The fingerboard, also called the fretboard, is a piece of wood embedded with metal frets that comprises the top of the neck. It is flat on classical guitars and slightly curved crosswise on acoustic and electric guitars. The curvature of the fretboard is measured by the fretboard radius, which is the radius of a hypothetical circle of which the fretboard's surface constitutes a segment. The smaller the fretboard radius, the more noticeably curved the fretboard is. Most modern guitars feature a 12" neck radius, while older guitars from the 1960s and 1970s usually feature a 6-8" neck radius. Pinching a string against a fret on fretboard effectively shortens the vibrating length of the string, producing a higher pitch.
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!
As their categorical name suggests, extended chords indeed extend seventh chords by stacking one or more additional third-intervals, successively constructing ninth, eleventh, and finally thirteenth chords; thirteenth chords contain all seven notes of the diatonic scale. In closed position, extended chords contain dissonant intervals or may sound supersaturated, particularly thirteenth chords with their seven notes. Consequently, extended chords are often played with the omission of one or more tones, especially the fifth and often the third, as already noted for seventh chords; similarly, eleventh chords often omit the ninth, and thirteenth chords the ninth or eleventh. Often, the third is raised an octave, mimicking its position in the root's sequence of harmonics.
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Only two or three frets are needed for the guitar chords—major, minor, and dominant sevenths—which are emphasized in introductions to guitar-playing and to the fundamentals of music. Each major and minor chord can be played on exactly two successive frets on exactly three successive strings, and therefore each needs only two fingers. Other chords—seconds, fourths, sevenths, and ninths—are played on only three successive frets.
A guitar's frets, fretboard, tuners, headstock, and truss rod, all attached to a long wooden extension, collectively constitute its neck. The wood used to make the fretboard usually differs from the wood in the rest of the neck. The bending stress on the neck is considerable, particularly when heavier gauge strings are used (see Tuning), and the ability of the neck to resist bending (see Truss rod) is important to the guitar's ability to hold a constant pitch during tuning or when strings are fretted. The rigidity of the neck with respect to the body of the guitar is one determinant of a good instrument versus a poor-quality one.
The musical theory of chords is reviewed, to provide terminology for a discussion of guitar chords. Three kinds of chords, which are emphasized in introductions to guitar-playing, are discussed. These basic chords arise in chord-triples that are conventional in Western music, triples that are called three-chord progressions. After each type of chord is introduced, its role in three-chord progressions is noted.
For example, in the guitar (like other stringed instruments but unlike the piano), open-string notes are not fretted and so require less hand-motion. Thus chords that contain open notes are more easily played and hence more frequently played in popular music, such as folk music. Many of the most popular tunings—standard tuning, open tunings, and new standard tuning—are rich in the open notes used by popular chords. Open tunings allow major triads to be played by barring one fret with only one finger, using the finger like a capo. On guitars without a zeroth fret (after the nut), the intonation of an open note may differ from then note when fretted on other strings; consequently, on some guitars, the sound of an open note may be inferior to that of a fretted note.
A major chord is made from the I, III and V notes, so C major uses the notes C, E and G. To make a major chord into a minor, you flatten (lower the pitch by one fret, or a half-step) the III note. This means C minor is made up of C, Eb (flat) and G. So now, from the E major scale, E = I, F# (sharp) =II, G# = III, A = IV, B = V, C# = VI and D# = VII, you can work out both the major and minor chords. Sharps are just the opposite of flats, so you raise the pitch by one fret (or half-step). When you're working out the E minor chord, you have to flatten the F#, which just makes it back into a natural (neither flat nor sharp) F.
Open tuning refers to a guitar tuned so that strumming the open strings produces a chord, typically a major chord. The base chord consists of at least 3 notes and may include all the strings or a subset. The tuning is named for the open chord, Open D, open G, and open A are popular tunings. All similar chords in the chromatic scale can then be played by barring a single fret. Open tunings are common in blues and folk music, and they are used in the playing of slide and bottleneck guitars. Many musicians use open tunings when playing slide guitar.
If you're a fan of the Grateful Dead, check out the D'Angelico Premier Series DC Grateful Dead Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar. In the acoustic department, the Alvarez Artist Series AD60 dreadnought acoustic guitar comes highly rated, thanks to its hand-selected spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and powerful tone. Singer-songwriters and fans of acoustic-driven music must check out the latest Ed Sheeran Martin guitar, the comfortable, easy-to-play Divide Signature Edition Little Martin acoustic-electric.
Flatwound strings have a flat surface. These strings are very popular among jazz guitarists because they have a very dark and understated tone. However, they are also more difficult to play. These strings are not a good fit for rock or blues, because they’re stiffness and dark tone means that it’s hard to cut through the mix and pull off the fast and intricate runs and bends that define blues, rock, and metal.
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.