An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound can be shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities, often making it quite different than an acoustic guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and “overdrive”; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.
- The first electric guitar
Although guitars have a long history, they had fallen behind the times in a way-especially in terms of volume-as many others instruments had been modified over the years.
It was around 1936 when a jazz guitarist named Charlie Christian (1916-1942) began using an acoustic guitar with a pickup attached to the body, with the intention of playing guitar solos in his band. This is said to be the birth of the electric guitar.
- The first solid-body guitar
A major difficulty for the first electric guitars with pickups attached to their bodies was the acoustic phenomenon called “feedback,” where sound amplified by an amplifier causes the instrument to resonate, creating a cacophony of sound. A clever way to solve this issue is to remove the hollow cavity from the guitar body, making it difficult for sound to resonate. This led to the creation of the solid-body guitar, in which the body is carved from a single piece of wood.
People had already been thinking about solid-body guitars by the beginning of the 1940s and had begun working on creating them. However, the first such instrument on the market was by designed by Leo Fender, the famous manufacturer of guitar amplifiers. Released in 1949, his Fender Esquire is now regarded as the first solid body guitar.
- The past, present, and future of the electric guitar
During the 1950s new and innovative instruments were released one after another, with what we consider the modern electric guitar being (mostly) completed in 1960. Although there was more experimentation after this date (such as using plastic or glass fiber for the body instead of wood, or even developing headless guitars), these developments did not gain much traction.
Having said that, modern instruments have indeed benefited from a variety of improvements, such as reduced noise, more easily tuned string pitches, and more attractive/longer lasting coatings. However, 21st century technology (such as touch sensors for timbre control) may make these instruments easier to play as time goes on. Of course, this all depends on whether such innovations are accepted by guitarists. After all, the future of best electric guitars is closely tied with what the players of these instruments actually want.
How to play guitar? Or, more specifically, ‘how to play acoustic guitar’?
People ask this question quite a bit and, surprisingly!, think there’s a short answer. And maybe there is: Play a lot, for a long time. : ) But, seriously, playing guitar (whether acoustic or electric or other) is a long-term process. Really talented people pursue being an excellent guitarist for a lifetime. Sure, there are basic techniques and insights that will get you up and running in a month. But the possibilities are so wide open that you’ll still be discovering new stuff decades later.
If you asked this question, but were really wondering, “How do I get started playing guitar?”, then I would recommend a) get an inexpensive guitar (don’t go expensive at first), and b) getting lessons. Lessons can be from a local teacher – this is really helpful for the psychological effect of being forced to show up and look someone in the eye every week and admit whether you practiced. Or video lessons, like the ones at JamPlay, are another great source.
What is fingerstyle guitar?
Fingerstyle guitar is a broad term for a style of playing characterized by using the flesh of the finger to pluck the strings (instead of a pick or plectrum). In the past, this term has referred to folks like Chet Atkins or Doc Watson.
This term is typically used right now to refer to a number of players like Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee, or even Ed Sheeran, who mix Country Travis picking, Flamenco percussion, Jazz tonality, Folk-ish alternate tunings, and Classical melodicism to create a very “modern” sort of fingerstyle guitar.
What is an acoustic guitar?
“An acoustic guitar is a guitar that produces sound acoustically—by transmitting the vibration of the strings to the air—as opposed to relying on electronic amplification (see electric guitar). The sound waves from the strings of an acoustic guitar resonate through the guitar’s body, creating sound. This typically involves the use of a sound board and a sound box to strengthen the vibrations of the strings.”