Guitar

Guitar facts

classical guitar

The acoustic guitar is increasingly one of the most popular instruments taken up by young musicians - and its classical counterpart isn't all that different.

Just like acoustic guitars, classical guitars have a wooden body with six strings. The strings, however, are slightly different: they're usually made of nylon or gut, unlike the metal strings used on acoustic instruments.

Guitar history

Guitars have been played since the Renaissance era, after descending from the ancient Greek instrument, the kithara. Or, at least, that's how the theory goes: the only real proof for this is the similarities between the Greek word and the Spanish word, quitarra. Early guitars often had four strings, evolving into the six-string version we know today in the late 1600s. Anton Stradivari, the famous violin-maker, also had a hand in making guitars. There's now only one Stradivarius guitar left in existence.

Range of notes played by a guitar

Guitar notes range

A classical guitar has six strings: E, B, G, D, A and E, usually tuned from the E below middle C to the E a third above. The highest note played on a guitar is dependent on the number of frets on the guitar's 'neck', that is, the long wooden board on which the strings sit - but it's usually a D or an E two octaves above the highest string.

How to play the guitar

Unlike many string instruments which use a bow to create a sound, guitars are played by plucking or strumming the strings on the instrument, which vibrate to create a sound. Chords are played when the guitarist holds their fingers down on more than one individual string to change its length, which in turn changes the frequency of the vibration created - in other words, it creates a different note. Performers often use guitar tabs, rather than sheet music, when learning music: this acts as a kind of 'map' to teach guitarists where to put their fingers on the strings.

How to play the guitar