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Definition: guitar from Philip's Encyclopedia

Plucked stringed musical instrument. The early guitar had four double strings and was similar to the lute. The modern guitar has six strings. The virtuoso playing of Andrés Segovia inspired compositions by Manuel de Falla and Villa-Lobos. In 1946, Les Paul invented the electric guitar, now a standard instrument in blues, pop and rock music. Acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars are used in folk and jazz.

Summary Article: guitar from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Plucked, fretted string instrument. It may be called the classical guitar, the Spanish guitar (because of its origins), or the acoustic guitar (to differentiate it from the electric guitar). The fingerboard has frets (strips of metal showing where to place the finger to obtain different notes), and the 6 or 12 strings are plucked or strummed with the fingers or a plectrum. The strings are tuned to E2, A3, D3, G3, B4, and E4. The Hawaiian guitar is laid across the player's lap, and uses a metal bar to produce a distinctive gliding tone. The solid-bodied electric guitar, was developed in the 1950s by Les Paul and Leo Fender. It mixes and amplifies vibrations from electromagnetic pickups (microphones which ‘pick up’ the vibration of the strings and convert them to electrical impulses) at different points to produce a range of tone qualities.

The guitar is used widely in folk music, and its prominence in popular music can be traced from the traditions of the US Midwest; it played a supporting harmony role in jazz and dance bands during the 1920s and adapted quickly to electric amplification. It is also played as a classical instrument, and its 20th-century revival owes much to Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, and John Williams. Important solo works have been written for the instrument by Luciano Berio. Concertos for guitar and orchestra have been written by Malcolm Arnold, Richard Rodney Bennett, and several by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo, including Concierto de Aranjuez (1940).


Traditional Irish Music


guitar, open strings


acoustic guitar

electric guitar








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