What do Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Eddie Van Halen all have in common? They're all axe men. Some might call them samurais of the six-string. What are we talking about? They're all fantastic guitar players, of course!
Guitars play key roles in many different types of music, from country and blues to jazz and rock. Whether it's a power chord progression, a classical run of notes, or a searing guitar solo, we all love the music that can be coaxed out of the six strings of a guitar.
In fact, we love guitars so much that we often play along on our air guitars when no one is watching! Some of us even play video games in which we try to play along with our favorite songs on a guitar-like controller.
If you've ever tried to play a real guitar, you know it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. It takes skill and lots and lots of practice to master the art of putting your fingers in the right places while strumming the strings to produce those magical sounds.
Speaking of strings, did you know that not all guitars have six strings? In fact, the earliest guitars didn't start out with six strings. Although we usually think of a typical guitar as having six strings, there are actually a wide variety of guitars in existence today, many of which have either fewer or more than six strings.
Stringed instruments have been around for thousands of years. Historians believe the guitar may have originated in Spain in the 1500s. The first guitars probably had four strings. As more and more people began to make and play guitars, a fifth string was added so players could play more notes.
Eventually, a sixth string was added in the 1700s to expand the range of the guitar even further. That's the popular version of the guitar we know and love today. That didn't stop musicians from experimenting even more, though. Today, there are all sorts of guitars used around the world.
For example, the bass guitar usually only has four strings. Its thick strings match the notes of the lowest four strings of a regular guitar, but they're an octave lower in pitch. Specialty bass guitars can be found, though, that have five or six strings.
Guitars can also be found that have twice the number of strings as usual. These guitars, aptly named twelve-string guitars, have a second set of thinner strings that match the standard strings. The dual strings create pairs that create a brighter tone than a standard guitar.There are even guitars that have three times the number of strings as usual. For example, a double necked guitar can have a standard six-string neck on the top with an additional neck below that has twelve strings. Can you imagine trying to play that guitar?