History of the Electric Guitar

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The History of the Electric Guitar

The desire to increase the sound of the guitar existed long before the development of electrical amplifiers and speakers. Musical performances in the 19th century were characterized by ever-larger concert settings and ensembles. Musicians needed louder and more powerful instruments, which became possible by using new materials and designs. The introduction of steel strings in the 19th century meant not only greater volume, but greater tension on instruments. The traditional flattop guitar began to change in size and shape as a steel-string instrument. In addition, an entirely different design emerged, the stronger and louder archtop. In the 1920s, as public dance music became more popular and the infant recording industry required high volume to capture a musical performance, guitar makers increased their efforts to develop ever-louder guitars. Some people continued experimenting with larger sizes and metal bodies; other innovators started to focus on electricity as a possible aid. By the end of the 1930s, electronic amplification proved to be one of the most successful innovations for building a louder guitar, despite the misgivings of some traditionalists about the new technology. Country and jazz guitarists were among the first to champion the electric sound. Then in the 1940s and 1950s, players and makers began building Spanish-style electric guitars with solid wooden bodies, which led to new designs and new sounds. A Louder Guitar

The history of the electric guitar's development comprises a legacy of invention and innovation dating back well before the 20th century. Particularly since the introduction of the modern six-string Spanish-style guitar around 1800, there has been continuous interaction among guitar players and makers seeking ever-greater volume for their instruments. By the 1850s, C. F. Martin had developed "X-bracing" to reinforce the guitar's body, as well as other innovations leading to a...
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