Synthesizers are the most modest musical instruments you can imagine. They look like small and rather mundane electronic pianos, but they’re actually much more than that. If you can play a synthesizer, you can play not just any instrument in the orchestra but any instrument you could possibly imagine! Synthesizers have radically changed popular music since they were first widely used in the early 1970s; hardly a pop record is made these days without featuring an electronic keyboard of some kind. A synthesizer is an electronic keyboard that can generate or copy virtually any kind of sound, making it able to mimic the sound of a traditional instrument, such as a violin or piano, or create brand new, undreamed of sounds—like the crunch of footsteps on the surface of Mars or the noise blood cells make when they tumble through our veins. “Synthesize” means to make something new, often by putting it together from existing pieces. So we can think of a synthesizer as an electronic gadget that makes new sounds by piecing together “old” ones. To understand how it does that, we need to know more about sound and how different instruments produce it in different ways. The guitar is one of the most widely played instruments in the world. It is incredibly versatile and is used in many different genres of music. From Spanish flamenco and accompanying folk songs to taking the spotlight as a solo instrument in classical works, the story of the acoustic guitar mirrors that of Western music. The guitar is a stringed instrument that makes music from the vibrations of strings. It’s also a fretted and plucked string instrument. Fretted means that it has frets, or metal wires, on the fingerboard to help play the notes. This is different from a non-fretted instrument like the violin. Plucked means that vibrations are caused by the strings being plucked, or strummed, with the hands, fingers, or a pick. Again this is different from a violin which uses a bow to cause the vibrations. The guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world. There are all types of guitars and they are used in all sorts of different kinds of music.