Guitar - History of Guitar


The earliest descriptions of a guitar come from the 12th century, and define the instrument as containing a long neck connected to a flat soundboard made of wood. Although this description includes an entire group of instruments from which the guitar emerged, the history of this structure is extensive, and artist's depictions of the guitar extend back to stone carvings that date to over 3000 years old.

Although other harps, bowls, and stringed instruments resemble that of a guitar, the design most like that of the modern instrument first emerged as the property of an Egyptian singer named Harmose. It dates back to 1500 BCE. This guitar pre-cursor contained three strings, suspended from the neck, which were placed above a wooden and rawhide soundboard.

Developed in ancient times, across countries spanning from Europe to Mesopotamia, the guitars at this time generally contained four strings. The beginning of the Renaissance, however, encouraged the development of a guitar with five strings. This instrument contained strings tuned to the standard A, D, G, B, and E of today. However, this model differed from modern guitars by containing one less string and no more than eight frets. This is much smaller than the large 21-24 fretted guitars of today.

During the 17th century guitars began their transition from five to six stringed instruments. By the beginning of the 19th century Spanish guitar makers had continued to develop the guitar into the classical form recognized today.

The use of steel strings, and eventually the creation of the electric guitar were first introduced in the early 1900s. Charlie and Orville Gibson were the driving force behind these developments, and were extremely successful in their endeavors. Upon the addition of amplification in the 1940s, the electric guitars continued to take shape and eventually lost their sound box.

Today, some of the greatest rock stars have taken classical and electrical guitars to new musical extremes. However, the development of this historical instrument is far from over. Current guitar designers are continuing to develop the sound, structure, and design of the guitar, promising to propel the guitar forward and maintain it's musical prevalence and relevance in years to come.

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