Another factor to consider are the alloys used to make the string. Acoustic strings may be phosphor bronze or an 80/20 bronze/zinc alloy, electric strings may be pure steel or a steel/nickel alloy, and the outer winding on the thicker strings may be either round wound or flat wound, which is typically used by jazz guitarists for smooth fingering with less fretting noise. Acoustic and electric strings are both now available with special super-thin coatings to protect them from sweat and corrosion. Coated strings cost more, but generally last much longer. Find out what type of string your favorite player uses, try guitars with different types of strings at your local guitar store, then try a few different sets on your guitar to see what feels and sounds best for your playing style. Major manufacturers include Ernie Ball, Martin, GHS, D'Addario, and Elixir, among others. Make sure you have a string winder to make installing the strings go faster, and some pliers with a fine wire cutter to clip the excess string from the tuning post, a well as some guitar polish - changing strings is a good time to perform some routine maintenance. Keep a clean cloth in your case to wipe down the strings after each use, along with extra bridge pins for your acoustic guitar. Regular string changes are the best way to keep your tone crisp and clear, so grab a pack and tune 'em up!
First, you need to determine what type of guitar you have - acoustic nylon, acoustic steel string, or electric. You want to be sure to use the correct strings for your particular guitar. Acoustic guitars that require nylon strings, such as classical, flamenco and some folk guitars, generally have lighter tops, or soundboards, with less internal bracing than those found on steel-string acoustics, and stand the risk of serious damage if fitted with steel strings. Steel-string acoustics are designed to withstand the added stress that steel strings exert on the top, bridge, nut and neck, and won't sound very good with nylon strings, if they even fit. Electric guitar strings must be made of ferromagnetic metals like steel and nickel, so they can interact with the magnetic pickups, while acoustic-electric guitars typically use a different type of pickup which senses vibrations from the bridge, so acoustic strings may just have a steel core wound with a phosphor bronze alloy wrap for bright tone. Guitars with whammy bars might require a few extra steps to keep everything stable, so check your manufacturer's instructions or look for online videos.
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Piezoelectric, or piezo, pickups represent another class of pickup. These employ piezoelectricity to generate the musical signal and are popular in hybrid electro-acoustic guitars. A crystal is located under each string, usually in the saddle. When the string vibrates, the shape of the crystal is distorted, and the stresses associated with this change produce tiny voltages across the crystal that can be amplified and manipulated.
To play a C chord on a guitar, put your ring finger on the third fret on the A string, your middle finger on the second fret on the D string, leave the G string open, and put your index finger on the first fret of the B string. Before you try to strum the chord, play each note individually until the note sounds clear. When you've mastered the C chord, try moving on to other chords like G or F.
So, what should you look for in a set of strings? There's no one answer. To go back to those same analogies: every woodwind player has a preferred strength and shape of reed, and every drummer likes a set of sticks with particular balance and tip shape. It's the same with strings: you've got different gauges and different materials to choose from, and ultimately the right ones for you are a matter of preference.
Almost all guitars have frets, which are metal strips (usually nickel alloy or stainless steel) embedded along the fretboard and located at exact points that divide the scale length in accordance with a specific mathematical formula. The exceptions include fretless bass guitars and very rare fretless guitars. Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch. The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale. Standard classical guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 and 24 frets, although guitars have been made with as many as 27 frets. Frets are laid out to accomplish an equal tempered division of the octave. Each set of twelve frets represents an octave. The twelfth fret divides the scale length exactly into two halves, and the 24th fret position divides one of those halves in half again.
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Guitar Chords are a group of at least 3 notes played together, this means three different notes, i.e. notes with 3 different pitches. If, for example, you select an E major chord on the guitar chord generator on this page, you can see the 3 notes E, B and G# (Ab) make up this chord. Some notes can be expressed as either sharp or flat (enharmonic spelling), the notes sound just the same but the naming of them is decided by which key the song is in. You can find out more about this in our music theory section.
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The two most common types of acoustic guitar are the steel-string guitar and the classical guitar. The classical guitar, also known as the Spanish guitar, usually uses nylon strings. Steel-string guitars originated in the United States and are also referred to as western guitar and folk guitar. Steel-string guitars sound louder and brighter than classical guitars, which have a warmer, mellower sound. Steel-string models usually have larger bodies and narrower necks, and they often have a pickguard to protect the body against scratches by picks and fingernails. Most acoustic guitars have six strings, but there are also 12-string versions. When an acoustic guitar is hooked up to an amplifier, it is referred to as acoustic/electric. Some acoustic/electric guitars incorporate a cutaway design, which makes it easier for electric guitar players to cross over to acoustic.