Information History Of The Electric Guitar

The guitar itself has been around since ancient times with minstrels strumming away on early editions of the instrument. As it was meant to be strummed, and most aren’t very loud, it doesn’t bode well if you are trying to be heard over other instruments, so those early musicians were pretty much on their own. Fast forward to the early 20th century however, and people tried to get their notes louder, amplified if you will, and some even went so far as using telephone transmitters placed inside instruments in an effort to boost the sound.

While there are many who claimed to be the ‘father of the electric guitar’ they were actually designed by those who already made the instruments and not hobbyists or someone messing around with a new design. The first one was introduced to the world in 1931 and was designed by a man named George Beauchamp. It was a one piece cast aluminum design that looked like a frying pan and it met with some success, so much so that the company went on to create other models, one called the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts which allowed musicians a full 25″ scale with seventeen frets that were apart from the fretboard. They only produced a handful of these guitars, however and it is thought that only ten are still around today.

In the era of big bands that dominated the music scene generations ago, the guitars needed to be heard with the other instruments, not drowned out by them. You may think that the first documented recordings then were from a big band, but they weren’t. Instead, they were from Hawaiian-style players back in 1933. The sounds lent themselves to jazz and blues and that’s where we find some of the most influential guitarists, those who transcend time and are considered the greats of the genre.

Names like Alvino Ray, Danny Stewart, George Barnes, Lonnie Johnson, Les Paul, Memphis Minnie and T-Bone Walker besides many more were all early proponents of the new fangled electric guitar. Many artists today still credit them for influencing their style. While musical tastes change, these early entrepreneurs took a simple instrument and made it into something we all can relate to, whether we play or not. Of course over time they have changed in sound and design and many artists today have custom models made just for them, but it all started with a thought–how do we get this thing to play louder??

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