Acoustic-electric guitar

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Fender DG-41SCE guitar. Fender DG-41SCE Electro-acoustic guitar.JPG
Fender DG-41SCE guitar.

An acoustic-electric guitar is an acoustic guitar fitted with a magnetic or piezoelectric pickup, or a microphone. They are used in a variety of music genres where the sound of an acoustic guitar is desired but more volume is required, especially during live performances. The design is distinct from a semi-acoustic guitar, which is an electric guitar with the addition of sound chambers within the guitar body.


Usually, acoustic-electric guitars are fitted with piezoelectric pickups, requiring a preamplifier incorporated into the guitar body to amplify the signal before it travels to the main guitar amplifier. These preamps may also come with an integrated tuner and tone controls of varying types; equalizers with up to six frequency bands may be used.

Acoustic-electric guitar with slotted headstock and an electric sound hole pickup. Stonebridge Acoustic Guitar.jpg
Acoustic-electric guitar with slotted headstock and an electric sound hole pickup.


In the 1920s, guitarists like Eddie Lang transitioned the acoustic guitar from a primarily solo instrument to use in big bands. [1] However, in a big band, the guitar was outplayed by the horn section and drums, and the need for amplification became apparent quickly. [1] Various experiments at electrically amplifying the vibrations of a string instrument date back to the early part of the twentieth century; patents from the 1910s show telephone transmitters adapted and placed inside violins and banjos to amplify the sound. Hobbyists in the 1920s used carbon button microphones attached to the bridge, but these detected vibrations from the bridge on top of the instrument, the resulting signal was weak. [2]

The first person to create the modern electric pickup for the acoustic guitar was Lloyd Loar, with his company Vivi-tone. [3] In the early 1930s Loar split from Gibson and founded Vivitone, where he created an early electric pickup for the acoustic guitar. Electronics were mounted in a removable drawer that slid out of the bass rim of the guitar. [3] The signal was then transferred from a wooden bridge to a metal plate which allowed for an electric output and thus amplification. [4] The first commercially available electric pickup however were Harry DeArmond's FHC pickups, released in the 1930s [5] They were widely adopted because they didn't require any modification of the guitar. [5]

In 1936 Gibson released the ES-150, the first Archtop acoustic guitar with an electric pickup pre-installed. [6] Gibson would also create the first commercially successful flattop Acoustic-Electric Guitars, the J–160E and CF-100E. [7]

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Steel-string acoustic guitar

The steel-string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar that descends from the nylon-strung classical guitar, but is strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound. Like the classical guitar, it is often referred to simply as an acoustic guitar.

The bass guitar, electric bass or simply bass, is the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses. Since the mid-1950s, the bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music.

Electric guitar Electrical string instrument

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound can be shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities, making it quite different than an acoustic guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and "overdrive"; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the fingers/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

String instrument Class of musical instruments with vibrating strings

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Electric piano

An electric piano is a musical instrument which produces sounds when a performer presses the keys of a piano-style musical keyboard. Pressing keys causes mechanical hammers to strike metal strings, metal reeds or wire tines, leading to vibrations which are converted into electrical signals by magnetic pickups, which are then connected to an instrument amplifier and loudspeaker to make a sound loud enough for the performer and audience to hear. Unlike a synthesizer, the electric piano is not an electronic instrument. Instead, it is an electro-mechanical instrument. Some early electric pianos used lengths of wire to produce the tone, like a traditional piano. Smaller electric pianos used short slivers of steel to produce the tone. The earliest electric pianos were invented in the late 1920s; the 1929 Neo-Bechstein electric grand piano was among the first. Probably the earliest stringless model was Lloyd Loar's Vivi-Tone Clavier. A few other noteworthy producers of electric pianos include Baldwin Piano and Organ Company and the Wurlitzer Company.

Acoustic bass guitar

The acoustic bass guitar is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually larger than a steel-string acoustic guitar. Like the traditional electric bass guitar and the double bass, the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings, which are normally tuned E-A-D-G, an octave below the lowest four strings of the 6-string guitar, which is the same tuning pitch as an electric bass guitar.

Instrument amplifier

An instrument amplifier is an electronic device that converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal of a musical instrument into a larger electronic signal to feed to a loudspeaker. An instrument amplifier is used with musical instruments such as an electric guitar, an electric bass, electric organ, synthesizers and drum machine to convert the signal from the pickup or other sound source into an electronic signal that has enough power, due to being routed through a power amplifier, capable of driving one or more loudspeaker that can be heard by the performers and audience.

Guitar amplifier

A guitar amplifier is an electronic device or system that strengthens the weak electrical signal from a pickup on an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar so that it can produce sound through one or more loudspeakers, which are typically housed in a wooden cabinet. A guitar amplifier may be a standalone wood or metal cabinet that contains only the power amplifier circuits, requiring the use of a separate speaker cabinet–or it may be a "combo" amplifier, which contains both the amplifier and one or more speakers in a wooden cabinet. There is a wide range of sizes and power ratings for guitar amplifiers, from small, lightweight "practice amplifiers" with a single 6" speaker and a 10 watt amp to heavy combo amps with four 10” or four 12" speakers and a powerful 100 watt amplifier, which are loud enough to use in a nightclub or bar performance.

DI unit

A DI unit is an electronic device typically used in recording studios and in sound reinforcement systems to connect a high-output impedance, line level, unbalanced output signal to a low-impedance, microphone level, balanced input, usually via an XLR connector and XLR cable. DIs are frequently used to connect an electric guitar or electric bass to a mixing console's microphone input jack. The DI performs level matching, balancing, and either active buffering or passive impedance matching/impedance bridging to minimize unwanted noise, distortion, and ground loops. DI units are typically metal boxes with input and output jacks and, for more expensive units, “ground lift” and attenuator switches.

Gibson ES-150

The Gibson Guitar Corporation's ES-150 guitar is generally recognized as the world's first commercially successful Spanish-style electric guitar. The ES stands for Electric Spanish, and Gibson designated it "150" because they priced it at around $150. The particular sound of the instrument came from a combination of the specific bar-style pickup and its placement, and the guitar's overall construction. It became famous due in large part to its endorsement by notable guitar players including Charlie Christian. After Gibson introduced it in 1936, it immediately became popular in jazz orchestras. Unlike the usual acoustic guitars in jazz bands of the period, it was loud enough to take a more prominent position in ensembles. Gibson produced the guitar with minor variations until 1940, when the ES-150 designation denoted a model with a different construction and pickup.

An electric violin is a violin equipped with an electronic output of its sound. The term most properly refers to an instrument intentionally made to be electrified with built-in pickups, usually with a solid body. It can also refer to a violin fitted with an electric pickup of some type, although "amplified violin" or "electro-acoustic violin" are more accurate in that case.

Semi-acoustic guitar

A semi-acoustic guitar or hollow-body electric is a type of electric guitar that originates from the 1930s. It has both a sound box and one or more electric pickups. This is not the same as an acoustic-electric guitar, which is an acoustic guitar with the addition of pickups or other means of amplification, added by either the manufacturer or the player.

Archtop guitar Type of steel-stringed acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar

An archtop guitar is a hollow steel-stringed acoustic or semiacoustic guitar with a full body and a distinctive arched top, whose sound is particularly popular with jazz, blues, and rockabilly players.

Pickup (music technology)

A pickup is a transducer that captures or senses mechanical vibrations produced by musical instruments, particularly stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, and converts these to an electrical signal that is amplified using an instrument amplifier to produce musical sounds through a loudspeaker in a speaker enclosure. The signal from a pickup can also be recorded directly.

Lloyd Loar

Lloyd Allayre Loar (1886–1943) was an American musician, instrument designer and sound engineer. He is best known for his design work with the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd. in the early 20th century, including the F-5 model mandolin and L-5 guitar. In his later years he worked on electric amplification of stringed instruments, and demonstrated them around the country. One example, played in public in 1938 was an electric viola that used electric coils beneath the bridge, with no back, able to "drown out the loudest trumpet."

Electric upright bass

The electric upright bass (EUB) is an instrument that can perform the musical function of a double bass. It requires only a minimal or 'skeleton' body to produce sound because it uses a pickup and electronic amplifier and loudspeaker. Therefore, a large resonating structure is not required to project the sound into the air. This minimal body greatly reduces the bulk and weight of the instrument. EUBs must always be connected to an amplifier and speaker cabinet to produce an adequate audible sound. The EUB retains enough of the features of the double bass so that double bass players are able to perform on it.

Guitar tech

A guitar technician is a member of a music ensemble's road crew who maintains and sets up the musical equipment for one or more guitarists. Depending on the type and size of band, the guitar tech may be responsible for stringing, tuning, and adjusting electric guitars and acoustic guitars, and maintaining and setting up guitar amplifiers and other related electronic equipment such as effect pedals.

Acoustic guitar

An acoustic guitar is a musical instrument in the guitar family. Its strings vibrate a sound board on a resonant body to project a sound wave through the air. The original, general term for this stringed instrument is guitar, and the retronym 'acoustic guitar' distinguishes it from an electric guitar, which relies on electronic amplification. Typically, a guitar's body is a sound box, of which the top side serves as a sound board that enhances the vibration sounds of the strings. In standard tuning the guitar's six strings are tuned (low to high) E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4.

Music technology (electric)

Electric music technology refers to musical instruments and recording devices that use electrical circuits, which are often combined with mechanical technologies. Examples of electric musical instruments include the electro-mechanical electric piano, the electric guitar, the electro-mechanical Hammond organ and the electric bass. All of these electric instruments do not produce a sound that is audible by the performer or audience in a performance setting unless they are connected to instrument amplifiers and loudspeaker cabinets, which made them sound loud enough for performers and the audience to hear. Amplifiers and loudspeakers are separate from the instrument in the case of the electric guitar, electric bass and some electric organs and most electric pianos. Some electric organs and electric pianos include the amplifier and speaker cabinet within the main housing for the instrument.


  1. 1 2 Achard, Ken (1996-08-01). The History and Development of the American Guitar. Bold Strummer. ISBN   978-0-933224-18-6.
  2. Wheelwright, Lynn (July 2008). "Ro-Pat-In Electric Spanish". Vintage Guitar .
  3. 1 2 "Lloyd Loar – Inventor of the Modern Electric Guitar". Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  4. "Lloyd Loar". Siminoff. Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  5. 1 2 "The History of Acoustic Guitar Pickups". Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  6. "The Gibson ES Series: A Timeline". Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  7. July 19, Zachary Fjestad; 2011. "Gibson J-160E "Norwegian Wood"". Retrieved 2020-02-20.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)