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Development and Usage of the Guitar around the World

Over the years, the guitar has become the preeminent musical instrument in the western world. How it developed into the modern instrument we all know and love is an amazing story. Here is a brief history of its development.

Fender Telecaster electric guitar

Fender Telecaster electric guitar

The 1400s

Classical guitars have been around since the 1400s. They were much more primitive than the ones we are familiar with. Spanish guitars were initially made with four double sets of strings. These basic stringed instruments were, at first, not welcomed in the symphony halls. They were relegated to personal use in the home.

The 1500s

Spanish guitars added a fifth double set of strings. Guitars moved from “peasantry” to “performance,” as guitars found their way onto the concert stage and works were written especially for the guitar. Because of this, newer and better guitars were being made.

The 1600s through the 1800s

Guitar was still not the primary instrument played in this period, but was finding increased popularity among the elite. Such well-known political figures as Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson were guitar players. Still more works were being composed for the guitar. Significantly, C.F. Martin developed the modern acoustic guitar during this time. The company named after him continues to make high-quality acoustics to this day. These were based on designs being used in Italy and France. Guitar use in the era leading up to the Civil War was very popular. Folk and blues music began making heavy use of the guitar, adding to its popularity. The roots of jazz also began to take hold, and guitar was increasingly used in that form.

The 1900s

The popularity of the guitar reached its highest point in the 20th century. In 1900 alone, over 78,000 guitars were made! (Keep in mind; this was long before mass-production of guitars was instituted.) Steel strings were introduced, allowing for brighter and richer sounds. Modern recording techniques added to the popularity of the guitar.

1931: The Change

In 1931, the first electric guitar was introduced. It was called the Frying Pan, due to its almost banjo-like shape. It did not prove to be a success. It would be almost 20 years before the first successful mass-produced electric, Leo Fender’s Broadcaster, hit the market. On its heels followed the Gibson Les Paul, the Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, and the semi-hollow Gibson ES 335, all of which would be copied, emulated and improved upon as time went by.

The 1950s

Country and Western music gained a foothold in the 20th century, and the genre’s primary instrument switched from fiddle to guitar. In the 1950s, elements of blues and country were fused into rock and roll, which was to become the first style since folk to use the guitar as the primary instrument. With the advent of electronic effects pedals and other advancements, guitars have advanced even further, and the possibilities for the future are endless.

The Present - ?

Gibson semi hollow body guitar ES 335

Gibson semi hollow body guitar ES 335
Rancho Bernardo guitar lessons 619-306-3664

The history of guitar is as rich and varied as its uses. Used in virtually all types of Western music, the guitar has revolutionized music in a way that no other instrument has.

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

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  • Rock
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  • Blues
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