The guitar is among the oldest of known musical instruments and is played in a wide variety of musical styles, including classical, blues, country, flamenco, rock and many forms of “pop” music. A guitar usually has six strings, but there are also four, seven, eight, ten, and twelve string guitars. Guitars may be played acoustically, where the musical tone is produced by the vibration of the strings being modulated within its hollow body, or they may be played electronically, where an amplifier modifies the tone and volume of the sounds created by the vibration of its strings. Guitars have traditionally been made of various woods and were originally strung with animal gut. More recently, guitar strings have been made from either nylon or steel.
Today, there are guitars ranging from contrabass to treble with varying numbers of strings. The twelve-string guitar has six double courses of strings. The Hawaiian, or “steel” guitar, is laid across the knees of the player, who mutes the vibration of its metal strings by gliding a metal bar along the guitar’s neck. The electric guitar, developed for popular music in the United States in the 1930s, usually has a solid, non resonant body. In the 1940s, prototypes of a solid-bodied electric guitar were developed by American musician Les Paul, and California inventor Leo Fender made custom guitars and amplifiers in his radio shop, including an amplifier with no controls and a matching steel lap guitar with tone and volume controls. In its earliest forms, the electric guitar was viewed at this time, as a total music making system, rather than as an individual instrument. In 1948, Fender developed the legendary Telecaster® (originally named the Broadcaster), the first solid body electric Spanish-style guitar ever to go into commercial production.