Origins of ordinary things: The guitar

A guitar is a musical instrument of the string variety. Its portability and the pleasant sound that it produces make it one of the commonest instruments used during musical sessions.

The instrument derives its name from the Spanish word “Guitarra” which is formulated from “Cithara” a Latin word which in turn originates from “tar” an ancient Sanskrit word which means “string.” This is according to Ducksters, a children’s education website.


According to Wikipedia an encyclopedia, even though instrument is likely to have been in use since the medieval period, the first actual mention of the guitar was in 1349. The Duke of Normandy is said to have employed musicians whose instruments included the Guitarra Latina (Latin Guitar) which closely resembled the modern day guitar.


Although the guitar didn’t immediately become the most popularly used string instrument, by the end of the 16th century composers were publishing work that included guitar parts. This is according to Acoustic Music a string music information website.


According to Britannica an encyclopedia during the 17th century, the guitar’s popularity grew while the rest of the string instruments took a back seat. Even then, it was considered as instrument for amateurs.

The earliest guitar-like instruments had varied designs and number of strings. For instance the 15th century version, according to information website Guitar and Lute, was very small and had four strings. According to Britannica as the centuries went on, the design and size were changed.

The six-stringed instrument as we know it today is said to have been discovered by Italian luthier Gaetano Vinaccia. Its design was created by Spanish guitar maker Antonio Torres Jurado during the 1800s. This is according to web-based Guitar History Facts. Jurado made many experiments in an effort to improve the sound of the guitar. For this reason, he is said to be the most prolific guitar-designer of all time.

During the 20th century, guitars become increasingly popular as they were used for concerts. Different types now started to emerge, including the electric guitar which is the signature instrument for the rock and roll music genre.

Today, the guitar is one of the most popular musical instruments. And because of its relative affordability and easiness to learn, it is one of the most purchased instruments. It is hard to say how long it will continue to be popular since every generation seems to have a signature sound.


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