By Austin Hennen Vigil
The guitar is the world’s second most popular musical instrument, after the piano, and has evolved tremendously over centuries.
The word “guitar” was adopted into English from the Spanish word “guitarra” in the 1600s. Guitars are used in many different genres of music such as: rock, metal, punk, pop, folk, country, traditional, regional, and the blues. Here are some facts about the guitar that you may not know:
- The oldest guitars came from Persia (modern day Iran), about 3,500 years ago, and were called “Tanbur”.
- The world’s smallest guitar was made at Cornell University in New York. It is 10 micrometers long (1 micrometer is 1-millionth of a meter) with strings 50 nanometers (100 atoms) wide.
- The design and dimensions of the modern guitar were established by Spanish guitarist Antonio Torres Jurado.
- There is a man-made forest in Argentina that is in the shape of a guitar, planted by a farmer named Pedro Martin Ureta. It is located in the fertile “Pampas” agricultural region of Argentina and is made up of over 7,000 cypress and eucalyptus trees.
- The most expensive guitar ever sold was Fender’s “Reach Out to Asia” Stratocaster that raised funds for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami & Earthquake, and was signed by 19 professional musicians like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, and David Gilmour. The guitar sold for $2.7 million at auction.
- The Fender factory makes over 90,000 guitar strings a day, that amounts to over 20,000 miles of string per year, enough to circle the Earth.
- The longest marathon playing guitar is 114 hours, 6 minutes and 30 seconds and was achieved by David Browne at the Temple Bar Pub in Dublin, Ireland from June 12-17th, 2011. He played a whopping 1,372 songs during that time period!
- Most guitars have 6 strings, but 4 and 12 string guitars are fairly common, and 7, 8, and 10 string guitars are rare but exist. Guitar strings today are made from either steel or nylon, but used to be made from animal intestines.
- The first electrically amplified guitar was invented by musician George Beauchamp and electric engineer Adolph Rickenbacker in 1931. An electric guitar utilizes electromagnetic radiation to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric signals.
- Jimi Hendrix, widely considered the most famous and influential guitarist of all-time, played a right-handed guitar upside down and strung in reverse, because he was left-handed. He even played guitar with his teeth and behind his back!
I hope you enjoyed the article, please feel free to comment if you have more interesting facts about the guitar that I may have missed!
Austin Hennen Vigil is a marketing intern at Sheet Music Plus, and holds a degree in Business Marketing from Arizona State University. Austin has been playing the guitar since age 10 and has been in a rock band with Joey Armstrong, drummer for the band “SWMRS” and the son of Green Day frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong. Austin’s favorite guitars are the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster.