The classical (sometimes known as Spanish) guitar is a popular instrument to play. Part of the string family (the section known as chordophones) it has six strings tuned to E, A, D, G, B, and E. The G, B, and E strings are nylon, and the E, A, and D strings are wound metal, although traditionally, strings used to be made from animal guts. Although they are not as common these days, animal-gut strings are still available to buy.
Learning to Play Classical Guitar
The technique for playing the classical guitar is mainly placed on the right hand. Notes are created on the neck of the instrument, while the left hand strums or plucks strings to create different sounds. The musician can either pluck with their fingernails, or use a plectrum. The sounds from a classical guitar range from a simple chord to complex solos, both polyphonic and melodic in nature.
Although its name suggests that the repertoire is solely classical, this is not the case nowadays. It was originally used for classical music, however, the instrument is used in all kinds of genres, including jazz, folk, and flamenco. The classical guitar has also crossed over to mainstream music, particularly rock and pop. It is a rare occurrence if a guitar is not used in the production of a mainstream song.
Background of the Classical Guitar
The classical guitar dates back four centuries, and was developed and inspired by instruments such as the vihuela, the Baroque guitar, and the lute. Early models were very different in shape. Guitars in the middle ages had three, four, or five strings, and tended to be more oval in shape. By the eighteenth century, six strings had evolved.
The Classical Guitar Today
The instruments used today are often known as modern classical guitars, which differentiate from the more traditional early models, known simply as classical. The ‘hourglass’ shape we are now familiar with is a much more recent invention. The modern designs were created by a Spanish man, Antonio Torres Jurado, in the nineteenth century (hence the alternative name of Spanish Guitar). The waist of the guitar was slimmed, and the wooden pegs used for tuning were replaced by a machined head.
The classical guitar is made up of a wooden body with a sound hole in the middle. The strings are stretched out over the hole, from the bridge, along the neck (containing the frets and fingerboards), up to the head, where they are attached to the machine heads (tuning pegs).
Due to its popularity, classical guitars can be purchased in many places, not just music shops. Prices range from as little as thirty pounds for a simple design, up to a few thousand for top-of-the-range models. If you’re looking to buy one, don’t forget to budget for extra strings (as they will need replacing eventually), a stand, a case, as well as any sheet music. There are also a range of books on how to teach yourself to play, so lessons might not even be necessary. There are also electric classical guitars. If you buy one of these, you’ll also need an amplifier.