The guitar has been around for hundreds of years and its ancestor, the lute, has been around for centuries. When you think about this instrument, you probably think about the modern day electric guitar, but back when this stringed instrument was first invented, it was only an acoustic instrument.
I have been fascinated with stringed instruments my entire life. I love the way they sound and love their looks. As an architect, I have an eye that is drawn to lines and shapes. There are few instruments that are more pleasing to the eye than a Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, or Martin dreadnought.
I’m in no ways a luthier or guitar builder, but I do like to study how things are made. That’s what led me to my guitar research. I wanted to see what kind of influence the Germans had on modern instrument construction and what some traditional designs were. We will talk about all of that, but first I want to start with the construction of an acoustic.
Before the 1900s, acoustic guitars were not played in many bands because they couldn’t be heard over horns or other stringed instruments. Instead, guitarists were usually stuck playing solo because the guts strings couldn’t produce enough volume.
This all changed in the late 19th century during the industrial revolution. Metals were used for the first time to wind wires. Because of the advancement of machinery, these wires could be wound tight enough and thin enough to accommodate the guitar and replace the gut strings.
The only problem was that the new metal strings put much more tension on the neck and the body causing it to lose its intonation and tuning. A new construction had be invented that could keep the integrity of the instrument while not interfering with the tone and sustain.
The X-bracing pattern was invented by an unknown genius. This pattern of wooden braces inside the body allowed the top to vibrate while maintaining its structural integrity. This was the first huge break through in design that set the instrument on its course to be the most popular and most played stringed instrument of modern times.
Later, modern companies like Fender and Gibson started making electric instruments out of a solid piece of wood instead of a series of boards glued together. The age of many of these guitars is difficult to tell with out being about to lookup Fender serial Numbers with some type of database.
Never the less, these are really fun to play. If you are thinking about taking online guitar lessons, I would recommend it. Jump in and start having fun. I know I have. Here is the best way to learn guitar online.
German engineering with companies like Schaller and Sperzel made these modern ideas possible with ingenious new tunings systems and bridge configurations. Is Germany to thank for the guitar revolution? Probably not, but we contributed a great deal and helped the process along.