Modern Guitar Innovations – 1934 – First Electric Guitar

The first electric guitar was a lap steel guitar and the inventor was George Beauchamp. If you’ve been reading this series, you should recognize George as a co-founder of National Guitars and the person who got the patent for the single cone, biscuit bridge resonator guitar. George was also the co-founder of… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1929 – 14 Frets

Banjos were a popular instrument in the 1920’s because they were loud. Guitars were replacing banjos in popular music and some banjo players were switching to guitar. If you were a banjo player you were used to having all frets clear from the body. Guitars at the time, still based… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1929 – Single Cone Spider Resonator Guitar

When we last left our heros, the inventors of the resonator guitars, George Beauchamp had patented the single cone, biscuit bridge resonator guitar. It is likely that John Dopyera was the true inventor and that George Beauchamp patented a discarded design of John Dopyera’s. John had secretly been working on… More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1928 – Single Cone Biscuit Resonator Guitar

Style O Single Cone, Biscuit Bridge, Resonator Guitar

Who invented the first single cone resonator guitar? The answer to this question led to considerable anomisity among the likely candidates and even law suits. George Beauchamp applied for and was granted a patent (#1,808,756) for this invention. He was one of the founders of the National String Instrument Corporation…. More

Modern Guitar Innovations – 1927 – Tricone Resonator Guitar

I own a Style O restonator guitar and have been fascinated with this strange style guitar ever since my father came home with a reso-glass Airline guitar he had rented for an adult education guitar class in the 1960s. The history of the development of these guitars and subsequent fights… More

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