The Spanish vihuela, called in Italian the "viola da mano", a guitar-like instrument of the 15th and 16th centuries, is widely considered to have been the single most important influence in the development of the baroque guitar. It had six courses (usually), lute-like tuning in fourths and a guitar-like body, although early representations reveal an instrument with a sharply cut waist. It was also larger than the contemporary four-course guitars. By the 16th century, the vihuela's construction had more in common with the modern guitar, with its curved one-piece ribs, than with the viols, and more like a larger version of the contemporary four-course guitars. The vihuela enjoyed only a relatively short period of popularity in Spain and Italy during an era dominated elsewhere in Europe by the lute; the last surviving published music for the instrument appeared in 1576.[9]

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An open tuning allows a chord to be played by strumming the strings when "open", or while fretting no strings. The base chord consists of at least three notes and may include all the strings or a subset. The tuning is named for the base chord when played open, typically a major triad, and each major-triad can be played by barring exactly one fret.[60] Open tunings are common in blues and folk music,[59] and they are used in the playing of slide and lap-slide ("Hawaiian") guitars.[60][61] Ry Cooder uses open tunings when he plays slide guitar.[59]
Before the development of the electric guitar and the use of synthetic materials, a guitar was defined as being an instrument having "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and a flat back, most often with incurved sides."[2] The term is used to refer to a number of chordophones that were developed and used across Europe, beginning in the 12th century and, later, in the Americas.[3] A 3,300-year-old stone carving of a Hittite bard playing a stringed instrument is the oldest iconographic representation of a chordophone and clay plaques from Babylonia show people playing an instrument that has a strong resemblance to the guitar, indicating a possible Babylonian origin for the guitar.[2]

Português: Tocar Acordes de Guitarra, Español: tocar acordes de guitarra, Deutsch: Akkorde auf der Gitarre spielen, Italiano: Suonare gli Accordi con la Chitarra, Français: jouer des accords à la guitare, Русский: играть аккорды на гитаре, 中文: 弹吉他和弦, Nederlands: Gitaarakkoorden spelen, हिन्दी: गिटार बजाएँ, Tiếng Việt: Chơi Hợp âm Ghita, ไทย: จับคอร์ดกีตาร์, 日本語: ギターでコードを弾く, العربية: عزف كوردات الجيتار
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.

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,[92][93] 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.[92]

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The saddle of a guitar refers to the part of the bridge that physically supports the strings. It may be one piece (typically on acoustic guitars) or separate pieces, one for each string (electric guitars and basses). The saddle's basic purpose is to provide the end point for the string's vibration at the correct location for proper intonation, and on acoustic guitars to transfer the vibrations through the bridge into the top wood of the guitar. Saddles are typically made of plastic or bone for acoustic guitars, though synthetics and some exotic animal tooth variations (e.g. fossilized tooth, ivory, etc. ) have become popular with some players. Electric guitar saddles are typically metal, though some synthetic saddles are available.
Conventionally, guitarists double notes in a chord to increase its volume, an important technique for players without amplification; doubling notes and changing the order of notes also changes the timbre of chords. It can make a possible a "chord" which is composed of the all same note on different strings. Many chords can be played with the same notes in more than one place on the fretboard.
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Bolt-on necks, though they are historically associated with cheaper instruments, do offer greater flexibility in the guitar's set-up, and allow easier access for neck joint maintenance and repairs. Another type of neck, only available for solid body electric guitars, is the neck-through-body construction. These are designed so that everything from the machine heads down to the bridge are located on the same piece of wood. The sides (also known as wings) of the guitar are then glued to this central piece. Some luthiers prefer this method of construction as they claim it allows better sustain of each note. Some instruments may not have a neck joint at all, having the neck and sides built as one piece and the body built around it.

SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.