A Short History of the Guitar

January 11th, 2017 | Posted by Alaska Woods
Guitar

Sitka Spruce from Alaska Specialty Woods is used to make many guitars sound great. Though guitars today seem ubiquitous, and are the most popular instrument for popular music, did you ever wonder about their history?

The development of the guitar goes back thousands of years. Early versions of the guitar were most likely developed in Greece, Turkey, Persia and Africa.

Long ago the Moors– Muslim inhabitants of Northern Africa– brought the “oud” to Spain. Europeans added frets to this instrument and called it a “lute.” It was short-necked and had a large, pear-shaped body. The lute was a precursor to the guitar.

Eventually, Europeans developed an instrument that we’d consider a guitar. Italians came up with the idea for a six-stringed guitar-like instrument in the late 1600s. Then, in the 1800s, Spanish instrument maker Antonio Torres constructed the modern day classical fan-braced guitar that we’ve come to know and love. If you had to pick one country in Europe that was most interested in developing and enjoying guitars, overall, it would be Spain.

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw many Europeans move to America in hopes of a better life. German immigrants to America started making guitars with X-braced flat-tops in the early 1900s. The X-bracing worked well with steel strings. Archtop jazz guitars followed, with f-holes, a floating bridge and a cello-type tailpiece, becoming prevalent in the 1920s through the 1940s. Archtops were (and are) popular for jazz, rockabilly and blues bands.

The first electric guitar to become successful in the marketplace was Gibson’s ES150 model back in the 1930s. After that, as amplification made it possible to get rid of the soundbox, solid-body guitars were made by such familiar names as Les Paul and Leo Fender.

When today’s luthiers (stringed instrument makers) need wood to make guitars, violins and other instruments, they often work with Alaska Specialty Woods, a company in business since 1995. Alaska Specialty Woods is known for supplying the finest Sitka Spruce, Western Cedar and Alaskan Yellow Cedar instrument tonewood available today.

Sitka Spruce from Alaska Specialty Woods is used to make many guitars sound great. Though guitars today seem ubiquitous, and are the most popular instrument for popular music, did you ever wonder about their history?

The development of the guitar goes back thousands of years. Early versions of the guitar were most likely developed in Greece, Turkey, Persia and Africa.

Long ago the Moors– Muslim inhabitants of Northern Africa– brought the “oud” to Spain. Europeans added frets to this instrument and called it a “lute.” It was short-necked and had a large, pear-shaped body. The lute was a precursor to the guitar.

Eventually, Europeans developed an instrument that we’d consider a guitar. Italians came up with the idea for a six-stringed guitar-like instrument in the late 1600s. Then, in the 1800s, Spanish instrument maker Antonio Torres constructed the modern day classical fan-braced guitar that we’ve come to know and love. If you had to pick one country in Europe that was most interested in developing and enjoying guitars, overall, it would be Spain.

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw many Europeans move to America in hopes of a better life. German immigrants to America started making guitars with X-braced flat-tops in the early 1900s. The X-bracing worked well with steel strings. Archtop jazz guitars followed, with f-holes, a floating bridge and a cello-type tailpiece, becoming prevalent in the 1920s through the 1940s. Archtops were (and are) popular for jazz, rockabilly and blues bands.

The first electric guitar to become successful in the marketplace was Gibson’s ES150 model back in the 1930s. After that, as amplification made it possible to get rid of the soundbox, solid-body guitars were made by such familiar names as Les Paul and Leo Fender.

When today’s luthiers (stringed instrument makers) need wood to make guitars, violins and other instruments, they often work with Alaska Specialty Woods, a company in business since 1995. Alaska Specialty Woods is known for supplying the finest Sitka Spruce, Western Cedar and Alaskan Yellow Cedar instrument tonewood available today.

Written by Alaska Woods




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