Sound hole

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A sound hole is an opening in the body of a stringed musical instrument, usually the upper sound board. Sound holes have different shapes:


Some instruments come in more than one style (mandolins may have F-holes, round or oval holes). A round or oval hole or a rosette is usually a single one, under the strings. C-holes, D-holes and F-holes are usually made in pairs placed symmetrically on both sides of the strings. Most hollowbody and semi-hollow electric guitars also have F-holes.

Though sound holes help acoustic instruments project sound more efficiently, sound does not emanate solely from the sound hole. Sound emanates from the surface area of the sounding boards, with sound holes providing an opening into the resonant chamber formed by the body, letting the sounding boards vibrate more freely, and letting vibrating air inside the instrument travel outside the instrument.

In 2015, researchers at MIT, in collaboration with violin makers at North Bennet Street School, published an analysis that charted the evolution and improvements in effectiveness of violin F-hole design over time. [1] [2] One of the conclusions of this paper was that acoustic conductance (air flow) is proportional to the length of the perimeter of the sound hole and not the area. They proved this mathematically, and showed how it drove the evolution of shape of the F-holes in the violin family. The highest air flow in a violin's F-hole are the places at the top and bottom where the points nearly touch the other side. The effect is analogous to putting one's thumb over the end of a hose to accelerate the water coming out. By this measure, the open round hole of a flat-top acoustic guitar is not very effective.

Alternative sound hole designs

Some Ovation stringed instruments feature a particularly unique soundhole architecture with multiple smaller soundholes that, being combined with a composite bowl back body, are said to produce a clear and bright sound.

Tacoma Guitars has developed a unique "paisley" soundhole placed on the left side of the upper bout of their "Wing Series" guitars. This is a relatively low-stress area that requires less bracing to support the hole. [3]

A few hollowbody or semi-hollow electric guitars, such as the Fender Telecaster Thinline and the Gibson ES-120T, have one f-hole instead of two, usually on the bass side.

B&G Guitars, a private build guitar company from Tel Aviv, Israel, uses their signature "backwards" sound holes on their guitars. [4]

Holes not positioned on the top of an acoustic guitar are called soundports. They are usually supplementary to a main soundhole, and are located on an instrument's side facing upward in playing position, allowing players to monitor their own sound. [5]

Related Research Articles

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.

Electric guitar Electrical string instrument

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar. 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 is sometimes shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities from that of 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 typically has six strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while simultaneously pressing selected strings against frets with the fingers of the opposite hand. A plectrum or individual finger picks may be used to strike the strings. The sound of the guitar is projected either acoustically, by means of a resonant chamber on the instrument, or amplified by an electronic pickup and an amplifier.

Mandolin Musical instrument in the lute family

A mandolin is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is generally plucked with a plectrum. It most commonly has four courses of doubled metal strings tuned in unison, thus giving a total of 8 strings, although five and six course versions also exist. The courses are typically tuned in an interval of perfect fifths, with the same tuning as a violin. Also, like the violin, it is the soprano member of a family that includes the mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and mandobass.

Acoustic bass guitar Type of acoustic instrument

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.

Sound board (music)

A sound board, or soundboard, is the surface of a string instrument that the strings vibrate against, usually via some sort of bridge. Pianos, guitars, banjos, and many other stringed instruments incorporate soundboards. The resonant properties of the sound board and the interior of the instrument greatly increase the loudness of the vibrating strings. "The soundboard is probably the most important element of a guitar in terms of its influence on the quality of the instrument's tone [timbre]."

When the [guitar] top vibrates, it generates sound waves, much like a loudspeaker. As the soundboard moves forward, the air that is in front of it is compressed and it moves away from the guitar. As the soundboard moves back, the pressure on the air in front of the guitar is reduced. This is called a "rarefaction," and air rushes in to fill the rarefied region. Through this process, an alternating series of compression and rarefaction pulses travel away from the soundboard, creating sound waves.

Luthier Craftsman of string musical instruments

A luthier is a craftsperson who builds and repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box. The word "luthier" is originally French and comes from the French word for lute. The term was originally used for makers of lutes, but it came to be used already in French for makers of most bowed and plucked stringed instruments such as members of the violin family and guitars. Luthiers, however, do not make harps or pianos; these require different skills and construction methods because their strings are secured to a frame.

Semi-acoustic guitar

A semi-acoustic guitar,hollow-body electric, or thinline is a type of electric guitar that was first created in the 1930s. It has a sound box and at least one electric pickup. The semi-acoustic guitar is different to 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.

Selmer guitar

The Selmer guitar—often called a Selmer-Maccaferri or just Maccaferri by English speakers, as early British advertising stressed the designer rather than manufacturer—is an unusual acoustic guitar best known as the favored instrument of Django Reinhardt. Selmer, a French manufacturer, produced the instrument from 1932 to about 1952.

The Ovation Guitar Company is a manufacturer of string instruments. Ovation primarily manufactures steel-string acoustic guitars and nylon-string guitars, often with pickups for electric amplification. In 2015, it became a subsidiary of Drum Workshop after being acquired from KMCMusicorp.

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."

Octave mandolin

The octave mandolin is a fretted string instrument with four pairs of strings tuned in fifths, GDAE, an octave below a mandolin. It is larger than the mandola, but smaller than the mandocello and its construction is similar to other instruments in the mandolin family. Usually the courses are all unison pairs but the lower two may sometimes be strung as octave pairs with the higher-pitched octave string on top so that it is hit before the thicker lower-pitched string. Alternate tunings of GDAD and ADAD are often employed by Celtic musicians.

Acoustic guitar

An acoustic guitar is a musical instrument in the string family. When a string is plucked its vibration is transmitted from the bridge, resonating throughout the top of the guitar. It is also transmitted to the side and back of the instrument, resonating through the air in the body, and producing sound from the sound hole. 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.

Tacoma Guitars was an American manufacturing company of musical instruments. It was founded in 1991 as a division of South Korean company Young Chang. Instruments were manufactured in Tacoma, Washington. The company and brand name were later acquired by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. The Tacoma plant closed, and production ceased, in 2008.

The Gibson ES series of semi-acoustic guitars are manufactured by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.

Bridge (instrument) Part of a stringed instrument

A bridge is a device that supports the strings on a stringed musical instrument and transmits the vibration of those strings to another structural component of the instrument—typically a soundboard, such as the top of a guitar or violin—which transfers the sound to the surrounding air. Depending on the instrument, the bridge may be made of carved wood, metal or other materials. The bridge supports the strings and holds them over the body of the instrument under tension.

Gibson L-4

Gibson L-4 refers to several archtop guitars produced by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.

Guitar bracing refers to the system of wooden struts which internally support and reinforce the soundboard and back of acoustic guitars.