Guitars Are Better
August 18, 2020
Today, I’m explaining why I think guitar is the best instrument. Obviously, an idea like “the best instrument” is subject to opinion, but I’ll explain my reasoning and you can feel free to agree or disagree. While functionally, the guitar is more or less the same as the lute, mandolin, banjo, or any number of other stringed instruments, what’s unique about it is just how much musical ground it covers.
One of the most notable things about guitar is the variety in the instrument’s basic construction compared to most other instruments. There’s no universal rough shape, no universal number of strings, no universal string material, and no universal construction method. Modern guitars can be acoustic, electric, or both. They can have 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, or 12 strings. And those strings might be made of nylon, steel, or a number of other materials. The guitar may have a through-neck, a bolted on neck, or a glued on neck. And it may be made from a multitude of woods with no one standard choice for tonewood.
In part because of the massive amount of things considered to be a guitar, it also covers a humongous range of genres from classical to country to pop to rock to metal. Obviously, there’s no definitive list of reasons why it’s so versatile, but some other reasons for its versatility include its sonic range, its ability to play just about any part in a song, and its massive range of techniques.
While all the reasons I’ve listed make for an interesting instrument, what really makes the guitar special is that massive range of techniques. The guitar is a fairly unique instrument in terms of how many ways there are to play a note on it. You can pick, pluck, tap, use your nails, use fingerpicks, slap, or any combination of the above (there’s more but you get the idea). Combining those techniques across the roughly 4 octave range of the guitar can yield a ridiculous number of different styles and sounds without changing anything about the guitar being played. Obviously, there’s a certain extent of this on other related instruments, but guitar has been very heavily explored in that area compared to most other instruments. This is already a lot of power packed into just one instrument, but it gets even better. The guitar is a fairly simple instrument to pick up compared to instruments like violin or clarinet. Whereas violin and clarinet require training just to make any controlled sound in the first place (proper bowing technique and embrouchure take time to develop), pretty much anybody can play an open string on a guitar on day one. Beyond that, it obviously takes some time to master left and right hand technique, but being able to make a good sound immediately is huge. That’s not to say guitar is an easy instrument, however. It takes lots of practice to have control over your sound and that time commitment increases exponentially with each new technique, making for an almost limitless skill cap.
While I understand that guitar may not be for everyone and can be a very daunting instrument, I think it’s amazing because of the vast possibilities contained in the one instrument. The guitar is one of the most all-encompassing instruments in existence with such a wide range of sounds both well explored and yet looked into that I don’t think anyone will ever know everything about it. Guitar is such a uniquely powerful instrument that I don’t think any other instrument will ever be able to compete with it.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it. If you’re not a guitar player, I highly recommend you try it out. It’s a great instrument to get started on, a great tool for learning about music, and a perfect instrument for pretty much any musical task.