Ancient History of Guitars

How much do you know about the history of guitars? One of the most interesting topics is the ancient history of the instrument. The instrument is a member of the musical instrument family known as “chordophones.” However, it’s different from other units due to the structure/tuning. Traditionally the guitar has been built using wood and includes nylon/steel strings.

The history of guitars is very interesting. One of the reasons is people have been playing them for thousands of years. However, modern inventions have also affected how we use guitars today. In fact, it’s interesting that during history nearly every society has used a variation of the guitar.

It could be said that the history of the guitar is the history of modern-day humanity. In fact, the guitar can be traced to ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia about 4-5 thousand years ago. It resulted in people having the ability to make several new traditions. The basic stringed guitars/harps started in Persia (Iran) and Middle East to every area in the world. This allowed ancient humans to affect the history of guitars as well as modern music.

Meanwhile, the history of modern guitars in Europe began during the era of Ancient Rome. That’s when they started adding the stringed instrument from Greece known as the Chitara to the territories they conquered. This particular guitar went on to become Europe’s most basic/popular version for over a century following the fall of Rome.

During ancient times there were also pre-guitar versions of the instrument. One of the main examples was the lute. It had a curved back and included several shapes/sizes. It also had 4-5 courses and frequently was strummed via a quill feather. The lute was a popular instrument for centuries and was used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It was the Romans who introduced the lute to people throughout Europe.

Another predecessor of the guitar was the oud. In 711 AD the Moors invaded Spain. They brought the instrument with them to Southern Spain. The instrument was similar to Europe’s other stringed instruments. The oud also included a round body although it had no frets and contained a smaller neck. Medieval music was greatly influenced by the Moors’ instrument and Arabic music style. In fact, they both also affected the guitar’s development.

The last years of the Renaissance resulted in an evolved lute. It often had 20-3 strings but was becoming less popular. During the 1400s/1500s fretted instruments started showing up in Spain. They had a curved silhouette like modern guitars.

Later the Baroque guitar took the place of the lute as the instrument most often played. It was also easier to play than earlier instruments due to improvements in the strings and the ability to tune it.

An instrument was developed in Spain with a body curved like an hourglass. One hand was put in front of the body’s hole in order to play the instrument. This instrument was known as a “vihuela” and was one of the last instruments that was developed before the guitar.