Electric guitar pertains to a particular type of guitar that utilizes pickups to translate the vibration of the strings into an electric current, which is then made louder through a speaker and an amplifier. The signals which come from electric guitar might also be changed electronically with effects like distortion or reverb.
In The Beginning
The soft melodic tone of the guitar made it hard for people to listen when being played along with other musical instruments. Therefore, during the year 1930’s a creative individual opted to modify that and invented the first ever electric guitar. Little did he know or have imagined way back then how the discovery of the electric guitar would considerably influence the course of twentieth century music.
Like a good number of new things, electric guitar had its detractors and critics, but it quickly won people over due to its capability to let music artists play much more creatively and at the same time express their own specific styles.
The First Pickup
Not like acoustic guitar that has a concave body, an electric guitar makes much less perceptible sound once the strings are strummed; therefore electric guitar is usually plugged into an amplifier and speaker. Once electric guitars are played, the movement of strings produces a signal through generating a little electric current in the magnetic pickups, which a magnet would with coil of extremely fine cable. The signal passes in the volume and tone circuits to the jack and by a wire to an amplifier. The stimulated current is relative to such aspects as the density of the string and the level of time over the pickups.
Since in some cases it is enviable to cut off coil-wound pickup from the involuntary sound of inner vibration to lose coil windings, the magnetic pickups of the guitar are usually potted or embedded in lacquer, epoxy or wax so as to avoid the pickup from generating microphonic effects. Due to the natural inductive features of the electric guitar, the magnetic pickups are likely to pick up unwanted, usually ambient electromagnetic interference or popularly known as EMI. This hum is specifically strong with one-coil pickups and it’s provoked by the reality that a lot of vintage guitars are unsatisfactory shielded opposed EMI. 50 and 60 Hz hum is the most popular source from power transition system like house wiring. Since all guitar amplifiers and acoustic equipment related with electric guitar must be plugged in, it’s an ongoing technical challenge to minimize or get rid of the unwanted hum or vibrate.
Humbucker or double coil pickups were developed as a mode to lessen or counter the unnecessary ambient vibrate. Double coil as the name suggests has dual coils of conflicting electric and magnetic polarity to generate a differential signal. The electromagnetic sound which hits the coils attempts to drive the pickup gesture or sign toward positive on one coil and to negative coil that eliminates the noise. These dual coils are wired in segment, therefore their signals put in jointly. This high shared inductance of the dual coils results in fatter, richer tone related to hum bucking pickups.
A Piezoelectric pickup utilized a “sandwich” of piezoelectric material like crystal, usually installed under the string nut or saddles. These tools respond to the changes of pressure from the vibration at these particular points.
An Optical pickup is a kind of pickup which sense the body and string vibrations utilizing infrared LED light. This type of pickup isn’t responsive to EMI.
A number of hybrid electric guitars available are integrated with extra mic, optical, piezoelectric or other kinds of transducers to fairly correct the tone and at the same time to widen the instruments sonic palette.
Electric Guitar Necks
Necks of electric guitar vary in shape and composition. Scale length is the first metric of the guitar neck. It is the vibrating scale of the strings from the saddle to bridge. A classic Fender guitar utilizes a 25.5 inches scale lengths; on the other hand the Gibson guitar utilizes a 24.75 inches scale length. While Gibson’s Les Paul guitar scale length is often illustrated as 24.75 inches, it has differed through the years by ½ inch.
Frets are placed in proportion to scale length. If the scale length is short, the spacing of the fret is closer. Opinions differ with regards to the outcome of scale length on sound and feel. A long scale length adds to greater amplitude. Report of playing feel is greatly complicated due to the various factors involved in this insight. String design and gauge, the construction of neck and relief, playing style, guitar setup as well as other aspects add to the one-sided impression of feel or playability.
The necks of guitars are described as neck through, set in or bolt on, it depends how the neck is linked to the body. A set neck is pasted to guitar’s body in the warehouse. This type of neck has a greater sustain and warmer tone. This is a usual kind of joint. Leo Fender led the way on bolt-on guitar necks to facilitate fast replacement and adjustment. Neck through necks extend the length of the neck in order to form the center of the guitar’s body and are notorious for being sturdy and sustain tone for long. While guitar with set in neck could be unplugged carefully by an expert lutheir, and the bolt on-neck can be unscrewed, the next through style is hard or even unfeasible to fix, and it all depends on the level of the smash.
Historically, a bolt on guitar neck has been very popular due to its easy adjustment and installation. Since this style of the neck can be removed easily, there’s an after-market in bolt on necks replacement from many companies like Mighty Mite and Warmoth. Some guitars- particularly most models of guitars from Gibson- keep on using set in pasted necks. Neck through body is very popular in bass guitars.
When it comes to materials, they are chosen for rigidity and dimensional stability, and some claim that materials can affect the tone. Hardwood is the most preferred material. Popular hardwoods are ash, mahogany and maple. The fingerboard and the neck could be made from diverse materials like for instance; a guitar might have a neck made of maple with a fingerboard made of ebony or rosewood. In the year 1970s, designers started to utilize exotic man-made materials like carbon fiber, ebonol and aircraft-grade aluminum. Makers that follow this trend are Travis Bean, Geoff Gould, Alembic as well as John Veleno.
Apart from possible engineering benefits, some people feel that in connection to the growing cost of exotic tonewoods, materials made by man might be reasonably preferable and ecologically sensitive as well. On the other hand, wood stays popular in making instruments, even if sometimes in relation to the new materials. Like for instance Vigier guitars, make use of a wooden neck toughened by embedding carbon fiber rod alternative to the conventional adjustable steel truss rod or heavier bar made of steel. An after-market neck is made wholly from carbon fiber. Few extensive unofficial assessments have been broadly published that refute or confirm claims on the impacts of diverse materials or woods to the sound of an electric guitar.
Many shapes of the neck appear on guitars including shapes like U necks, V necks and C necks. These talks about the cross sectional form of the neck most particularly near the saddle or nut. Many fret wire sizes are available, with conventional guitar players preferring thin frets a lot, and metal shredders wanting thick frets. These thin frets are regarded better for playing chords, the thick frets on the other hand lead guitarists to twist notes without too much effort.
A Foldaxe electric guitar or those with a folding neck was intended and created by Roger C. Field for Chet Atkins. Steinberger guitars made a series of rare, carbon fiber guitars with no headstock and with tubing performed on guitar’s bridge instead.
Like guitars neck, fingerboards also vary a lot. The surface of the fingerboard normally contains a cross sectional radius which is optimized in order to accommodate the movement of the finger for diverse playing methods. The radius of the fingerboard usually ranges from an extremely large radius or almost flat to a small radius or radically arched. Some of the classic Fender Telecaster comes with a classic small radius that only measures 7.25 inches. Many makers have tried out with a free profile, fret layout, amount of frets as well as alterations in the surface of the fingerboard for diverse reasons. Some developments were planned to boost playability by ergonomic ways like Warmoth Guitars mix radius fingerboard. Some add a scalloped fingerboard to improve microtanality during rapid legato runs. The fanned frets aim to give each string with an utmost playing tension and improved musicality. There are electric guitars that don’t have frets, like for example the Gittler guitar.
The First Electric Guitar
In the year 1931, the Electro String Company was established by Adolph Rickenbacker, George Beauchamp, and Paul Barth, and made the first electric guitars marketed to the general public. They created their electric guitars from durable cast aluminum and played on individual’s lap utilizing steel slide muck like steel guitar today. Due to their extraordinary material, they are addressed as Frying Pans.
The Frying Pans untimely success of these frying pans prompted the Gibson Company to create their very first guitar under the electric guitar category, which is ES-150 that is a real legend today.
The First Solid-Body Electric Guitar
Electric guitars were speedily becoming popular, even if there was a major issue with the construction. Their bodies vibrate because of the amplified sounds that come in the speakers and were played into, which cause feed-back. The obvious remedy was to create a guitar made with a solid body that will not vibrate so easily.
As with many innovations, there’s controversy over who invented the first solid electric guitar. Les Paul, guitar legend in the 1940s developed his guitar called "The Log", solid body guitar by linking a Gibson neck to a solid piece of wood, a railroad tie, which is why it is called Log.
Around the same time, Paul Bigsby an engineer and Merle Travis a guitarist made a solid body electric guitar which looked like the solid body guitars which we’re so familiar with today.
The First Mass Produced Electric Guitar
In 1950, Leo Fender was the first to mass produce electric guitars that were initially called the Fender Broadcaster. This electric guitar was promptly renamed to the well-known Telecaster as the name Broadcaster was already being utilized by another producer. Leo Fender followed this up in the year 1954 with the most popular guitar of all time, the Stratocaster.
The success of Leo Fender leads other manufacturers or musical instrument into making their own-mass produced electric guitars. Most popular was the teaming up of the Les Paul and Gibson guitar company to make the famed Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.
Parts of Electric Guitars
· Tailpiece and Bridge Systems
The tailpiece and bridge, while serving individual purposes, work as one to affect tone and playing style. There are 4 basic kinds of tailpiece and bridge systems on an electric guitar. In these four kinds are many variations.
· Hard Tail
A hard tail electric guitars bridge fastens the string straight at the back of the bridge and is glued firmly at the peak of the guitar. These are popular on carved top electric guitars like the Paul Reed Smith and Gibson Les Paul models, as well as on slab body electric guitars like Fender Guitars and Music Man Albert Lee which aren’t armed with vibrato arm.
· Floating Tailpiece
A trapeze or floating tailpiece comparable to a violin tied up to the body at the bottom of the instrument. Brand of guitars with floating tailpiece are Epiphones, Gretsches, Rickenbackers, a wide selection of archtop guitars, specifically Jazz guitars as well as in the 1952 Gibson Les Paul.
· Vibrato Arm
Vibrato tailpiece or tremolo arm style bridge often called a Trem or whammy bar. It utilizes a level fastened to the bridge which can slacken temporarily or stiffen the strings in order to change the pitch. A musician can utilize this in order to make a portamento or vibrato effect. Early vibrator system was often variable and made the electric guitar to go out of melody easily. Also, they had a restricted range of pitch. Later Fender styles were good, however Fender held the original on these. Therefore other manufacturers utilized older styles for a lot of years.
With end of the Fender Stratocaster-style vibrato, a variety of developments in this kind of internal, multiple spring vibrato system is now accessible. Floyd Rose brought in one of the initial developments on the vibrato scheme in 1970s; he testing with bridge and "locking" nuts that put the guitar off from losing its tune tune, even under weighty vibrato bar application.
· String-through Body
4th kind of system uses string through body fastening. The strings pass above the saddles of the bridge, and then hold on top of the body of the guitar to the rear. Typically, strings anchored in place behind the guitar through metal ferrules. Many believe this style boosts the timbre and sustain of the guitar. Some good examples of guitars with string-through body are the Fender Telacaster Deluxe, Fender Telecaster Thinline, Schecter Omen Six and Seven series as well as the B.C Rich It Mockingbird and Warlock.
Kinds of Electric Guitars
There are many types of electric guitars available out there. Some of these are listed below:
Solid Body Electric Guitar
Solid body electric guitar doesn’t have a sound hole or internal cavity to hold vibrations as in other types of electronic guitars. Thus, they generate extremely little sound once played with no amplification. On the other hand, this also tends to let the strings vibrate longer to some extent compared to hollow body types. A solid body instrument in general is made of wood with six strings made of steel and lacquer paint. The hardwood is usually dried for 3 to 6 months prior to cutting to shape. Guitar pickups convert the vibrations of the string into an electrical signal that fed to amplifiers and speakers.
Hollow Body Electric Guitar
A hollow body electric guitar comes equipped with pickups which are mounted. This type of guitar works the same way as solid body type. A variant type strikes stability between the hollow body and the features of the solid body guitars. Usually, semi-hollow body guitars will have a type more identical to solid body electric guitars, and might come with one, dual or none sound holes. Some hollow body electric guitars have utilized the exceptional acoustic/ sustaining features of metal rather than wood.
Acoustic Electric Guitar
A growing number of acoustic electric guitars are equipped with pickups in place to utilize a separate mic. They might also be equipped with piezo-electric pickups below the bridge with low mass microphones normally a condenser microphone in the body of the instrument. In this situation, the instrument is considered acoustic instead of an electric as the pickups don’t generate a signal straight from the strings vibration.
Neck and String Variants
Both electric and acoustic guitars come with a wide array of necks and bridges and diverse amounts of strings as well. The 6 string electric guitar is the popular one while the 12 string is often utilized. Normally the electric bass guitar comes with 4 strings, even a 5thstring is sometimes included in order to reach the high notes. 7 strings are relatively rare, and guitar players have also tried variety of other number of strings.
The double neck electric guitar allows players to use both a 6- string and 12-string configurations, or utilize diverse tunings with no switching guitars. Also they have been utilized to obtain diverse pickup configurations, making an array of tone effects. Pedal steel guitar often features dual necks and dual sets of corresponding pulleys and pedals.
Electric Guitar Structure
Typical or classic electric guitar has diverse parts.
· The headstock which has the metal head that is utilized for blending the tune.
· The nut is a body fret like a strip of plastic or metal, or ivory with pockmarks to accommodate the strings in position at even interval.
· Machine head which is worn gear that the players switches to alter the tension of the string and thus modify the tuning.
· The frets which are thin strips of metal that stop the strings at the right pitch once they are pressed down opposed to the fingerboard.
· The truss rod which is a cylinder of metal utilized for regulating the tension on guitars neck.
· Inlay that plays only decorative role
· The fretboard and the neck which expand from guitar’s body is intended for easy fingering.
Guitar’s body largely concludes its unamplified sonic features. Typical wood take account of alder, generating a brighter, well rounded tone, swamps ash that generates pronounced lows and highs, mahogany bassy, dark warm, poplar, the same as mahogany as well as basswood which is considered neutral. Another common body wood is maple. This generates an extremely bright sound, however is relatively heavy. Because of this, it is frequently put as a cap on guitars made up of another type of wood.
Electric guitars don’t differ largely from conventional acoustic guitars. Some the bodies are made of hardwood that is lacquered and painted. On the other hand, there are also electric guitars wherein the bodies are made of other materials like polycarbonate. Usually pickups are magnetic, however might also be a piezoelectric transducer pickup. The control is utilized to regulate the volume as well as the tone potentiometers. This type of electric guitar comes with a stable bridge, on the other hand some electric guitars, a tremolo system or spring-packed hinge bridge is utilized instead. The tremolo system allows you to bend chords or notes down or up in pitch. Players can also do a vibrato adornment. A pick guard made of plastic might be utilized to keep the body of the guitar safe from scratches.
Sound and Effects of Electric Guitar
The generated electric signal from electric guitars to amplifiers might be shaped with the application of circuits or effective devices which adjust the pitch and other features of the electric signal. The tone and volume controls on electric guitar as well as the tone and gain controls on amplifiers are the basic sound shaping circuits.
Tremolo and Reverb effects were constructed into amplifiers in the year 1950s. And in the last quarter of that year, guitarists start exploring a broader array of tonal effects through distorting the hum of the guitar. This is done by means of increasing the volume or gain, of an individual preamplifier that generated a fuzz pitch. Another popular modification took place in the last quarter of year 1960s is the wah wah pedal. This allows the guitarist to regulate the pitch control by utilizing his foot, frequently to dramatic effect. Purposely making feedback also turned into a popular work out during this time of the year.
Electric guitar tonal palette was further regulated by means of presenting an effect box. Usually built-in a tiny metal chassis that has on and off foot switch, like stomp boxes turn out to be very a very essential part of guitar pitch in many types. Usual effects include fuzz, stereo chorus, flanging and wah wah, sustain and the compression, phase shift as well as reverb.
In year 1970s, as these effects pedals reproduced, the sounds were mixed with power tube twist at lower, controlled volumes through utilizing autotransformer, power attenuators as well as other methods. In the year 1980s and 1990s, software and digital effects became able to replicate the analog effects utilized long-ago. In year 2002, the company Gibson presented the first ever digital electric guitar that carries out “analog to digital conversion” on the inside, allowing direct interface with PCs via Ethernet cable, getting rid of wire-induced line sound and providing independent signal processing for every string. Amp maker in 2003 released the Variax electric guitar that utilized piezoelectric pickups rather than the traditional electromagnetic and comes with an ob board PC able to modify the tone of the electric guitar to mimic the sound of various musical instruments.
Uses of Electric Guitar
The arrival of electric guitars allowed this instrument to be utilized as a solo apparatus in musical band for the very first time. They make use of the volume control enables the electric guitar to easily switch from a beat to a lead voice most essential during instrumental solo. Electric bass guitars have made conventional dual basses virtually outmoded in lots of genres.
Last quarter of the year 1940s and 1950s, this musical instrument gave birth to diverse forms as rock and roll and Chicago blues as well as rockabilly. Electric guitar became featured musical instrument in the field of jazz, even if never reaching the supremacy which they obtained in rock, country and blues. Country songs have made specific application not just of standard types of basses and electric guitars, but also the electric pedal steel guitar that was came from the previous lap steel guitar first popularized by musicians with Hawaiian style music.
At the start of 1960s, the latest development in the techniques of electric guitar resulted in expert performances by popular singers and guitarists like Jimi Hendricks, Eric Clapton and lots of later players. They built on the blue types of guitarists such as B.B King and Muddy Waters to show powerful fresh spiritual and emotional features with their musical instruments. In the previous years, new electronic systems and experimental guitar styles have paved the way to more creative applications of this kind o musical instrument.
Classic composers started testing with this guitar in the year 1960s and 1970s. On the other hand, in the year 1980s and 1990s, a rising number of composers, some are rock musician’s stared writing contemporary orthodox song for the electric guitars. These take account of Shawn Lane, Nick Didkovsky, Scott Johnson, Steven MackeyTim Brady, John Rogers, Lois V Vierk, Tristan Murail as well as Randall Woolf.
In year 1998, Malmsteen Yngwie released his concert entitled Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra. In June 2007 Steve Vai also released a dual-live CD with a title of Sound Theories, of his effort with the NMO or Netherlands Metropole Orchestra. Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, popular composer based in the US, have made “symphonic" which works for huge ensembles of electric guitars.
Renowned music usually utilized this musical instrument in dual roles: a rhythm guitar in order to give the basic chord rhythm and progression, and a lead guitar which plays tune lines, solos as well as melodic instrumental fill passage. In bands with 2 guitarists, they might play together and swap beat as well as lead roles. But, in bands with one guitarist, he might swap between these roles, a solo and playing chord to go along with the lyrics.
More Affordable Electric Guitars
During the 1960s and 1970’s renowned brand name electric guitars were very much expensive for the average person to purchase. Less pricey imitations rapidly came to the market; however they were sub-standard in playability and sound. In year 1980s, the Japanese started developing electric guitars with the same quality to costlier American made brands, on the other hand, with much affordable cost. This triggered Fender and other top manufacturers of musical instruments into making less costly versions of classic models. It significantly led to electric guitars now being more accessible and reasonable to a lot of people.
At this point in time, the Fender and Gibson guitar companies are still making some of the most renowned and best made electric guitars on the market. On the other hand, it is getting crowded with high quality brands like Peavey, ESP and BC Rich. Innovative styles, shapes as well as materials are being integrated with new technologies in order to make better sounding electric guitars.
Modern guitars have come with software allowing them to sound like other kinds of guitars. Some are even fitted with pickups, which synthesize the sound of diverse instruments or record the notes in musical notation.
The electric guitar has come a long way with an exciting and inventive past and a lot of in the industry say it has an even brighter future.
There are many other styles of electric guitars which have been made, but interestingly some makers produce electric guitars which are based on one of the above types.