You surely know that what mainly constitutes an electric guitar is the connection to an amplifier, without which the sound is practically non-existent.
To put it simply, the first electric guitars stemmed from the need to play the guitar loudly either because of big crowds or to make sure its sound would not be muted by all the other instruments in a band.
Leo Fender and Les Paul
Although other designs were crafted earlier, the first actual electric guitars date back to the late 1940s. Leo Fender modelled a solid body guitar with one pickup. And around that exact time, the musician and craftsman Les Paul was experimenting with concepts for a guitar of the same type.
His creation would go on to be known as the log since it was made out of a block of wood with a neck attached.
The first popular electric prototype came out in 1950 under the name Esquire and the company Fender. At the beginning of the 1950s, the Esquire was renamed to Telecaster, which is still how we know it today.
The solid body Telecaster became the very first electric guitar to be mass produced.
The company took advantage of the momentum. In the same year, Fender released a bass guitar called The Precision Bass. During the 1950s, almost all musicians had easily available alternatives to the acoustic guitars and basses.
The Gibson Les Paul
But don’t think that Les Paul stepped out of the music scene after Fender apparently surpassed him.
Just one year later, in 1952, Paul got the endorsement of the Gibson Corporation to produce the company’s first solid body electric guitars, which actually looked nowhere near similar to Les Paul’s signature log guitar.
Icons like Jimmy Page, Joe Perry and Slash defend the Gibson Les Paul guitars with their honor.
Just like in a USA versus URSS space race, Fender revolutionized the sector yet again in 1954 with the Stratocaster, an instrument beloved by heroes such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
The Telecaster, the Gibson Les Paul and the Stratocaster are arguably the inspirations for all electric guitars crafted ever since.
Gibson’s robot guitars
Fast forward half a century to 2007, Gibson introduced the groundbreaking Robot Guitar. The electric now has the potential to be electronic. This design has tuning machines on the pegs that allow for tuning within seconds.
Soon after that, Gibson upgraded the robot concept with the Dark Fire, with even smaller and faster tuning equipment, as well as features to play either acoustic or electric.
Nowadays, electric guitars can produce several sound effects and be manipulated with pedals and synths.