Guitar Variants

Saturday, November 25, 2006

While most of you will choose from among the four major types of guitars we’ve alreadydescribed, there are some other noteworthy types of guitars that have been or are available.

  • Bass Guitars. Perhaps the most popular guitar variant is not really a guitar at all—it is anelectrified version of a standup bass, designed to be held like a guitar. Introduced in thefifties by Fender, the electric bass has become a standard component of all rock bands.It is tuned and played like a standard acoustic bass—so it’s really a member of the violinfamily. Recently, acoustic guitar makers have designed acoustic bass guitars that areheld like an electric bass but are intended for playing softer music.

  • Smaller Instruments. Three-quarter-sized or half-sized guitars are made, often forchildren. The Martin Guitar Company recently introduced a specially sized guitardesigned for women players, who tend to have smaller hands than men.

  • Acoustic-Electric Guitars. This simply describes an acoustic guitar with built-in electricpickups, designed to be played through an amplification system. These are particularlyattractive to people who like to play folk-style music, but the instrument needs to beheard in a club setting.

  • 12-String Guitars. These large-bodied, double-strung guitars were much favored by bluesplayers because of their loud volume. The strings were tuned an octave apart, giving theinstrument a booming bass sound.

  • Guitar Synthesizers. These instruments enable guitarists to enjoythe wide world of sounds available through synthesizers. Theyfeature guitar-like construction and are held and played like aguitar, but actually they contain or connect to a synthesizer,which creates a variety of sounds.

There are also a wide variety of other guitar types—from tenor guitarsto harp guitars—that were popular at one time or another, althoughthey are rarely played or heard today.