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The Guitar Evolution, From Ancient India To American Rock Stars

Mar 9, 2008
I was given my first acoustic guitar when I was seventeen a few days before my eighteenth birthday, with the intention of one day learning how to play it. This was a short-lived venture as now eight years later it is still living in its grey leather case possibly gathering dust in the back of my room. Guitar experts will be shocked by the notion of any acoustic guitars being treated in this fashion, however, if one is to buy one they need to be prepared to spend lots of time practising and drilling each day to get better at playing it.

The historical value of acoustic guitars is far greater than what is perceived. In fact, this is one of the oldest instruments to have ever been used, much older than the piano or the violin. Guitars available today come in various elaborate styles, functionality and produce interesting sounds. Some synthesized guitars have a certain affect compared to what they did in the past.

History

Before the heavy metal rock stars, before the indie/alternative music scene and before all the folk acoustic guitars that hit the charts, the guitar was a musical instrument appreciated way back as far as 2000BC. The guitar itself derived from the Ancient Indian Sitara, an instrument that is in use even today within the Hindustani culture. Its' features are similar to that of a guitar, however, very basic in appearance and with a hollowed round gourd.

The term 'guitar' was coined by the English from the Spanish word 'guitarra', which in turn was derived from the Latin 'cithara' and prior to this from the Greek 'kithara'. Thus coming back to the Persian word of 'sihtar', which is associated to the word sitar in India. The Romans introduced the modern guitar (known as cithara), as we know it around 40AD to Hispania. This was adapted and followed by the oud, which was a four-string instrument, brought by the Moors, in the 8th century.

The six-string guitar was popularised by the Scandinavians and across through Eastern Europe. This was commonly associated with the Viking excursions across the continent. The Spanish 'Vihuela' in the 16th century appeared to depict the modern guitar and a step away from the renaissance instrument. It looked like it had a lute-style tuning with a guitar like body.

It was not until in Italy of the mid 18th century that saw Gaetano Vinaccia produce his guitar label, with the distinct appearance of a mandolin. This had six strings and did not show signs of a modification from a double-course guitar, as it was common for fake guitar labels to be created.

The co-founder of now famous Richenbacher, George Beauchamp, patented the first electric guitar in 1936. This was the turning point of guitar music and the birth of a new innovative sound. It was Danelectro that produced the first electric guitar for the public, giving a chance for new talented musicians to be as creative as possible. Nowadays people are more familiar with both electric and acoustic guitars, with many famous bands (particularly, rock, metal, indie and jazz bands) use this to produce modern music.

This is no longer a privileged instrument used only by jesters and servants, for the rich and wealthy, but is also available for people to use freely from the comfort of their own homes.
About the Author
Anna Stenning loves to listen to acoustic guitars played by musicians, and is currently learning how to play the bass. For more on guitars and electric violins visit http://www.moondogguitars.com/
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