While most of you will choose from among the four major types of guitars we’ve
already described, there are some other noteworthy types of guitars that have been
or are available.
- Bass Guitars. Perhaps the most popular guitar variant is not really a guitar
at all—it is an electrified version of a standup bass, designed to be held like
a guitar. Introduced in the fifties by Fender, the electric bass has become
a standard component of all rock bands. It is tuned and played like a standard
acoustic bass—so it’s really a member of the violin family. Recently, acoustic
guitar makers have designed acoustic bass guitars that are held like an electric
bass but are intended for playing softer music.
- Smaller Instruments. Three-quarter-sized or half-sized guitars are made,
often for children. The Martin Guitar Company recently introduced a specially
sized guitar designed for women players, who tend to have smaller hands than
- Acoustic-Electric Guitars. This simply describes an acoustic guitar with
built-in electric pickups, designed to be played through an amplification system.
These are particularly attractive to people who like to play folk-style music,
but the instrument needs to be heard in a club setting.
- 12-String Guitars. These large-bodied, double-strung guitars were much favored
by blues players because of their loud volume. The strings were tuned an octave
apart, giving the instrument a booming bass sound.
- Guitar Synthesizers. These instruments enable guitarists to enjoy the wide
world of sounds available through synthesizers. They feature guitar-like construction
and are held and played like a guitar, but actually they contain or connect
to a synthesizer, which creates a variety of sounds.
There are also a wide variety of other guitar types—from tenor guitars to harp
guitars—that were popular at one time or another, although they are rarely played
or heard today.