About Electric Guitars
The first electric guitars were designed in the 1930s for a very practical reason - players needed extra volume to compete with loud brass sections, popular in the music of that time. Jazz big band players like Charlie Christian were the first to adopt this new technology with electrified hollowbody guitars. But as volumes went up, so did problems with feedback. Iconic inventors, including Leo Fender and Les Paul, began bringing their radical, feedback-solving solidbody electric guitars to market, forever changing the face of popular music.
As times and styles have changed, so have electric guitars. The first electric guitars were simple archtop guitars with pickups. In the early 1950s, Leo Fender introduced Fender's single-coil pickup Esquire - the first production solidbody electric guitar - along with the Telecaster and Stratocaster, which are still popular choices today. Around the same time, Gibson teamed up with famed player and inventor Les Paul and introduced the Les Paul model. This collaboration would eventually become the first guitar to be equipped with hum-canceling "humbucking" pickups in 1957. Since those first iconic electric guitars, hundreds of manufacturers have found great success with their own unique designs aimed at particular segments of the market. Names like Paul Reed Smith, Jackson, Ibanez, Gretsch, and more have all carved out their own sounds and styles.
Those Iconic Sounds
Much of the reason for the enduring legacy of the electric guitar is the way players have used it to constantly re-invent music. Like Charlie Christian in the big bands, every few decades a player comes along who completely re-imagines what can be accomplished with the electric guitar. The same basic instrument that was responsible for the sound of Chicago blues in the hands of Muddy Waters also launched rock 'n' roll with Buddy Holly, produced the heavy sounds of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, fueled Pantera's modern high-gain-defining sounds, and showcased the hammering technique of Eddie Van Halen on his seminal instrumental "Eruption."
Into the Future
The age of electric guitar innovation is far from over. Today we have technology such as MIDI, guitar modeling, locking tremolo systems, and so much more. And while many of the original designs are still among the most popular electric guitars out there, there are guitarists and luthiers everywhere finding new ways to bring the electric guitar into tomorrow and beyond.
Questions about Electric Guitars?
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