There's no other instrument with as much presence and cultural identity as the guitar. Virtually everyone is familiar with tons of different guitar sounds, from intense metal shredding to soft and jaunty acoustic folk music. And behind all those iconic guitar tones are great sets of strings. Just like a saxophonist changes reeds from time to time or a drummer replaces sticks, putting new strings on your guitar every so often is an important part of owning and playing one.
The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting (pressing the strings against the frets) with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar (for an acoustic guitar), or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.
Electric guitars can have solid, semi-hollow, or hollow bodies; solid bodies produce little sound without amplification. Electromagnetic pickups convert the vibration of the steel strings into signals, which are fed to an amplifier through a patch cable or radio transmitter. The sound is frequently modified by other electronic devices (effects units) or the natural distortion of valves (vacuum tubes) or the pre-amp in the amplifier. There are two main types of magnetic pickups, single- and double-coil (or humbucker), each of which can be passive or active. The electric guitar is used extensively in jazz, blues, R & B, and rock and roll. The first successful magnetic pickup for a guitar was invented by George Beauchamp, and incorporated into the 1931 Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) "Frying Pan" lap steel; other manufacturers, notably Gibson, soon began to install pickups in archtop models. After World War II the completely solid-body electric was popularized by Gibson in collaboration with Les Paul, and independently by Leo Fender of Fender Music. The lower fretboard action (the height of the strings from the fingerboard), lighter (thinner) strings, and its electrical amplification lend the electric guitar to techniques less frequently used on acoustic guitars. These include tapping, extensive use of legato through pull-offs and hammer-ons (also known as slurs), pinch harmonics, volume swells, and use of a tremolo arm or effects pedals.
Each Music Monday will feature local performers strumming their guitars on the Plaza. Bring your lunch or buy one from the Fork in the Road Food Truck and soak in the music from a variety of excellent Bozeman performers. This program is free to the public. Museum admission is not required. In the case of inclement weather, these performances will take place in the Hager Auditorium with space for lunch available in the Lower Lobby. Food and drinks are not allowed in the auditorium.
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.
The main purpose of the bridge on an acoustic guitar is to transfer the vibration from the strings to the soundboard, which vibrates the air inside of the guitar, thereby amplifying the sound produced by the strings. On all electric, acoustic and original guitars, the bridge holds the strings in place on the body. There are many varied bridge designs. There may be some mechanism for raising or lowering the bridge saddles to adjust the distance between the strings and the fretboard (action), or fine-tuning the intonation of the instrument. Some are spring-loaded and feature a "whammy bar", a removable arm that lets the player modulate the pitch by changing the tension on the strings. The whammy bar is sometimes also called a "tremolo bar". (The effect of rapidly changing pitch is properly called "vibrato". See Tremolo for further discussion of this term.) Some bridges also allow for alternate tunings at the touch of a button.
The intensive A.A. curriculum prepares musicians to perform in any professional situation, along with learning professional development skills such as basic computer use, EPK creation, resume and bio writing, and social media as a tool for business and networking. The Associate of Arts Degree is intended to equip students with the knowledge and training needed to become professional performers in today’s music industry.