Physics of the Electric Guitar and Amp

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A guitar is an instrument made out of wood or other wood like materials. Many things could affect the instrument's qualities, such as the types of lacquer used or what kind of strings are used. The guitar amp is an instrument in itself just as a guitar, not all amps are created equally. An amplifier allows the guitarist to express his playing to the world. Some amplifiers are made using really simple vacuum tube circuits, and others are made from really complex solid state circuitry. Not any two similar guitars will sound alike, just as how any two similar people are not exactly identical. Amps are very similar in context; no two similar amps will sound exactly alike.

The electric guitar is a very simple instrument. It is just a nice combination of hardwoods. The body is a solid piece of alder with a quilt maple ply glued to the top. It could be made of any type of wood available, such as plywood. In some cases, I have seen guitars that are made out of plain metal, plastics, and even foam (like in surf boards). The neck is made usually from maple and sometimes has a fret board glued to it to change its tonal characteristics. A truss rod and sometimes graphite rods are installed inside the neck to counteract the tensions from the strings which could warp the guitar neck.

Acoustically, an electric guitar does not have any significant volume. That is how we know the electric guitar as the "electric" guitar! A matter of fact a guitar generates its own electricity! How does it do this? The pickups are a generator of electricity. The strings are an electro-conductive and vibrate around a wire and magnet coil, thus producing an alternating current. This matches the frequency of different pitches and the current is sent to an ampl...

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...ue; a tube amp seems VERY loud compared to the solid-state counterpart. This is due to harmonics that tubes create which make the amp seem much louder.

There is not much parts needed to make an amp, many of the earliest amps were based from radio circuits. This picture above looks really complicated, but it is not. After the guitar signal is amplified into a much larger signal or current, it is then looped into the speaker which acts as a small resistor, so with different speakers an amp could be pushed past its power rating.

Another form of an amplifier is effects. Effects are usually connected between the guitar and amp; sometimes amps will have a connection to effects separate from the guitar input called an effects loop. An effects loop usually loops the preamp stage of an amp to the input of the effects unit, and then sends it to the power-amp section.

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