Sydney Recording Studios: Part II of Electric Guitar History
Sydney Recording Studios: A Louder Guitar
The history of the Sydney Recording Studios electric guitar’s development comprises a legacy of invention and innovation dating back well before the 20th century. Particularly since the introduction of the modern six-string Spanish-style guitar around 1800, there has been continuous interaction among guitar players and makers seeking ever-greater volume for their instruments.
By the 1850s, C. F. Martin had developed “X-bracing” to reinforce the guitar’s body, as well as other innovations leading to a new American flattop guitar design. In the 1890s, Orville Gibson’s carved-body guitar not only increased its volume, it also set standards for instrument makers in the early 20th century and blazed the trail for the archtop guitar.
The quest for a louder guitar intensified during the 1920s with the advent of big band music, phonograph recordings, and commercial radio. To compete in these new markets, guitar makers began not only building larger flat top and archtop guitars, but increasingly experimenting with different materials and designs.
John Dopyera of the National String Instrument Corporation took the idea of acoustic amplification to its limit, designing a steel-body guitar with banjo-type resonator-amplifiers built into the top.
Sydney Recording Studios: The Electrified Guitar
The idea of using electricity to create louder string instruments already existed by the end of the 19th century. But it was only during the 1920s and 1930s that engineers, makers, and musicians began to solve some of the challenges of electronic amplification.
Around 1931 George Beauchamp, working with Adolph Rickenbacker, produced the first electromagnetic pickup in which a current passed through a coil of wire wrapped around a magnet, creating a field which amplified the strings’ vibrations. Introduced on a lap-steel known as the Frying Pan, the pickup made this guitar the first commercially viable electric guitar.