The guitar is a special instrument that we love to play, but have you ever wondered how it all started?
We’ll take you on a simple and easy journey from the guitar’s ancient beginnings to the cool music we hear today.
Whether you’re a guitar player or just someone who loves music, this article will show you how the guitar has changed and evolved over time.
So, let’s travel back in time and discover the fascinating story of the guitar!
Origin of the guitar
Identifying the exact moment of the guitar’s origin is challenging due to the loss of historical records over centuries. However, through the study of art and archaeological finds, it has been discovered that stringed instruments were used in ancient Mesopotamia, dating back over 5000 years.
The tanbur, a precursor to the guitar and part of the lute family, is still widely used in countries like Iran and Turkey.
Further archaeological studies revealed the existence of the bow harp in ancient Egypt over 4000 years ago, offering more clues about the origins of stringed instruments.
The guitar’s ancient ancestors
The guitar’s ancient ancestors can be traced to Europe, where two instruments – the lute and the oud – share similarities with the modern guitar.
The lute, originating from Egypt and finding its way into Greek culture, featured a resonant body, a curved back, and gut strings plucked with a quill feather. It came in various types, including the 4-course and 5-course lutes, with different numbers of string sets.
The oud, a Moorish instrument, also made its way to Europe and resembled the lute, except for the absence of frets. Around the same time, the kithara, a gut-stringed harp-like instrument, was widely used in Greece, with some suggesting that the term “guitar” evolved from “kithara” due to its similar pronunciation.
The Evolution of the 6-String Guitar
The 6-string guitar’s evolution can be traced back to the vihuela, sharing similarities with the modern guitar.
The vihuela, an instrument similar to the modern guitar, played a crucial role in its birth, featuring a sound hole and a comparable body shape. Over time, the vihuela evolved, transitioning to 12 strings in sets of 2 (known as a 6-course) around the 1790s, resembling the modern guitar.
During the 17th century, the Spanish guitar gained widespread popularity across Europe, becoming a favored instrument in various musical circles. In the 18th century, significant physical changes improved its sound and technical features, shaping the guitar into what it is today.
History of the Spanish guitar
The Spanish guitar, or classical guitar, has a long history, dating back to the Middle Ages, where it served as a folk instrument for singing. Over time, it underwent changes and improvements, gaining popularity not only in Spain but also beyond its borders.
Throughout the centuries, the guitar experienced various changes, including the addition of a fifth string by the Andalusian poet Vicente Espinel in the 16th century.
By the end of the 18th century, the modern Spanish guitar began to be manufactured in Seville by Antonio Torres, following established regulations.
The History of the Acoustic Guitar
The history of the acoustic guitar has been a topic of many discussions. People have different theories about who invented it and where it came from.
Some believe that the Europeans played a significant role in its development during the Middle Ages.
The acoustic guitar belongs to a family of musical instruments known as Chordophones, which produce sound when the strings are vibrated.
One instrument that played a significant role in its development is the tanbur, a term used to describe different types of Chordophones like Lyres, Zithers, Lutes, Harps, and Musical Bowls. These instruments laid the foundation for the evolution of the acoustic guitar.
History of the Flamenco guitar
The flamenco guitar’s history can be traced to the 19th century when flamenco singing emerged and discarded previous musical accompaniments.
The growth of the flamenco guitar gained momentum in the 20th century when it merged with flamenco singing, leading to its widespread use and development.
History of the Archtop guitar
An archtop guitar is a special kind of guitar that has a rounded top and back, making it different from regular flat guitars.
The first archtop-style guitar is introduced in the 1890s by Orville Gibson.
It has a hollow body, which means it’s not solid inside.
This guitar is loved by jazz, blues, and rock players because of the fantastic sound it produces. It usually has six strings and unique F-shaped holes, similar to violins.
History of Electric guitars
As technology advanced, guitars got electrified, changing the way we use them now. In 1931, George Beauchamp, a guitar builder from California, filed the first patent for an electric guitar pickup.
He wanted to make guitars louder for live performances in Los Angeles. His first attempt involved using a phonograph cone to amplify the guitar’s sound, but it didn’t work well.
Beauchamp didn’t give up, though. He kept trying and finally created a working prototype on his dining table. This new electric guitar had two magnetic pickups that could capture the vibrations from the steel guitar strings and send them to a speaker, making the sound louder.
Beauchamp teamed up with Adolph Rickenbacker, and together they introduced electric guitars to the mainstream.
They filed for the first patent and started making electric guitars using this amazing technology. This breakthrough changed the guitar industry and opened up a world of possibilities for musicians in different music styles.
The guitar’s history is a fascinating journey, evolving from ancient roots to modern marvels. Its development, influenced by various cultures and inventions, has left a lasting impact on music.
From classical to rock, the guitar’s universal charm continues to inspire generations, making it an enduring symbol of human creativity and expression.