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What You Need to Know About the History of the Acoustic Guitar

Ancient guitars may have developed in different regions at the same time. In fact, the Greeks, the Persians and the Indians all had a name to define the stringed instrument.

When those inventions were brought to Europe, languages like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French introduced words in their lexis to refer to the guitar. To this day, all those languages, including English, preserve a similar sonority.

The acoustic guitar in Europe

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Merchants from all over the world brought ancient guitars to Europe. The instruments were depicted in paintings and talked about in manuscripts. The earliest instrument that most experts seem to agree to describe as an actual guitar is the Spanish chitarra.

Chitarra music started being composed in the country by the 16th century. The instrument had four courses of adjacent strings.

The Baroque period introduced a guitar that was significantly easier to tune and to play. By this time, guitar music was already very popular across several countries in Europe. A multitude of models was crafted and countless guitar compositions were created.

Then, in the later years of the 18th century, Spain came up with yet another groundbreaking advancement in guitars. The new six-stringed instrument was called vihuela and was very similar to the modern guitar.

The contemporary acoustic guitar

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When compared to today’s acoustic guitars, the only relevant differences in the stringed instruments of the 19th century were the smaller size and waist.

That was up until the Spanish musician Antonio de Torres Jurado designed the first contemporary acoustic guitar with the size, proportions and richness of sound we are accustomed to today.

By means of European immigrants, Torres’ creation made it to the USA, where players started using steel strings. To handle the added pressure of the steel, Christian Frederick Martin developed a flat top, X-braced acoustic guitar in the 1830s.

This model was perfectly suited for more vigorous strumming. That was when the classical style of playing began to be replaced.

Years later, the archtop guitar became a sensation among rock, jazz and country musicians because of its louder and energetic sound.

Both of these contemporary designs stood the test of time and are still impressively relevant in music, even with the advent of the fabulous electric guitar.

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3 of the Best Quotes from Famous Guitarists

History has produced hundreds of incredibly gifted guitarists. Here are the thoughts of three of them to keep you inspired.

Jimi Hendrix

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The legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said that music is always true, it doesn’t lie. Any change that needs to happen in the world is possible through the power of music.

It’s only fitting that Hendrix talked about the truth in music. Even though he was not one of the most technically skilled guitarists, he was one of the most truthful and natural. That is why he is known as one of the best musicians to ever walk this earth.

He was the personification of his music, not just an artist playing. And as with any human, Hendrix was flawed and layered. So, his music couldn’t have been technically faultless. Creatively, though, it definitely was.

Keith Richards

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The iconic member of The Rolling Stones said that music is an absolute basic necessity. For him, it was so essential that it was only behind nourishment, air and warmth.

This urge to feeling the music as an ultimate condition for living is truly reflected in Richards’ work. He created some of the best melodies and lyrics in history. He was never afraid to innovate, which is a huge factor to the longevity and success of his band.

It’s no wonder that people are willing to pay a lot to see Richards, either solo or with the Stones. When he plays, he is fulfilling the crowd’s need for music.

Eric Clapton

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The revered musician thinks he has some share of the responsibility to keep music alive and thriving. He wants to preserve the tradition of the blues and feels like that is an immensely honorable task to carry on his shoulders.

With his simplicity and honesty, Clapton revolutionized music and become one of the most influential figures in rock. He achieves the remarkable feat of writing and producing music that is always both innovative and rooted in tradition.

All three of these legends defined what it is to grab a guitar and create magic.