How is a guitar built

The history of the guitar: learn everything about the stringed instrument

Guitar theory, 06/28/2018

The guitar as you know and love it today has existed since the 19th century.
However, we have researched for you how it came about and what forms it took on before it looked today.
However, their immediate origin is not entirely clear.

Beginning of the history of the guitar: 14,000 BC

The history of the guitar begins 14,000 BC. At least that's what they say.
From this time there are wall paintings showing people with mouth arches. These instruments are said to be the origin of guitars.

And other images of instruments that are similar to a monochord were seen.
A monochord is a resonance box with a string stretched along its length. And this function is again very similar to the guitar.

That these instruments should be the origin is also shown by the fact that the further development of these up to today's guitar is almost seamless.
However, this remains only a likely guess.

But also images of lutes from a Babylonian temple as well as Egyptian drawings from the times of the pharaohs indicate that the beginning of the creation of the guitar is long ago.

Târ from Persia: 2500 to 1500 BC

Many years later, from 2500 to 1500 BC, the so-called Târ can be found in Persia.
As we know today, a târ is an oriental lute. It is played with four strings and already has the bulbous, hourglass-shaped figure of a guitar.

The body is covered with animal skin (lamb skin, thin as parchment).

Greeks play kithara: 800 to 150 BC

And the string instruments continue around the continent in time.
The first names very similar to the word guitar appear in Greece between 800 and 150 BC.

Here you play an instrument called a kithara.
The kithara is not a guitar, but a lyre (and therefore closer to it).

Kitharas consist of a resonance body that extends two parallel arms. The arms are connected with a cross brace. The instrument is horseshoe-shaped and stretches five to twelve strings between the arms.

The kithara continues to develop. The neck is relocated and given a previously existing place on the body (no longer across the whole).

Plucked instrument oud in the year 700

In the year 700 an Arab people - the Moors - brought ‘El Oud’ to Spain. This is how the word lute came about, which is derived from Arabic.
‘El Oud’ actually means “the wood” when translated.

This plucked instrument consists of a wooden body made up of glued wood shavings. The instrument is rounded at the back - like the back of a pear.
The soundhole is decorated with arabesque patterns.

Development of the Vihuela in the 16th century

The Spaniards took up the principle of the oud and created the vihuela from this plucked instrument.
The round back was flattened and looked very similar to today's guitar. The design of the strings, however, remained the same.

The guitar mostly had twelve animal gut frets and five to seven gut strings.

The elaborate decoration of the instrument is typical of the Vihuela.

The vihuela was mostly used by the lower classes. It wasn't easy to play.

Guitarra, baroque guitar and mandora in the 17th century

In the 17th century guitar designers - above all Antonio Giacomo Stradivari - “agreed” on six individual strings for the guitar.
Previously, pairs of strings were used.
Resonance bars were installed, which transmitted the vibrations of the notes to the entire body.
The guitar also got the tuning of the mandora, the mandora the tuning of the guitar.

Chords and melodies gained enormous importance in the 17th century.
Some string instruments could not follow this direction (adaptations in the construction).

The heyday of the Vihuela ended and was no longer produced. The guitarra, on the other hand, made the leap into the chord century and as this development was largely thanks to Gaspar Sanz and his guitar school, the guitarra became the guitarra española.

Louis XIV came to the baroque guitar thanks to Francesco Corbetta, who brought it from Italy to the French court.

When and who invented the guitar?

This question takes us to Spain and into the 19th century.

Between 1817 and 1892 Antonio de Torres built the guitar in its current form.
Torres decided to adapt the body and material of the previous instrument.
He created the soundhole and the screw mechanism, raised the bridge and constructed solid frets. He significantly enlarged the guitar body and built in thinner wood.

He improved the sound development by installing a fan system under the guitar ceiling.
These constructions are still used today for concert guitars.

Andrés Segovia also contributed to improving guitar playing. While the strings were previously made of animal intestine, Albert Augustine created nylon strings from synthetic fibers with the support of Segovia.

This was a great advantage, as gut strings quickly broke and quickly lost guitar tuning.

Development of musical styles and the western guitar in the 19th century

Until now church music or classical music was the order of the day for the guitar, but the 19th century turned to completely different musical styles.

In the USA the blues as well as country music developed.

Steel strings were developed and Christian Frederik Martin invented X-bracing, which gives the guitar additional stability.
This time was the birth of the western guitar. This guitar was significantly louder than the conventional string instrument.
The western guitar got its name from cowboys and settlers who played their music around the campfire.

History of the electric guitar in the 20th century

The 20th century brought about rock'n'roll and beat.
The origin of the electric guitar lies in the wish that the guitar should become louder, especially for music in bands, in order to be able to assert itself.

It turned out that this volume could only be achieved with electricity.

In 1931 Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp created the principle of the pickup on which induction is based.
Gibson brought out the first guitar with a pickup in 1936 - the ES504 jazz guitar.

As early as 1941, Lester William Polfus created an electric guitar with a solid body. He inserted a solid piece of wood into an electric guitar that was sawn lengthways.
These constructions put an end to the feedback and helped produce longer lasting tones.

In 1950 Leo Fender delighted the public with the first electric guitar with a solid body - the Fender Telecaster.
Who actually invented the solid body is still unclear and controversial.

1954 followed by an electric guitar with tremolo from Fender - the Stratocaster.
To date, the Stratocaster and the Les Paul are the two most important designs for electric guitars.

Various variations of electric guitars have been developed, including a seven-string electric guitar in 1990 and an electric guitar in 2007 that can be tuned separately.

History of the guitar as a short version

Wall paintings from 14,000 BC show mouth arches that are similar to the way the guitar works (sound boxes).

2500 BC followed in Persia with the tar, an oriental lute whose figure eight-shaped body is reminiscent of a guitar.

The development continues in Greece - from 800 to 150 BC the horseshoe-shaped kithara is played. It also consists of a sound box over which strings are drawn.

The journey continues to Spain - in 700 the Moors imported the oud there.

In the 16th century the principle is adopted, but the body of the oud is flattened and called a vihuela.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, one is concerned with chords - the vihuela is omitted because it cannot follow the necessary adjustments.

Instead, the guitarra, baroque guitar and mandora play a role.

A sixth string and cuffs are the new norm.

In the 19th century the time had finally come: the Spanish guitar maker Antonio de Torres developed the guitar to its present-day shape and appearance.

The first solid body electric guitar followed around 1950.

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