The guitar is a popular musical instrument classified as a string instrument with anywhere from 4 to 18 strings, usually having 6. The sound is projected either acoustically or through electrical amplification (for an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar, respectively). It is typically played by strumming or plucking the strings with the right hand while fretting (or pressing against the frets) the strings with the fingers of the left hand. The guitar is a type of chordophone, traditionally constructed from wood and strung with either gut, nylon or steel strings and distinguished from other chordophones by its construction and tuning. The modern guitar was preceded by the gittern, the vihuela, the four-course Renaissance guitar, and the five-course baroque guitar, all of which contributed to the development of the modern six-string instrument.
There are three main types of modern acoustic guitar: the classical guitar (nylon-string guitar), the steel-string acoustic guitar, and the archtop guitar. The tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the strings’s vibration, amplified by the body of the guitar, which acts as a resonating chamber. The classical guitar is often played as asolo instrument using a comprehensive finger-picking technique. The term “finger-picking” can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues, bluegrass, and country guitar playing in the United States.
Electric guitars, introduced in the 1930s, use an amplifier that can electronically manipulate and shape the tone. Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but a solid body was eventually found more suitable, as it was less prone to feedback. Electric guitars have had a continuing profound influence on popular culture.
The guitar is used in a wide variety of musical genres worldwide. It is recognized as a primary instrument in genres such as blues, bluegrass, country, flamenco, folk, jazz, jota, mariachi, metal, punk, reggae, rock, soul, and many forms of pop.
Preston Reed is an American fingerstyle guitarist. He is noted for a two-handed playing style and compositional approach that integrates the percussive potential of the guitar body.
Reed plays with his fingers, thumbs, fists and hands at once. He is also a player of blues or ballads reminiscent of Bill Evans, one of his musical idols.
As a teenager, Reed was initially influenced by Leo Kottke and John Fahey and in the beginning of his career was a more traditional fingerstyle player. In the late 1980s, though, he began to experiment with his own highly individual and percussive style, a short time after Michael Hedges published his first records using some technically similar techniques, but Reed’s approach created very distinctive and different sounding music.
His guitar style is characterised by the use of percussive effects he generates with both hands on various parts of the guitar body. He names them rim shotsand bongo hits. He uses slap and tap techniques like slap harmonics or the generation of notes or whole chords with his left hand (hammer-on, pull-off). He uses both hands for tapping (two-hand tapping) and frets chords with his right hand (right-hand fretting). He often plays with both hands from above the guitar’s neck. In many of his compositions, Reed uses altered tunings characterized by very low bass string tunings, for example BGDGAD or CGDGGD.
Usman Riaz is a 21-year-old whiz at the percussive guitar, a style he learned to play by watching his heroes on YouTube. The TED Fellow plays onstage at TEDGlobal 2012 — followed by a jawdropping solo from the master of percussive guitar, Preston Reed. And watch these two guitarists take on a very spur-of-the-moment improv.