The guitar is part of the chordophone family of instruments. That’s a fancy way of saying that guitars are stringed instruments. Chordophones are musical instruments that produce sounds through vibrating strings. The strings are usually at tension stretched between two points and the sound is made by plucking, bowing, or striking the strings.
Acoustic instruments usually have a cavity or resonator that amplifies the sound of the strings. Electric instruments can have either a hollow, semi-hollow, or solid body and one or more electro-magnetic pickups that convert the movement of the strings or the vibration of the body to electrical signals that are then converted to sound using an amplifier.
Guitars come in all kinds of styles and variations. If you are trying to decide what type of guitar to play, the best thing to do is to listen to as many recordings and artists as possible and visit different music stores that will have a wide variety of instruments to try.
While some of the guitars shown below are more traditionally associated with jazz, you can play jazz with any guitar. Jazz is a language, not an artifact. Choosing what type of guitar to play is about what you want to say with it rather than the mechanics of the instrument.
Acoustic Steel String Flat-top Guitars
Acoustic Nylon String Guitars
Electric Archtop Guitars
Electric Solid Body Guitars
Every guitar has its own unique sound and feel. Even two guitars of the same model coming out of the same factory or handmade by the same luthier will have variations in sound and feel due to differences in materials. Other factors contributing to differences in sound include the size and construction, the type and gauge of the strings, the age of the guitar, the electronics, the amplifier, and the signal path or sound effects used.
You may need to try a variety of guitars to find the one that feels and sounds right to you. Your tastes may vary over time and different playing situations may call for different instruments. Try to find as high a quality of an instrument as you can afford and then experiment with other variables such as different gauges (thicknesses) of strings, round-wound, half-round, or flat-wound strings, different alloys, and other factors. Read interviews of your favorite artists to find out what gear they like to use and why. And above all, have fun while you’re at it.
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