Electric Guitar History
The Creation Of An Icon

Knowing about electric guitar history won't make you a better player. It will, however, give you a better appreciation for the electric guitar and how and why it became the instrument it is today. We are going to look at the history of the electric guitar in terms of its invention and development and some of the key figures in the electric guitar history that brought the electric guitar to where it is today. We are not going to try to cover the history if each guitar brand. That will be looked at in the Brands section of the site when we look at the individual guitar brands and their development.

The Beginning...

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the guitar had already proven itself to be a noteworthy instrument. Originally considered to be basically a folk instrument, the guitar had been established by formidable players such Andres Segovia as a serious performance instrument.

Capable of self-harmonization and vocal accompaniment, the guitar became a popular instrument in many forms of music. The guitar was originally used as an accompanying instrument mostly used for rhythm or melodic accompaniment. In the '20's and '30's, however, the guitar was over powered by the brass sections popular in Swing, Big Band and Jazz music. Without some way to increase the volume of the instrument the guitar was overpowered. The acoustic guitar simply could not compete with the volume levels of the other instruments. Not even the addition of steel strings was sufficient to allow the guitar to compete with other instruments.

George Beauchamp George Beauchamp

During this time two Los Angeles musicians George Beauchamp and John Dopyera began trying to find ways of creating louder guitars. Dopyra eventually hit upon the idea to use metal plates as a resonator to increase the volume of the acoustic guitar. This increased the volume by 3 to 5 times that of a traditional acoustic but was still not sufficient to compete with brass instruments, etc.

The Dobro The Dobro
In 1927 they formed National String Instrument Company and patented the design. Due to internal friction, Beauchamp was fired. Beauchamp later sold the company and Dopyera formed a new company with his brother "Dobro" and manufactured the resonator guitars under the name of the new company. Even though the Dobro is not an electric guitar, it is an important milestone in electric guitar history being a significant step in the endeavor to amplify the guitar.

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