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Fig.1. The Body

-In acoustic guitars, string vibration is transmitted through the bridge and saddle to the body via Top (soundboard). The Top is typically made of tone woods such as spruce or cedar. Different woods are chosen for both their strength and ability to transfer mechanical energy from the strings to the air within the guitar body. Sound is further shaped by the characteristics of the guitar body’s resonant cavity such as size and shape.

-In an acoustic instrument, the body of the guitar plays a major role in determining overall sound quality. The guitar top, or soundboard, is a finely crafted and engineered element made of tone woods such as spruce and red cedar. This thin piece of wood, often only 2 or 3 mm thick, is strengthened by internal bracing.  Bracing not only strengthens the top against potential collapse due to the stress exerted by the tensioned strings, but also affects the resonance characteristics of the top. Many luthiers consider the top the dominant factor in determining the sound quality. The majority of the instrument’s sound is heard through the vibration of the guitar top as the energy of the vibrating strings is transferred to it.

-The back and sides are made out of a variety of woods such as mahogany, Indian rosewood and highly regarded Brazilian rosewood and are chosen primarily for their aesthetic effect.

-The body of an acoustic guitar has a sound hole through which sound projects. The sound hole is usually a round hole in the top of the guitar under the strings. Air inside the body vibrates as the guitar top and body is vibrated by the strings.

-Instruments with larger areas for the guitar top were introduced by Martin in an attempt to create louder volume levels. The popularity of the larger “dreadnought” body size amongst acoustic performers is related to the greater sound volume produced.

-In electric guitars, transducers known as pickups convert string vibration to an electric signal, which in turn is amplified and   fed to speakers, which vibrate the air to produce the sounds we hear. Nevertheless, the body of the electric guitar still performs a role in shaping the resultant sound.

-Most electric guitar bodies are made of wood. The wood is rarely one solid piece. Most bodies are made of two pieces of wood glued together down the centre line of the body. The most common woods used for electric guitar body construction include maple, basswood, ash, poplar, alder, and mahogany. Many bodies consist of good sounding but inexpensive woods, like ash, with a “top”, or thin layer of another, more attractive wood (such as maple with a natural “flame” pattern) glued to the top of the basic wood (laminated). Guitars constructed like this are often called “flame tops”.

-The body is usually carved or routed to accept the other elements, such as the bridge, neck, pickup, tone/volume controls, selector switch, output jack and associated wiring. Most electrics have a polyurethane or nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Other alternative materials to wood, are used in electric guitar body construction. Some of these include carbon composites, plastic material (such as polycarbonate), and aluminum alloys.

 Fig. 2  Electric guitar body with cavities cut out to accept the various components.




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