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The Anatomy of a Guitar

In 1996, Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa about mus...
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The modern guitar has evolved over the years from the early vihuela, invented in 15th Century Spain, to become the instrument that we all know and love. There are some lovely instruments out there that would make even those who don’t particularly care for the guitar sit up and take notice. There also exists a dizzying array of options and paint jobs to choose from these days, and the salesmen in the music store use so much jargon that it can be quite intimidating for a beginner who just wants to buy their first guitar.

So let’s demystify the guitar jargon and explain what all the different terms mean that relate to its anatomy.

The Parts of a Guitar

The different parts of a guitar have quite exotic sounding names that don’t necessarily give any obvious clues about which bit of the guitar they relate to. You wouldn’t expect a musical instrument to be made partly from a “nut”, or a “bridge”, would you? Some of the other pats are more logically named, for example the “sounding board” is a no nonsense description of the the function of that part of the guitar.

So lets look at a few of the parts in turn.

The Body

The body of an acoustic guitar is hollow and has a hole in it between the fretboard and the bridge. The purpose of the hollow body and the hole are to amplify the sound generated by the vibrating strings. Electric guitars on the other hand do not require hollow bodies because their sound is amplified electronically using an amplifier, or “amp”.

The Headstock

The headstock of the guitar is right at the opposite end of the guitar to the body and is the important section of the guitar from the point of view of making sure it is in tune. The headstock is where the tuning pegs are located. The tuning pegs (sometimes called “machine heads”), are used to adjust the tension of the guitar strings, thereby altering the pitch produced when they are played.

The Nut and the Bridge

The nut is usually made from plastic or bone and is a narrow strip with grooves cut into it across which the strings are stretched. The strings reach along the length of the guitar and pass over the bridge, which is located on the body of the guitar. The distance between the nut and the bridge defines the length of each of the strings that is free to vibrate when plucked. The further this distance, the lower the note produced.

These are the basics of the guitar. Now you know them you can go to the guitar store with confidence and not feel intimidated by all the jargon.

Don’t forget to take your wallet!

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How Effective Are Speaker Foam Repair Kits?

Many well known loudspeaker manufacturers including JBL and Infinity made some very poor choices in the 70s and 80s when they used foam surrounds for their drivers. Unfortunately, almost all of the foam surrounds of these speakers started deteriorating just 10 years after purchase. Other parts of these speakers were also aging rather quickly.

Fortunately, there is hope if you still own one of the good old Infinity Kappa speakers or just love vintage stuff. Dozens of third-party manufacturers including and are now offering reasonably priced speaker foam repair kits that not only fix the speaker surrounds but also holes in your speaker grill. Depending on your personal budget, you can give your „babies“ a complete makeover. SimplySpeakers even offers a complete reconing service for tougher jobs that cannot be fixed via do-it-yourself kits. Reconing essentially means replacing the diaphragm, voice coil and any internal wiring. This doesn’t come cheap but can be worth the price. The results are often stunning. If done well, you won’t believe how fantastic your speakers still sound even by modern standards.

For very exotic home stereo loudspeakers, there is often not much hope. Your best bet would be to contact the manufacturer or look for replacement drivers in the secondhand market. Similar speaker models may be offered on eBay that you could simply cannibalize. On the other side, drop-in replacements are not easy to find as the dimensions of the woofers differ in almost all cases. In addition, you probably need to drill additional holes into the speaker enclosure. I personally wouldn’t feel very comfortable doing that. And the internal crossover of your loudspeaker would have to be adapted, too. All of this could result in too many sonic compromises. But it could be acceptable if you just need the speakers for background listening and plan on getting newer ones in the near future.

In summary, speaker foam repair kits only make sense if your loudspeaker is from a larger manufacturer and if damages are minor.

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False and Frivolous: Why The Fast and the Furious Series has Outstayed its Welcome

People love cars, this was thinking behind Rob Cohen’s (no not one of THE Cohen brothers you’ll be surprised to hear) 2001 hit, The Fast and the Furious. Jumping on the back of the modified-car subculture that was all the rage at the time  the film, starring yank-pretty boy Paul Walker and monosyllabic oaf Vin Diesel , played on the public’s fascination with family cars boasting 4 litre engines and ironing boards for spoilers.

Sure the film wasn’t a masterpiece, but the actors worked, playing a convincing community of petrol heads who were initially wary but ultimately welcoming to the undercover cop (Walker) infiltrating their street races and social gatherings to build intel about the scene. The film worked because it had a clear focus and was honest, it was all about the cars and it didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t.

Since then there have been three sequels of varying quality. The second film, ingeniously titled 2 Fast 2 Furious retained the fast cars and faster women (in case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway), but laid on a translucent plot about the underground drugs trade in Miami. The flimsy progression was clearly only there to facilitate the presence of the brightly coloured cars but the second instalment certainly worked as a high-octane action film.

The Third Instalment, which was little more than a passing reference to the franchise, having jettisoned stalwarts Walker and Vin Diesel took place in Japan. Despite weak ties to its younger brothers it was a purer representation of the modified car culture, taking it back to high-school kids and deserted parking lots.  More recently however, the series seems to be morphing into some sort of Con Air slash Days of Thunder lovechild.

Fast & Furious was the ‘back to basics’ name for the fourth film (which you can’t help but feel they desperately tried to cram a ‘4’ into somewhere), but basic it was not; again drugs busts and Mexican criminals were used as a vehicle (sorry) to showcase a range of American muscle cars. The trailer for the fifth film appears to be in the same vein and in a move that seems wholly predictable, they have unnecessarily crammed a numeral into the title, does not bode well!

Having seen the trailer, I can confirm that the ratio of fast cars to Vin Diesel jumping through windows and worriedly shouting stuff before a fuel tanker explodes is not promising. Again the franchise seems to be edging towards a poor man’s Die Hard rather than a Rich man’s Gone in Sixty Seconds.

Take a look at the trailer for yourselves but if like me you’re a piston-head purist who is just after some lighted hearted four-wheel based fun you may end up overlooking ‘Fast Five’, which to me sounds suspiciously more like a novel about a bunch of over curious teenagers than a film about a gang of below-the-law opportunists that drive souped-up shopping trolleys.

Joe is a film enthusiast current working as a blogger for a company offering NWVC mobile phone accesories