The guitar is quite a popular instrument throughout the world. Even though you might often see people playing and learning guitar, how many people do actually know the origins of this wonderful instrument?
Since you play or are learning to play the guitar, you should at least know a brief history of the guitar to get to know your favorite instrument better. So, take a break from guitar playing and know a brief history of the guitar, its origin, and evolution.
So, without wasting any more time on the introduction, let’s know more about this popular instrument.
Guitar and Its Origin
Even though many consider the guitar to be of western origins, its precise and accurate origin is unknown. However, if you look around more, you’ll observe that some of its predecessors appeared first in Spain. It was during the Renaissance era when the maximum evolution and development of art cultures took place.
The Spanish guitar of that time looks a lot similar to the present guitar as we see in the market and use. If you browse through the history, you’ll see different variations on fretted instruments that appeared in different cultures throughout the time. Some of those instruments look similar to a modern-day guitar. You can guess that they played a positive role in the evolution of guitars we see today.
Ancient Spanish Guitar
I’ve mentioned its name already in the earlier parts of this article. This Spanish Guitar looks so similar to the modern-day guitar, that even though its origin is unknown, the evolution of the guitar can for sure be traced back to the Spanish Guitar.
Even in modern days, the Spanish design of guitars is still a popular design across Europe.
Four courses of double strings became popular during the Renaissance era. The double strings are still popular and also similar to the recent day mandolin. After that Baroque era started in the late 16th century, and a new type of double stringed instrument was added.
The guitar started developing directly after that time and continued developing during the next few centuries. When the sixth course of strings was added to the instrument, the guitar makers became more interested and started experimenting by bracing the soundboard techniques on larger instruments. Bracing these instruments helped the soundboard to tolerate the string tension and produce rich sounds at the same time.
The name of the luthier who created the instrument served as the inspiration for creating the design similar to all the modern-day guitars.
By 1833, in the United States, Torres’ Bracing System was the most famous guitar design until German luthier C. F. Martin immigrated to that country. So, the guitars produced in the 19th century had similar features and designs. The only difference is in their size, the then guitars were much smaller in size than the modern guitars.
After Martin came to the US, he improved the Spanish guitar designs and created flat-top guitars. Thus, he developed a new bracing system around the 1850s. That bracing system was so impressive that, you can still see the manufacturers use them in manufacturing the company’s steel-stringed guitars.
Orville Gibson started innovating his own guitar designs around the end of the ninetieth century. He not only made the famous flat-top guitar, but he also invented the archtop acoustic guitar. And from then on, that type of guitar got popular. He invented that design from the arched design of a violin.
After all of this, you must be quite clear about the structural differences between modern-day guitar and the then guitar prototypes. So, can you guess whether they used to be played in the same manner or not?
During that time, those guitar strings had lower-tension while playing. So, they have strung appropriately like that, which resonates with the lower tension. Spanish-styled modern classical guitar has nylon strings.
New and advanced bracing systems were invented by the end of the ninetieth century. Those bracing systems allowed Gibson and martin to invent steel-stringed guitars which would later play a vital role in PBS or American Roots Music.
Steel stringed guitars are originally intended to be played with a pick instead of the fingers. So, when you play it, you get a louder and brighter sound. In these modern days, you’ll still find guitars with nylon-strings which you may know as classical guitar.
However, if you ask around about which one is the most popular guitar? or which type of guitar others picture when thinking of it? You’ll, in most cases, get the answer to be the steel-stringed guitars.
Also, don’t forget to check my guitar guide article How to Play Guitar for Beginners-an Easy 8 Step for beginners here and Best Electric Guitar Book For Beginners in 2021 – A Quick and Easy Introduction and Ashthorpe Acoustic-Electric Guitar – One of the Best Electric Guitars review New Edition 2021 and Pros And Cons Of Acoustic And Electric Guitar– Do You Need One? plz read the.
There is another guitar type which is popular among the people – called the dreadnought guitar. It became very popular during the starting of the 20th century. Martin’s dreadnought model had the largest body style. It was really famous back in 1916, the time when it was debuted. Now, the dreadnought is one of the most popular guitar models that you’ll find in the market.
Since making the guitars louder was a priority at that time, the guitar inventors, along with the technological advancements going on during that time, wanted to apply those in guitar sounds. So, the guitar manufacturers wanted to improve their recording, projection of sound, and broadcasting as easily as they could.
It was around the time 1929 when the first electric guitar was introduced in the music industry. But it had a harder time being successful commercially. Until 2 years later!
There was this guitar called Rickenbacker’s “Frying Pan” that became successful and popular in the music industry even though its appeal was not unlimited back then.
The “Spanish Style” electric guitar was first introduced in 1936. Who was it that brilliantly designed such a model? Yes, this model was too designed by Gibson. Rickenbacker was a lap model. This Spanish-style guitar is not like that one. You could hold and play it exactly like the guitars you see nowadays. Because of this design, this guitar was deemed more desirable and versatile by the others in the field.
After that, a rivalry started between Fender and Gibson. This incident started happening around the 1950s. That era was marked as the timeline of new guitar making. During this time there was a huge competition between guitar innovations that gave birth to the rivalry between those two.
Fender and Gibson, both of these companies innovated and launched different successful electric guitars. But Fender was the first to manufacture electric guitars in mass numbers. And the first model to get launched was Telecaster Model back in 1950.
After the great success of the Telecaster model, Gibson launched its Les Paul model in 1952 and it was also highly successful back in the day. Trying to keep up with Gibson, Fender introduced the tremolo system with their next guitar model, i.e., the Stratocaster in 1954. Their patented tremolo system could allow the guitarist to increase or decrease the pitch of the strings according to the player’s wishes.
Even though a guitar is a relatively new instrument, it still went through 120 years of innovation and evolution. A brief history of guitar tells you about the significant evolution that a guitar might’ve undergone in all those years to what we see today.
These guitars have passed their limitations in the past and now you can find the guitars in cheap, easily available, and the finest one-of-a-kind masterpieces of guitars in the market.
You can find the older guitars designed by Fender, Gibson, and Martin. They are still used today by many and you can also find some new names that got popular recently that are too much to be enlisted in this article. We are convinced that there won’t be any kind of significant changes to be made in the modern-day guitars, but that doesn’t mean that the luthiers have given up! The luthiers are constantly trying to evolve the guitars further by using different wood choices and with better sound quality. All of those, so that you might get a better designed, sounding guitar in your hands!
Hi. I’m Saif Khan, a music enthusiast. Over the years, I have been passionate about playing musical instruments of different kinds, including guitars, drums, piano, and many more, and writing about them.
I am a professional writer and the founder of bestmusicinstrument.com – where I write about musical instruments, equipment, and other music-related articles. In addition, I’m a full-time blogger who loves to share useful content on playing musical instruments, and I have been writing about musical instruments since early 2019. When I started my site, I never thought it would become this big. I also run a Facebook page for my website.
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