The History of The Guitar
When it comes to modern music, nothing embodies it more than the guitar. Think of Hendrix, Slash, Hank Marvin, George Benson, Prince, plus many more even more talented guitarists, and the mere mention of their names brings to mind riffs that stir the heart. So, here is a brief history of the guitar.
The History of The Guitar – Early Beginnings
When defining the actual first event that could be classified as ‘playing the guitar’, numerous theories emerge. For instance, since the modern guitar shape is a fairly recent event, how does one classify the many similar instruments that have existed for thousands of years? How close does the historical musical instruments of ancient civilizations have to be before they are considered the ancestor of what we know to be the guitar?
With that in mind, the generally accepted ancestor(although not accepted necessarily by all) of the guitar emerged about 3,300 years ago, when a Hittite band recorded the playing of a stringed instrument. This early period threw up other related events, such as Babylonian clay plaques that also show the playing of stringed instruments. What appears to be the case, is that stringed instruments, which were not necessarily fully formed as guitars in the minds of their handlers, have been popular for a very long time. However, the guitar appears to be simply the refinement of these instruments into a form that has met with universal appeal as to the peak of stringed instruments, in terms of popularity.
The final ‘evolution’ into a modern guitar really progressed in around the 8th century, when the Moors brought a four-stringed ‘Oud’ to Iberia. Then, in around 1200, this concept had progressed further, until there were at least two instruments that were known as ‘guitars’, they being known as the guitarra latina (or Latin Guitar) and the instrument known as the guitarra morisca (which means Moorish guitar).
Obviously, since that time, the guitar concept continued steady progression. However, let’s forward wind to, what is probably the most significant advancement in guitars since their birth, the arrival of the ‘Electric Guitar’.
The History of The Guitar – The New Concept That Shook The World
As with all stages of development for the guitar, the electric guitar was not born overnight. Patents from the years around and following 1910 demonstrated ideas where, telephone transmitters were placed on the inside of violins and banjos. Why was this done? It was recognised that the sound needed to be amplified, and, necessity, as always, becomes the mother of invention.
However, in the year 1931, George Beauchamp designed the first electrically amplified guitar. This went into commercial production the following year. Thus, at last, the electric guitar began to take this ancient instrument to new levels of performance. The patent for the electric guitar soon followed it’s introduction to the masses, so in 1934, the patent for an Electrical Stringed Musical Instrument was made by Beauchamp. This patent came into effect later on, in the year 1937.
So, as we can see, the road to what we now know as the Guitar, has been a long and windy road. However, when we listen to one of the many top musicians play out a track which wouldn’t be anywhere near as appealing without a guitar, we should spare a thought to the many pioneers of the instrument who each laid a brick in the wall of it’s success.