One of the first things that any beginning pianist learns to do, is to read music. Notes are the words that music uses to communicate with us, and in order to be able to read the language of music, we need to learn what the notes are so we can play them.
Here are some easy tips for learning your notes as a beginning pianist along with a video that offers some real time practice on your note reading that will help you improve quickly!Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload
Step 1: The Grand Staff
This is what we call the Grand Staff. You can see that there are lines and spaces on the top part as well as the bottom part. Notice the 2 different signs within the lines and spaces? These are called Clefs, and the top one is called the Treble Clef, and the bottom one is called the Bass Clef.
There are notes in each line and space in both the Treble and Bass Clefs. Let’s see what they are in the next step.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload
Step 2: The Treble Clef and Notes in the Treble Clef
The Treble Clef contains 5 lines and 4 spaces in it, and each of these lines and spaces has a specific note that is located there.
The notes on the 4 spaces are F, A, C, & E.
The notes on the 5 lines are E, G, B, D, & F.
Say the note names on the Spaces going from the bottom to the top several times. Then do the same thing with the notes on the Lines, again going from the bottom to the top.
Now let’s look at the notes in the Bass Clef.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload
Step 3: The Bass Clef and Notes in the Bass Clef
The Bass Clef also contains 5 lines and 4 spaces in it, and each of these lines and spaces has a specific note that is located there.
The notes on the 4 spaces are A, C, E, & G.
The notes on the 5 lines are G, B, D, F, & A.
Say the note names on the Spaces going from the bottom to the top several times. Then do the same thing with the notes on the Lines, again going from the bottom to the top.
Now let’s see what they look like together on the Grand Staff.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload
Step 4: The Grand View of All Notes on the Lines and Spaces in Treble and Bass Clef
Here you have all of the notes on both the lines and spaces in each clef, for easy review. Take some time to read each note in each clef, and then try to look away and name all of your Space notes in each clef or all of your line notes in each clef.
Keep doing this each day until you can name the notes without looking at any hints.
**Remember to say in the beginning whether the note is on a line or on a space, as this will help reinforce that information in your brain and your fingers when you play it on the piano.
** Remember also, to always learn your notes from the bottom line or space to the top line or space in the clef that you are working in.Add TipAsk QuestionCommentDownload
Step 5: Ledger Lines
Ledger Lines are lines for notes that occur outside of the normal range for the Grand Staff. They are in both the Treble and Bass Clefs, and you won’t see them on your sheet music unless the piece requires you to play notes that are above or below the Grand Staff.
One of the most common notes that we all learn in the beginning, that is actually on a ledger line, is Middle C. Take a look at where Middle C is on the ledger lines in the next step.
No matter what type of music you play, your role as a bass guitarist will be an important one, which is why you need to be sure that your first bass guitar is chosen wisely. The good news is that you’ll have no problem finding a model that’s easy to play, sounds great, and represents your own unique style and music tastes thanks to the wide range of beginner bass models that are available.
This buying guide has been assembled to help make your search for the perfect bass guitar a more enjoyable experience.
Bass Guitar Parts 101
Firstly, let’s take a look at the different components that make up the bass guitar. If you have friends or family who play the bass, or even a favorite bass player who you’ve seen in magazines or music videos, many of these parts might already look familiar to you.
BASSics on Bass Types
Bass guitars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. However, the right bass for you will come down to three main factors: the number of strings it has, whether or not the neck has frets, and the pickups it uses.
Bass guitars typically come in 4-, 5- and 6-string models. For those who are just starting, you’re better off sticking with a 4-string model that’s tuned to the standard E-A-D-G format. Most well-known rock groups go with this, and a 4-string bass will definitely be easier to play in the beginning stages. The neck of a 4-string bass guitar is also slimmer than a 5- or 6- string model, which makes it ideal for younger players with smaller hands. Of course, you can always move on to a 5- or 6-string bass guitar over time. 5-string electric bass from Rogue. Deep, powerful bass and modern electronics. Learn More.
The two fretboard layouts you’ll encounter are known as fretted and fretless. The standard bass guitar neck is fretted, containing steel frets along the entire length of the fretboard. Basses with frets are naturally better to learn with, since they make finding the correct notes easier. On the other hand, fretless basses (as the name suggests) have no frets. Although fretless basses have a warm sound and play smoothly, beginners should stick with a fretted instrument so they can learn the proper fingering positions.
The pickups on your bass have the job of turning string vibrations into electrical signals, which makes them a crucial part of the instrument. Usually, bass guitars have two sets of pickups: one near the fretboard, and another closer to the bridge. The pickup near the fretboard tends to create a smoother, low-end tone, while the one by the bridge produces a brighter, high-end sound.
Like guitars, bass pickups come in both single-coil and humbucker styles. Single-coils were the first pickup type, and are known for their sharp and focused sound. To help fight feedback, humbuckers were created soon after single-coils. Aside from cancelling out the hum commonly found with single-coils, humbuckers also produce a thicker tone.
While these are the two most common pickup types, you can also find a single-coil pickup that functions like a humbucker. These are called split-coil pickups, and combine the hum-free convenience of a humbucker with the bright sound of a single-coil. A good example of a split-coil can be found on the classic Fender Precision Bass.
Short Scale Basses – Another Choice for Beginners
Although most bass guitars have a 34” string length, you can also find models with a scale length of between 30” and 32”. These are known as short scale basses, and thanks to bass-playing legends like Paul McCartney, they were quite popular in the ’60s. Of course, a player’s physical size would be the main reason they might prefer a short scale bass to a long scale one. Featuring a shorter neck, less distance between frets, and lower string tension, short scale basses are an excellent choice for younger musicians.
An affordable short-scale Jaguar Bass with classic Fender style! Learn More.
Bolt-on or Neck Through?
Bass necks have two possible construction styles: bolt-on and neck-through. One isn’t better than the other, but each design has its benefits. Bolt-on necks are the most common type, with the neck bolted onto the body of the instrument. A big benefit of bolt-on necks are that they can be easily replaced if your current neck becomes damaged.
The other type, neck-through, involves the bass neck’s wood spanning the instrument’s entire length. Neck-through designs are constructed with several pieces of high-quality wood that are glued together. The big upside to a neck-through design is their ability to make a bass tone “ring out” longer (a property also known as “sustain”).
The type of wood that is used for the body will also have a significant effect on the tone of a bass. If you’re still in the learning stages, you don’t have to worry too much about wood type, but if you’re shooting for a specific sound, then you’ll definitely want to know how certain woods can impact your tone. The 6 main bass body tonewoods are: Alder, Agathis, Ash, Basswood, Mahogany and Maple.
Alder – Produces a full and balanced tone with excellent clarity. For an example, check out the Fender American Deluxe Precision Bass.
Agathis – A popular and affordable wood, agathis provides a reasonably-balanced tone with plenty of low-mid range.
Ash – Bright and full like alder, several species of ash are used for bass guitar bodies, each offering their own subtle differences.
Special edition Jazz bass with an ash body, and a natural finish. Learn More.
Basswood – Basswood has very short sustain, which also makes it preferred by players of faster, more complex bass styles. Basswood is also very inexpensive.
Mahogany – Boasting a soft warmth with emphasis on the low-mid and lower-range tones, mahogany has great sustain, but it’s also quite heavy.
Ibanez SRR505 5-String Bass. Mahogany body provides naturally warm lows and sweet sustain. Learn More.
Maple – Another heavy wood, maple has exceptional sustain while producing a very clear tone. For this reason, many professional session players use bass guitars with maple bodies.
Beautiful 6-string bass from ESP. Limited edition with a spalted maple top. Learn More.
P-Bass VS J-Bass – Leaders of the Pack
The two most popular bass guitars of all time are the Fender Precision Bass and the Fender Jazz Bass. Each have “C”-shaped necks that are maple, with fingerboards available in maple, rosewood, and pao ferro. Both basses have bodies available in ash and alder wood types. Aside from these similarities, each model offers its own unique characteristics, covered below:
Fender Precision Bass
The very first electric bass back in 1951, the Fender Precision Bass originally contained a single-coil pickup until Leo Fender began to incorporate split-coil pickups in the instrument to give it a more solid sound. Precision necks have a fairly consistent thickness, and closer to the nut (the small piece of hard material under the strings, near the headstock) they taper in slightly. Fender Precision bodies are very comfortable to hold, and quite similar to the Stratocaster guitar.
Inspired by the most legendary bass of all time – the Fender P-Bass! Straight from the 50s. Learn more.
Fender Jazz Bass
First introduced in 1960, Leo Fender’s second electric bass model was the Fender Jazz Bass. These bass guitars have an offset-waist body that’s similar to a Jazzmaster guitar, and closer to the nut, their strings are narrowly spaced… resulting in a neck that many players feel is easier to form chords on. Equipped with dual humbucking pickups, the Jazz Bass is very versatile and preferred by bass players from countless genres, including jazz, funk, metal, and reggae.
Choosing the Right Bass Guitar for You
Now that you have an idea of what to look for when purchasing your first bass guitar, feel free to explore the many options available through Music & Arts and, when you do, remember to keep these thoughts in mind along the way:
Stick with a 4-string model.
Go with a fretted instrument to avoid any unnecessary learning curves.
If you’re buying for a youngster, a short-scale bass is something to consider.
Find a bass with a look and style that represents your own personal tastes. After all, owning an instrument that you love to look at will make you want to play it more often.
And last but not least, keep in mind that there are many affordable options that boast a high level of playability and sound quality. Remember, you want to go with something that provides you with years of enjoyment, and thankfully, many of the most well-known builders offer their own exceptional beginner bass guitar packages.
Fender Affinity Precision Bass Pack – Beginning bassists open the box, plug in, and rock. Complete with all accessories. Learn More.
If you do decide to get your gear a la carte… don’t forget your accessories:
Amplifier – Don’t forget your amp! Amplifiers come in many varieties; once you finish here, visit the Amplifier Buyer’s Guide for more on Amps.
Cable – You’ll need this to plug your bass into your amplifier. Below is the perfect beginner cable to get you started.
This 1/4″ cable from LiveWire is a great low-cost cable but high-quality cable. Learn More.
Tuner – Smart bass players always have a tuner on them. There are several kinds to choose from, but the one below will do just fine.
The Snark SN-1 Guitar & Bass tuner is great all-around tuner for every player. It clips on to the headstock and picks up sound based on the vibrations of the strings. Shop Tuners
Strap – Obviously straps are used to stand up, but it should also be a reflection of your personality and style. check out these various Fender straps.
Straps come in all shapes and sizes, and are mainly meant to express your personality. Shop Straps.
Instrument Stand – Having a place to put your instrument other than the case will encourage practicing and decrease the chance of hurting the instrument.
Hard-shell Case – Notice we recommend a hard-shell case and not a gig bag. Hard cases are much better at protecting your instrument, and worth the money.
Extra Strings – Bass strings average about $20 for a beginner set, but you’ll be really glad you have an extra set when you pop one. Remember that MusicArts.com offers FREE shipping on orders over $9.99 and you can always visit a local store to get what you need.
Bright sound without premature fret wear. Wound with a nickel-plated steel known for its distinctive bright tone and excellent intonation
It’s all about videos. Learning the guitar takes nothing more than dedication, passion, and an instrument. Skipping the basics is an easy way to create bad habits and bad habits are the number one enemy of beginners. It is a very simple system you can learn straight away It would be great if you could […]
The right type of guitar for you depends on what type of music you want to play, the type of sounds you want to get from your guitar, and what you like the look and feel of.
As a guitar teacher, the worst advice I regularly see on what type of guitar beginners should get is “get a nylon string acoustic because it’s easier on your fingers”.
This is the worst advice for many reasons. The biggest reason it’s the worst advice is that it doesn’t consider what type of music you want to play.
Let’s say you want to play electric guitar so you can rip up some solos and play heavy riffs with thick distortion. A classical acoustic guitar is the worst possible guitar you could buy if that’s your goal.
The right type of guitar for you is one that matches the type of music you want to play.
If you want to play heavily distorted songs, get an electric guitar. If you want to fingerpick chords to accompany your singing, get an acoustic guitar.
As you go through this guide, think about each type of guitar and whether it suits the style of music you want to play.
While some guitars may be harder to play than others, there’s nothing worse than learning on the wrong type of guitar for what you want to play.
Type of Guitar: Classical (Nylon String Acoustic)
Classical guitars are also known as nylon-string acoustic guitars due to the fact they use nylon strings.
The guitar on the right in the above photo is a ‘steel-string acoustic’. You can see that all six strings are made of metal. Four of the strings are wound in wire and the last two strings are a single wire.
The guitar on the left is a classical guitar. Three of the strings are clearly nylon, while the other three are nylon wrapped with wire. If you see a guitar with strings like this, it is probably a classical guitar.
All six strings on a classical guitar are made of nylon, but the lower three strings are wrapped in wire, so it only looks like three strings are made of nylon.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Classical Guitars?
As you might expect, this type of guitar is the main choice with classical music. Outside of classical music, classical guitars are used in a range of styles including folk, Flamenco, pop, jazz.
Classical guitars produce a mellow tone due to the nylon strings. You can hit the strings harder to produce a harsher tone, but the overall tone is soft and mellow when compared to other types of guitars.
Can Beginners Play Classical Guitars?
As I mentioned earlier, some guitar teachers insist that beginners should always start on classical guitars.
While this is bad advice for a lot of people, classical guitars are easier to learn on than other types of guitars.
What makes classical guitars easy to play is the low string tension and wide fretboard. The low string tension simply means that you don’t need to press down hard with your fingers to play a note.
This means your fingers are less likely to hurt in the beginning when you play a classical guitar.
While everybody gets past the sore fingers stage of learning guitar, learning on a classical guitar does make the journey slightly easier.
Types of Guitar: Steel-String Acoustic
There are two types of acoustic guitars: classical and steel-string. Classical guitars use nylon strings (as explained above) and steel-string guitars are self-explanatory.
There are three main body types for steel-string acoustic guitars: dreadnought, parlour, and jumbo. There are other variations and shapes outside of these three, but they’re the most popular.
The most popular body type is a ‘Dreadnought’, but the right body type depends on what feels comfortable to you. Ed Sheeran is well known for playing reduced-size acoustic guitars (similar to the above travel guitar), so you have plenty of choice on what type you want.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Steel-String Acoustic Guitars?
Steel-string acoustic guitars have a brighter tone when compared to classical guitars.
This brighter tone makes them the popular choice for styles of music including folk, country, blues, pop, rock, bluegrass, and others.
Can Beginners Play Steel-String Acoustic Guitars?
Beginners can successfully learn on steel-string acoustic guitars. While the steel strings do require more pressure with your fingers, a good guitar teacher will know how to properly introduce you to the guitar and build up your finger strength.
Steel-string acoustic guitars are harder to learn on when compared to classical guitars or electric guitars. But if the music you want to play is played on steel-string acoustic guitars, you won’t be happy with a classical guitar.
Types of Guitar: Electro-Acoustic
An ‘electro-acoustic’ guitar or an ‘acoustic-electric’ is simply an acoustic guitar that you can plug into an amplifier or a mixing board.
They look almost identical to a normal acoustic guitar apart from two added features:
An electro-acoustic guitar has a jack where you can plug it in, and a control panel where you can adjust the volume, EQ, insert the battery, and sometimes it includes an inbuilt tuner.
The main point to remember with electro-acoustic guitars is that that’s the only difference. You can plug them in when you want, but you can still play them as a regular unplugged acoustic.
You can buy classical guitars as electro-acoustics or steel-string guitars as electro-acoustics.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Electro-Acoustic Guitars?
You could argue that you can play more styles of music on an electro-acoustic guitar compared to a regular acoustic guitar.
Being able to plug your acoustic guitar into an amp means you can add effects and set up different tones that are normally impossible to play with an acoustic.
If you like the idea of playing with a looper pedal or performing live, I highly recommend getting an electro-acoustic guitar instead of a normal acoustic guitar.
Can Beginners Play Electro-Acoustic Guitars?
Electro-acoustic guitars feel exactly the same to play as normal acoustic guitars.
This means you can choose either a classical guitar or a steel-string guitar to buy as an electro-acoustic guitar.
Types of Guitar: Hollowbody & Semi-Hollow
Hollowbody and semi-hollow guitars (also known as semi-acoustic) are electric guitars with a hollowed-out body.
The difference between a hollowbody and a semi-hollow guitar can be seen in the internal cavity of the guitar’s body.
A semi-hollow guitar usually has a block of wood running through the body under the pickups and bridge as shown above. A hollowbody guitar doesn’t have this block.
Hollowbody guitars are very susceptible to feedback and don’t work very well with high output pickups and amplifiers. Semi-hollow guitars greatly reduce feedback issues while keeping the unique tone of a hollowbody.
When you play one of these guitars unplugged, it produces an acoustic-like tone. Nowhere as loud or as clear as an actual acoustic, but it is noticeably louder than a solid-body electric guitar.
When a semi-hollow guitar is plugged in, you get a tone that sounds somewhere between a regular electric guitar and an acoustic guitar. The tone is closer to electric than acoustic, but you can hear it has an acoustic quality to it.
The tone is mellow and has a unique resonance that you don’t hear in solid-body electric guitars.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Hollowbody or Semi-Hollow Guitars?
You can probably guess what styles of music are popular on these type of guitars from the vintage look.
Hollowbody guitars were the rage in the 30s-50s and semi-hollow guitars were popular right after that as amplifiers became available to guitarists.
Old blues, jazz, early rock-n-roll, rockabilly, and similar styles all commonly use semi-hollow guitars.
Can Beginners Play Hollowbody or Semi-Hollow Guitars?
A hollowbody or a semi-hollow guitar feels very similar to a regular electric guitar.
Some beginners will find these types of guitars easy to play on, while others may have trouble with the large body.
Types of Guitar: Electric
Electric guitars are a versatile type of guitar that comes in many different shapes and sizes.
The above guitars only scratch the surface on what is possible with electric guitars.
The type of hardware used on electric guitars can be significantly different from one guitar to the next. This means every electric guitar feels different to play and can do different things.
To get an idea of the type of hardware used on different guitars, check out this Guide to Parts of the Guitar. It will teach you everything you need to know about the different parts of acoustic as well as electric guitars.
Not only can you have significantly different shapes and designs on electric guitars, but the tones produced by different electric guitars can be worlds apart.
While acoustic guitars are all similar in tone, electric guitars offer a wide range of tonal options. You can even get electric guitars with piezo pickups that make your guitar sound like an acoustic.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Electric Guitars?
Electric guitars have been used in pretty much all styles of music at some point. They’re the go-to option in countless styles of music such as rock, metal, blues, punk, and more. It’s hard to imagine a heavy metal or rock band not using electric guitars.
There are two reasons why electric guitars can be used in almost any music style.
The first is the different tonal options in the guitars. The type of guitar and the pickups in the guitar all change the tone you hear. You can even install different pickups to access different tones.
The second is the gear you can plug an electric guitar into. There are many types of amps that all shape your guitar tone in different ways. You can go from a vintage blues tone to a modern metal tone by flicking a switch on an amp.
You can also use pedals to shape your tone in different ways. My Guitar Effects Course spends the entire first part showing you how to use a wide range of different effects, then the second part looking at how to create different tones using pedals and amps. That’s how versatile electric guitars can be.
Can Beginners Play Electric Guitars?
Beginners tend to find it easy to start learning on an electric guitar. While some electric guitars are harder to play than others, the string tension is generally lower than what it is on a steel-string acoustic guitar.
If you like the sounds an electric guitar can produce and you want to play music that is usually played on an electric guitar, it is highly recommended you start learning on an electric guitar.
If you want to play music that is usually played on an acoustic guitar, don’t start off on an electric guitar just because it might be easier to start on. Pick the type of guitar that suits the style of music you want to play.
Types of Guitar: Resonator
Resonators are a strange type of guitar that you may not see very often (depending on the style of music you listen to).
They’re basically acoustic guitars with a metal cone in place of where the soundhole normally sits.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Resonator Guitars?
Resonators are typically used in bluegrass, country, Hawaiian, blues, and jazz music.
There are different models with different types of cones that are better suited to different styles of music.
A lot of resonator guitarists use a slide, but you can play a resonator as you would play a normal guitar.
Can Beginners Play Resonator Guitars?
Resonators can be harder to learn at first, but it depends on what style of music you want to play.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on a 12-String Guitars?
12-string guitars were extremely popular in the 60s and 70s, but they’re still used today.
A 12-string guitar has a very distinctive sound. Once you learn to recognize it, it will stand out in any song that uses one.
Can Beginners Play 12-String Guitars?
12-string guitars require a lot of finger pressure to properly fret the notes. You need to press down hard enough for two strings to make contact with the fret under each finger, so it is harder to play than a regular 6-string guitar.
If you’re interested in learning how to play a 12-string guitar, start with a regular 6-string guitar (acoustic or electric). Once you build up your finger strength, you can work your way to playing a 12-string guitar.
Types of Guitar: Extended-Range Electric
7-string guitars have existed for a long time, but started to become popular in the 90s.
Today, you can find a wide range of 7, 8 and 9 string guitars (mostly electric) from many brands.
These extended-range guitars provide guitarists with the freedom to play anything you can play on a normal six-string guitar as well as lower notes that can reach as low as bass guitar notes.
Note: you may notice that a lot of extended range guitars have slanted frets. These are called ‘fanned’ frets or multi-scale guitars. Fanned frets are also available on 6-string guitars, but very common on extended range guitars.
What Styles of Music Can You Play on Extended-Range Guitars?
You can technically play any style of music on an extended range guitar. An extended range guitar simply adds additional strings, so you can play anything on it that you would normally play on a six-string guitar.
But extended range guitars tend to be used by guitarists who play heavy styles of music, as well as technical styles such as progressive metal.
Many styles of music don’t really benefit from the lower range possible on an 8 or 9 string guitar, but there are plenty of guitarists using them in styles of music you wouldn’t expect.
Learning guitar is a great process but you should understand that there are no short cuts in the journey. However, there are certain things you can do to ease up your journey. We will be listing down some of the tips below. Create a bond with the guitar, get familiarized with it. This can help […]
Pianos can be broken down into three types of categories. Grand pianos, Upright pianos, and digital pianos. Each of these pianos have their own unique features that are designed for specific pianist’s needs and environments.
Upright or Vertical Pianos
Upright or vertical pianos are named after the position of the piano’s strings and soundboard. They stand perpendicular to the ground, hence “Upright Piano”.
This means that the piano hammers on an upright piano must strike horizontally to hit the vertical strings. The mechanism between pressing a key and a hammer hitting a string is not the same as a grand piano which makes playing an upright piano feel slightly different.
Upright pianos have shorter strings, and smaller soundboards than grand pianos. This was actually one of the reasons grand pianos were invented. It is much easier to build a 9 foot long piano, than it is to build a 9 foot tall piano!
Upright pianos are usually between 110cm – 135cm in height, around 155cm wide and 60cm deep, the height being the major difference between models. Via Chrisvenables.co.uk
Grands are largest and the most expensive type of piano. Grand piano soundboards are horizontal. This allows for much longer strings, and a greater soundboard area.
The action of a grand piano is much different than an upright piano seeing as the strings sit horizontally. The piano can play faster and with more control than an upright due to the hammers being reset by gravity as suppose to a complicated combination of springs.
The visible key size is identical across all pianos, but the grand piano key extends far deeper into the piano than an upright. This makes for a longer leaver, giving the pianist more control over dynamics and tone.
The standard width of a grand piano is also about 5′. The length varies from 4½’ to 9½’. The total floor space allowance for the smallest grand should be at least 5′ wide by 6½’ long, including bench space. Grand pianos are measure by the length from the very front of the keyboard to the farthest end of the piano along the spine, with the lid closed. Via BlueBookofPianos.com
Digital pianos can sound very similar to uprights and grands, though how they produce their sound is very different.
When you press a key on a digital piano, instead of a hammer striking a string, a sensor is activated, and a recording of an acoustic piano is played through a set of speakers.
Digital pianos can have multiple recordings or “samples” of each note that can be played back at different volumes depending on how hard or soft you play.
Digital pianos can have many different sounds or voices of different kinds of pianos, or instruments. Digital pianos also often have recording features, and play along sequences. Some digital piano models are quite portable, and some can even run off of batteries.
A good digital piano will sound, and feel like it’s acoustic siblings. There are some hybrid digital pianos that have started using acoustic parts in their design, blurring the lines between digital and acoustic pianos.
“What are my piano keys made out of? Is it ivory? Is it plastic? Is there a difference between how the white and black keys are made? Are they made of different materials?” These are all questions we might ask ourselves while sitting at a piano. While it is easier to find information about the […]
The story of the humble piano key reveals significant detail about the evolution of the instrument. It might at first seem like a minor consideration, but actually, the devil is so often in the detail and this is certainly the case for piano keys. There is a common agreement that the first pianos were developed by the Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori roughly around 1700. These instruments were similar to their predecessors the harpsichord in appearance but wholly different in respect of how the tone was produced.
Early piano keys were made from a range of different woods that were commonly available in the early part of the 19th Century. Remember, that some early pianos resembled the harpsichord keyboard layout where the white and black keys were effectively reversed. One of the favored woods used by piano manufactures for the black keys was ebony.
Ebony is not as easily found today as it was in these early days of piano manufacturing. It is a beautiful brown-black hardwood that will sink if placed in water. What makes this wood so appealing is that when carved, or shaped into a key it can be polished almost to the reflective quality of a mirror. This brings a glossy look to a piano keyboard that is quite appealing and perhaps gives the impression of luxury and quality.
Other woods that were used for the darker, black keys were exotic ones such as spruce, sugar pine, or basswood. As the shorter keys (the black ones), were played less frequently, it was felt by many manufacturers that the wood could be a compromise. Interestingly, the distinction between black and white keys on all pianos is an important one as it helps to visually separate one set of keys from another. Also, the black keys are narrower than the white ones helping pianists develop a feel for the geography of the instrument that would be far more difficult if they were all the same shape.
The white keys of the piano were up until the early 1960s, made of woods like ivory. As hard as it is to believe in the times in which we now live, and with the awareness we have regarding the environment, ivory was the preferred material for the white keys on the piano. What it explains is the term ‘ivories’ that is often used to describe the piano keys. It also gives you the origin of the phrase ‘to tickle the ivories’; or in other words, play the piano.
On older model pianos you may well discover that the keys on the instrument are ivory. How the ivory was used varies. Sometimes you may have the rare opportunity to see a piano with solid ivory keys, more likely is that the keys are half ivory and half plastic. This can be reasonably easily spotted on the white keys as you can see a thin line roughly half-way up the key where the manufacturer has joined the ivory to the other material.
Whilst the idea of using ivory is quite abhorrent today, other disadvantages accompany its use. Ivory, as a natural material, is porous and as a result, will change color over time becoming yellowed and often brittle. This can lead to keys chipping and becoming unusable for performances.
As you would anticipate, the replacement of ivory keys is now only possible through the re-fitting of keys from old pianos. The use of new ivory is rightly banned. If you are the owner of a piano that dates back before the 1960s it may be worth looking to see what material you have been playing on, if only to recognize the history of piano manufacturing.
The world of piano manufacturing has moved forward considerably since the 1700s, and as you would expect, so has the production of piano keys. Many pianos today have longer white keys made of a hardwood that is hollow inside and with a thin layer of plastic applied to the top surface where the pianist would press the key.
There are many different types of plastic used by the leading piano makers that can give a different ‘feel’ to each piano. This can be a crucial factor in deciding which piano is right for you. Yamaha for example, have developed their own plastic covering that they call ‘ivorite’ that they claim has the feel and look of ivory.
The advantage of the plastic covering over the traditional ivory is that it is hard-wearing, replaceable, affordable, and considerably more ethical. Other examples of natural materials include ‘vegetable ivory’, which comes from the tagua nut. There is an extremely hard, white-colored part of the seed of the ‘Elephant Plant’ and the ‘real fan palm’ from which this vegetable ivory can be extracted. Such is the density of the material, it is ideal for something like piano keys but is not in plentiful supply. It originates in both South America and Africa.
Black keys on pianos are commonly also a type of plastic or resin occasionally with higher-end pianos sporting ebony keys. Even though ebony is still an expensive wood, some manufacturers prefer to use it over manmade alternatives. It is after all durable, aesthetically pleasing, and good to work with. Some of the resins that have been developed offer the modern pianist a comfortable and attractive playing keyboard that will be a pleasure to play and demonstrate longevity.
Most electronic piano keyboards have their keys made from plastic, making them easier to lift and move around as needed. Many ingenious mechanisms are supplied with contemporary electric pianos to provide a ‘real piano feel’, that are increasingly convincing as manufacturing techniques evolve.
The organ is one of those instruments that always sounds great when played well in just the right band, often – but not always – blues. Here’s a few tunes that feature the organ, not always exclusively but definitely prominently. Before he became a founding member of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Keith Emerson (in 1967) […]
This is the conclusion of the famous guitar series. I want to thank everyone who read these and the response was much more than I ever expected. I hope you enjoyed it. This is the last edition of this series. We covered: Brian May’s Red Special, Willie Nelson’s Trigger George Harrison’s Rocky, Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat […]
The Electric guitar hasn’t been around nearly as long as the Acoustic and also Classical guitars. As a matter of fact, the Electric guitar was produced just 70 years back (the 1930s) by Adolph Rickenbacker. Since that time, the Electric guitar has actually substantially evolved to the where it is today. In this write-up, we’ll go over the background of the Electric guitar.
Guitars, or similar instruments, have actually been around for hundreds of years. The Electric guitar was first produced in the 1930s by Rickenbacker. Original Electric guitars used tungsten pickups. Pick-ups generally transform the resonance of the strings into electric present, which is after that fed into the amplifier to generate the sound.
The extremely earliest Electric guitars featured smaller soundholes in the body. These guitars are known as semi-hollow body Electric guitars and still are rather popular today, mainly as a result of the truth that they are adaptable guitars.
Nevertheless, with using pick-ups, it was possible to develop guitars without soundholes (like the Acoustic as well as Timeless guitars have) that still had the ability to be heard, if linked into amplifiers. These guitars are called strong body Electric guitars.
The Electric guitar’s appeal started to increase throughout the Big Band age of the ’30s and also 40s. As a result of the volume of the brass sections in jazz bands, it was necessary to have guitars that could be listened to over the sections. Electric guitars, with the ability to be connected into amplifiers, loaded this gap.
The Electric guitar that is most prevalent today is the strong body Electric guitar. The solid body guitar was created by musician and innovator Les Paul in 1941. It is a guitar made of strong wood without soundholes. The initial solid body guitar developed by Paul was really plain– it was an easy rectangle-shaped block of wood attached to a neck with 6 steel strings. Les Paul’s initial solid body guitar shape has, obviously, changed from the original rectangle-shaped shape to the a lot more rounded form Les Paul guitars have today.
Throughout the 1950s, Gibson introduced Les Paul’s development to the world. The Gibson Les Paul, as it was and still is called, quickly ended up being a popular Electric guitar. It has actually remained the most popular guitar for half a century.
Around the very same period of time, one more inventor named Leo Fender created a strong body Electric guitar of his very own. In the late 1940s, Fender introduced the Fender Broadcaster Electric guitar. The Broadcaster, which was relabelled the Stratocaster, was formally presented to the general public in 1954. The Strat, as it is now recognized, was a really different guitar in comparison to the Les Paul. It had a different form, various equipment as well as was substantially lighter. Fender’s Stratocaster Electric guitar is the second most preferred guitar on the planet, 2nd to just the Les Paul.
Throughout the years, various other firms, such as Ibanez, Jackson, Paul Reed Smith, ESP as well as Yamaha have all generated strong body Electric guitars of their very own. However, most Electric guitars still feature the acquainted shape of a Les Paul or Strat guitar.