A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GUITAR

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GUITAR

Introduction

Instruments related to the guitar have been in existence since ancient times. The idea of stretching strings across a vibrating chamber of air, called a soundbox, dates back to prehistoric times, and is found in virtually every culture in the world.

The idea of using frets to mark the tones in a scale probably comes from India where to this day players of the vina and sitar tie pieces of catgut across the fingerboards of their instruments to act as frets. Early explorers from Spain and Portugal probably brought the idea to Europe and, of course, the European settlers brought guitars with them to America. Guitars closely resembling today’s classical guitars (see page 3) were well-known during the 19th century.

They were particularly popular among the less well-to-do and mobile members of society because of their low cost and easy portability. Early jazz bands and dance orchestras tended to favor the banjo as a chordal instrument because of its more penetrating tone. Then, in the late 1920s, new advances in electronics made the electric guitar feasible for the first time. The guitar’s sound could then be amplified and could compete with the loudest brass or woodwind instruments. By the late 1930s, the banjo was all but forgotten and the electric guitar was common in jazz groups and dance orchestras. The next innovation came in the late ’40s.

Engineers realized that the hollow wood body of the guitar was no longer necessary as a generator of a musical signal, so the soundbox was eliminated and the result was the solid-body electric guitar. Since then there have been many modifications in the design of guitars, but basically, they all are either acoustic— producing a sound by vibrating a string over a sound box—or electric—producing a sound by vibrating a string and amplifying and modifying that sound electronically. Using this book you can teach yourself how to play the guitar if you have either type

Acoustic Flat Top Guitar

Acoustic Flat Top guitars have narrow necks and steel strings. They are either strummed with a flat pick or played with one or more finger picks. They are used in rock, blues, country and folk playing.

Solid Body Electric Guitar

Solid-body electrics have narrow necks, light-gauge strings, and one or more electrical pickups. The output of these pickups is fed through an amplifier and is sometimes modified further by using wah-wah pedals, distortion pedals, choruses, or other means of altering the tone. Solid-body electrics are used almost exclusively for rock, heavy metal, blues, country, and jazz music.

Thin Body Electric Guitar

Thin body electrics are semi-hollow guitars with electrical pickups. This gives the guitar a warm, rich sound. They are good for jazz, blues, rock, and fusion.

Buying A Guitar

First, ask yourself what kind of music you like the most. Then choose the model from pages 3 and 4 that is recommended for that style. If you wish to play classical music only, you should not be playing from this book, which is intended for players interested in rock, heavy metal, blues, country, jazz, folk, and other popular styles.

New or Used?

Often a used guitar can be a very good investment as well as a satisfying instrument to play. However, it is important not to attempt to buy a used guitar without the advice of someone who is very knowledgeable about the instrument and whom you trust. If you buy a new guitar, make sure you purchase it at a reliable music store. It is important to choose a place that has been in business a long time and that has the capability to service your instrument.

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