During the past few decades, the guitar has been the driving instrument in many popular songs. The guitar replaced the saxophone in 1950’s original Rock ‘n’ Roll music due to the birth of the first electric guitar, and it is now one of the most popular instruments among musicians. America’s first memorable guitarist, Elvis Presley, popularized Rock ‘n’ Roll among Americans. Ever since the days of Elvis, many of America’s most popular rock stars are known for rocking out on their guitars.
In the days of the 60’s, Beatlemania was in full swing, and Jimi Hendrix jammed out to the hippie crowd. In the 70’s, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin came up with some of the catchiest riffs in Rock ‘n’ Roll history, and in the 80’s Eddie Van Halen amazed us with his guitar skills. In the 90’s, Kurt Cobain created the grunge scene with his original style of music.
To pay tribute to guitarists and fans of the instrument, April has been deemed International Guitar Month.
The guitar’s origin is unknown, but it is thought to be derived from early Greek and Egyptian instruments. It is in the violin and piano family because they are also string instruments. Archaeologists believe the first guitars were made from animal or human skulls and turtle shells, and it is rumored that the first person to play a guitar-like instrument was Adam’s son, Cain.
The pioneers of the electric guitar, Leo Fender and Les Paul, created the idea of an easily played electric guitar. With a little bit of help, Leo Fender was the first guitar maker to mass produce electric guitars in the 1950’s, and then faced competition with Gibson in 1952. These two companies are still two of the dominant guitar producers today.
Many fans of rock music will tell you that the guitar is an essential component to the formation of a rock band. However, contrary to popular belief, the guitar is not used only in rock music.
The guitar can be found in many classical ensembles, jazz ensembles and also in folk, bluegrass and country music. Either played acoustically or hooked up electrically, the guitar can produce a variety of sounds. Effect pedals and boards contribute greatly to the variety of sounds the guitar can produce, and allow for a wide variety of options for the guitarist.
Effects on guitars allow for different styles of music to be played, which is why a piece of music played on the acoustic guitar may sound different than the same piece of music played on an electric guitar with an effect.
People with their acoustic guitars sitting around jamming- out are visible almost anywhere on a nice day. Just playing an instrument in general is very therapeutic for many musicians, and some guitarists find it especially therapeutic to write their own music using their guitar.
“Because I listen to music so much I felt like I needed to do something with it, and playing guitar makes me feel more involved with music,” first-year student Vince Doud said.
If one has been thinking about starting to play a guitar, West Chester Music on High Street is an excellent store to find the dream guitar. West Chester University even offers courses on guitar in the School of Music.
It is obvious to see why we celebrate April as International Guitar month. The guitar offers many people the chance to engage in their passion for music. Also, it has so much history not only in American music, but also in music all over the world. The guitar’s versatility and prominence in our culture is very significant.
Marcelle Bacon is a first-year student majoring in French. She can be reached at MB650800@wcupa.edu.