Big Music

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Big Music

November 30, 2014

Guitars are loud — and they play even louder when they’re as long as a house. The world’s largest guitar, made by Gibson, is 43 feet long, and you can actually play it. Of course, you can’t hold it in your lap, since it weighs 2,255 pounds. But it’s on display at Liberty Science Center, where people can walk up and strum its strings to hear it play. Meanwhile, the world’s smallest working guitar is only about 1/20th as wide as a hair from your head. It was made in 1997 by scientists, who built it out of incredibly teeny bits of silicon under a microscope. Its strings do vibrate (shake back and forth), but the sounds they make are too high-pitched and squeaky for our ears to hear. When the first guitar was invented about 5,000 years ago, the cavemen probably didn’t imagine we’d ever build guitars in these crazy sizes.

Wee ones: Most guitars have 6 strings. If you’ve just strummed strings 1, 2, 3, and 4, which string do you play next?

Little kids: If you pluck all the odd-numbered strings on the 6-string giant guitar, which ones would they be?  Bonus: If you pluck every string twice, how many notes do you play?

Big kids: If the guitar weighs 2,255 pounds, and an equally huge guitar pick for it weighs 8 pounds, how much would they weigh together?  Bonus: This guitar weighs about 200 times a normal one. If you wanted a drum set 200 times the weight of a 30-pound drum set, how much would the drums weigh?

The sky’s the limit: The first 6 notes of “Happy Birthday” are CCDCFE, where those letters are the notes. If you just kept playing that over and over, what would be the 40th note you play?




Wee ones: The 5th string.

Little kids: 1, 3 and 5.  Bonus: 12 notes.

Big kids: 2,263 pounds.  Bonus: 6,000 pounds!

The sky’s the limit: It would be C.  It needs to be the 4th note of the set, since 40 is 4 more than the closest multiple of 6, which is 36.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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