Acoustic Guitars in Symphony Musical Instruments
I don’t think many of you know what an acoustic guitar is. But for those of you who are a bit more clueless, we are going to explain a little bit what this instrument consists of.
The acoustic guitar is a stringed instrument made up of a soundboard, a bridge where the strings are placed, a neck, a fingerboard or fretboard and a headstock.
It is true that, over the years, the design of the acoustic guitar has not undergone major changes, in recent years there have been a number of innovations that have resulted in the wide range of instruments available today.
Why an acoustic guitar “sounds
The sound of any self-respecting guitar is produced by the vibration of the strings. The sound produced is not particularly intense enough to be heard clearly, so it needs to be amplified in some way to be appreciated clearly. That is precisely the function of the soundboard.
The vibrations of the strings cause both the bottom and the sides of the soundboard to vibrate. This makes the sound coming out of the soundhole (round opening in the soundboard) of the soundboard much more intense than the vibration of a single string.
Precisely, the soundhole also has its influence on the sound of the guitar. The vibration transmitted by the strings to the soundboard produces a sound that in turn is mixed with the sound of the soundhole. Thus producing a mixture of harmonics that determine the identity of each guitar.
Difference between classical guitar and acoustic guitar
If we get picky, any guitar that does not have to be amplified to produce sound is considered an acoustic guitar. Therefore, we can already see that a classical guitar can be considered within the range of acoustic guitars. Hence, it is necessary to distinguish them in some way.
Basically, and as a great difference, we can say that the Spanish or classical guitar mounts nylon strings and the acoustic guitars mount steel strings. Although the use of steel strings is a relatively recent modification. Due to the rise of louder instruments such as banjos and violins at the beginning of the 20th century. As they were louder than guitars, they had a lot of problems to be heard.
But installing metal strings on the guitar meant that the pressure between the body and the neck increased. Therefore, internal modifications were developed, consisting of wooden reinforcements installed on the lower face of the top or soundboard.
Like the soundboard, the neck also needs help to support the increased string tension. This was solved by installing a steel rod under the fingerboard. This neck tensioner is commonly known as the “web”.
In addition, acoustic guitars are usually larger, just as their design and typology are more varied. Their soundboard is wider than that of the classical guitar, especially in the upper part of it.
Another difference is that classical guitars are usually played with the fingers and are notably easier to play, since the strings are softer and less tense. They also tend to have a flatter and wider fretboard than steel string guitars.
Different types of acoustic guitars
Nowadays, we have at our disposal a wide variety of acoustic guitars. Within this wide variety we can choose the type of string, if we need a left-handed or right-handed guitar and, above all, if it should be acoustic or electro-acoustic. An electro-acoustic is basically an acoustic guitar with a pickup in it. This means that it can be plugged into an acoustic guitar amplifier so that the sound is amplified to much higher volumes, which is ideal if you are playing live.
As for its shape or design, it’s worth noting that it’s worth talking about at length. As we have already mentioned above, both the materials and the design substantially influence the sound of the guitar.
Therefore, we are going to name, broadly speaking, the different types of “architectures” of these stringed instruments.
One of the big groups in which we can include a specific type of acoustic guitars: all the acoustic guitars with arched top. This type of design was born with the need to provide a more powerful sound to the acoustic guitar. When used in live jazz performances with saxophones and brass instruments, they did not produce enough volume. The great precursor of this design was Orville Gibson.
This term should not be confused with “Jumbo” or “Flat Top”. This type of guitars is another of the big groups in which we can divide the acoustic guitars. Dreadnoughts = anything that does not have an arched top. Created in 1916 by Frank Henry Martin and Harry Hunt, its name derives from a famous English battleship. Thanks to its bulky body, the Dreadnoughts provided a much more powerful sound, with more force and volume, than all the models of the time.
We said earlier that we should not confuse Dreadnoughts with Jumbo guitars.
So what is the difference?
Jumbo guitars are much more rounded in shape than Dreadnoughts and have more pronounced “curves”. We would say that, although Dreadnoughts have the typical shape of an acoustic guitar, the Jumbo is the most iconic of the American creations.