History of the Electric Guitar

History of the Electric Guitar

Every invention is connected to an inventor, who, in turn, is remembered in history for his/her contribution. Here we will learn about the history of the electric guitar.
It was late in the evening when Sean stretched out his hand to lock the window in order to avoid mosquitoes from streaming in. While doing so he felt a few drops of rain falling on his hand. He jumped up and drew the curtains open thrilled with the change that the rain had wrought. From the glass panes he could view drops of rain as they fell against the light that shone from the streetlights serving as inspiration. He got out his notebook, scribbled a few sentences and then began strumming on his electric guitar. As each finger hit a string he knew within his heart that it would be this song that would help him rise to fame.

Every style of music, be it jazz, blues, country, new age, rock and roll, and even contemporary classical music, have all been associated with the electric guitar at some point or the other. Unlike the classical and acoustic guitar, this one is a signature instrument of twentieth-century music because of its distinctive sound and intimate connection with many legendary internationally famous musicians.

Like all other instruments, this too can also be divided into parts like the body, frets, neck, headstock, bridge, nut, pickup switch, pickups, tremolo, tuning pegs, volume, and tone control.

Humble Beginnings

It was in the 1930s that an individual decided to bring about a change in the soft melodic tone of the guitar. To do this, he invented the electric guitar. At that time I am sure that he had no idea that this invention would bring about a change in the course of 20th century music!

Like all good and new things, the electric guitar had its share of critics too. Luckily, things quickly fell into place because it allowed musicians to play music much more creatively and convey their own individual styles too.

How Did The First Pickup Come Into Existence?

Lloyd Loar, an inventive engineer who was working for the Gibson guitar company designed the first magnetic pickup in 1924. It was with the help of a magnet that he converted guitar string vibrations into electrical signals that were then amplified through a speaker system.

Who Developed The First Electric Guitar?

A company called the Electro String Company that was founded by George Beauchamp, Adolph Rickenbacker, and Paul Barth developed the first electric guitars that were marketed to the general public. Affectionately called frying pans, these guitars were made of aluminum and were played on a person's lap using a steel slide much like today's steel guitar.

Since the frying pan was a success, the Gibson guitar company built their first electric guitar that they named the ES-150, which is a legend today. Despite a major problem that involved vibration, electric guitars were quickly gaining in popularity. The only remedy that was available was to build a guitar that had a solid body that would not vibrate so easily.

The first solid body electric guitar is surrounded by a lot of controversy. Les Paul, a guitar legend, developed his solid body guitar by attaching a Gibson neck to a solid piece of wood and called it The Log, with affection.

It was around the same time that engineer Paul Bigsby and guitarist Merle Travis developed a solid body electric guitar that looked like the solid-body guitars that we are so accustomed to seeing today.

The first mass produced electric guitar was originally called The Fender Broadcaster, and was produced in 1950 by Leo Fender. As the name Broadcaster was already being used by another company, the guitar was then renamed to the infamous Telecaster. It was in 1954 that Leo Fender followed this up with the most renowned guitar of all timeā€•the Stratocaster.

Soon other guitar manufactures too began developing their own mass-produced electric guitars. A teaming that is worth mentioning was one of the Gibson guitar company with Les Paul. This teaming helped create the famous Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.

Visible Changes

As electric guitars at that time were too expensive for the average man to buy, less pricey imitations that were sub-standard in playability and sound quickly came to the market. 1980 heralded the Japanese interest into the guitar market. They now began manufacturing electric guitars that were of similar quality to the more expensive American models but were much more affordable. Soon Fender and other leading guitar manufacturers began producing less expensive versions of their classic models that were accessible and affordable.