Whether you’re a music newbie or a super fan, chances are you’ve enjoyed some tunes that have come from a guitar. The guitar is one of the most popular and widely recognized instruments in the word regardless of location or musical genre. Want to learn more? Today, we’re rattling off some fun and interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about the guitar!
1. Music from guitars wasn’t really popular until the late 1800’s
Guitars can be traced back thousands of years but they started to gain more popularity specifically in Spain. At first, the guitar wasn’t really taken seriously and instead, more ‘professional’ musicians opted for the piano or violin. In the late 1800’s, famous musicians started incorporating the guitar into orchestras which made the instrument really take off. This prompted the guitar to be integrated into many different types of music all over the world.
2. The first electric guitar was invented in 1931
While the guitar can be dated back to early Mesopotamia, the electric guitar didn’t make its debut until the 1930’s. A musician and electrical engineer joined forces to create a new kind of guitar whose sound could be amplified electrically. They nicknamed this type of guitar the ‘Frying Pan.’ It wasn’t until the Fender Telecaster came out in 1951 that the popularity of the electric guitar really took off.
3. It’s the second most popular instrument
The guitar is extremely popular, but not popular enough to take the top spot! The guitar is the second most played instrument in the world sitting right under the piano. It’s estimated that about 50 million people worldwide play the guitar.
4. The most expensive guitar was sold for over $6 million
Back in 2020, the most expensive guitar was sold at auction for over $6 million. It belonged to Kurt Cobain and was played by him during their iconic MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. Peter Freedman (founder of RØDE Microphones) bought it and said he planned to tour the guitar around Australia to raise money for musicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before Cobain’s guitar was auctioned off, the previous most expensive guitar was sold for $2.8 million back in 2004. It was a one-of-a-kind Fender Stratocaster that was signed by a ton of iconic musicians such as Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Brian May, and more. The guitar was auctioned off to raise money for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
5. Guitar strings used to be made from animal intestines
As gross as it may sound, guitar strings used to be commonly made from animal intestines. These types of strings are called catgut and contrary to the name, are made from natural fibre found in the intestines of horses, cattle, or hogs. Catgut was actually used for a variety of different instruments such as guitars, violins, harps, cellos, and more. Today, most guitar strings are made from metals such as steel or nickel but you can still find catgut strings if that’s more your thing!
6. Someone played the guitar for over 114 hours straight
It’s hard to imagine having to play the guitar for even the length of a concert, but what about for over 114 hours?! Dave Browne from Ireland broke the world record for the longest time playing a guitar in 2011. He played at a pub in Ireland and only took 30 second breaks in between songs. In total, he played 1372 songs for 6 days straight. That’s some dedication!
7. Jimi Hendrix is known as the most influential guitar playing of all time
Although his career only lasted about 4 years before his untimely death, Jimi Hendrix is still known as the most influential guitar player of all time. Some even say that he is one of the best musicians of all time! Jimi has inspired millions of musicians around the world, most notably iconic guitarists such as Tom Morello and Eddie Van Halen. He was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 where they described him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Jimi was actually a left-handed player who played a right-handed electric guitar upside down with the strings strung backwards!
8. Leo Fender wasn’t even a guitarist
Fender is one of, if not the most, popular names in the guitar business. But did you know that the founder, Leo Fender, couldn’t actually even play the guitar?! Leo Fender actually started his business repairing radios and didn’t start making instruments until the 1940’s. Fender released their first electric guitar in 1950 but Leo never learned how to play it! In fact, he enjoyed playing the saxophone instead of the guitar.
9. There are 5 types of guitars
Yep, you read that right! While you may just think about the acoustic and electric guitars, there are actually five different kinds of guitars currently used worldwide. There’s the acoustic, electro-acoustic, semi-acoustic, electric, and bass. The difference between each guitar is the number of strings they have, materials they’re made from, whether you need an amp or not, and the overall sound that they produce. The mandolin, ukulele, and banjo are also considered in the same family as the guitar.
10. The youngest guitarist started at 4 years old
One of the youngest guitar players on record started at just 4 years old! Her name is Konstantina Andritsou and she is from Bulgaria but now lives in Greece. She started making videos on Youtube showing off her insane skill from a very young age which helped raise her to fame globally. She even wrote a debut album which is currently sitting at over 30 million views on Youtube! Talk about some major skills.
Guitar lessons in Toronto
Ready to get started on your guitar journey? We’d love to help you at Greater Toronto Music School. Our highly-qualified instructors are excited to customize specific lessons to your music taste, experience level, and needs. We offer flexible lesson availability to fit into your busy schedules. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to get started with guitar lessons in Toronto!