This is a nice history of the guitar.

Essay by wrzmstr2University, Bachelor'sA+, July 2003

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The guitar is a fretted, stringed instrument, and is a member of the lute family. It originated in Persia and reached Spain during the twelth-century, where it¹s versatility as both a solo and accompanying instrument were established. The theory of the guitar was discovered in the early centuries. They found that the sound of a bowstring could be enhanced by attaching a resonating chamber -most like a tortiseshell- to the bow. From the bow came essentially three main types of stringed instruments: the Harp family, which was the sound of plucked strings indirectly transmitted to an attached sound box. The second was the Lyre family, which was strings of a fixed pitch are attached to the directly to a sound chamber. And the third was the Lute family, this was were the pitch of strings was altered by pressing them against a neck that is attached directly to a sound chamber.

Within the Lute family came two groups. The lutes proper which had rounded backs and the guitar type instruments with their flat backs.

Guitar-shaped instruments appear in stone bas-relief sculptures of the hittites in northern Syria and Asia Minor from as far back as 1350 B.C.

The word guitar also has origins in the middle and far east, deriving from gut, is the Arabic word for four, and tar, the Sanskrit word for string. The earliest European guitars did have four courses of gut strings. A


course is a pair of strings tuned in unison. These early guitars were distinguished from lutes by body sides that curved inward to form a waist and by four courses of strings. Some but not all early guitars had a flat back, while lutes always had a flat back. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance the lute was the dominant fretted...