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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Pop! Goes the music - Electric Guitar

Learn more about the instrument that sparks an electrifying performance whenever it makes an appearance
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - March 17, 2011
By: Goh Mei Yi
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Pop! Goes the music - Electric Guitar

From the standpoint of popular culture, the electric guitar is one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, and is probably the most prominent instrument in rock music.

While there are many variations in guitar construction, the shape of the body and the configuration of the neck, bridge, and pickups are very much the same in every guitar.

An electric guitar uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric signals. When an electric guitar is strummed, the vibrations of the strings generate or “induce” a very small electric current (or signal) in the magnetic pickups, which are magnets wrapped with coils of very fine wire. Many electric guitars have two or three different pickups located at various points on the body.

The guitar signal is very weak and has to be put through a guitar amplifier before it goes out to a loudspeaker. Guitar amplification is different from amplifiers used in hi-fi sets, and is actually a part of the instrument.

Since the output of an electric guitar is an electric signal, the signal is easily altered using a range of effect devices or circuits that modify the tone and characteristics of the signal. Some of the effects are reverberation and distortion. After the distortion effect became popular, amplifier manufacturers provided separate channels in amps so that sound distortion could easily be switched on and off.

The tonal range of the electric guitar can be further modified by introducing an effects unit in its signal path. Effects units come in several formats, the most common ones being the stomp-box and the rack-mount unit. New playing techniques alone or combined with electric amplification, called extended technique, can also alter the sound of the electric guitar. 

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