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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Which Sex Is Your Guitar?

Everything you wanted to know, but never thought of asking

Which Sex Is My Guitar?

In case you didn't know, I will enlighten you: guitars have a sex. Why do I think that? Because I have observed and played lots of them, and sometimes lived with not just one but several at the same time. I have loved them all. Some have been very feminine. Some have been very masculine. Others have been mostly feminine with masculine qualities or mostly masculine with feminine qualities.

I can hear you thinking "I know where this is going: the feminine curves of the guitar and all that stuff." And I say to you, no, not at all, it's much more interesting than that tired old cliché.

The question - which sex is your guitar - may come as a surprise to you. Quite likely you have never thought of it before. You may think it nonsense and quite irrelevant and all that matters is how you play it, and what to play on it. And even if it were true it can have no influence on which new guitar to buy.

Yet all these activities and decisions could be assisted by considering the question, OK, two questions, which sex is your guitar, and if you are considering swapping it for a younger model, which sex would you like that one to be.

For starters, consider the action (the height of the strings from the finger-board). A high action is hard, loud and doesn't often buzz, whereas a low action is soft, quieter and buzzes quite easily. Replace "buzz" with "cry" and read the last sentence again.

Now think of the scale length. A short scale length of 64 centimetres from saddle to nut is sometimes referred to as a lady's model. The extra scale length of 66 centimetres is considered tough and made for larger hands.

Now do you see where I am going with this? No? Well how about the sound itself? Some instruments have a loud, brilliant, percussive sound. Others are sweet, even and - most admired of all - described as having a great sustain.

"Hang on a minute " I hear you say, "a sweet sound may be a feminine attribute, but surely sustain can be both feminine and masculine?" Maybe, maybe not. A loud guitar (masculine) gives an impression of sustain, but it is rare for the same instrument to have both volume and sustain in equal measure. Therein lies the rub for many a toiling guitar maker.

There are guitars on Mars and Venus and on some planets in between

For your guidance allow me to summarise the extremes for you to best identify your preferences. On Mars there are thicker-bodied guitars of 65 or 66cm scale lengths with higher actions, loud basses, and brilliant trebles which go "ping". On Venus there are smaller-bodied guitars with scale lengths of 64 and 65cm scale length with soft actions, sweet trebles, and loads of sustain, which go "rrrring". There are various planets in between on which live guitars with mixed qualities.

So at the risk of boring you let me ask you the question again: which sex is your guitar? Since you have persevered this far let me re-phrase that in the light of my comments. Given its qualities, to which sex does it belong, or of which sex does it contain more characteristics?

Now I can hear your brain whirling. Excellent. You are in the process of identifying its gender and all the advantages that go with discovering more about your likes and dislikes. If you are thinking of buying another one all I ask of you is not to rush out and buy the first feminine or masculine guitar that takes your fancy. Take your time to get to know each other, whether he or she minds or not.

You are going to live with him or her so remember my words of caution: act in haste, repent at leisure. Leave that sort of behaviour to the unenlightened.

February 2012

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1011 .
© 2017.

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