The electric guitar, the greatest entertainment trip of all time
“A short history of the electric guitar, taking in the first innovators and enthusiasts, to some of the greatest guitars and bands of the 20th Century.”
When you break it down to its scientific function - converting string vibrations into electrical signals using electromagnetic induction - the guitar can sound a bit on the dull side. However, the reality is that its invention has proved to be the greatest entertainment trip of all time, inspiring some of the best music, stories and events of all time.
Perhaps the most beneficial element of the electric signal produced by an electric guitar is its relative weakness in terms of output. This means that it has to be amplified before it can be run through a speaker, and it is this amplification process that delivers the sheer variety of sound that can be produced on an electric guitar. It has also given rise to the ability to manipulate the signal significantly, allowing guitar players to create even more varied sounds.
Reverb, delay, distortion and out and out fuzz call be added to the signal, making the electric guitar the most influential instrument of all time. While these effects can invariable be added to the signal as they hit the amp, they can also be added with effects pedals, meaning that a guitarist can sound super fuzzed one moment, before switching to a clean chorus and a reverberating middle eight.
The trip all began in the early 1900s with guitar makers and enthusiasts experimenting with the electronic amplification of string vibrations. By the 1930 innovators like Les Paul, George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker were all laying down the blueprints for the modern incarnation of the electric guitar. These early inventions led to the development of the best guitars in history, including the Gibson Les Paul, the Fender Telecaster and the Epiphone .335.
However, it's probably fair to say that the real impact of the electric guitar wasn't truly felt until the loved up jack-knife of the sixties. During this era we saw the introduction of Beatlemania, the formation of the Rolling Stones, the invention of metal and rock music, Jimmy Page played wah-wah guitar with a violin bow in the Yardbirds, as well as the Velvet Underground, The Who and Jimmy Hendrix. Never before has the guitar been so era defining than during its supremacy in the 1960s.
However, when the bubble burst and the wave that started with the sound of an electric guitar slid back we were left with the 70s and 80s. While the guitar had new rivals for the title of the king of sounds, like disco synthesizers, there was still plenty of guitar to keep the entertainment trip at the forefront of musical development. Queen, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones all kept the sound of the electric guitar in the mainstream media spotlight, while punk and metal pushed it on to new possibilities. Films like Back to the Future maintained the popularity of the electric guitar at the movies, making it the most sought after instrument for would be musicians the world over.
Then came the 90s. With it came Oasis, Nevada, Pavement and Blur, putting the electric guitar back in its rightful spot at the front of the excitement. This all led to the dominance of The Strokes in the early 2000s, and the sad transformation of the Kings of Leon from the saviours of the electric guitar, to the boy band stadium fillers that they have now become. The Arctic Monkeys took up the mantle of the electric guitar heroes, but the churn of music has led to a slight crossroads for the electric guitar at the end of the 2000s with the introduction of over dramatization and sensationalized rubbish, including the likes of the X Factor, into the music mix. However, surely it's just a matter of time before the might of the electric guitar is felt once again. Where it will come from is pretty hard to say right now, but someone, somewhere is probably penning it all now.
Tuppence Magazine is an online publication for entertainment news
and reviews, including music, film and television news, for example, information about The Trip BBC
or the upcoming Marching Powder film
Author - Tuppence Maranovna
Tags - electric, guitar, the electric guitar, les paul, epiphone .335
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