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             04 March, 2021

Category:  Articles » Arts & Culture » Music


The History of the Guitar

         Views: 1721
2008-09-23 01:03:39     
Article by Steve Krenz

To say that the history of the guitar is debatable is really an understatement. There are many theories as to how the guitar originated which actually makes it all the more interesting. The best theory and the one with the most merit shows the guitar coming into existence sometime during the 16th century.

The guitar was a direct descendant of the lute which is considered the "father" of the guitar. Found in the renaissance times, the lute resembles more of a modern bass then it does a guitar with only four strings that were plucked rather than strummed. Because of the oval shape with a rounded back it was not played in any type of band setting. In conjunction with the lute you also had the vihuela which is considered to be the "mother" of the guitar. Developed in Spain around the 15th century, it has a lot of the characteristics of the guitar that the lute doesn't have. It has a slightly cinched waist, a smaller body and it was able to be strummed.

During the 16th century someone, although no one can say for certain whom it was, thought of combining the two instruments together. The body was similar to the vihuela but the size was closer to the lute and the neck looked similar to the vihuela producing what we now know of as the guitar. With the addition of the bass and treble strings you had the first crude example of the guitar.

Over time it was worked on and perfected but it wasn't until the 18th century that we saw what would look similar to the modern guitar. Whether it was in France or Italy that this type of guitar made its debut is up for debate as well, but a six-stringed instrument certainly came about during that time. The machine head was in place and the wooden box that up until that time held the strings disappeared. The heads of the guitars were being carved as is an old tradition and there were even fan-shaped struts inside of the body of the guitar so that it can be amplified. Even the floating arm technique made its debut around this time.

It was the finishing touches such as the tone and volume that were added by Antonio de Torres Jurado that made the guitar what it is today. With an increase in size, an increase in distance between the bridge and the nut, and the improved fan shape of the struts, the result was a modern looking guitar that could be played in a band or orchestra setting. It took many years before the guitar became popular with the serious music players. In fact it wasn't until about the 1950's that people took the guitar seriously in many of the musical acts around the world. Obviously the guitar has gone through many changes and over time it has indeed become one of the most popular musical instruments to play and will continue to be long into the foreseeable future.

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