This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Physics Of An Acoustic Guitar Essay

1731 words - 7 pages

Physics of an Acoustic Guitar

I have been watching my husband play the guitar in a band for five years and he has made it look so easy to make such beautiful music. Most guitar players have progressed with the technology of electric guitars, but when my husband picks up an acoustic guitar and starts to play a song for just me, I hear his love for me in the sounds that he produces. Imagine my surprise when a physics class conveyed to me that there was much more to his playing than I had imagined.

The sound that a guitar makes is easily recognizable to many people because the physics of the acoustic guitar is mostly universal. The noticeable distinctions are the result of various wavelengths and the harmonics that are created by the sounds of the strings on the guitar. The different sizes, tension, and lengths of the strings control these wavelengths. Even by the various guitar body compositions affect the sounds that we hear.

An acoustic guitar has 6 strings that are attached to the top, called the head, and continue down the neck of the guitar to a plate on the body, called the bridge. One end of the string lays on a raised bar on the head of the guitar, called a nut, and the other end lays on a raised bar on the bridge of the guitar, called a saddle.1 Strumming a string on the guitar, either with a pick or with your fingers, causes it to vibrate. These vibrations are waves and they “travel in both directions along the string and reflect back and forth from the fixed ends.”2 As the waves pass through each other from end to end, they create the different harmonics or overtones that are unique to the sound of the guitar.

A node is present on a wave when the string is in its original position. Therefore, where the string lays on the nut and the saddle, a node is present. The section that is the farthest from the original string position is called an antinode, representing the amplitude of the wave. An antinode is present at the furthest amplitude above the string and at the furthest amplitude below the wave. A full wavelength has two nodes and two antinodes.

On a fixed string, nodes are created at both ends, so the fundamental, or longest, wavelength that could be produced, would be twice the length of the guitar string. Harmonics are determined by “whole number multiples of the fundamental wavelength.”3 They can vary in speed and have any number of wavelengths that can be generated with nodes at both ends. For example, the first harmonic would be a full wavelength and have two nodes and two antinodes. Each additional harmonic would add an additional half of a wavelength to the string.

The relationship between the wavelength and the speed of the wave creates different frequencies from the guitar. The frequency is the number of wavelengths that occur per second. The equation is set up as the frequency equals the speed of the waves divided by the wavelength, or f = u § l . Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) and humans can...

Find Another Essay On Physics of an Acoustic Guitar


1905 words - 8 pages An experiment to find the acoustic impedance of paraffin and water Abstract The speed of sound through paraffin and water was measured, and came close to the generally expected value. The speed in was calculated as 1458.36±16.2ms^(-1) in water and 1212±23.7ms^(-1) in paraffin. Then the density of these two liquids was measured, and combined with the speed of sound to find the acoustic impedance. . The acoustic impedance of water was 1575

'The Physics of Stopping,' is an answer to whether or not the statement "safety is not related to how fast you travel, but how quickly you stop," is true

801 words - 3 pages The Physics of StoppingIn some ways the statement "safety is not related to how fast you travel, but how quickly you stop" is true, but in another it is untrue in regard to the physics of stopping. If safety is related to how quickly you stop, then it is also related to how fast you travel, because how quickly you stop is directly related to how fast you are travelling.A moving object has momentum, any moving object with a mass has momentum

IB Physics Thermodynamics Lab- "The purpose of this lab is to determine the identity of an unknown metal, and to prove whether the laws of thermodynamics hold when determining this identity."

1090 words - 4 pages Thermodynamics LabPurpose:The purpose of this lab is to determine the identity of an unknown metal, and to prove whether the laws of thermodynamics hold when determining this identity. Using the accepted specific heat of water (4186 J/kg · oC), heat flow between two different sets of water though the conduction of an unknown metal can provide useful data in determining the identity. The heat transfers can be calculated to approximate the

Acoustic Guitars: Everything You Want To Know

699 words - 3 pages the strings alone create the musical sound, but the problem is that the strings on their own cannot create a loud enough sound for everyone to hear and enjoy. The sound must be increased and this can be done through the use of an acoustic guitar by using a sound box, which is a resonant cavity and a soundboard. The soundboard is vibrated through the bridge, which in turn makes it vibrate. Because the soundboard consists of a larger surface than the

How Guitars Make Sound

1657 words - 7 pages standing wave pattern. Resonance is the fundamental frequencies when a string is sounded. The resonance is different between an acoustic and classic guitar due to the string tension, type and material of the guitar. After selecting the acoustic guitar, the physics behind the sound of the instrument was evaluated.

Guitar Physics

1798 words - 8 pages of the guitar so immensely is the guitar’s design; it allows the physics of sound to create most of the instrument’s natural tone. It seems that just picking and choosing the most expensive parts for a guitar will make the most expensive sounding guitar, although that claim is rather incorrect. Prerequisite information that allows one to build a superior stringed instrument is an understanding of the physics of sound, rather than simply a fat

History of The Electric Guitar

1208 words - 5 pages a solid piece of wood with electronics installed into cutouts in the wood. A chambered body looks as if it is a solid body guitar, but underneath there are hollowed chambers. These chambers will make the guitar lighter and will also allow the guitar to achieve a more acoustic tone. A semi-acoustics guitar is similar in depth to a solid body guitar but has an acoustic cutout with a pickup installed. The acoustics of a semi-acoustic will not be

Physics of Guitars

2473 words - 10 pages resonating chambers to amplify their sound and they have smaller strings that produce smaller amplitude of waves. To use an amp, the guitar needs to have pick-ups that turn the sound into electrical impulses that is sent to the amp that usually has volume and sound controls. Acoustic and electric guitars are very different in how they produce sound, but the basic principles of how the sound is created is the same. Guitars can produce a wide range of

Basic Information About Guitar

659 words - 3 pages think that’s only because only a certain number of guitars would have been made at that time.What are all parts of both acoustic and electric guitars?There are a ton of parts to both the electric and acoustic guitars. Some of the basic parts of an acoustic guitar are the hollow body, the neck which holds the frets, the head which has the tuning pegs, and a soundboard. The soundboard is what makes an acoustic guitar loud enough for us to hear

History and Influences of the Guitar

1553 words - 7 pages , and Vielle, three principal bowed string instruments of the Middle Ages”(Machlis p.100). These along with others are the grandparents to the modern acoustic and electric guitar. They gave way to an accompanying instrument to the highlight or main part in the music industry. “The rebec is rounded, pear-shaped in the body. It is carved from a single block of wood and tapers down the body to the neck. Early rebecs varied from three to five strings

The History of the Guitar

2330 words - 9 pages The Guitar is a stringed musical instrument with six or twelve strings that is played by either plucking or strumming the strings. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. If an individual were asked to identify a guitar most people would answer the question correctly more so than they would if they were asked about another instrument. When people think about famous guitarists, they more than likely think of famous rock and roll

Similar Essays

The Physics Of Acoustic Guitar Essay

1030 words - 5 pages The Physics of Acoustic Guitar Everything in the universe involves some type of physics. Even the universe itself does, but have you ever wondered about the physics of simpler items? Physics is vital for all musical instruments, if it wasn’t; they probably wouldn’t produce the beautiful sounds that they do. One of these instruments is acoustic guitar. By looking at the instrument, it doesn’t look very complicated, but if you delve deeper into

Physics Of The Acoustic Guitar Essay

2039 words - 8 pages styles and designs for acoustic guitars, but no matter the style, all of them have essentially the same parts. The body acts as an anchor for the neck and bridge. The top of the body is called the sounding board. It is responsible for almost all of the guitars acoustics, and is what allows the ear to hear the sound created by playing the guitar. The sounding board generally has a large hole cut in it called the sound hole. The bridge

The Physics Of A Guitar Essay

1264 words - 5 pages Introduction: The guitar is a typical string instrument, whose physics are similar to many other string instruments. The main parts consist of the body, the neck, the bridge, the tuning pegs, the sound hole, and the strings. An electric guitar lacks the sound hole and instead relies on an amp for amplification. The physics of a guitar involves sound waves, how they are amplified, and how they travel. Strings: The vibration of the strings of

An Analysis Of Guitar Sounds

802 words - 4 pages inward the air molecules expand and create a low pressure region. The high pressure regions are called compressions and the low pressure regions rarefactions. The equation of sound waves is speed = wavelength x frequency or v = f x . The instrument that will be analysed in this report is the acoustic guitar. An acoustic guitar is any guitar that uses acoustics as a means to transmit the strings vibrational energy to the air to produce a sound