About The Guitar
The guitar is thought to be descended from the Moorish ‘Oud’, the Scandinavian ‘lute’, and the Indian ‘Sitar’. It appeared in Europe in 12th Century, particularly in Spain, and gradually went on to develop into the 2 main families that we have today – the acoustic guitar (classical, flamenco, steel string), and the electric guitar, which was developed in the 1930s and has become a major influence on both popular music and culture.
- Andres Segovia
- Julian Bream
- Paco Pena
- John McLachlan
- Eric Clapton
- Carlos Santana
- Steve Vai
The guitar is a fun and very versatile instrument, and is used in many styles of music – classical, flamenco, jazz, pop, rock, blues, country, latin and bluegrass. Like the piano it can be used as both a rhythm and lead instrument, to accompany singing or to play solo melodies. The electric guitar has become more versatile still, with electronic effects capable of manipulating the sound even further.
Famous Guitar Music
- El Concierto de Aranjuez (Rodrigo)
- Entre Dos Aguas (Paco de Lucia)
- Jonny B Good (Chuck Berry)
- Layla (Eric Clapton)
- Sweet Child of Mine (Guns N Roses)
- Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix)
- Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
Did You Know…
Guitar fan Chris Black of London held a wedding ceremony in 2001 and married his Fender Stratocaster.
Is The Guitar For You?
Guitars come in different sizes ( ½ size, ¾ size, and full size) for different age groups. Due to the many different styles of music that you can play, the guitar is fun and rewarding, whether it’s acoustic or electric. All guitars have the same notes and strings so you can start on one type and transfer to another later on; contrary to common opinion, it is not necessary to start on the classical guitar.
The Electric Guitar
The electric guitar is one of the most fun instruments that you can play. It is different form the acoustic guitar in that the body is solid rather than hollow, and the sound is magnified by the ‘pickups’ which send the signal of the vibrating strings to the amplifier. That sound can then be manipulated to create an overdriven sound typical in rock music, or left ‘clean’ for eg. jazz/ chord accompaniment.
With the electric guitar, the strings are usually played with a plectrum or ‘pick’, which is a triangular piece of plastic of varying thickness. The left hand pushes down the strings at the ‘frets’ to make the notes, just as with the acoustic guitar.
Children and teenagers may choose to learn the electric guitar rather than the acoustic as it is less traditional and can be more instantly exciting. There is less focus on music reading and theory at the beginning which makes it more accessible, and within a relatively short period of time students can learn to play some of their favourite songs.
The electric guitar has grown to become a fully recognised instrument in music education, and students can take all of the grades from 1- 8, through to diploma and BMus hons degree courses. The grades and higher courses involve learning modern music styles such as jazz, rock and blues, and the techniques and music theory that go with these.
The electric guitar is very much a staple of modern pop and rock music, being used in everything from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to accompanying singers such as Amy Whinehouse or Adele.
The Acoustic Guitar
The acoustic guitar includes classical, flamenco, and acoustic steel string guitars. These guitars are hollow bodied and the sound is produced from resonating inside the body and coming out from the sound hole. Acoustic guitars are more commonly played by fingerpicking with the right hand, rather than with a plectrum, although the notes with the left hand are the same.
Classical guitar is the more traditional approach to learning, and involves reading music from the outset. Players gradually increase this skill, along with left and right hand technique and music knowledge, and can progress to taking classical guitar grades 1-8, diploma, and BMus hons music degree. The classical guitar may take longer to learn than the electric guitar at the beginning, but does provide students with a solid musical foundation for other instruments too, and can be very rewarding. Classical guitarists go on to be very adept at music reading, and there is a vast repertoire of music available to them to perform.
Steel string acoustic guitar can be used as accompaniment for singing, or for the more ‘unplugged’ sound in blues, rock, pop or jazz music. It has a similar feel to the electric guitar, as it shares its metal strings and thin neck, and is often played with a plectrum.
Flamenco guitar is a faster, more rhythmic, and intense style of acoustic guitar that has its roots in accompanying Spanish flamenco dance and singing. The techniques and rhythms are demanding and the guitar is thinner and lighter to help its more percussive sound.