How does the number of strings on a guitar matter?

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How does the number of strings on a guitar matter?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

A guitar has six strings, traditionally. There’s a related instrument called bass (or bass guitar to be specific) that has four strings.

Guitars basically have three main varieties. The vast majority have 6 strings. You can buy a 7 string, which has one extra string for playing lower notes. It’s tuned lower than the other six strings.

You can also buy a 12 string, where each of the usual six strings is actually a pair of strings. The two strings in each pair are tuned to the same note, one octave apart. You play both strings in a pair at the same time. The idea is that by playing the octave, you get a “fuller” sound.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Adding more strings gives the guitar more range (i.e., more notes).

Generally, each string is tuned to a different note, tuned from low to high, so adding a string on either side will give the guitar player access to more notes (generally lower notes). 6-string guitars in standard tuning go down to an E, 7-string guitars go down to the B below that, and 8-string guitars go down to the F# below that, adding 5 or 10 new notes (and they all go up to the same highest note assuming the same number of frets).

There are some oddities – for example, a 12-string guitar just pairs up each of the standard 6-strings; the lowest 4 up an octave, and the highest 2 in unison. It technically increases the range because the octave G string is higher than the high E string, but it’s generally used to make the standard range sound fuller.

There are other ways to increase the range of a guitar by using alternate tunings, but that may involve tuning the strings to a wider interval, which can make it impossible to reach every note in a given position, requiring either unusual stretches or changing position.

Of course, adding strings changes the feel of the guitar since the neck becomes wider. Some players might prefer the size of a 6-string neck and aren’t interested in extended range guitars. As well, having more strings means there are more strings for the musician to mute, which can complicate some basic chords.

Anonymous 0 Comments

That rather depends on what you mean by matter. You only need one string to play a tune. Two enables you to harmonise. More means you can play chords and tune at the same time. Traditionally there are six strings to encompass two octaves within the space of four frets. But players can choose whatever configuration they are most comfortable with.

Anonymous 0 Comments

From a playing perspective, on top of the answers here: The range of your standard 6-string guitar in standard tuning (EADGBe) from any root position/fingering position (4 frets wide, one fret for each finger) is two octaves. That could be 2 octaves in the key of F (first position) or key of G (3rd position), etc. Because the fingering for whatever scale is going to be the same no matter the root position, you can easily pick out notes and chords. This is especially useful because a guitarist can keep the same fingering position and execute key changes or different chords simply by moving their positioning up and down the neck.

However, there’s a design flaw that befalls every fretted string instrument: intonation. This means tuning an instrument to itself. The sign of proper intonation is if the 12th fret (the octive) gives you the same note as an open position. But this is a very fine measurement to get right, and it’s applied across 6 stings of varying length and gauge (thickness) so it is *very* difficult to get *almost* right, and pretty much impossible to get perfect. It’s why if you ever look at the bridge of electric guitars, you’ll see the saddle for each string is adjustable so as to assist with intonation. But again, your frets are the same size for each string at each position as opposed to being tailored to each string’s individual intonation. Therefore, your notes won’t always be 100% accurate. It’s less noticable for 6 strings across the neck than it would be for 9 individually tuned strings (12 string guitars are 6 pairs of the same note, so it’s pretty much the same as intonating a 6 string. And 7 strings have an additional 5 semi tones of bass under the low E string, so it’s not as noticeable as it’s mainly utilized lower down the neck).

There’s also a matter of action: the height of the strings from the neck. You want enough high action that you can fret a note and other frets won’t interfere (buzzing) and this can be caused by a variety of things: bridge height, nut height, ambient temperature, humidity/moisture, string tension, and truss tension. Inside the neck of most guitars is an adjustable truss rod that’s mainly meant to counteract string tension to prevent the neck from warping. More strings = more tension. More tension = more counter tension needed from the truss rod. It’s basically baked into the design of the instrument, and deviating from that design can cause problems with its playability over time. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule when it comes to a custom design. But for your standard mass-produced and iconic instruments (stratocasters, jazzmasters, flying V’s Explorers, whatever), the math and engineering have been templated, and it’s just easier for the manufacturer.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Technically, all you need to play the guitar is one string. But then you can only play a single note at a time, which is enough to play basic melodies. In order to play chords (multiple notes at the same time) you need more than one string. The more strings, the more notes can be played simultaneously. The standard guitar has 6 strings, meaning you can play 6 notes in a chord. In western music there are 12 different semitones per octave. Often, you won’t play 6 different semitones in a chord but might for example have a lower E and another E in a higher octave in your chord, which adds richness to the sound. Othertimes you might only utilize 4 strings to play a chord and mute the other 2 strings.

More strings usually also means a greater range of available notes as the highest string is traditionally tuned 2 octaves higher than the lowest string, essentially giving you 24 more semitones to work with. But technically you can tune every string to your own liking, or if you’re very skilled you can also tune strings while playing to access a different note.