US 3868880 A
An electric guitar having nine strings tensioned above the pickup and fingerboard. Five of the strings constitute a melody group normally played by the right hand and tuned in intervals of perfect fourths. The remaining four strings constitute a bass and chord group normally played by the left hand and tuned in intervals of perfect fifths. The lowest bass string is turned a major seventh interval below the lowest string of the melody group.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Chapman [451 Mar. 4, 1975 l MUSICAL INSTRUMENT CONSTRUCTION  Inventor: Emmett H. Chapman, 8320 Yucca Tr1., Los Angeles, Calif. 90046  Filed: Apr. 3, 1974  Appl. No.: 457,396
Related u.s. Application Data  Division of Ser. No. 334,859, Feb. 22, 1973.
 U.S. Cl. 84/267  Int. Cl. Gl0d l/08  Field of Search 84/l.04, 1.14, 1.15, 1.16,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 7/1920 Lewis 84/285 1/1932 Meisel 84/268 X Porter 84/269 Ferra ia, 84/267 Primary Examiner-Lawrence R. Franklin Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Miketta, Glenny, Poms & Smith  ABSTRACT An electric guitar having nine strings tensioned above the pickup and fingerboard. Five of the strings constitute a melody group normally played by the right hand and tuned in intervals of perfect fourths. The remaining four strings constitute a bass and chord group normally played by the left hand and tuned in intervals of perfect fifths. The lowest bass string is turned a major seventh interval below the lowest string of the melody group.
5 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures 1 MUSICAL INSTRUMENT CONSTRUCTION This is a division of application Ser. No. 334,859, filed Feb. 22, 1973.
BACKGROUND AND FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates generally to musical instruments, and more particularly to an electric guitar of simplified construction having nine tensioned strings tuned in a unique manner.
Instruments of the guitar family are characterized by the provision of an elongated fretted fingerboard having a plurality of tensioned strings immediately above the fingerboard, and means for amplifying the musical note produced by the vibrations of the strings when actuated as by being plucked by a plectrum or the users fingers. In electric guitars, the sound amplifying means include a set of magnetic pickups, each pickup being close to a string, and the electrical outputs of the pickups are fed to electric amplifier devices of many different kinds. The electric guitar of the present invention is of this latter type, and has a body, preferably wooden, of generally rectangular cross-section consisting essentially of an elongated fretted fingerboard, a headpiece extending upwardly therefrom and a tailpiece extending downwardly therefrom. A magnetic pickup assembly is located on the tailpiece immediately above a set of tensioned strings attached to the tailpiece and headpiece.
From the musical viewpoint, the present invention is characterized by the provision of a total of nine tensioned strings extending longitudinally immediately above the fretted fingerboard, and tuned in the following way: A first, highest pitched string; a second string tuned a perfect fourth interval below the first string; a third string tuned a perfect fourth interval below the second string; a fourth string tuned a perfect fourth interval below the third string; a fifth string tuned a perfect fourth interval below the fourth string; a sixth, lowest bass string tuned a major seventh interval below the fifth string; a seventh string tuned a perfect fifth interval above the sixth string; an eighth string tuned a perfect fifth interval above the seventh string; and a ninth string tuned a perfect fifth interval above the eighth string. Thus the third and ninth strings are tuned to the same pitch; the second string is tuned one octave above the eighth string; and the first string is tuned two octaves above the seventh string.
The provision of nine strings so tuned, when played with the fingers of both of the users hands tapping the strings and holding them against selected frets, increases the chordal, melodic, and contrapuntal possibilities for producing a full, orchestral sound. By having his two hands free to engage nine strings, the performer is enabled to play bass, chords and melody simultaneously. There are strings for left-hand chords on both sides of the lowest pitched bass string (the sixth string in the series of nine). Normally, on this instrument chords are executed with the five strings tuned in intervals of fourths on one side of the lowest bass string, together with the three strings tuned in intervals of fifths on the other side of that bass string. Melody, however, is played almost exclusively on the first five strings tuned in fourth intervals. In effect, there are two groupings of strings partially overlapping the register covered. Melody played with the right hand in the upper portion of the fingerboard necessarily cancels out some of the notes on the left-hand chord in this method of two-handed playing. Thus the three strings not used for melody help to create the effect of the chord sustaining over the melody line.
One finger at one fret can tap and hold two or more strings at the same time. This technique allows easy and natural double, triple, or quadruple fourths or fifths in musical intervals, such intervals fitting in well with more complex chords. The capability is a result of the string tuning and, when exploited with the left hand, allows ease of chording, so that the performer can give more concentration to right-hand melody.
The string tuning of the present invention, as described above, produces unusual and attractive musical results. First, the tuning of the first five strings, or melody strings, in uniform intervals of perfect fourths allows easy and natural transposition of chords and scale patterns from one combination of these strings to another. The tuning concept multiplies the opportunities for using a single chord or scale pattern, as contrasted with the case of a conventional guitar with its strings conventionally tuned, with a major third interval between the second and third strings. In the latter case, each chord and scale pattern must be individually learned. In the present invention, this tuning principle of uniform intervals applies also to the sixth, seventh, eight and ninth strings, constituting the four base and chord strings.
Secondly, the two groupings of strings on either side of the lowest base string, overlap in the same register.
. Thus, chords using strings from both groupings contain intervals of major and minor seconds, which are easily and naturally fingered, as in the case of playing a piano.
Thirdly, ascending perfect fifth intervals on the second grouping of base and chord strings result in the same sequence of notes relative to each other as that produced by the descending perfect fourths of the melody strings.
Fourthly, tonal symmetry between the two groupings of strings heightens the logical relationship of bass to chords and to melody, since the first string is two octaves above the seventh string, the second string is one octave above the eighth string, and the third and ninth strings are the same note.
Accordingly, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a novel construction of an electric guitar, and the provision thereon of nine novelly tuned strings. Additional objects and purposes are to provide, in such an instrument, an elongated body, preferably of wood, of generally rectangular cross-section and including a fretted fingerboard, a headpiece extending upwardly therefrom and a tailpiece extending downwardly therefrom; to provide such an instrument having nine tensioned strings extending longitudinally of the body immediately above the frets; to provide such an instrument having a magnetic pick-up assembly carried by the tailpiece, and including a magnetic pickup in operative relation with each of the nine strings; to provide such an instrument having means for support freeing the hands of the user and including a hook in the lower portion of the fingerboard adapted to be supported by the belt of the user, and a neck-band attached to the upper end of the instrument; to provide, in such an instrument, a total of nine strings, comprising a set of five melody strings and a set of four bass and chord strings; to provide, in such sets of tuned strings, the tuning of the melody strings descending in pitch in intervals of perfect fourths downwardly from the outside or first string; to provide, in such an instrument, the bass and chord strings tuned at intervals of perfect fifths, descending downwardly from the outermost string opposite to the first string of the melody set and the highest string of the bass and chord set being tuned to the same pitch as the third string of the melody set; and for additional objects as will be understood by a reading of the following description of a preferred embodiment of the invention, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a front view of the upper portion of a performers body, together with a guitar of the present invention shown in playing position.
FIG. 2 is a top view of the instrument, together with the connections to a typical amplifier which may include a synthesizer.
FIG. 3 is a side view of the instrument.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the lower end of the fingerboard and the lower extension of the instrument, showing the magnetic pickup assembly, with part broken away for clarity of presentation.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary sectional view taken on the arrows VI-VI of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken on arrows VI-Vl of FIG. 3.
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 5, except showing a modified form of the pickup assembly mounted on the lower extension of the instrument,
DETAILED DESCRIPTION In FIG. 1 there is indicated generally at 10 a performer using the instrument of the present invention, which itself is indicated generally at 20. Performer 10 is wearing a belt 12 which serves to support the lower portion of the instrument by means of a bracket or hook indicated generally at 22 to be described in detail later. Instrument 20 is further supported on the body of the performer by a neck strap or band 14, which encircles the performers neck and upper chest and is connected by suitable means 16 to the upper portion of the instrument, and thus in cooperation with bracket hook 22 supports the instrument in proper playing position relative to the performers body.
As seen in FIG. 2, instrument 20 includes an elon gated fingerboard indicated generally at 24 terminating upwardly as seen in FIG. 2 in a headpiece indicated generally at 26 which includes a number of tensioning members 27, one for each of the nine strings of the present instrument. Fingerboard 24 is provided on its upper surface with a series of frets 28, each comprising a transverse rib on the upper surface of the fingerboard 24. The upper portion of fingerboard 24, headpiece 26 and its tensioning means 27, as well as frets 28, are convcntional in design and construction. Downwardly as seen in FIG. 2, fingerboard 20 terminates in a lower extension indicated generally at 30 having mounted thereon a magnetic pickup assembly indicated generally at 32. As is well known in the art, the magnetic pickup assembly 32 serves to produce signals which are a function of the notes produced by strings on fingerboard 20, and feeds an output signal which is a function of the musical notes through a plug 33 and a cable 34 to an electrical amplifier and, optionally, a synthesizer indicated generally at 36. The pickup assembly 32 may be provided with a volume control knob 38. The magnetic pickup assembly 32, plug 33, cable 34 and amplifier 36 are conventional and well known in the art.
The lowermost portion of lower extension 30 constitutes a conventional tail piece indicated generally at 39, to which the lower ends of the strings of the instrument are anchored in known manner.
Extending the entire length of fingerboard 24, headpiece 26 and tailpiece 30 is a group of strings 40, nine in number, and individually indicated at 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49. Each is anchored at its lower end to tailpiece 39, and is tensioned at its upper end by one of the tensioning means-27 carried on headpiece 26. As will be noted in FIG. 3, as is conventional, the strings extend slightly above the frets 28 formed on the upper surface of fingerboard 24.
As further seen in FIG. 3, there is provided, toward the lower end of fingerboard 24, a bracket or hook indicated generally at 50, having a base portion 51 fixed to the bottom surface of fingerboard 24, the base 51 forming one leg of an inverted U-shaped member 52, whose other leg 53 is spaced from base leg 51, and slightly divergent relative to the base leg. Outwardly of leg 53 and attached thereto there may be provided an enlarged member 54 having a flat outer surface, which, as will be seen in FIG. 1, is adapted to rest against the body of the performer when the hook is engaged with the performers belt 12 in use.
Support hook 50 will be seen in greater detail in FIG. 6, and it will be noted that the enlarged member 54 attached to the outer leg 53 is inclined relative to the plane of fingerboard 24 by an angle of between about 10 and 15 in order to position the instrument 20 in proper orientation when the support hook is attached to the performers belt slightly to the performers right of the center of his body, as seen in FIG. 1.
A preferred arrangement of the magnetic pickup assembly 32 near the tailpiece 30 of the instrument will be seen in detail in FIGS. 4 and 5. Within assembly 32 is a case indicated generally at 60 in which are mounted individual magnetic pickups collectively indicated at 62, each pickup 62 being in vertical alignment with one of the strings 41-49, and immediately above its string. As seen in FIG. 5, each pickup 62 terminates downwardly in an adjustment screw 63 by which the effective distance separating the pickup head and its corresponding string can be selectively adjusted, whereby to vary the characteristics such as sensitivity, volume and the like. The output signals of the pickups 62 are fed through a cable 64 to a volume control device such as a potentiometer 65 which may be adjusted by the performer by knob 38 previously mentioned. The output of potentiometer 65 is fed through a cable 66 to a jack 67 into which plug 33 is received.
In FIG. 7 there is shown an alternative arrangement of the pickup assembly, in which all of the elements of the pickup circuitry are contained within the tailpiece indicated generally at 130. Thus a miniaturized pickup asse'mbly indicated generally at includes a plurality of individual pickups, each in adjacent alignment with one of the strings of the instrument, and each being desirably provided with an adjustable head, corresponding to'head 63 previously described in connection with FIG. 5. Thus magnetic pickup adjusting head 163 may be selectively positioned vertically as seen in FIG. 7, relative to its string. The electrical output of the set of pickups in assembly 160 is fed through cable 164 to a volume adjustment means such as potentiometer 165 which is controlled by the. performer by means of a knob 138. The output of potentiometer l6 5 is fed through cable 166 to a jack 167, to which a plug (not shown) may be inserted for connection to outside circuitry and amplifying equipment.
As previously pointed out, the tuning of the present instrument contemplates the provision of a lowest pitched string and a total of eight additional strings arranged in a melody set of five strings tuned in fourth intervals on one side of the lowest pitched string, and a chord and bass set including the lowest pitched string and three strings on the opposite side of the lowest pitched string.
There is thus provided a musical instrument of uniquely simple and inexpensive construction, and a novel tuning of the nine strings of the instrument in order to achieve desirable musical effects during playing. Preferably the strings are tuned as follows:
String Pitch 4] E flat 42 B flat 43 F 44 C below middle C 45 G 46 A flat 47 E flat 48 B flat 49 F pitched string of either or both of the sets would be capable of producing acceptable music, although of a somewhat diminished range compared to the use of nine strings as herein disclosed.
Modifications and changes from the illustrative forms of the invention herein disclosed are intended to be embraced within the scope of the appended claims.
1. In a musical instrument having an elongated fretted fingerboard and a plurality of tensioned strings extending longitudinally of the fingerboard immediately thereabove, the tuning of said strings as follows:
a melody set of at least four strings tuned at intervals of perfect fourths, and a bass and chord set of at least three strings including a bass string, tuned at ascending intervals of perfect fifths above the pitch of the bass string,
the second string of the bass and chord set above the bass string being tuned one octave below the pitch of that of the third string of the melody set above the lowest pitched string of the melody set.
2. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein the melody set includes five strings and the bass and chord set includes four strings.
3. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein the bass string is an interior string, the remaining strings of the bass and chord set being disposed between the bass string and one edge of the fingerboard and the melody set of strings is disposed between the bass string and the opposite edge of the fingerboard.
4. The invention as defined in claim 3 wherein the bass and chord set includes four strings and the melody set includes five strings.
5. The invention as defined in claim 4 wherein the strings of the bass and chord set and of the melody set are disposed so that the pitch of each string except the bass string is higher than the pitch of the next interior string.