Is a Guitar a Percussion Instrument?

The guitar is actually one of the strange instruments because of the freedom it offers – strings making it a string instrument, and the wooden body gives out percussions. 

When you see a guitarist on guitar, have you noticed their way of playing? Some like to use a pick, whilst others rub or slap the strings alternatively. To your surprise, the guitar actually falls into two categories: both string and percussion instruments. 

Primarily known for being a stringed instrument, the guitar produces distinctive sounds with the help of its vibrating strings. Due to this, they can be claimed to be percussion instruments. 

What is a Percussion Instrument?

Is a Guitar a Percussion Instrument?
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When scraped, hit, or rubbed, the instruments that create a sound are known as percussion instruments. Guitars, being used in this manner, can be termed percussion instruments. 

You have a lot to learn about guitars. As this article unfolds, you will see its percussive features, and we will also explore how guitarists use guitars as percussion instruments. 

Guitar: A Percussion or String Instrument?

Guitars are the most popular and commonly played musical instruments worldwide. Without at least one guitar, no band could pull off a great performance, and many prosperous musicians started off as talented guitarists. 

What do you notice on a guitar when you take a first glance? The strings, right? This is primarily why it is deemed a string instrument. Many users, however, claimed that it resembles the drum to a great extent with its strings stretched on the top. 

Generally composed of wood, a string instrument is known to have a hollow inside that allows the sound to echo within, alongside thin, long strings stretched over the hollow, which forms the sound. 

Combined, the features give it a potential for use as both a string and percussion instrument. Most players play the guitar simply plucking the strings by their hand or using a pick. Rarely, the fingerstyle drummists, who prefer hand over a pick, might add percussion to their performance. 

Percussive players take the musical challenge to another level. While slapping or tapping the strings to come up with a unique sound, they use the guitar as a percussive drum as well as an acoustic guitar. 

How to Use a Guitar as a Percussion Tool?

For their ability to carry any beat of a piece of music, percussion instruments are hugely popular. 

A strong element would be missing if a band played without drums. Playing the guitar as a percussion instrument, that requirement for a strong beat can be fulfilled without needing a second instrument. 

You can use a guitar as a percussion tool in several ways. The empty inside of an acoustic guitar, if beaten or banged, gives out a deep sound, likewise to a small drum. It can help achieve similar sounds of particular parts of a drum set. The guitar releases sounds that are mostly compared to a snare, kick, and hi-hat drum. 

Some percussion guitarists like Antoine Dufour, frequently use the flat side of their palms and their wrists to strike the guitar’s body, below its soundhole. It’s said that closer contact to the hole will let out a deeper sound. 

Patting the guitar strings against its fret – the thin metal lines on its fretboard, which represents the long guitar neck – the guitarist can gain the hi-hat sound.

The flat piece below the soundhole is actually known as the pick-guard area. Using your finger, you can flick a pick-guard section to replicate the snare drum sound. 

Another way to achieve something alike is to strike a point of the guitar body using the edge of your knuckle. With your fleshy portion of the palm, hit the guitar body slightly above the soundhole to achieve the kick drum sound. 

Musicians also tap the guitar body at the bottom to create a rapid rhythmic cadence that fills any composition. What’s interesting is the ability of the guitar to switch between percussion and strings. 

This might require a different tuning. The tuning will be reliant on the musician himself and the music genre they are trying to establish. For percussion playing, the tuning must be done in a specific way – tighten and loosen the strings to play particular notes.

Music to Be Played with Percussion Guitars

Usually, folk music was initially opted to be played using the fingerpicking method, but it evolved into a vast range of genres, containing rock and pop. 

Not only does the guitar add percussion to playing, but it also allows room for adding multiple beats as well. Since most music genres depend on beats heavily, the percussion element of guitar fits in a wide range of music. 

Advantages of a Percussion Guitar

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Percussion guitars open doors to integrate multiple styles of playing and allows for strong creative voicing. It adds some extra elements to your sound.

For those who cannot form a band or are unable to afford one, a percussion guitar helps to fill the sound gaps. It has the qualities of both a drum and guitar.  

Challenges Faced While Playing a Percussion Guitar

If you are accustomed to the string side of the guitar, switching to percussion needs a completely different set of skills. Thus, mastering the percussion instrument becomes quite tricky. 

Even more, hours of practice need to be dedicated to learning how to switch between hitting and body and playing the strings to release distinctive sounds. 

For the fingerpicking style, your hands and nails need maintenance. Moreover, your nails need to be able to withstand the long hours of playing and practice. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know that guitar is a percussion material. To be able to play it as one is a unique ability. If you can dedicate yourself to perfecting and learning this skill, you will have gained a unique skill set and style when placed among other musicians. 

Hope you enjoyed reading!

You Can Also Read : The Story of the Drum Sets

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