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
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
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.