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Know Your Gear 01: The Guitar

Carlos Eduardo Seo (900) · [archive]
Style: Basics · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4

So, you play the guitar, huh? Do you really know the instrument you play? In this lesson, I'll teach some stuff about every component of your guitar.

The body

The guitar body can be solid, semi-solid, semi-acoustic or acoustic:

- Solid body: made of solid wood, with no internal acoustic chambers (of course, there are cavities for the pickups and electronics, but those doesn't count). Examples: Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Ibanez RG.
- Semi-solid: the manufacturing process starts as a solid body, but some hollow cavities are added to the final piece. Example: Fender Thinline Telecaster.
- Semi-acoustic: the body manufacturing process starts from an acoustic body. The body itself has a very thin structure and it has a central solid block structure to allow a fixed bridge to be used. Example: Gibson ES-335.
- Acoustic: features a hollow body, with no central block. The structure is thicker than the semi-acoustic bodies. Examples: Washburn EA20, Martin D-28.

The body is usually made of wood (except for ressonator guitars or that crazy Yamaha model made of bamboo fiber). The most used types of wood are:

- Ash and Swamp Ash: it has medium density and it's main characteristic is a very bright sound. Fender used this wood on earlier Telecasters and Stratocasters. Today, you can find it on reissue models and Custom Shop models.
- Alder: it has a well balanced and soft tone. Most models from Fender are now made of alder. Steve Vai signature guitar, the JEM 7VWH, is also made of alder.
- Basswood: a lightweight and low cost wood. It has a soft tone and works great with high gain pickups. Used in many asian made guitars and in some 'heavy metal' guitars, like ESP models.
- Mahogany: a heavy and expensive wood. You can get heavy sounds and a lot of sustain from mahogany-made bodies. It can be found on Gibson Les Paul bodies and in many acoustics.
- Spruce: a medium density wood that offers well balanced sounds. It's found mostly on acoustic guitars.
- Maple: a very bright sounding and high density wood. Mostly used on necks and tops. It can be found on Gibson Les Paul tops.