The History of the Electric Guitar

"If you are interested in playing the electric geetar, then I'm sure you've wondered how this musical contraption came to light. It's totally amazing at what this 6 string instrument can do musically in the right hands. I still get chillz up my spine when people like Steve Vai just leave me totally in awe."

So... here is a little History of the Electric Guitar. By the way... check out some of the guitarz and gear at Musician's Friend too! Heck... sign up for Musician's Friend Weekly $2,500 Gear Giveaway and get some free cool stuff!

Electric guitar From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

An electric guitar is a type of guitar with a solid or semi-solid body that utilizes electromagnetic "pickups" to convert the vibration of the steel-cored strings into electrical current. The current may be electrically altered to achieve various tonal effects prior to being fed into an amplifier, which produces the resultant sound. In contrast to most stringed instruments, the electric guitar does not rely as extensively on the acoustic properties of its construction to amplify the sound produced by the vibrating strings; as such, the electric guitar does not need to be naturally loud, and its body can be virtually any shape.

The electric guitar is used extensively in many popular styles of music, including blues, rock and roll, country music, pop music and jazz.

History

Electric guitars were originally designed by luthiers (those who tune and repair stringed instruments) and acoustic guitar manufacturers. Some of the earliest electric guitars used tungsten pickups and were manufactured in the 1930s by Rickenbacker. The popularity of the electric guitar began with the Big band era, the amplified instruments being necessary to compete with the loud volumes of the large brass sections common to jazz orchestras of the thirties and forties. Initially, electric guitars consisted primarily of hollow "archtop" acoustic guitar bodies to which electromagnetic transducers had been attached.

The version of the instrument that is most well known today is the "solid body" electric guitar: a guitar made of solid wood, without resonating airspaces within it. The first solid body electric guitar was designed by musician and inventor Les Paul, working after hours in the Epiphone Guitar factory. His "log" guitar, so called because it consisted of a simple rectangular block of wood with a neck attached to it, is generally considered to be the first solid body electric guitar. Les Paul claims to have developed his first solid body electric guitar as early as 1941).

Gibson, like many luthiers, had experimented with pickups on acoustic guitars already, but it was in the 1950s that the Gibson Les Paul, the instrument that would become their trademark, was introduced to the market and established their dominance of the industry. Les Paul has claimed that credit for the invention belongs to him; however, in the late 1940s, electrician and amplifier maker Leo Fender, through his eponymous company, introduced the Fender Broadcaster, soon thereafter renamed the Fender Telecaster for trademark reasons. Some people suggest that Paul Bigsby was pursuing similar development paths at the same time. In 1954 Fender introduced the Stratocaster, or Strat, which had become by the late sixties the most widely played guitar on the market. Fender also invented the electric bass. Unlike the more traditionally styled and crafted Gibson instruments, Fender's guitars and basses pioneered the modular, and hence much less expensive, method of guitar making in which the body and neck of the guitar were crafted separately, using commonly available woodworking tools, and then bolted together to form a complete guitar. Today, the design of electric guitars by most companies echoes one of the two classic designs: the Les Paul or the Stratocaster.


Types of electric guitar

Most electric guitars are fitted with six strings and are usually tuned from low to high E - A - D - G - B - E, the same as an acoustic guitar, although some modern guitarists tune their guitars lower to produce a "heavier" sound. Seven-string models exist, most of which add a low B string below the E, and were made popular by Steve Vai and modern day nu metal bands. Jimmy Page, an innovator of hard rock, used and made famous custom Gibson electric guitars with two necks - essentially two instruments in one. These are commonly known as double neck (or, less commonly, twin neck) guitars. The purpose is to obtain different ranges of sound from each instrument; typical combinations are six-string and four-string (guitar and bass guitar) or, more commonly, a six-string and twelve-string. English progressive rock bands such as Genesis took this trend to its zenith using custom made instruments produced by the Shergold company.

Some electric guitars have a tremolo arm or whammy bar, which is a lever attached to the bridge that can slacken or elongate the strings temporarily, changing the pitch or creating a vibrato. (Tremolo properly refers to a quick variation of volume, not pitch; however, the misnaming is too established to change.) Eddie Van Halen often uses this feature to embellish his playing, as heard in Van Halen's "Eruption". Early tremolo arms tended to cause the guitar to go out of tune with extended use; an important innovator in this field was Floyd Rose, who introduced one of the first tremolos which allowed the guitar to stay in tune, even after heavy use.

A "MIDI guitar" is an electric guitar fitted with sensors for sound and note articulation. It is used to transform string vibrations into MIDI messages to control a synthesizer or other electronic musical instrument.

Electric guitar sound and effects An acoustic guitar's sound is largely dependent on the vibration of the guitar's body and the air within it; the sound of an electric guitar is largely dependent on an electrical signal, generated by the vibration of the strings and shaped on its path to the amplifier. By the late 1960s, it became common practice to exploit this dependence to alter the sound of the instrument. The most dramatic innovation was the generation of distortion by increasing the gain, or volume, of the preamplifier in order to clip the electronic signal. This form of distortion generates harmonics, particularly in odd multiples of the input frequency, which are considered pleasing to the ear.

Beginning in the 1960s, the tonal palette of the electric guitar was further modified by introducing an effects box in its signal path. Traditionally built in a small metal chassis with an on/off foot switch, such "stomp boxes" have become as much a part of the instrument for many electric guitarists as the electric guitar itself. Typical effects include vibrato, fuzz, wah-wah and flanging, compression/sustain, delay/echo, and phase shift. Some important innovators of this aspect of the electric guitar include guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour, Thurston Moore and Daniel Ash, and technicians such as Roger Mayer.

By the 1980s and 1990s, digital effects became capable of replicating the analog effects used in the past. These new digital effects attempted to model the sound produced by analog effects, to varying degrees of quality. Although there are some obvious advantages to digital effects, many guitarists still use analog effects for their real or perceived quality over their digital counterparts.








Dean Dimebag Razor Yellow Devil Electric Guitar

Dean Dimebag Razor Yellow Devil Electric Guitar

The Dean Dimebag Razor Yellow Devil is an electric guitar that looks sharp and sounds killer. A super-snug set neck joint joins the mahogany neck and body for supreme resonance that works with the Dimebucker at the bridge to produce astounding sustain with knife-edge bite. The gloss black body and headstock are both outlined in bright yellow. The Yellow Devil is complemented by a bound rosewood fretboard and black hardware, including a Floyd Rose-licensed trem.Dime would frequently sketch guitar design ideas, even filling in his choices of color with crayon. After seeing the Dime's drawing of this design, our buyer asked Dean to make 100 of these just for us! When you order this guitar, you get a framed copy of Dimebag's original drawing, plus a String Swing wall hanger to display your rare beauty.


Hofner Icon Series Vintage Bass Guitar Sunburst

Hofner Icon Series Vintage Bass Guitar Sunburst

With authentic details inspired by the original, the Hofner Icon Series Vintage Bass makes the legendary violin bass available to the rest of us. Don't get the idea that this a just a "nowhere man" look-alike. This quality instrument features a real spruce top and beautiful flamed maple back and sides. The semi-hollow body and set neck will give you the warm, round tone you expect from the violin bass. Rosewood fretboard, sunburst finish.The Icon Series Vintage Bass is featured in the video game Guitar Hero II for PlayStation 2.


Epiphone Limited Edition ES-135 Electric Guitar Blue Burst

Epiphone Limited Edition ES-135 Electric Guitar Blue Burst

Guitar Player magazine said, "The ES-135 is a super-versatile ax that fuses the ES-175 traits with aspects of the semi-acoustic ES-335. The result is relentless sustain and slap-your-face presence, the ES-135's gargantuan tones are as easy to ignore as a punch in the gut."


Gibson Les Paul BFG Electric Guitar Trans Cherry

Gibson Les Paul BFG Electric Guitar Trans Cherry

A decidedly nontraditional Les Paul for rockers who want an LP with attitude and don't care about good looks. It has the sound and playability you'd expect from an LP, while its raw look stands Les Paul styling on its head: unsanded top, no binding, no pickup rings, no truss rod cover, no toggle switch rings, no fretboard position indicators (dots on the side only), with wooden knobs that have no numbers. This rough and tough guitar has sonics to match: steamy hot tones from the novel pickup combination of a single coil P-90 in the neck and a BurstBucker 3 in the bridge - like having an LP Special and a Standard in one guitar. Mini toggle pickup selection switch located near two volume and one master tone controls. Kill switch located where rhythm/lead switch used to be. "Distressed" stop bar, Tune-o-matic bridge, and Grovers and "shopworn" case complete the raw look of this very different looking Les Paul.


Gibson SG Supreme Electric Guitar with '57 Humbuckers Fireburst

Gibson SG Supreme Electric Guitar with '57 Humbuckers Fireburst

The Gibson SG Supreme Electric Guitar with '57 Humbuckers has 24 easy-to-reach frets. A flamed maple top with stunning burst finishes and a bound ebony fretboard featuring split-diamond inlays result in one of the sweetest-looking SGs ever. Stadium-ready tone comes from the amazing '57 humbuckers that dictated a whole generation of rock 'n' roll sound. Alnico II magnets, vintage enamel-coated wire, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers, and 2-conductor braided wiring make these true vintage heavyweights that dish out creamy clean tones, screaming sustain, and gravelly crunch. Gibson's classic wood combination of maple-on-mahogany body with a mahogany set neck adds resonance and sustain. 1959 slim-taper neck furnishes a fast feel. Includes Gibson hardshell case.


Fender American Stratocaster Hard Tail Electric Guitar Chrome Red Maple Fretboard

Fender American Stratocaster Hard Tail Electric Guitar Chrome Red Maple Fretboard

The Fender American Strat has a hardtail bridge instead of a tremolo, and all the refinements of the American Electric Guitar Series: rolled-edge neck, custom staggered pickup pole pieces, and highly detailed fret and nut work. This Fender Stratocaster's non-veneered body with hum/single/hum routing leaves more wood for greater resonance, while its staggered machine heads result in one less string tree.


Paul Reed Smith SE Custom Electric Guitar Cherry Sunburst Tremolo

Paul Reed Smith SE Custom Electric Guitar Cherry Sunburst Tremolo

Genuine maple top with flamed maple veneer on a mahogany back plus a set wide, fat mahogany 22-fret neck produce the resonant sustain and high-end bite that made PRS famous. PRS-designed components in the SE Custom include dual bare zebra humbuckers, chrome tuners, and high-sustain wraparound stop tail or vibrato.


B.C. Rich SE Warlock Metal Web Electric Guitar Onyx

B.C. Rich SE Warlock Metal Web Electric Guitar Onyx

The SE Warlock Metal Web Electric Guitar has laser cut stainless steel designs fitted to the top and two matching pieces on the headstock to complete the sinister look. A spiderweb design and ferocious spiders on the fingerboard add the right measure of menace.Beneath its nasty, this guitar features a nato body with hard maple neck-thru construction for searing sustain. 24 jumbo frets let you fly over the ebony fingerboard. Two BDSM humbuckers put out massive tone with bite.


B.C. Rich NJC Bich Electric Guitar Transparent Red

B.C. Rich NJC Bich Electric Guitar Transparent Red

The NJC Bich is an old-school classic model designed to capture the essence of yesterday's collectible neck-through B.C. Rich guitars at an affordable price. When guitarists talk about B.C. Rich instruments from "back in the day," this is the look and feel they're talking about.


Line 6 Variax 600 Guitar 2-Tone Sunburst

Line 6 Variax 600 Guitar 2-Tone Sunburst

The one-piece North American maple neck and fingerboard on the Line 6 Variax 600 Guitar is a first for the Variax series. 9-1/2" fretboard radius allows comfortable chording and buzz-free bends. Custom L.R. Baggs tremolo bridge allows both up and down movement for more expressive trem action. Vintage touches like amber gloss and skunk stripe on the neck and the off-white pickguard give the Variax 600 classic looks that match all the famous Variax models within.



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Updated: 2/16/07