The Physics of Acoustic Guitar

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The Physics of Acoustic Guitar
Everything in the universe involves some type of physics. Even the universe itself does, but have you ever wondered about the physics of simpler items? Physics is vital for all musical instruments, if it wasn’t; they probably wouldn’t produce the beautiful sounds that they do. One of these instruments is acoustic guitar. By looking at the instrument, it doesn’t look very complicated, but if you delve deeper into its composition, you’ll find that it’s very complicated. Physics takes part in the making of acoustic guitars, all the way to how it produces its beautiful music.
Before you can understand the physics of playing the guitar, you must first know the brief history of it. The guitars’ history can be traced back to over 4,000 years ago. This ancient instrument has many theories on how it came to be. The theory with the most evidence states that the guitar was a development from a Greek 4-stringed instrument, and then altered by the Romans to be called the cithara. Soon after, this cithara was then brought to Portugal and Spain where it was changed yet again to an instrument named the Oud. After this, it was combined with the vihuela. Throughout time, insignificant alterations where made to the vihuela. It was not until the end of the 1800’s that a man named Antonio Torres Jurado created what we known as the guitar. To start, he increased the size of the body and neck. He raised the neck and improved the fingerboard with ebony or rosewood. He replaced the tuning pegs with more efficient machine tuners. As a result, he made the guitar louder, more efficient, and he overall improved the sound (History of the Acoustic Guitar) (Guy).
To begin, what is sound? Sound is energy in the form of waves c...

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...ype of chain reaction. The pressure wave consists of what is known as compressions and rarefactions. The compression parts are areas of high pressure, where the air molecules are compressed into a small space. On the other hand, the rarefactions are areas of low pressure, where the air molecules are spread out. The result of the compressions and rarefactions is a longitudinal sound wave (Henderson).
As a part of this longitudinal sound wave, the particles vibrate back and forth in a direction parallel to the direction of energy. Since the air molecules always return to their original position, they have no net displacement. When the vibrating molecules of air have to escape somewhere, this is where the sound hole comes into play. The air escapes through it and this is where the sound is projected. When all this occurs, it’s called the Helmholtz resonance (Wolfe).

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