Acoustics of the Air Guitar

    Press release: 1/4/06

    In a brief communication in nature, researchers from UNSW announced today a new discovery in the acoustics of the air guitar. "The body of a traditional guitar acts to match the high specific mechanical impedance of the strings to the low acoustic impedance of the radiation field" said Prof Wolfe. "In an air guitar, the strings and body both have the same specific impedance as the radiation field, so the transmission should be maximised. So we wondered why the air guitar was so quiet."

    Visiting student Avril Poisson has solved the conundrum: "The perfect impedance match between strings and bridge it is good for transmission, but the absence of the reflection at the bridge means that the standing waves are not produced and so the sound is not radiated."

    It is speculated that the absence of standing waves may be related to the observation that, on the air guitar, even a beginner can play extremely rapid passages with ease.


    The following was not posted on the first of April.

    PhD Scholarship in Music Acoustics

    The University of New South Wales

    This scholarship is part of a new project investigating the acoustical and other physical effects involved in players' performance on woodwind instruments.

    The project is interdisciplinary, a range of skills in science or engineering is potentially relevant and there is some possibility to adapt the project to the skills of a good applicant. The applicant should have an honours degree in Physics, Engineering or Computing Science. Some knowledge of music would be an advantage, but playing ability is not necessary.

    The Music Acoustics Laboratory at UNSW is one of the world's leading labs in this field, regularly publishing in top journals (JASA, Nature, Acustica etc) and its staff and graduate students have won a number of awards and prizes.

    Funded by part of an ARC Discovery grant, the Scholarship is $20k per year, and is not taxable. PhD students in the School may simultaneously accept Postgraduate Assistantships, which provide additional guaranteed income of up to $10k per year, in return for agreed teaching duties. The scholarship does not cover tuition fees. Australian and New Zealand students do not pay tuition fees.

    The university campus is located in the East of Sydney, close to Coogee Beach.

    To find out more, explore the lab's home page or contact Joe Wolfe ( for details.



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