The Origins of Guitars

Stringed instruments have a variety of names and Luthier creators. The history goes all the way back to 711 A.D. It was assumed that if any instrument had strings and a long neck, it was the ancestor to what we now know as the Guitar. This has led to some misguided contrasts of the Guitars origin as the Greeks, Persians and Egyptians had their own versions of similar instruments. If we looked at the facts in relative terms, the earlier strings would be considered a part of the Guitars family tree. For example, the Tanbur would be the Guitars third cousin twice removed.

With this perspective, it still leaves the question of… where did the Guitar come from?

Going from Fiction to Fact was not an easy task. We can look to findings in the 1960’s that will answer all of our queries. There have been many speculations and theories over the course of time. The work of Dr. Michael Kasha brought to light the unknown beginnings of the Guitar. With several theories out and about, Dr. Kasha made it a point to determine whether the Guitar was a direct ancestor of the Harp or Lute. The Doctor was a well revered physicist and chemist.

He also was a teacher who based his lessons off of his travels. He journeyed the world in search of factual information that could transform a question into an answer. With an interest in Music, instruments and origins, Dr. Kasha set out to learn the Guitars history. With his research and information, we can now understand the lineage of the Guitar.

  • The Creator of the current Guitars design is contributed to Antonio Torres. He was a Luthier of Spanish Guitars in the mid 1800’s. He took the current design of the Spanish Guitar and altered it for a more concise sound.
  • Torres made his own version of Guitars by inventing a bracing, altering the proportions and making it slightly bigger than original styles. While this design became popular in Spain, a different type of guitar was innovated with an X brace that is widely used today.
  • George Beauchamp was the first to put an electric Guitar plan in motion. As a musician, he realized his tones were not resonating very far. He and his partners Rickenbacker and Barth went on to innovate electromagnetism that would work with the vibrations of the Guitar strings and project them outwards through a speaker.
  • Les Paul and Fender would take over the reins and revolutionize a single body structure. Their electric Guitars were produced by Gibson. This style of Guitar is the most prevalent style that is still used today.

Guitars have made their way through several generations and genres. They have evolved from the beautiful strumming of a Spanish Guitar to the acoustic styles we see today. Electric versions and amplifiers may be the new kid on the strings block, yet the trio still remain the most used and recognized instrument of modern Music.