Stringed instruments are most likely the oldest type of musical instruments. The acoustic guitar has been around since the 1500's, and is the most common stringed instrument used today. The guitar is one of the most versatile instruments in existence, being used in virtually every style of music. It can produce a wide range of sounds depending upon the style of the guitar and the type of strings used on it. The two main styles of acoustic guitars are the nylon-stringed and the steel-stringed. Nylon-stringed guitars are used mainly for styles such as classical music and flamenco. Steel-stringed guitars are most commonly associated with country and folk music.
Before getting into how the guitar works, it will be beneficial to take a look at the different parts that make up a guitar. A guitar has three main parts- a body, neck and headstock. There are various 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, which is also located on the sounding board, is what anchors the strings to the body.
The neck is the long, slender part of the guitar connecting the body to the head. the front of the neck is called the fret board. This is where the frets are spaced down the entire neck. The frets are thin bars that are set perpendicular to the strings. The frets make it possible to create a variety of tones by changing the vibrating length of the strings.
The headstock is where the tuning pegs are located. The piece separating the headstock from the neck is called the nut. The purpose of the nut is to prevent the strings from vibrating beyond the neck.
The purpose of the guitar is to make sound that is pleasing to the player or the listener. In order to understand how a guitar creates music, it is necessary to know a little about what sound is, exactly, and how it works with the guitar.
According to Webster's dictionary, sound is vibrations in the air, water, etc., that stimulate the auditory nerves and produce the sensation of hearing. For our purposes we will only look at vibrations that occur in the air. The vibrations are caused by air molecules moving back and forth in space. The vibrations travel by the chain reaction of the molecules bouncing into each other in what are called traveling sound waves. The movement of the molecules causes them to compress together and then decompress, thus allowing the wave to travel through space. This movement causes a change in the air pressure. The greater the change the louder our ears perceive the sound to be. The picture below shows how this...