About guitar

The earliest evidence of string instruments with a resonating body and neck, precursors to the modern guitar, dates back to the 2nd century BCE. Images of the kinnor (a Sumerian-Babylonian string instrument mentioned in the Bible) have been found on clay reliefs during archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia. In Ancient Egypt and India, similar instruments were also known, such as the nabl, nefer, and cithara in Egypt, and the vina and sitar in India. Another ancient string instrument is the dombra; terracotta figurines of musicians playing plucked instruments were discovered during excavations in ancient Khorezm. Scholars note that the Khorezmian two-stringed instruments, existing over 2000 years ago, exhibit typological similarities with the Kazakh dombra and were among the most widespread string instruments among early nomads living in the territory of Kazakhstan. In Ancient Greece and Rome, the kithara was a popular instrument as well.


The predecessors of the guitar featured a long, rounded, hollow resonating body and a lengthy neck with strings stretched across it. The body was crafted as a single piece, often made from dried gourd, turtle shell, or carved from a solid piece of wood. In the 3rd-4th centuries CE, in China, instruments called zhuan (or yuan) and yueqin emerged. These instruments had a wooden body assembled from the upper and lower decks and the soundboard that connected them.

In Europe, this gave rise to the Latin and Moorish guitars around the 6th century. According to some researchers, an early depiction of a similar instrument can be found on a funerary stele from Merida. More archaic depictions resembling "sitar with a neck" can be seen in miniatures from the Utrecht Psalter (820-830 AD). The Stuttgart Psalter, created in the scriptorium of the Abbey of Saint Germain des Pres (820-830 AD), also contains several miniatures depicting string-plucking musical instruments that already exhibit all the essential features of the guitar: a resonating body, neck, and pegbox. The strings (ranging from three to six) are attached to a round protrusion at the bottom edge of the body and are set into vibration using a plectrum. Later, in the 15th-16th centuries, the vihuela appeared, which also influenced the development of the modern guitar's construction.

The Latin word "cithara," used to describe the instruments in the mentioned psalter, originates from the Greek word "κιθάρα" (kithara). During the medieval period, this word underwent transformations and took on various forms, including kitaire, quitare, quitarre. These variations reflect the adaptation of the term to linguistic changes and ethnic influences throughout history.

In the Middle Ages, Spain was the primary center for the development of the guitar, with its genesis often associated with Arab influence (Moorish guitar). In the 15th century, a guitar with five double strings (the first string could also be single) emerged in Spain, and such guitars became known as Spanish guitars. By the end of the 18th century, the Spanish guitar underwent evolution, acquiring six single strings and a substantial repertoire of works. The formation of this repertoire was influenced by the Italian composer and virtuoso guitarist Mauro Giuliani, who lived in the late 18th to early 19th century.

Throughout the 18th to 19th centuries, the construction of the Spanish guitar underwent significant changes. Craftsmen experimented with the size and shape of the body, the attachment of the neck, the design of the tuning machine, and other aspects. Finally, in the 19th century, the Spanish guitar maker Antonio Torres gave the guitar its modern form and size. Guitars constructed by Torres are now referred to as classical guitars.

In the 20th century, with the advent of electronic amplification and sound processing technology, a new type of guitar emerged – the electric guitar. In 1936, George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker, founders of the Rickenbacker company, patented the first electric guitar with magnetic pickups and a metal body. In the early 1950s, Les Paul invented the solid-body electric guitar, but later he relinquished the idea to Leo Fender. This was because the concept of a solid-body guitar did not spark interest at Gibson, where Les Paul was associated. The design of the electric guitar has remained largely unchanged to the present day.