Physics of Guitars

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Almost everybody can appreciate guitars. Guitars are at the forefront of music as the centerpiece of most bands. Guitars are a highly versatile instrument capable of playing full 6 note chords, unlike most instruments. As much as music depends on guitars, guitars also depend on physics. Without understanding the properties sound, guitars wouldn’t be possible. Guitars use the principles of acoustics to produce the sound you hear.

Acoustic guitars and electric guitars produce sound in two different ways. Acoustic guitars use a resonating chamber to amplify the sound. Electric guitars use pick-ups to transform the sound into electrical impulses, then the electrical impulses are then converted to sound by amplifiers.

Strings can alter the sound of a guitar by a large factor. Strings on acoustic guitars are much larger than on electric guitars. This is because acoustic guitars produce entirely their own sound where electric guitars can alter their sound by using amplifiers and foot pedals. Strings can also be made of different materials. Most strings for electric guitars are a type of coated metal while acoustic guitars can use nylon strings to produce a softer sound and are easier on the fingers.

Amps are how electric guitars produce most of their sound. As stated earlier, electric guitars do not have 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...

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...al so when the core pushes up the cone reacts in the same way. As a series of signals are sent to the speaker it causes the cone to vibrate causing a sound wave to radiate from the speaker. As the sound waves leave the speaker they should arrive at your ears shortly, then you can enjoy the musical presentation!

Works Cited

AEC One Stop Group Inc. "allmusic." http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:545 19 October 2004

Cumpiano, William R. Guitarmaking, tradition and technology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994.

Henderson, Tom "The Physics Classroom." http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/sound/u11l1a.html 12 October 2004

HowStuffWorks Inc. "How Amplifiers Work." http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/amplifier3.htm 19 October 2004

Wolfe, Joe. "Guitar Acoustics." http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/guitar/ 17 October 2004

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