The guitar as a crafted instrument relies heavily on science for its construction as well as the sound it produces. The measurements and fine-tuning that go into making a guitar are extremely precise.
An understanding of the science behind the guitar is, therefore, an invaluable tool to measure quality, and therefore, determine what is the best guitar.
Tone-wood and Sound Waves
Sound travels differently through varying materials. It moves through wood nearly thirteen times faster than air. This makes it an ideal material for musical instruments where responsiveness is key. We know that sound waves cannot travel in a vacuum. They require molecules to interact with to produce what we recognize as birdsong, a car engine, or music.
The first instrument makers sought out the best material and settled on wood. We've all heard of Stradivarius violins. The luthier Stradivari was obsessive about quality and would only use spruce wood from the Fiemme Valley in the Italian Alps. His violins are now famous for the uniqueness of their sound and have the price-tag to match, with certain copies selling for millions of dollars.
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