Five Fascinating Facts About the Acoustic Guitar
Our guitar specialists could probably spit out a thousand-and-one facts about acoustic guitars but, since no one’s got all day, we’ll stick to just five!

#1. 5,000 Years Old

Spanish luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado built the first acoustic guitar as we know it today back in 1850. That said, his design wasn’t exactly breaking new ground since humans have been crafting guitar-like instruments for thousands of years. The lute, which is roughly 5,000 years old, is most likely the oldest.

Meet the tanbur, one of the oldest guitar-like instruments:

#2. Two Types of Strings

Thankfully, the era when any guitar-style instrument was strung with sheep gut is long past us. Since the late thirties, classical (or Spanish guitars) have been strung with nylon strings, and steel-string acoustic guitars have been on the rise since the beginning of the 20th century. While swapping for metal or synthetic strings is definitely better for animal welfare, that’s not the reason for the switch. Nylon and steel strings are more consistent and therefore the tuning is far more stable, especially when it comes to the longer strings of a guitar. Modern strings also produce a higher volume.

#3. Five Memory Devices

The standard tuning for a guitar (from the thickest to the thinnest string) is E, A, D, G, B, E, and there are plenty of cheeky phrases you can learn to help remember the right order, like Eddie Ate Dynamite, GoodBye Eddie, Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears, and Every Amateur Does Get Better Eventually.

#4. A Whopping Six Million Dollars

Sometimes you pick up a guitar because of its build quality, and sometimes you pick it up because it was once held by the hands of a legend. Take John Lennon’s iconic Gibson acoustic guitar, which fetched $2.4 million at auction, or David Gilmour’s Stratocaster, which helped shape the sound of Pink Floyd and sold for a whopping $4,000,000. But that’s nothing compared to the Martin acoustic guitar that Kurt Cobain played during the legendary Nirvana Unplugged concert that aired on MTV in 1994 – that went under the hammer for a breathtaking $6 million.

#5. 49 Strings

While most acoustic guitars come with a standard-issue set of six strings, there are also acoustic guitars with twelve strings, where each string is doubled. The four lower pitched strings are coupled with strings tuned an entire octave higher and the two highest pitched strings are simply doubled. You can play exactly the same chords on a 12-string guitar but because of all those extra strings, you get a far more lush, shimmering sound. If you want to take things four or five steps further than a 12-string, then check out Paolo Schianchi’s unique 49-string guitar!

See Also

» Classical Guitars
» Acoustic Guitars
» Electro-Acoustic Guitars
» Resonator Guitars
» Travel Guitars
» Children’s Guitars
» All Acoustic Guitars

» The Electric Guitar: History, Sound and Playing Techniques
» Who Invented the Guitar?

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