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.
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You can tell whether or not strings are of a thin or thick gauge based on the numbers on the package. The smallest number, which is the gauge of thinnest string, will usually be .9 or lower on thin gauge strings. On thick gauge strings this number will be .12 or higher. Strings that are .10 or .11 are generally considered to be “mediums”, and produce a tone and feel which is the middle ground between these two extremes.
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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.
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.
Renaissance and Baroque guitars are the ancestors of the modern classical and flamenco guitar. They are substantially smaller, more delicate in construction, and generate less volume. The strings are paired in courses as in a modern 12-string guitar, but they only have four or five courses of strings rather than six single strings normally used now. They were more often used as rhythm instruments in ensembles than as solo instruments, and can often be seen in that role in early music performances. (Gaspar Sanz's Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 contains his whole output for the solo guitar.) Renaissance and Baroque guitars are easily distinguished, because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with ivory or wood inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.
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 nut is a small strip of bone, plastic, brass, corian, graphite, stainless steel, or other medium-hard material, at the joint where the headstock meets the fretboard. Its grooves guide the strings onto the fretboard, giving consistent lateral string placement. It is one of the endpoints of the strings' vibrating length. It must be accurately cut, or it can contribute to tuning problems due to string slippage or string buzz. To reduce string friction in the nut, which can adversely affect tuning stability, some guitarists fit a roller nut. Some instruments use a zero fret just in front of the nut. In this case the nut is used only for lateral alignment of the strings, the string height and length being dictated by the zero fret.
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