Guitars have evolved a lot since the time in history we assumed they existed. It is believed to be a native instrument of many countries in the world, and that just makes the instrument quite baffling.
This might be the reason why there are many forms of the instrument in the world today. However, it would be reasonable to have a glance at the history of the instrument before concluding on whatever hear-say fact we have heard.
HISTORY OF THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR
The acoustic guitar is a noble and ancient instrument. It has a history that can be traced back to more than 4,000 years ago.
There have been a lot of theories about the ancestry of the guitar, although the modern acoustic guitar is believed to have evolved from a long line of stringed musical instruments. One of these beliefs is that the guitar developed from the Vihuela – a medieval instrument, into the ancient lute.
Another belief is that the Gitterns were the first small sized guitar-like instruments during the Spanish middle ages. The gitterns at that time had a round back which was similar to that of the lute. Guitars that looked like the modern types today were not seen until the Renaissance era – this was the time the guitars took shape and size of the current modern acoustic guitar.
WHICH WAS THE 1ST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT TO RESEMBLE THE GUITAR?
The earliest instrument that has some resemblance with the modern guitar in terms of the structure was the Vihuelas, and this was within the Spanish musical culture. The Vihuelas were string instruments that were seen in the 16th century in the Renaissance.
Later on, the Spanish writers made a distinction for the instrument and divided it into two categories of vihuelas.
1. The vihuela the de arco is the instrument with more similarities with the violin.
2. The vihuela de Penola is the guitar that is played by hand or by using a plectrum. If you play it by hand, you would call it a vihuela de mano.
This vihuela de mano shared a lot of similarities with the Renaissance guitar because it was strum at the sound hole as the sound chamber created or amplified the sound.
The categorization of the vihuelas continued until 1790 where a six-course vihuela was created. This type of vihuelas had six strings tuned in unison, and it became the main model of guitar used in Spain.
There old 5-course guitars were getting outdated and converted to 6-course guitars to meet the increasing demand. In the book of Fernando Ferandiere; Arte de tocar la gutarra espanola por musica (Madrid, 1799) described the standard Spanish guitar has an instrument seventeen frets and six strings.
Here the first two strings were tuned in unison and were called the terceras. These two strings were tuned in what we know as modern day ‘G.’ it was at this time the acoustic guitar began to resemble the modern day acoustic guitar that we know.
THE 1ST SPANISH GUITAR MAKER
In 1850, Antonio Torres Jurado the Spanish guitar maker made the form and structure of the modern guitar. He increased the size of the body of the guitar and altered its proportions. He also invented the breakthrough fan-braced pattern!
Bracing, today is the internal pattern of wood reinforcements that support and secure the top and back of the guitar to prevent it from collapsing under tension and help boost its sound. One can only say that Torres did a great job in terms of design.
His design improved the tone, volume, and projection of the acoustic guitar, and it has remained that way ever since.
WHO INVENTED THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR?
From the history of the acoustic guitar above, it is clear that the inventor of the modern acoustic guitar is none other than the Spanish guitar maker; Antonio de Torres Jurado.
He built the first acoustic guitar that we recognize today, and this was around the 18th century. No one knows whether the first guitar ever was from France or from Italy. All we know is that Torres Jurado turned them into the guitars we know today.
At the end of the 1930s, amps were invented and changed the game for acoustic guitars completely.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR FACTS
🎸 Antonio de Torres Jurado is the father of the modern acoustic guitar known as the classical guitar
🎸 The guitar became the most popular instrument in the world in the early 1900s.
🎸 Classical guitars are usually the main instrument in a lot of genres such as blues, country, folk, flamenco, jazz, mariachi and soul.
🎸 The guitar is the most commonly played instrument in the world, after the piano.
🎸 The types of guitar include acoustic, renaissance, baroque, flat top, classical, twelve string, resonator, acoustic bass, dobro, etc.
🎸 Capos are attached to the fretboard of acoustic guitars, and they are used to change the pitch of the guitar.
🎸 Guitar picks are used to play acoustic guitars with steel strings, while guitars with nylon strings are played with the hands only.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR BODY SHAPES
The common shapes the acoustic guitars have are the:
✅ Grand concert
The Range is the smallest size acoustic guitar body shape.
It is called the mini-jumbo sometimes, and it is 3/4 times the size of the jumbo. It has a rounded back to improve its projection despite the smaller body. It is a great option for a player that can’t handle a largely sized guitar.
The Dreadnought is the classic body of the guitar.
It was styled by Martin Guitars to ensure it has a pronounced deep sound than most classical styled guitars. This guitar has a very resonant bass and has been used for over a century. It has a large body, but the waist is not as pronounced as that of the auditorium and concert guitar. This is why it is great at producing mid-range frequencies that easily cut through other instruments.
The Parlor body acoustic guitar
The Parlor body guitar has a small compact body and is known to have a punchy sound with a delicate tone. Its small body makes it very comfortable for small-sized players of the instrument.
The Auditorium body acoustic guitar
The Auditorium body is very similar to the dreadnought but has a highly pronounced waist. Its tones stand out more due to the shifting of its waist.
The Grand Concert body acoustic guitar
The Grand Concert body is a mid-sized guitar body and is not as deep as the other full-sized guitars. It has a full waist and has a fully controlled overtone. This is why it is often used in recordings – its sound projection is phenomenal.
The Jumbo body is the largest body shape on acoustic guitars.
Its size allows it to produce more punch and volume. This is why its low end is more pronounced than the other ends. It is designed to compete with and to produce deep tone like the dreadnought.
It is the innovation of the Gibson brand, and has more resonant space for a greater volume level and sustain. All these wonderful features are limited to its size because only large-sized players can handle it well.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR TYPES
There is a fine line between the modern and historical guitars, especially in their design and construction. This has led to the abundance of varieties of both the modern and historical guitars.
Here is a list of guitar types
Nylon or Gut – stringed guitars
🎸 Romantic guitar
🎸 Baroque guitar
🎸 Flamenco guitar
Steel Stringed Guitars:
🎸 Steel string acoustic guitar
🎸 Resonator guitar
🎸 Twelve-string guitar
🎸 Archtop guitar
🎸 Battente Guitar
🎸 Selmer guitar
🎸 Lap Slide guitar
🎸 Lap Steel guitar
Other type guitars:
- Acoustic bass
ACOUSTIC GUITAR AMPLIFICATION
In time past, the Classical nylon/gut stringed guitars had little or no projection and were not able to displace the banjo in terms of sound. However, there were advancements to help increase their volumes.
An acoustic guitar can be amplified by using different types of pickups and microphones. Although, one of the problems that the guitars faced was getting a lot of audio feedback. In the early 1960s, the parabolic bowls of the Ovation reduced the amount of feedback, and this increased the amplification of acoustic guitars.
Entering the 1970s, Ovation developed a thinner soundboard with composites of carbon with thin layers of birch laminates in its Adamas model. This model is reviewed as one of the most radical designs of guitars in history.
It dissipated the sound-hole of the conventional soundboard into 22 smaller sound holes in the upper chamber of the guitar – this causes an increase in volume and a great reduction of the feedback during amplification.
Although, another method of reducing feedback is by fitting a rubber or plastic disc into the sound hole.
Guitars use pickups for amplification, and the most common types for acoustic guitars are the piezo and magnetic pickups. The piezo type is mounted under the bridge saddle of the guitar and is connected to the amp or mixer.
It is made by Baldwin and was incorporated into the body of Ovulation guitars instead of drilling it into the body manually. Combining the piezo pickup and the parabolic body of the Ovulation acoustic guitars helped the brand succeed in the market during the mid-1970s.
Today, acoustic guitars use pickups that have body sensors and systems that have an internal microphone on the body sensors.
Now that you know all about the acoustic guitar, you may also want to check out the following post about Acoustic Guitars For Beginners