What is the guitar family?

I often refer to the ‘guitar family‘ in conversation with others; usually when describing what instruments I play/teach. I don’t think it’s an offically recognised term but still, I find it useful to create a category for my instrumental priorities. Namely, it is those instruments which are stringed, fretted and plucked; such that any given instrument must satisfy all three criterion…otherwise it’s not in the family. Got it?

So the violin is not included because whilst it is stringed and has a finger board (even though it’s not ‘fretted’), it is bowed instead of plucked. And the Harp is not included because it has no fingerboard to speak of; even though it is stringed and plucked. And so on…

So what instruments does it include? Well,here is a list which although it is not exhaustive, gives you some idea of the scope:

* steel-stringed acoustic guitar (flat top)
* steel-stringed acoustic guitar (arch top)
* nylon stringed acoustic guitar (classical or Spanish guitar)
* Electro acoustic: generic term for both nylon and steel stringed acoustics with preamp/pick up
* 12 stringed acoustic steel
* Semi acoustic guitar: semi-solid archtop electric guitars (with f holes) often used in Jazz/Blues although very popular during Brit Pop/Rock era circa mid 90’s
* Hollow bodied archtop electric guitars: the precursor to semi-acoustics used principally in Jazz and especially popular in the 30’s and 40’s until Rock n Roll came along.
* Solid body electric guitars: been around since the late 40’s/early 50’s thanks to Leo Fender and Les Paul
* electric bass guitars: replaced acoustic-stringed bass; thanks to Leo Fender
* Bluegrass banjo: 5 stringed – see greatest pioneer, Earl Scruggs
* Tenor Banjo: 4 stringed and used a lot in Old Time Music and Irish Music
* Mandolin
* Mandola
* Lap Steel acoustic: specially set up for bottleneck slide
* Resonator guitars: pioneered in the 20’s before electric guitars. Examples include National Steel and Dobros
* Lute: an instrument with a long dating back to at least the Renaissance
* Balalaika: Russian
* Bouzouki: Greek
* Flamenco acoustic: similiar to Classical but made of Cypress wood

and so on…No, it’s not an exhaustive list though it’s given me an idea to write a bit more about the guitar family in the near future.So watch this space.

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