As far back as we can look into the history of the human race, we know music has been a crucial part of human life. Some scholars even say that music may have come before language. People have been singing in groups and dancing on self-made music. Drums and pipes were developed, and even today, we use them in our music.
With the advancements in technology, more musical instruments were invented during the 20th century. In the 1960s and 70s, the electric guitar became a popular musical instrument and a battlefield of competition among many great guitar players. Les Paul, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Slash, Yngwie Malmsteen, Van Halen, and Duane Eddy attracted many fans with their skills of playing electric guitar. There’s an endless debate in the music industry about who is the best ever electric guitar artist Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, being the top two contenders of his title.
But who invented the electric guitar, and what’s the story behind it?
Electric guitar invention
We’ll start answering all these questions by debunking some of the common misconceptions. Many people believe that Les Paul was the inventor of the electric guitar, but no! He wasn’t.
The credit for the creating of electric guitar goes to Adolph Rickenbacker, an electrical engineer and George Beauchamp, a musician. They two are the people who created the first modern amplifiable electric guitar. Other musicians had attempted this before them using things like carbon button microphones attached to the guitar. But the duo of Beauchamp and Rickenbacker were the first to create a modern electric guitar with good sound quality that could be used in professional music.
The need for an electric guitar arose back when the classical guitar was too quiet and wasn’t able to contribute to the music, a band produced. This issue started back during concert hall music back in the 1880s. Later in the 1920s, the big bands got most music power and swing from the drums and brass, so the acoustic guitar became a second-tier music instrument. The acoustic guitar was producing melodies that not even the band members could hear properly. The need for innovation in the guitar was pretty obvious.
Beauchamp met Rickenbar in Los Angeles at a manufacturing faculty of Dopyera Brother, and they both agreed to work on an electric guitar project. Rickenbacker was one of the best men in his field, and he was known as the man who loved to do experiments and who dared to invent new things. He was the founder of The Rickenbacker International Corporation, a company solely dedicated to design and create electric musical instruments.
Beauchamp and Rickenbacker did a lot of experimentation, and they were finally able to invent an electric device that was able to pick up the vibrations of the guitar string with superb clarity.
In the year 1931, the first commercial prototype of an electric guitar was finally ready. In 1932, the first electric guitar was commercially launched by Ro-Pat-In Corporation (later known as Rickenbacker Electro Stringed Instrument Company).