History of the Acoustic Guitar

Tracing the history of the acoustic guitar is difficult, as it has many roots. The modern acoustic guitar is a direct descendent of classical guitars, which were made hundreds of years ago. Unlike the classical guitar, acoustics are bigger and sturdier. They are also strung with steel strings, as opposed to nylon. But where did classical guitars evolve from? And how did they develop into acoustic guitars?

Early Guitar Origins
It's hard to say exactly where guitars originated, as any number of stringed instruments could have led to its creation. Historians generally trace guitars to medieval times. The Muslim Moorish culture brought guitar-like instruments into Spain. These were smaller than modern guitars and had only two or three strings. The Spanish expanded on the Moors' design and created the Guitarra Latina.

Renaissance, Baroque And Spanish Guitars
During the Renaissance Period, guitars made their way across Europe to Italy, but they still weren't as popular as other concert instruments. It wasn't until the Baroque Era that the guitar truly started to take shape. The Baroque guitar had five double strings and a fretted fingerboard, and sometimes it had four double strings plus one single string. During this period, the guitar began to be featured more prominently in chamber music. Then the guitar got another makeover back in Spain. Instrument maker Antonio de Torres is often credited with creating the Spanish guitar in its current form, with its six strings, fretted fingerboard and mechanical tuning keys.

The Acoustic Guitar Today
The acoustic guitar as we know it today didn't take its current shape until guitars had traveled to America. There, guitar makers designed guitars capable of handling steel wound strings, giving the instrument a much stronger and heavier sound than its nylon-stringed predecessor. The acoustic guitar hasn't stopped evolving either, as new innovations continue to be made to alter the sound and appearance of this popular instrument.

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