Acoustic guitars produce sound by acoustics through vibrations of its six strings. They have a rich history; Spain has a big contribution in developing it. The art form of jazz music has been around for quite sometime now. The jazz guitarists choose their instruments very carefully as they want a clean dry note with little or no effect. They go in for acoustic guitars of a specific kind.
Brief History Of The Instrument:
Let’s first try to look at the history of the acoustic jazz guitars. Cithara is the earliest form of modern acoustic. Romans introduced these instruments, after that Moors developed the shape and made it a four string one. The six string guitar lute was very popular in Europe. The Spanish introduced a guitar like instrument Vihuela, which looked like a guitar but had to be tuned like a lute. This was then developed further and it took the current form. Modern acoustic guitars are of various types: twelve string guitar, classical guitar and bass guitar etc.
Classical guitars: They consist of nylon strings which are played by the fingers.
Twelve string guitars: This is made of six courses of paired up strings. It is a guitar often used for playing rock and roll, jazz and folk music.
Acoustic bass guitar: There are only four strings in this guitar; these strings are made of steel.
There are several types of acoustic jazz guitars like the Russian, Portuguese guitars, flat top and arch top guitars, extended range guitars etc.
Jazz Players’ Guitar Selection:
There is a wide selection of instruments available for jazz players. Traditionally, they are hollow body semi acoustics, though it’s not always like that. These tend to favor P90 or hamburker style pick-ups to produce the desired sound. Earlier, only acoustic guitars were used for jazz. However from 1940s, many guitar players started using the electric guitar on a regular basis. They used an archtop electric guitar with magnetic pickup.
But in 1990s, there was fresh interest amongst guitarist to go back to the acoustic jazz guitars. Now they were experimenting with archtop acoustics guitars with floating pick-up. European spruce, Sitka spruce and Engelmann spruce are mostly used for the resonant tops of flat-top or arch top models. Some guitar makers also use Red Spruce or Western Red Cedar for the acoustic jazz guitars. The archtop guitars most often have Quilted Maple and Curly Maple backs.
There are a small number of handmade flat-top and arch-top guitars. Mass produced guitars made by several manufacturers, are also available. Building a guitar takes six months for a jazz guitar. Builders spend time to choose the maples, spruces, exotic woods, building instruments. Finally they apply hand rubbed lacquer finish. Due to unavailability and high cost of premium quality tone wood, many manufacturers have started making guitars with alternate species of wood. All musicians agree that a good solid top is the base for good quality of the guitar’s tone. Many jazz players prefer acoustic guitars with laminated sides and back.
A perfect guitar suitable to the different styles of playing jazz, takes time and fine artsmanship to achieve. Acoustic guitars are very interesting instruments; they are hassle free in handling and easy to carry. Before the invention of electric guitars, all guitars were acoustic. The terms classic guitar, steel string guitar, folk guitar, all are actually used for acoustic guitars. The various combinations of woods, strings, along with the design and construction elements contribute to the overall performance or tone of the guitars. Experts believe that tone of well-made acoustic jazz guitars improves over time.