G is tuned D-G-D-G-B-D; open A raises each of those notes a whole-step (2 frets) to E-A-E-A-C♯-E. During the 1920s and 1930s, much of the sheet music written for lap steel utilized open A tuning as the de facto standard tuning for the instrument. Other tunings such as E7 ( B D E G# B E ), C#m (B D E G# C# E), and many other tunings were developed. Open D is tuned D-A-D-F♯-A-D, and open E is a whole-step higher: E-B-E-G♯-B-E. Joe Perry of Aerosmith uses Open E on his electric lap steel. David Lindley is another player who uses transposed variations of these tunings. Bluegrass and Country Dobro players using a square-neck instrument tend to favor an altered G tuning, often called "High-G", where the 6th string is tuned up to "G" instead of down to "D", and the 5th string is also tuned up, to B: G-B-D-G-B-D. They also sometimes raise it up to "High-A": A-C♯-E-A-C♯-E. These are examples of tunings possible on a lap steel that could cause serious damage if attempted on a round-neck resonator or standard guitar. Henry Kaleialoha Allen in his book uses a modified C6 tuning, with a B♭ in the bass: B♭-E-G-A-C-E. Jerry Byrd has a C6 variant with C# in the bass: C# E G A C E. Dobro players also generally use a set of strings with different gauges than those used on standard electric or acoustic guitars to help them to project more sound and to achieve their higher tunings. Many Western Swing lap steel players, and some Old-Time Country lap steel players, use a C6 tuning. There is no "standard" C6 tuning; one popular one is C-E-G-A-C-E. This tuning is a good one for learning Don Helms' lap steel melodies from old Hank Williams records, although Helms used a lap steel with legs (a "console steel"), with two necks having 8 strings each; Helms actually used an E13 tuning, which adds the 7th (D) and the 13th (C♯) to the E tuning, making it B-D-E-G♯-B-C♯-E-G♯, low to high. An extended C6/FMaj7 is used by Western Swing pedal steel guitarists on their 10-string pedal steels. This tuning, C-F-A-C-E-G-A-C-E-G, is difficult to achieve on the 6-string steel but a subset thereof is achieved as previously mentioned. A6 is a commonly used alternate for C6 and was used by greats such as Billy Hew Len, Leon McAuliffe, Herb Remington, etc. The E7 tuning is used by many players, especially those who begin learning with the Mel Bay Steel Guitar Method instructional books. The E7 tuning in those books is spelled either B0-D-E-G♯-B-E or with the 6th string lowered to the tonic E: E-D-E-G♯-B-E. Note the similarity of this second tuning to the open E tuning above: the only difference is the 5th string, which is lowered from the tonic E to the 7th note in the key of E, which is D. There are many other tunings used by players. Pedal Steel guitarists switching over to lap steel often bring over a modified version of the 10-string E9 tuning that is the standard for Country pedal steel; pedal steels, and a few non-pedal "console steels" actually have multiple necks, each in a different tuning, and very often on a pedal steel the 2 main necks will be in E9 and C6 tunings. As noted under the C6 tuning, an A6 tuning is also used. See the links below for a list of additional tunings.
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