How the guitar has been rocking down the years
The history of the guitar dates back more than 4,000 years, this article explores the gradual change of the electric and acoustic guitar dating back to a 3,300 year old stone carving.
One thing is for sure; guitar players are passionate about the instrument, whether it is acoustic or electric.
The late, great Jimi Hendrix once said: “The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar.”
The oldest known image of an instrument displaying the essential features of a guitar is a 3,300 year old stone carving.
Although the word guitar is descended from the Latin word cithara, the modern guitar itself is usually thought to have descended from the Roman instrument.
The earliest stringed instruments known to archaeologists are bowl harps and tanburs. Since prehistory people have made bowl harps using tortoise shells and calabashes as resonators, with a bent stick for a neck and one or more gut or silk strings.
Acoustic guitars with hollow bodies have been in use for more than a thousand years.
One influence which is often cited is of the arrival of the four-string oud, which was introduced by the invading Moors in the 8th century
The three main types of modern acoustic guitar are the classical, the steel-string acoustic guitar and the archtop guitar. The tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the vibration of the strings, which is amplified by the body of the guitar, and this acts as a resonating chamber.
Before the development of the electric guitar a guitar was defined as being an instrument having "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and a flat back, most often with incurved sides".
Electric guitars were introduced in the 1930s and rely on an amplifier that can electronically manipulate tone. Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but a solid body was found more suitable.
The best known are Fender electric guitars as favoured by rock and blues musicians. The most famous are the Stratocaster and Telecaster. The Telecaster, the prototype of which was produced in 1951, was the first solid-body Spanish-style electric guitar to be commercially mass-produced. The Stratocaster first appeared in 1954, incorporating many design innovations based on feedback from professional musicians, Fender staff and Leo Fender the founder of the world-wide company.
Fender Guitars UK have an illustrious history dating back to 1946 and the company, which still bares Leo’s name, has transformed music , in nearly every genre including rock ‘n’ roll, country and western, jazz, and rhythm and blues.
Leo Fender, who died in 1991 aged 86, is a cultural icon whose contribution to music was recognised in 2009 with a Technical Grammy Award. Not bad for a man who couldn’t even play the guitar!