Learning to play a musical instrument can be challenging – and very satisfying. And the benefits go beyond learning a new skill. Playing an instrument boosts confidence, builds creativity, and aids intelligence. So if you are looking for a way to relieve stress, playing and listening to music is proven to help!
Whether you’re learning to play your first instrument or adding a second to your accomplishments, a plucked string instrument is a great choice. Read on to find more about the most popular plucked string instruments from guitars to ukeleles with this brief guide.
Probably the most popular of all the plucked instruments, guitars come in various forms. All guitars share the same basic form. The guitar’s body is attached to the neck. The strings run from the bridge on the body to the headstock – that’s the tuning mechanism for the strings.
Whether you pluck the strings by hand or with a guitar pick, pressing a string against one of the metal frets shortens the string, letting you play higher or lower notes. The frets are spaced out along the neck, giving a wide range of sounds.
Derived from the classic lute-like the guitar is – mandolins share many similarities with guitars. Mandolins also have a head, neck, and frets. But unlike guitars, mandolins have what are called string courses.
These are doubled strings, both of which are tuned to the same note. Most mandolins today have eight strings set up in four courses of two strings each. Many mandolin variations evolved over time, but the Neapolitan is the most common today.
Although banjos have the same basic parts as a guitar, they have one major difference. The body of a banjo is a thin frame, covered by a thin, taut skin on the top and open on the back. That difference is what lets banjos produce their signature resonating sound.
Thought to have originated in the Caribbean, the banjo was refined and perfected by black musicians in the early 19th century. Today, most banjos use five strings. Four-string banjos – while traditional – are less popular.
Resembling mini-guitars, ukeleles date back to the 19th century. Considered a traditional instrument by Hawaiians, ukuleles actually developed from Portuguese instruments called machete de bragas.
First brought to Hawaii in the 1800s by Portuguese laborers from the Azores, Cape Verde, and Madeira islands, ukeleles quickly became popular with Hawaiians. Now an important part of Hawaiian culture, ukulele songs are increasingly popular with musicians worldwide.
With only four strings and a simple design, playing a ukelele is comparatively easy. Many variations exist, but the soprano ukelele with A4, E4, C4, and G4 tuning is the most common. It’s easy to buy a ukulele online so you can be playing in no time!
Choosing a Plucked String Instrument
Now that you know more about the four most popular choosing a plucked string instrument that matches your musical interests is the next step. Whether it’s a traditional guitar or the simpler and easier-to-play ukelele, learning an instrument offers great rewards!
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