The History of the Modern Guitar

The guitar is thought to be a European invention that was first seen during the medieval times. The form of the modern classical guitar is credited to Spanish guitar maker Antonio Torres.

Torres increased the size of the guitar body, altered its proportions. Antonio Torres’ design greatly improved the volume, tone, and projection of the instrument, and has remained essentially unchanged since.

Steel strings for instruments were invented in 1900. Steel strings made for louder guitars, however, the increased tension that the steel strings created did not work with Antonio Torres’ fan braced design.

Musical instruments similar to the modern guitar have been used throughout much of history and by many different cultures and people. Instruments like the guitar may have been played as far back as 3,000 years ago.

The Name Guitar

The English word guitar comes from the Spanish word guitarra. Prior to that, it likely was formed from the Latin word cithara and an ancient Sanskrit tar, which meant string.

Ancient Guitars

The oldest remaining guitar like instrument was found in ancient Egypt. It was used by a singer who performed for an Egyptian queen called Hatshepsut. You can see this guitar today in Cairo, Egypt at the Archaeological Museum.

The Lute came to Europe between the 6th and the 9th century in many forms. These instruments became the Lute which was a popular instrument in the European Middle Ages.

Baroque Guitar

One of the predecessors to the modern day classical guitar was the Baroque guitar. It was played during the European Renaissance in the 1600s. The Baroque guitar had 9 or 10 strings with 2 string generally tuned to the same course or note. A lower E string was added later as the form moved toward the modern guitar.

Modern Classical Guitars

In the 1800s Antonio Torres Jurado started building guitars in a similar fashion to the modern classical and acoustic guitars. Most of today’s guitars are derivatives, or alterations, of guitars that Torres designed and built. He is often called the godfather of guitars.

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar was invented in the United States in the 1930s. The first patent for the electric guitar was awarded to George Beauchamp for a guitar he made with partner Adolph Rickenbacker in 1931. A lot of other inventors and guitar makers were working on electric guitars at the same time. Famous electric guitar makers included Les Paul who pioneered the solid body guitar made by Gibson Guitars.

In 1951 Leo Fender invented the Fender Telecaster. This guitar, together with the Gibson Les Paul, the Fender Telecaster, and the Gibson SG would make solid-body electric guitars hugely popular. These are still the most popular styles and models made today

So Many Makes

The modern world of guitars is huge. There are countless models and makes available from affordable entry level models, to extremely rare guitars played by famous musicians that fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It is hard to say which is the best guitar in 2016, but if you read some reviews and ensure you are selecting a model that suits your abilities and budget, you will have many years of enjoyment, recreating your favourite songs.