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Chemistry in Guitars

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Allen Ronis

on 6 May 2013

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Transcript of Chemistry in Guitars

Body Woods Alder- A relatively inexpensive, yet strong wood. Light and attractive. A typical choice for Fender guitars. Gives a fairly even tone with a good mix of highs, mids, and lows Mahogany- Heavier than alder and therefor produces and good sustain, with a nice rich tone. Provides a deep tone at the sacrifice of higher frequencies. Ash- 2 different types: Hard ash and swamp ash. Hard ash will give better sustain while swamp ash will give a bright clear tone with nice highs. Swamp ash is used much less, but gives a strong, unique tone.
Koa- A very expensive Hawaiian wood. Gives good mid and low ends with a great and unique brightness. These features make it a good wood for bass bodies
For more information on body woods visit: http://www.jemsite.com/jem/wood.htm Chemistry in Guitars By Allen Ronis Bibliography
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-types-of-guitar-strings.htm Picks There are many different kinds of materials to choose from when it comes to picks. Plastics:
Celluloid- What picks used to be made of
but its highly flammable propertie caused it to
become much less common.
Nylon: A flexable material that is used for making thinner picks
Ultem and Lexan- Hard and stiff plastics used
for making thicker picks.
Derlin- A commonly used material marketed
as Tortex or Deltex. Other materials Metal- Metal picks give a brighter tone than
plastic but also put more wear on the strings and can
damage the guitar.
Stone- Different types of stones give off different characteristic sounds based on their properties and density. They must also be hand carved.
Tortis- Tortis is a artificially grown material which replaces now illegal real tortoiseshell picks. Tortis picks are stiff and mimic the tone of natural tortoiseshell.
Wood- An unusual material for picks which gives a very unusual sound. Tortex guitar picks The guitar nut
The guitar nut is one of the 2 points that the string lays on. There are many different kind of materials used to achieve different kinds of tones
Bone- considered the best material used in making the nut. Gives a nice open tone and has very good tuning reliability.
Ivory- Similar to bone though a harder material and gives a brighter tone.

A guitars sound is produced from the vibration of the strings. These vibration create sound waves which we then hear. However, these sound waves must be amplified for the listener and player to better hear the sound of the guitar. The hollow body in an acoustic guitar serves as a chamber which enlarges or amplifies the sound.

However, most electric guitars do not have a hollow body. This is why they must utilize magnetic pickups... Pickups cont. In a simple explanation: The vibrating string causes a flux in magnetic field created by the coil.
This flux creates a signal which is then passed to the amplifier where the signal is enlarged and sent to the speaker.

Pickups cont. The last needed component is a permanent magnet at the base of the pickup. Because of its magnetic property, it does not need an electric current like the pole pieces. Its function is to take the signal and transmit that signal to resistors which can then adjust things like volume and tone. The signal then goes to the amplifier. A closer look: A pickup must have an electromagnet in order to create an magnetic field that interacts with the vibrating string. Many times there will be one electromagnetic "pole" per string. These pole pieces are made electromagnetic by running an electric current through a wire wrapped around the pole. Pickups cont. Pickups cont. Single coil pickups have one huge disadvantage however. Though they produce a nice bright tone, a single coil pickup is subject to outside interference which results in extra noise or "hum".
Many guitars, such as Gibsons, utilize dual coil pickups or "humbuckers". These pickups are 2 coils wired together in opposite directions. This effectively eliminates or "bucks" the hum.
For more on pickups visit: http://www.stratcollector.com/pups.html This diagram shows the way a guitar is wired in a guitar with 3 single coil pickups such as a Fender Statocaster. (Picture drawn on paper then scanned onto computer) To see tons of other pickup wiring configurations visit: http://www.seymourduncan.com/support/wiring-diagrams/ The guitar nut cont.
Plastic- Many different types and density which give of different tones. They do not offer the same sustain or tone as bone. Graphite- Mainly used when the guitar also has a tremolo arm. Has a nice, well balanced tone.Brass/Steel- Low maintenance nuts which lasts for many years. They ensure that fretted notes will be identical to open ones. They also give a brighter tone but at the sacrifice the ability to get a classic or vintage tone. For more on how guitar nut are made visit: http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/repair/acoustic-guitar/nut.php Guitar Strings There are many different types, brands, and gauges of guitar strings to choose from that affect things like tone, playability, and longevity. Various materials will give characteristic tones, while some guitars can only be used with certain kinds of strings. Types of strings Nylon- Used on acoustic guitars, they give a warm, even tone that is used for classical guitar and some forms of jazz. Guitars typically need to be set up for nylon strings meaning that they are a bit smaller than standard acoustic guitars. They do nut cut the fingers as much as other strings, making them good for beginners
Acoustic steel strings- Actually made out of bronze and brass. Give a brighter and snappier sounds than nylons. If put on a nylon guitar, there is a high chance that the guitar could be damaged Types of strings cont.
Electric guitar strings- Usually made with nickel plated steel, stainless steel, or pure nickel. They can also have different surface wrappings which can affect the tone. Flat-wound and ground-wound strings are the most common. All electric guitar strings must be made with magnetic alloys in order to be read by the pickup String Thickness/Gauge The thickness of the strings can greatly effect the tone and playability of the guitar. Generally, a thicker string will give a deeper and darker tone. Typically, electric guitar strings will range from 0.009-.011 gauge. The thinner the string, the easier it is to bend and the less it will cut into the fingers. This is inversely true for higher gauged strings. Bass strings are much thicker than normal guitar strings which is what allows the bass to go to such low notes. To learn more about guitar strings visit: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-types-of-guitar-strings.htm If it weren't for chemistry, we would never have guitars. From the pickups to the strings and all the way up to the nut, chemisty affects every aspect and part of the guitar. Without the knowledge of chemistry, guitars may have never sounded as beautiful as they do.
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