The electric guitar is arguably the most renowned instrument across the world, and is an indispensable component in all modern musical performances.
Who Invented the Electric guitar? The electric guitar was invented in the early 1900s by an electrical engineer named Adolph Rickenbacker and musician named George Beauchamp.
In this article, we will discuss how Adolph Rickenbacker and George Beauchamp partnered to invent the guitar and some history around its surroundings.
1. Who Invented The Electric Guitar?
As discussed, the first electric guitar was developed in the 1930s by Adolph Rickenbacker and George Beauchamp. Together, they formed the perfect partnership as Adolph had the expertise of being an electrical engineer and George being a musician. Ultimately, they combined each of their expertise to take the acoustic guitar and make it amplified using electrical circuits.
Beauchamp’s electric guitar was made with a magnetic pickup, which was a device that could sense the vibrations of the guitar’s strings and convert them into an electrical signal. The electric guitar has continued to evolve over the years, with many different designs and variations being developed by a variety of companies and inventors.
2. Why Was Electrifying The Guitar Important?
The first electric guitars used the principles of electromagnetic induction. It used a pick-up to convert the vibrations of the strings into an electrical signal, which could then be amplified through a speaker.
Technically, the electric guitar was developed in response to a perceived need for sound amplification in concert halls; however, between the 1850s and the 1960s, it developed into a musical instrument that was ingrained into modern music culture and became a key component in all band and performance settings across the world.
3. History of the Electric Guitar
The need for an amplified guitar was in great demand during the 18th century. There were numerous attempts to magnify the wooden guitar before George Beauchamp created the modern electric guitar. During the 18th century there were various jazz artists that attempted to increase the sound of pre-existing wooden guitars but most of their attempts were unsuccessful.
Next, the Hawaiian-style lap steel guitar was being experimented with. These guitars were known as lap guitars because they simply and conveniently positioned well on your lap as you played. This was actually quite successful due to brass being a natural amplifier. Overall, it produced sounds that were louder and more pleasing than those made of wood.
Next, manufacturers started experimenting with the usage of electrical amplification. It was around this time (early 1900) that Beauchamp had the opportunity to visit Rickenbacker in Los Angeles and made plans to collaborate. Adolph Rickenbacker had already developed various electric musical instruments that used a microphone type technology as amplification. Together, Beauchamp and Rickenbacker further developed this electromagnetic technology whereby it was specifically made to pick up vibrations from guitar strings and amplify it with additional clarity.
Just like electric guitar today, Adolph Rickenbacker and George Beauchamp technology converted string vibrations into electrical impulses that could be amplified using speakers. The experiment was a great success, and since then electromagnets are still used today.
Next, Jazz and blues music made heavy use of this technology after it became commercially available in the 1930s. The Fender Telecaster, which debuted in 1950, was the first commercially successful electric guitar. In 1952, the Gibson Les Paul, one of the most well-known electric guitars ever, replaced this instrument.
Over the years, rock, pop, and metal are just a few of the musical genres that have included electric guitars. They have also contributed significantly to the growth of numerous other musical subgenres, including punk and grunge. Electric guitars are a vital component of modern popular music, and they are always evolving as new technologies are created.
4. Electric Guitar Evolution
The idea of the electric guitar was in development for many years before the inventors we know today. Yes, some people have tried before Adolph and George but they were not successful.
The development also did not stop since the first invention appeared, it has been continually improved upon since the first prototype to this day. In this section, we will discuss the milestone of the electric guitar’s development.
1931: The Rickenbacker Frying Pan Guitar
The first time, the novelty of the ”Frying pan” was the first commercially successful guitar. Nicknamed the “Frying Pan” because of its shape, it was also the first solid body guitar. It was invented and designed by George Beauchamp and then manufactured and marketed by the Rickenbacker Company.
By early to mid 1935, the “Frying Pan” had gained popularity, and Electro String Instrument Corporation set out to increase its market share with the release of the Electro-Spanish Model B and the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts, the first fully assembled electric guitar ever built with a 25-inch scale.
For its day, the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts was revolutionary because it gave players easy access to 17 frets that were not on the body and a full 25-inch scale. In contrast to other lap-steel electrified instruments produced at the time, the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts was designed to be played while standing upright with the guitar on a strap, much like how acoustic guitars are played.
The entire instrument is made of cast aluminum with a gold enamel finish. The nut and saddle are separate and chromed. A metal plate is mounted between the slots on the headstock and reads “Richenbacher Electro, Los Angeles.” The serial number is 0107, making it one of the first hundred or so electric guitars ever built and dating it early in the production of this model (produced from 1932 until 1939). The guitar was built during the craze for Hawaiian “slide” music and meant to be played on the lap (or on a stand) in front of the musician.
1931: The Rickenbacker “Vibrola”
Continuing on from the “frying pan guitar” this was the first electric guitar to have a hand-operated vibrato. Known as the “Vibrola,” was an invention by the Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts.
1935: The Rickenbacker Electro String
The business that created the first electric guitars went by the name of Electro String. Further, the Electro String guitar is based on the “Frying Pan” model discussed above. The Rickenbacker Electro String was designed to be an upgrade over the prior design.
Although Electro String debuted this design in the summer of 1935, it later went by the name Rickenbacker in recognition of Adolph Rickenbacker. When the business was sold to FC Hall in 1953, Adolph Rickenbacker left the music industry.
1941: Les Paul “Log”
The renowned jazz musician Les Paul. He has also contributed significantly to the advancement of the electric guitar. Paul gave the sound box a lot of thought after realizing that electronic equipment might amplify sound.
The Log, Paul’s first electric guitar. He began with a four-by-four piece of pine, added two homemade pickups, a vibrato tailpiece, and a Gibson neck to it. The electric guitar did not fully catch on with the local populace until the 1950s, the decade of Rock and Roll, when it really took off and became well-known.
1946: Fender Strat
Leo Fender also had a variety of innovations and made the electric guitar more accessible to everyone. and his own electric guitar is called the “Fender Stratocaster” after the company’s creator. Anyone who had a “Fender Stratocaster” was extremely thrilled at the moment.
At the time, electric guitars consisted only of an acoustic guitar combined with additional electrical apparatus; they had a solid, flat body and used electrical apparatus to increase the inductive pick-up in the body. Electric guitars typically have a thinner and more flexible profile than other types of guitars. 1954 saw the introduction of Fender’s highly regarded Stratocaster electric guitars. Well-known performers like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, and Eric Clapton started to move to this instrument.
1951: Bigsby-Travis Guitar
In 1951, Bigsby was tasked by Merle Travis to repair the Kauffman vibrato system by doing so he created a completely new design of vibrato. The Bigsby vibrato unit has a “rocking bridge” rather than a “rolling bridge” and is attached to the top of the instrument. The Bigsby’s lever arm is spring-loaded and linked to a metal bar that pivots. During mid 1950 Bigsby stopped making his own guitars and focused solely on manufacturing a variety of vibrato tailpieces.
2007: Robot Guitar
The Robot Guitar was unveiled by Gibson. This electric guitar includes a built-in robotic tuner that can quickly adjust the tuning. Later, the Dark Fire line also became available. In comparison to its premise of a robotic guitar, this is an improvement. It is also built with a more compact and quick adjustment machine. Additionally, a second piezo boom enables the blending of electric and acoustic music.
5. Why Did The Electric Guitar Appear?
The Electric guitar first appeared because there was a problem with live performances.
The acoustic guitar was once thought to be too subdued to be employed in contemporary live music settings by musicians. This is due to the fact that performers at this time began performing in larger concert halls as live music became more popular, which made it difficult for the entire audience to hear the acoustic guitar.
This made the guitar become a secondary instrument. However, there are still some guitar-loving artists who have tried to amplify the sound with microphones. A guitar instrument with the utility to project more volume was needed.
6. Electric Guitar Has A Great Influence On Music Life
These days, this instrument is frequently employed across many musical genres and offers an almost limitless sound palette, not just in rock music. But in Rock songs, we still frequently hear the roaring noise and harsh strings from the electric guitar. And over time, it evolved into a crucial component of established rock bands and ensembles.
However, the electric guitar also contributes to the sincere, subdued melodies of Pop and the unexpected improvisation of Jazz. The electric guitar thoroughly ignites the emotions of the audience on both large and small venues, and when paired with other instruments.
Since its introduction in the early 1900s, electric guitars have existed and grown in popularity, with pop stars already embracing them as one of their most important musical instruments.
Beauchamp (1899-1941) a famous guitarist in the early 1900s, with an electrical engineer named Adolph Rickenbacker, now vice president of the National Guitar Corporation, created the first electric guitar in the world. 4
Thanks to their unremitting efforts, they created the first complete electric guitar, although the guitar looks pretty rough compared to what we have now.