5 fascinating & surprising facts about the guitar

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you love guitars. However, how much do you know about where guitars come from? Here are some interesting guitar facts—you may be surprised.

Blame the Romans

Scholars believe the guitar evolved from the cithara when the Romans brought the ancient Greek musical instrument, which is part of the lyre family, to Hispania in 40 CE.

What’s in a name?

Early forms of the guitar originated in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and most if these instruments had just four strings. So, that’s how the guitar got its name, which is derived from the Old Persian word chartar meaning four strings.

Modern style

During the 19th century, Antonio Torres Jurado was considered the most important guitar maker in Spain. And it was between 1817 and 1892 that Jurado created the dimensions for modern classical and acoustic guitars.

Taking the lead

It wasn’t until the 20th century that the guitar started to be played as a lead instrument. previously, no doubt due to lack of amplification, the guitar was used predominantly as a rhythm instrument.

The first commercially viable electric guitar

The Frying Pan

Before being able to plug in, guitarists struggled be heard. Most great inventions are the result of someone trying to solve a problem. So, in 1931, two gentlemen by the names of George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker invented an electromagnetic pickup and attached it to a lap-steel dubbed the Frying Pan. The first commercially viable electric guitar was born.

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Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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