It’s hard to name the one person who first thought up the guitar, but here, we’re going to try anyway. To give a good answer to the question “Who invented the guitar?” we first need to know the difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar.
What Came Before the Guitar
The guitar is a musical instrument with a rich and illustrious history and guitar-like instruments can be traced back as far as 4,000 years ago. These stringed instruments seem to have evolved from other instruments like the lute or the kithara which were played in ancient Greece when the word ‘guitar’ also first appeared, when the Latin word ‘cithara’ was combined with the word ‘tar’, which means string in Sanskrit.
The classical guitar as we know it today, finds its roots in the baroque guitar, which was played at the beginning of the 17th century. It would actually take another 200 years before the guitar would evolve into a more familiar instrument with six strings. What we do know is that every modern acoustic guitar (both classical and steel-string acoustic guitars) can be traced back to the instruments that were built by Antonio Torres Jurado in Spain during the nineteenth century.
A classical guitar:
An acoustic guitar:
The Electric Guitar
The American inventor, George Beauchamp designed the world’s first ever magnetic guitar pickup at the beginning of the twentieth century which was used for the first time on the Ro-Pat-In (later known as Rickenbacker) ‘Frying Pan’ lap steel in 1931. Soon after, Gibson started to mount the same pickup type on their semi-acoustic archtop models, but it wasn’t until after the Second World War that the solid body electric guitar we know and love today first appeared on the scene and ushered in a battle of the ages: the Gibson Les Paul vs. the Fender Telecaster (Esquire / Broadcaster). These two models are as popular today as they were back then.
The Ro-Pat-In lap steel:
A modern electric guitar:
» What is the Best Electric Guitar for Me?
» What’s the Best Classical Guitar for Me?
» What’s the Best Acoustic Guitar for Me?
» How Many Strings Does a Guitar Actually Have?
» The Resonator (or Dobro) Guitar: An Introduction
» What’s the Best Jazz Guitar?
» What’s the Difference Between Alnico and Ceramic Pickups?
» Fender vs. Gibson: What’s the Difference?
» What’s the Difference Between a Cheap and Expensive Electric Guitar?
» Laminated, solid top or all-solid guitar?
» Ordering a Guitar Online: Why Hasn’t It Been Set Up Already?
» Stratocaster versus Telecaster: what are the differences?