Modern Guitar Innovations – 1922 – F-hole Archtop Guitar

Lloyd Loar, like Orville Gibson before him, took design principles from the violin family and applied them to mandolins and guitars. He designed the first guitar with F-holes instead of a round sound hole, the L-5. He applied the same princliple to the F-5 mandolin, which has become the standard… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1889 – Hawaiian Steel Guitar

This is a STEEL - from which Steel Guitar gets its name

The Hawaiian Steel Guitar was invented in 1889 by Joseph Kekuku. The innovation that made the steel guitar possible was simply to raise the strings at the nut by slipping a piece of metal between the strings and the nut. This nut extension allowed the pitch of the strings to be changed… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1916 – Dreadnought Guitar

Martin developed the dreadnought style guitar in 1916 for the Distson Company. Martin’s history credits Frank Martin and Harry Hunt with the development of the dreadnought style. Harry Hunt was the manager of Chas. H. Ditson Co., a retailer in New York. During the first half of the 20th Century, it… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1902 – The Archtop Guitar

Gibson 1913 Style O

Orville Gibson applied lessons from violin construction first to mandolins and then to guitars. Solid wood tops carved to an arched shape without bracing that would inhibit vibrations was another innovation designed to produce greater volume. The Style O was an archtop guitar but still retained the round sound hole…. More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1900 – The 12-String Guitar

By John and Alan Lomax Collection [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Another innovation relating to increased volume was the 12-string guitar. The use of double courses of strings to increase volume is quite old. Because Renaissance guitars and mandolins had used this concept it is perhaps is wrong to say it is truly an innovation. But the development of the modern 12-string guitar… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1890 – Steel Strings

Steel strings for guitar

Many innovations in the history of guitars relate to making the instrument louder. Substituting steel wire for gut strings made a big difference in the volume. However, the increased tension of steel strings didn’t just increase the volume but created a variety of problems which were not entirely addressed by… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1850 – X-Bracing

X-Bracing on guitar

Guitar innovation was going on throughout Europe and America at the same time that Torres was experimenting on the design of the classical guitar. The fan bracing of Torres was innovative and is still used on classical guitars today. But alternatives would eventually prove important for flat top guitars. Martin’s… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1850 – Torres

This guitar is a descendant of designs made by Torres in the 19th Century.

Recently while reading an online guitar magazine, I saw an ad for a guitar which claimed it was the result of an amazing innovative design. Although the guitar did in fact have one fairly innovative feature, I began thinking about the history of the guitar and the innovative features that… More