Guitars: A Journey in Time

The guitar is regarded as one of the most iconic musical instrument in history. The guitar is used in various genres of music like country, rock, pop, latin, and more and has become a part of many cultures worldwide. The guitar originated in Spain around the 16th century and was derived from the Guitarra Latina, which was a plucked string instrument from medieval times and looked more like a ukulele. This early guitar had 4 strings, like the Guitarra Latina and the ukulele, and had a circular soundhole. On a modern guitar, the strings are tuned to notes E, A, D, G, and B. This means that the thickest string is tuned to a low E note, and the next string is tuned to the A note, and so on. But, in its very early stages, the guitar strings were tuned to the nites C, F, A, and D, just like a lute.

Between the 16th and the 19th century, several changes were made to the guitar design. There was a 5th string added before the year 1600. Since the early guitar was much like a lute, two smaller strings made up one string.That system was the double-course string system. In the 1600s, the violin-like pegbox was replaced by a flat, reflex head and rear tuning pegs were added. By the late 18th century, a 6th string was added, taking the total to 12 small strings. Before 1800, the double-course string system was changed to single-course, or just single, strings. Now there truly were only 6 strings. At this point, the guitar was tuned to E-A-D-G-B-E, which is the standard tuning of today. 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, many major changes occured in the design of the guitar, thanks partly to Antonio Torres, who was a very famous Spanish guitarist and guitar maker. Modern guitars have frets that tell you where to put your finger on the neck to make a note. Back then, frets were made out of tie-on animal guts that were wrapped around the neck, similar to the Lute. In the 18th century, those kinds of frets were replaced by more permanent metal or ivory rods. Prior to the 19th century, the tuning pegs were metal screws in the headboard. However, by the early 19th century, the metal screws were replaced with actual tuning pegs which are very similar to the screw, the only difference is that it has flat disks at the end so that you can turn the pegs easier. In early guitar, the fingerboard, now called the neck, was flush, or at the same level, with the soundboard, now called the body. During the late 19th century, the fingerboard was raised slightly above the soundboard and extended all the way to the edge of the soundhole.

Later in the 19th century, the guitar underwent some changes, for example thinner soundboard, and a shallower, broader, body, which helped carry the sound further and with better tone. The neck was originally a woodblock which was attached to the body. Now, the neck is sculpted into a brace that projects into the body a little, and is glued to the back to give the guitar more stability. One of the last changes made to the guitar design were the bars inside the body. They added these bars to reinforce the guitar and make the guitar last longer. The modern guitar design was finalized during the late 19th century, and has since revolutionized modern and classical music.

Hey there! My name is Sparsh Aiyar and I'm the editor in chief of The City Voice. I also make videos on our YouTube channel, so please make sure to check that out! I'm a huge music nerd and I play a lot of guitar so if you also like guitar, feel free to reach out. If you have any questions about the City Voice, please feel free to contact me via gmail, I would be more than happy to help!