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Acoustic guitars form several notable subcategories within the acoustic guitar group: classical and flamenco guitars; steel-string guitars, which include the flat-topped, or "folk", guitar; twelve-string guitars; and the arched-top guitar. The acoustic guitar group also includes unamplified guitars designed to play in different registers, such as the acoustic bass guitar, which has a similar tuning to that of the electric bass guitar.
Once you know the basic chords, it might be easier to think of them the way the function inside a key. For example, when in the key of E, the E (I) is called the Tonic. It's what all the other chords want to get to—which is what helps give western music its sense of motion. The A (IV) in the key of E functions as the Subdominant—it's sort of a passive in-between, just as happy to continue forward, as to relax back to the Tonic. The Dominant is just what it sounds like: it leads you where it wants to go. In the key of E, that role is filled by the B (V), and will definitely make your brain want to get back to the Tonic! When you get more familiar with the chords, and want to sketch out a tune, try writing it as I-IV-V (or variations of that) instead of E-A-B. It will make it much easier to transpose when you find out your singer cannot sing in the original key!
The headstock is located at the end of the guitar neck farthest from the body. It is fitted with machine heads that adjust the tension of the strings, which in turn affects the pitch. The traditional tuner layout is "3+3", in which each side of the headstock has three tuners (such as on Gibson Les Pauls). In this layout, the headstocks are commonly symmetrical. Many guitars feature other layouts, including six-in-line tuners (featured on Fender Stratocasters) or even "4+2" (e.g. Ernie Ball Music Man). Some guitars (such as Steinbergers) do not have headstocks at all, in which case the tuning machines are located elsewhere, either on the body or the bridge.
The electric guitar initially met with skepticism from traditionalists, but country and blues players and jazz instrumentalists soon took to the variety of new tones and sounds that the electric guitar could produce, exploring innovative ways to alter, bend and sustain notes. The instrument's volume and tones proved particularly appealing to the enthusiasts of rock and roll in the 1950s.
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Once you've got your categories narrowed down, then you can start getting into the nitty-gritty differences between strings. For instance, electric guitars will give you the choice between nickel (for authentic vintage sound) and stainless steel (for maximum durability). Some string manufacturers have exotic material options with their own unique characteristics, like Ernie Ball's Slinky Cobalt strings. With so many subtle differences separating guitar strings, you owe it to yourself to browse carefully and look at all the choices on the table before making a decision.
Electric guitars, introduced in the 1930s, use an amplifier and a loudspeaker that both makes the sound of the instrument loud enough for the performers and audience to hear, and, given that it produces an electric signal when played, that can electronically manipulate and shape the tone using an equalizer (e.g., bass and treble tone controls) and a huge variety of electronic effects units, the most commonly used ones being distortion (or "overdrive") and reverb. Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but a solid wood body was eventually found more suitable during the 1960s and 1970s, as it was less prone to unwanted acoustic feedback "howls". As with acoustic guitars, there are a number of types of electric guitars, including hollowbody guitars, archtop guitars (used in jazz guitar, blues and rockabilly) and solid-body guitars, which are widely used in rock music.
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.