A physical investigation into some factors affecting the musical performance of the guitar

The  guitar  has  a long  history,  during  which  it  has  undergone  a number  of  fundamental changes.  These  changes  were  the  result  of  new demands  from performers  and  composers.  The  guitar  had  been,  essentially, a boudoir  instrument,  but  it came  to’-be used  more and  more on  the  concert platform.  Present-day  performers  need  an instrument with  a strong, responsive  tone.  The  guitar  should  be  loud enough  to  compete  with  a chamber  orchestra  or  to  be  audible  in a large concert hall;  any  one guitar  should be  able  to  produce  a wide  variety  of  tone  colours.

The  guitar  maker  is confronted  with  two basic  problems. Since the  techniques  and musical  tastes  of  players  differ,  the  maker must be able  to  build  individual  instruments, each of  which  has  the  playing characteristics  and range  of  tone  colours  that  are  required by a particular player.  Having  built  a suitable instrument, the  maker cannot  easily reproduce  similar-sounding  guitars;  a replica  of  an instrument will never  sound  the  same because  the  physical  properties  of  the  materials used in  its construction  will  be different  from  those  used in the  original. There  is a general  lack of  understanding  among makers  (and players)  of the  physical  principles  which  underlie  tone  production  on  the  guitar, and  makers  try  to  overcome  their  problems  by  adopting  a conservative attitude  to  the  construction  of instruments and  the  selection  of materials…)

Bernard Ellis Richardson

A physical investigation into some factors affecting the musical performance of the guitar





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