Recording Studio: The electric guitar may be the most important and popular instrument of the last half-century in American music. Certainly its introduction brought a major change to American musical technology and has shaped the sound and direction of modern musical styles.
Recording Studio Is invention a flash of individual inspiration?
Sometimes, but typically it is a far more complex process. Amplifying the sound of a guitar by means of electricity, for example, involved many inventors and musicians working since the 1920s to develop, design, and popularize a louder instrument.
The recording studio electric guitar may be the most important and popular instrument of the last half-century in American music. Certainly its introduction brought a major change to American musical technology and has shaped the sound and direction of modern musical styles.
The desire to increase the sound of the guitar existed long before the development of electrical amplifiers and speakers. Musical performances in the 19th century were characterized by ever-larger concert settings and ensembles. Musicians needed louder and more powerful instruments, which became possible by using new materials and designs.
The introduction of steel strings in the 19th century meant not only greater volume, but greater tension on instruments. The traditional flattop guitar began to change in size and shape as a steel-string instrument. In addition, an entirely different design emerged, the stronger—and louder—archtop.
In the 1920s, as public dance music became more popular and the infant recording industry required high volume to capture a musical performance, guitar makers increased their efforts to develop ever-louder guitars. Some people continued experimenting with larger sizes and metal bodies; other innovators started to focus on electricity as a possible aid.
By the end of the 1930s, recording studio electronic amplification proved to be one of the most successful innovations for building a louder guitar, despite the misgivings of some traditionalists about the new technology. Country and jazz guitarists were among the first to champion the electric sound. Then in the 1940s and 1950s, players and makers began building Spanish-style electric guitars with solid wooden bodies, which led to new designs and new sounds.