The guitar is an ancient instrument that dates back to over 4000 years ago. Some people believe that the guitar is an evolution of the lute (a plucked stringed instrument with a neck and an


extensive round back) while some believe it comes from the Kithara (ancient Greek – a seven-stringed folk instrument); it’s mystery is still unknown. It falls under the classification of string instruments. It is a fretted instrument that usually has six strings, it is played with both hands; one hand holds down the instrument close to the player’s body and strums or picks the strings either with the fingers or with a tool called a pick or plectrum while the other hand simultaneously presses the stings on the fretboard. The guitar is a chordophone instrument; this means that it produces its sound when a string is vibrated and stretched across two points.

Before the modern electric and acoustic guitars we have now, other stringed instruments existed, some of which were the vihuela (a 15th century stringed instrument that was tuned like a lute but


shaped like a guitar which had doubled strings of 5 or 6), the gittern also called  guiterre (France) or chitarra (Italy) or guiterna (Spain) or quintern (Germany); this was also a small round back stringed instrument, their strings were made with gut and they mostly had not more than 8 frets. In the 16th century, the vihuela was tuned C-F-A-D; the E-A-D-G-B-E tuning appeared in the late 18th century and is still used in tuning till date.

Every part of the guitar underwent some series of evolution; the tuning pegs were replaced with metal screws, the gut frets that were usually tied on in the earlier days were replaced with ivory or metal frets by the 18th century, the 8 frets were also replaced with 10 frets and later 12. By the early 19th century, the modern guitar as we know it now began to take shape, the body of the guitar was made wider, the belly was tinier and had a curved waist (which gave it that hourglass shape),it did not have much depth but had a very thin soundboard. Most of the transformation that was made on the guitar by the 19th century was majorly the work of Antonio Torres.

The first type of “guitar” as we know it now was the classical guitar which replaced it’s gut strings

classical guitar

with nylon strings. Other types of modern day guitars are the acoustic guitar which uses steel strings, the Hawaiian guitar and the electric guitar.

The flat top acoustic guitar is one of the most popular types of acoustic guitars and was made by Christian Frederick Martin; he replaced the fan-braced tops with X-braced tops. As steel strings became popular around 1900 because of their sturdiness and louder sounds, the X-braced tops were built to withstand and contain the pressure from the steel strings as opposed to Torres’ fan-braced guitars.

Orville Gibson created the archtop guitars in the late 19th century which  were made like cellos, had a moveable bridge, oval sound holes, arched top and back and an increased volume and tone. These flat top guitars quickly became popular among jazz and country musicians. In the 1920’s, Gibson was joined by Lloyd Loar and they fine-tuned the archtop guitar, making it especially suitable for jazz music.

The electric guitar came into existence in the late 1920’s when pickups were attached to Hawaiian guitars but it did not make so much popularity until Gibson introduced the ES150 model in 1936. At this time, several other guitar makers began working on electric guitars from the old model of the instruments; some of who are Leo Fender, Les Paul, O.W Appleton and Paul Bigsby; there are even controversies as to who first made the solid body electric guitar, but who cares??‍♀️ Guitars have gone through stages and series of evolution and it’s amazing that we have them today, they can be played in almost every genre of music like country, blues, pop, metal, funk, folk, soul, rock, jazz, bluegrass, reggae, flamenco etc!

modern day guitars – electric and acoustic

Who knows whether there’s still any further pattern of guitar evolution that has not been discovered yet.?‍♀️…fingers crossed??

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