The History Of The Acoustic Guitar

Jun 12, 2019
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The bowl-shaped harp, otherwise known as ‘tanbur’ was the beginning of the stringed instrument age we these days know as the guitar. Prehistoric societies built these instruments out of tortoise shells and animal intestine for strings. The Archaeological Museum in Cairo contains the oldest vintage guitar which belonged to the Egyptian vocalist Har-Mose. It was built from polished cedar wood and an animal hide soundboard. In Europe, an instrument entitled an ‘oud’ was transported to Spain by the Moors and the Europeans rebranded this instrument to a ‘lute’, simultaneously contributing frets and manipulating the body to a pear-like design.

The lute was around in Europe from around 450AD until the mid-renaissance and additions to the instrument were added along the way; these include enhanced quality wood for the body and freeboard, improved quality strings and inventive designs to create marginally different tones. In Central Asia and Northern India, the traditional folk-stringed instrument remained unaltered for a few hundred years.

The prefix ‘tar’ was positioned in front of the quantity of strings on the guitar to clarify its final name. For example, in modern Persian, ‘do’ is two, ‘se’, is three, ‘char’, is four and ‘panj’ is five; for this reason, a dotar has two strings, a setar has three strings, a chartar has four strings and a panjchar/panchtar has five strings. Everything was commonsensical.

Within the European renaissance, the four string (four-course) guitar has grown to be dominant. Nevertheless, towards the end of the 16th Century in Italy, the five string ‘guitarra battente’ started to take over the four string instrument and the typical tuning for which was the recent day A, D, G, B, E for the top five strings. The amount of frets on the guitar also went up from eight, to ten and ultimately twelve. The Italians were once again the pioneers of the final enhancements from five course guitars to the final six strings and this was a comparatively easy task as it consisted of changing/modifying the nut and bridge and installing in a further tuning peg hole for the sixth and concluding string.

An unbelievably ornate guitar crafted by a German man known as Joakim Thielke (1641 – 1719), was transformed in this way and became a triumph. The current traditional guitar ‘appearance’ took its design from when the Spanish maker Antonio Torres increased the dimensions of the body, reformed the whole guitars dimensions and established the revolutionary ‘fan’ top bracing; in around 1850. This design radically enriched the guitars pitch, volume and robustness and was so capable and intuitive; it remains almost the same to this very day.

Source by Kenneth J Miller

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