A Short History Of The Guitar

Due to the prominence of guitars, it’s easy to assume that they have always been around. Such an assumption is true to a certain extent, since these instruments have a really long history. Even though it’s hard to name the exact date, they still appeared earlier than you might expect – it appears that humankind enjoyed music even then and invented something that would be capable of emitting various sounds. Though those first guitars were different in many ways, they created the foundation upon which later developments were built. I don’t think it’s possible to understand classical and acoustic guitars unless we know their history. They always tell a story and it’s important to know how, when and where they originated. Let’s go back in time, shall we?

Classical Guitar

As I have mentioned above, it’s impossible to say the exact date when the first guitars were created. Nor is it possible to name the place of origin with accuracy – there are many different opinions about that. But nobody can argue with the fact that the first indications of string instruments were found in Babylon. These illustrations date back to 1900-1800BC, and the concept of guitar itself is really old. This concept was developed even more later on, with Spanish guitarra latina and guitarra morisca being rather influential. However, one of the most significant developments can be traced back to the 16th century, when the prototypes of modern classical guitar were born.

The first 4-string ‘guitars’ were substituted by 6-string Spanish vihuela. It had a single soundhole, pear-shaped body and one-piece ribs. Though it declined in popularity in a short period of time, it still played a significant role in the guitar development.

Classical guitar (five-course type) itself was invented by Vicente Espinel (though Nicolas Doizi de Velasco claimed the same as well). Regardless of the true creator, these five-course guitars were propagated as Spanish guitars and are considered to have close ties with modern classical guitars. One of the biggest names related to the production of contemporary classical guitars is Antonio Torres Jurado, who made several necessary alterations. He enhanced the body size, changed the proportions of various parts and gave birth to an innovative fan-braced pattern. These final modifications made it possible to put together guitar as we know it now. It’s not surprising that the era of legendary composers and guitarists followed with a steady pace. Check out 

Steel String Guitar

You should keep in mind that the history of classical and acoustic guitars is intertwined. Since the former belonged to the family of the latter, they were developed with the same steps. Therefore, the early history of acoustic guitars is basically what we have just discussed. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the differences between these two started to arise. Steel strings were invented during this period and X-bracing was also developed. These inventions meant that the sound of guitar could be louder. This newly developed guitar had better sustain, and the notes produced with it were also different. It can easily be said that classical and acoustic guitars took individual paths to development in the 20th century.

As you can see, classical and acoustic guitars come from the same predecessor, but their modern developments are rather different from one another. Classical guitars remain typical for a specific music genre, even though modern classical guitarists experiment with its potential and try to use it in many different ways. Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, can be seen in any genre out there and seem to maintain their prominence even in the era of electric guitars. The history of guitars is significant to look at, as it reminds us just how beautiful and interesting these two instruments are.