Pocket Symphony Life Trends Perfectly Arranged In Harmony

Guitars 101: The History of Modern Guitars

Quick, think of one thing that you need to have at hand in order to ‘look’ remotely cool. Had an image of a guitar suddenly popped up in your head?

It is no secret that guitarists, from time immemorial, had always enjoyed a certain amount of notoriety not limited to the music industry to an extent that learning how to play a guitar has already become an essential phase in every teenage generation. It appears to be that one fad that never seems to mellow out or die down no matter how many decades pass. Like everything else, guitars have a rich history that is perfectly augmented with time.

The guitar is considered one of the most popular members of the chordophone family – a type of musical instrument that works by making a sound through the vibration of stretched string or strings. A guitar is usually made of wood and is commonly strung with either nylon or steel strings. Throughout the years, the modern guitar has spawned many different types, with acoustic and electric guitar being two of the most famous ones.

The history of a guitar was said to be traced back to 4,000 years ago with many theories believing that the original predecessor of this musical instrument is none other than the ancient Greeks’ kithara – a musical instrument that is a flat squared-framed harp, because of the similarities in the name alone. However, the earliest string instruments unearthed by modern archaeologists that appears remotely like the modern guitar is the bowl harp which uses tortoise shells as a resonator, a bent stick as its neck and silk strings. It was known to be played by ancient Sumerians, Babylonians and Egyptians. A depiction of the supposed evolution of the bowl harp, the tanbur or the pear-shaped stringed instrument with a long neck, is found in various ancient Egyptian tomb paintings and stone carvings and similar relics from ancient Mesopotamia and Persian that clearly suggests these instruments were played as early as the 13th century. Cairo’s Archaeological Museum in Egypt currently houses the oldest preserved guitar-like instrument, a three-string tanbur made of polished cedar wood that was said to belong to an Egyptian singer by the name of Har-Mose, which was found buried beside him.

Moors from ancient civilization were believed to be the ones solely responsible for introducing a more developed type of tanbur to Spain named oud which the Europeans eventually added frets to and consequently called lute (derived from the word Al’ud or laud which literally means ‘the wood’). Though its modern name guitar was mainly derived from the Persian word chartar (meaning” four-strings), by the beginning of the Renaissance period, Italians have helped the guitar to further evolve into a five unison-tuned pair of strings named guitarra battente. By 17th century, it became a six-course instrument that gradually paved way to the modern six-stringed guitar.

The modern guitar finally decided to take its shape in 1832 with the help of Spanish maker Antonio Torres whose decision to increase its body size from its former form and introduced the visionary fan top-bracing pattern strikingly improved its sound, volume and tone. By the end of 19th century, an American named Orville Gibson has successfully built a guitar with oval sound holes that came to be known as an archtop guitar that allows the top to vibrate freely thus creating more volume to the sound. The year 1920 introduced the amplified sounds of an electric guitar that are commonly used by most ‘radio-friendly’ bands in history.

No matter where you’re from, your age, race or religion, guitar music has probably touched your life in more ways than one. For better or worse, the hype in guitar-playing is here to stay.