The hidden labrynth of tones embedded in frets and strings and fingers are their own mystery. Ultimately it’s all about the sound. But this machine is stubborn and you have to wrestle with it to make it talk. Then you realize it’s actually you talking through the tension of the strings … the tension that is built up when you fret them and released when plucked and strummed.
The strings of a steel string guitar exert around 150 pounds of tension. 150 pounds of sound. All that weight tugging the ends of the guitar toward each other in slow motion, so that plenty of guitars end up warping and bending over decades until they are less and less playable even as they are all too pliable.
There are 6 strings and 12 frets which comprise an octave on each string. that’s 78 notes counting the open string tones … roughly 2 lbs per note on the average. Of course some notes are heavier than others.
Now, I know it doesn’t really work that way. You can’t measure music by the pound … though you can make music by pounding.
Is it the release of tension that makes music feel so good? Or the transfer of tension from the guitar to the guitarist, back to the guitar and finally through the air to the ear? The guitar needs all that stress just to relax you.
When you play the guitar it’s a tight-wire act without a net. Balancing each finger against the metal and wood … pulling, tugging … caressing and twanging … wresting the embedded sounds from molecules of steel with this precarious machine … this guitar.