How science can make you better guitar player revealed
A study has revealed the physics underlying the differences in the lead guitar playing techniques like string bends, tapping, vibrato and whammy.
Now guitarist and physicist, Dr David Robert Grimes, has described physics underlying these techniques and said that very good guitarists would manipulate the strings to make the instrument sing.
He explained that on a piano, there are 12 chromatic notes in a scale, but on a guitar, one can bend the strings to get the notes in between and also said that, he wanted to understand what it was about the guitar techniques that allowed one to manipulate pitch.
Dr Grimes derived equations describing how string bending, vibrato and whammy bars changed the pitch of a note and found that the properties of the strings had a big effect on the change in pitch, in particular the Young's modulus (a measure of how much the string stretches under force) and how thick the strings were.
He also worked out how easy hammer-ons and pull-offs were, depending on the height of the guitar strings above the finger board. Finally, he confirmed the equation for string bends experimentally, measuring the frequency of the sound produced for strings bent through different angles on a guitar.
The physics of vibrating strings and string instruments had been long understood, but no one had previously worked out on how effects like bending the string change the pitch of the sound, nor, how that depended on the tension of the string, the force applied, and the angle through which it was bent.
This study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
(Posted on 24-07-2014)