Who Invented The Guitar? A Comprehensive History

The guitar is an ancient musical instrument created by humans. It is thought to have been played since the 12th century. The earliest guitars were made out of wood and had strings attached to them. 

By the 19th century, the guitar became popular because of its ability to be easily transported and played anywhere. 

Who Invented The Guitar A Comprehensive History

But who invented the guitar? To answer that question we’ll go through a comprehensive history of the different types of guitars and their inventors.

What Is A Guitar?

The guitar is a string instrument played using fingers and palm to pluck strings stretched across frets. There are six strings tuned EADGBE. 

The guitar evolved from the lute, which had five strings tuned EDAEBEG. The first guitars were made of wood, but later metal strings were introduced.

There are many types of guitars, but they all share the same basic structure. Guitars come in different sizes and shapes, depending on the type of song being played. 

There are three main types of guitars: acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars.

Acoustic guitars produce sounds when strings are plucked or strummed with a pick. Electric guitars play notes electronically instead of sounding them out with the player’s hands. Bass guitars produce low tones.

Guitar Innovations Throughout History

There have been many innovations made on the guitar over time. Some of these include:

The Body Shape

The shape of the guitar can affect how well you play it. For example, a rounded back allows for easier access to the neck.

Tuning Systems

Different tuning systems allow for different sounds. For example, open tunings allow for a wide range of notes to be played.

String Materials 

Strings can be made from an animal gut or synthetic materials. Synthetic strings provide better tone quality.

Guitar Picks 

Picks come in various shapes and sizes, and prices too. You can also get a range of novelty picks too that can be used for display purposes or to play the guitar with. The pick is used to pluck or strum the strings with.


Amplification can either be done through an amplifier or directly into your headphones. Again, amplifiers range in size and shape, with one of the most recognized brands globally being Marshall.

Electric Guitars 

Electric guitars are becoming more popular every day. Most bands will feature an electric guitar and we hear these on most songs, particularly in the rock genre. 

Acoustic Guitars 

Acoustic guitars are still around, although they are not as common as they once were. They feature now in more ballad songs or those with a slower space. Acoustic guitars are still used heavily in indie music. 

The Early History Of The Guitar

The five-course baroque guitar was first documented in Spain in the 1560s. During the 16th century, it became popular throughout Europe. It was not a straightforward process. There were two main varieties of five-course guitars.

The first type was the Spanish five-course guitar, which had a major third located on the sixth string. The second type was the Italian five-course guitar, whose major third was located on the fourth string. These two guitars were tuned differently.

The five courses could be played because the guitar had a fifth course, which was a string that played an extra note. The strings were tuned in unison.

Therefore, it was possible to tune the guitar by placing a finger on the second fret and tuning the guitar bottom-to-top.

The strings were a full octave apart from each other, which is why the difference in tuning methods existed. 

Because it was so unique, there was a major debate about who created the five-course guitar. One literary source, Lope De Vega’s Dorotea states that the creator of the five-course guitar is the poet and musician Vicent Espinel.

This claim has been disputed by others who say that Espinel’s birthdate makes it impossible for him to have created the tradition. He believed that the tuning was why the instrument became known as “the Spanish guitar”.

Later, in the same century, Gaspar Sanz wrote about other countries adding to the Spanish guitar. 19th-century guitars made by luthier Manuels De Soto were held by Spanish guitarist Rafael Sorelle.

Who Invented The Guitar A Comprehensive History

The Acoustic Guitar

Antonio Torres Jurado was one of the first people who invented the modern acoustic guitar. He created the modern acoustic guitar design that allowed many musicians to play the instrument. 

He also helped create the modern electric guitar design that led to the creation of the legendary electric guitar. Both designs were very successful and changed the landscape of modern guitar playing.

Circa 1850, Antonio Torres Jurado increased the size of the guitar’s body, altered its proportions, and invented the breakthrough fan-braced pattern.

Bracing refers to the internal pattern used to secure the guitar top and back and prevent it from collapsing under tension.

He made this change because he wanted the sound of the guitar to be louder and more powerful than any other guitar before him. Torres’ design greatly improved the volume, tone, projection of the instrument, which remains essentially unchanged since.

Early in their production, Torres made his breakthrough fan-braced guitars in Spain. German immigrants to the US make guitars with x-braced tops. Steel-string guitars arrived in the US in 1900.

The Electric Guitar 

With the introduction of electric guitars, the acoustic guitar was pushed aside. However, there were still some great players who played acoustic guitars.

These players used the acoustic guitar to create a different sound than what we hear today.

Adolph Rickenbacker invented the electric guitar. He also helped invent the airplane and the automobile. He was the founder of the Rickenbacker company. Rickenbacker started out making electric guitars but soon got involved in other things.

He created a company called The Rickenbacker International Corp. (RIC), which made amplifiers, microphones, and electronic equipment.

In 1937, RIC released the first electric guitar, the Frying Pan. This model was very popular among Hawaiian musicians, who used them to play traditional music.

Soon after this, western swing and jazz musicians also adopted these guitars. These days, Rickenbackers are still being made by many different companies, and are used by many different types of musicians.

The electric guitar company Gibson should be credited with inventing the solid-body guitar. Gibson’s first solid-body electric guitar was the ES-150.

Eddie Durham played the first electric guitar solo using the ES-150. And the ES-150 was also popular among jazz musicians such as Charlie Christian.

Les Paul invented the solid-body electric guitar in the 1950s and made them famous with the help of Jimi Hendrix.

He used a solid body electric guitar to create his first signature model, the Les Paul Standard. He also made many other models over the years.

The first electric guitar to be used in a recording studio was built by George Fullerton. The first electric guitar played by a major artist was the Fender Stratocaster.

The first electric guitar sold commercially was the Rickenbacker 325.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the guitar is a versatile instrument that has had a huge impact on music throughout the world. It is a great instrument to learn, and there are so many different ways to use it. 

The guitar has a long and colorful history. It is one of the most important instruments that has ever been invented and there are lots of different types and designs to choose from. 

Howard Matthews