Air guitar

25 Golden Facts About the Guitar

The guitar is one of those instruments everyone knows someone who can play! It’s forever been a symbol of “cool” and for that reason it’s barely left pop and rock music no matter how tastes have changed over the decades.

That said, guitar music dates back centuries – or, so historians think. Therefore, it’s likely there’s more to this sensational stringed instrument than we often give it credit for.

In this fact file, we’re going to take a look at some fun facts about the guitar we think might change the way you see and play the instrument. Even if you already know a song or two and even have a favorite pick, we’re certain at least some of the facts below will raise a few eyebrows!

Let’s dive into some interesting facts about the guitar that are well worth remembering.

1. The guitar dates back to ancient times.

As it happens, we’ve been playing guitar and writing music for this versatile instrument for hundreds of years now. It’s said to date all the way back to Egypt’s ancient empire, specifically, historians found a guitar-like implement from 1,450 BCE. That’s a few centuries of finger-picking!

Specifically, it’s said the guitar belonged to Har-Mose, an entertainer thought to have entertained the King or Queen all those years ago. The guitar itself, however, only had three strings.

2. Its name has a few interesting roots.

While we can clearly see the guitar originated in Egypt to at least some extent, the name of the instrument has slightly different origins. Experts believe that its name dates back to ancient Persia, linked to the word “Sihtar.” That, of course, is similar to the “sitar,” a different, Eastern-stringed instrument!

Other schools of thought believe that the word evolved from “guitarra,” a Spanish term that itself evolved from “kithara,” a Greek word thought to mean “harp.”

3. There are references to guitars in the Bible.

The ancient Bible refers to guitars, or at least harps or kitharas – several times. The instrument appears three times in the book of Revelations alone, with another reference in 1 Corinthians.

It’s here where the Spanish language is thought to have adopted the word “kithara” to translate as “guitarra.”

Medieval guitar

4. Guitars are some of the most versatile instruments in music.

Think about some of your favorite music genres. You likely end up listening to guitars at some point, even if you don’t intend to!

Guitars are great at playing out melodies in pop and rock music, but they also play strong parts in jazz, blues, folk, and even classical music. Of course, if you’re into heavier genres of music such as metal and grunge, you’re often likely to hear a guitar.

In fact, it’s something of a novelty to hear a band nowadays that doesn’t use a guitar – can you think of any?

5. A man once married his guitar.

No, really. You can, it would seem, get too attached to your musical instruments, as Chris Black proved.

Reportedly, Black – a guitarist, of course – took a joke a bit too far when he “married” his beloved instrument, a Fender Stratocaster.

Bizarrely, he isn’t the only musician to get betrothed to a guitar – as Harri Best also wed his favorite instrument at a ceremony in 2018.

6. Fenders have been around since the 1940s.

Fender is easily one of the most recognizable names in guitar design and manufacture. However, the company only started producing the instruments as of 1949, and even then, it was a prototype for both the Broadcaster and the Esquire.

The all-famous Stratocaster – so-named because marketing wanted players to feel like they were entering the stratosphere – didn’t debut until 1954.

Fender guitar models

Early Fender guitar models

7. Leo Fender wasn’t a guitarist.

Bizarrely, Leo Fender – the man behind the legendary Fender guitar manufacturing brand – couldn’t play guitar himself, instead preferring to play piano. It’s said Fender actually had musicians test his instruments before they hit shelves, simply because he had no idea how to tune them or try them out himself!

8. There are probably fewer types of guitar than you think.

Yes, you can split guitars into different types based on their strings and materials used in manufacturing, but oddly enough, there are only two main types people buy. You can probably name them – acoustic and electric!

Electric guitars, unlike acoustics, plug directly into power sources to amplify the sound produced. That’s why you need to plug an electric into an amp for it to make any kind of noise.

Acoustics, of course, are traditional instruments that produce music through string vibrations.

9. The world’s biggest guitar weighs approximately 2,000 lbs.

There’s always an opportunity to crack a world record, and for students in Conroe, Texas, their take on the Gibson Flying V (1967) aimed to outweigh and overshadow every other guitar on the planet.

And, they succeeded! The guitar is over 43 feet in length and is 16 feet and almost six inches broad. It’s around 2,000 lbs in weight and carries that iconic black and white flying V look.

The most fascinating part of all this, however, is that the world’s largest guitar is a working model! You can play this record-breaker and it’s still in tune. Not sure how you’d take that to a gig, mind!

Gibson Flying V

Gibson Flying V

10. Gibson invented what’s likely to be the most opulent guitar of all time.

Gibson is, of course, another of the biggest names in guitar design and production worldwide. The firm’s well-known for more than just your average instruments, however, as the line officially produced an 18k gold model in 2015!

That is, the guitar contains over a kilo and a half of 18k gold, with more than 400 precious stones built into what would otherwise be your average white SG!

It’s known as the Eden of Coronet, and it’s probably the last guitar you’d want to take on tour. Can you imagine the insurance costs, for starters?

11. The world’s most valuable guitar passed around many legendary players.

Autographs are absolutely worth money. It all depends on who you get to sign and what you ask them to write on. Fender famously created a white Stratocaster that sold for an incredible $2.8 million, with the money going to charity.

The guitar, commissioned by Bryan Adams as part of his “Reach Out To Asia” charity drive, cost an already eye-watering $20,000 to design and manufacture – but it’s safe to say it’s the finishing touches that added extra value.

This guitar was signed by some of the biggest names in rock history – specifically, guitarists you probably already know and might enjoy listening to.

For example, the guitar carries signatures from Brian May, David Gilmour, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Sting, and Mick Jagger – and that’s only the start. The star power ensured a happy collector shelled out almost three million dollars at auction!

12. The longest guitar performance was almost five days long.

No, really! Dave Browne made a Guinness World record by playing guitar for around 114 hours and 20 minutes, just over 4.75 days in total.

That probably seems impossible – and, it would be, but thankfully, GWR showed Browne a little bit of leniency.

That is, record checkers allowed the marathon guitarist to pause for up to 30 seconds between songs, and even take 40-minute breaks at each eight-hour stint. That’s still a long time to keep strumming!

13. Guitars are made from many different types of wood.

Guitar manufacturing has evolved massively over the years, but traditionally, they’re made out of specific types of wood.

In particular, you’re likely to find guitars made from rosewood, mahogany, and maple. However, the neck of a guitar might sometimes be made from different types of wood to the base!

According to research, some guitars are made out of plywood, fiberglass, plastic, metal, and plexiglass!

14. A guitarist recycled wooden pallets to make guitars.

It’s true! Bob Taylor, a guitarist, decided to prove it was possible to make functional guitars (that sound great) out of a variety of materials. In particular, Taylor chose to recycle wooden pallets (e.g., the sort you see in warehouses) into guitars that he went to sell on.

That just goes to show you don’t always need the finest mahogany to make a great-sounding guitar – some rough lumber might do the trick!

15. John Lennon allegedly modified his guitar so he could spot his parts.

Lennon was a musical innovator and one of pop’s wittiest stars to boot – and he had a fairly unorthodox way of highlighting the parts he played on Beatles songs.

Specifically, he’d detune the fourth string of his guitar so he could tell what he played back. That’s one way of standing out, I suppose!

Fiberglass guitar

Fiberglass guitar

16. Jimi Hendrix technically played his guitar incorrectly.

Well, he certainly played guitar amazingly well – hence his legacy – but believe it or not, Hendrix spent most of his life playing his guitar wrong on purpose.

Hendrix was left-handed – and, at the time of his learning to play and ascending to stardom, left-handed guitars were exceptionally rare.

Therefore, inventively, he simply took a right-handed guitar and flipped it upside down. It certainly did the trick – do you hear anyone complaining?

17. Hendrix inspired the world’s biggest simultaneous guitar jam.

Sticking with Hendrix, guitarists at 2019’s Thanks Jimi Festival, based in Poland, paid tribute to the late star by playing together en masse.

Specifically, a staggering 7,423 people came together to play “Hey Joe,” a seminal Hendrix hit, at the same time.

18. Adolph Rickenback invented the world’s first electric guitar.

Rickenback might not be a name many people associate with electric guitars, but he was in fact the inventor of the very first instrument of its kind. He decided to amplify a syringe instrument for the first time back in 1932.

The electric guitar has fast become an iconic instrument in rock music, and on its release, quickly gained fans as it helped guitarists to create sounds and tunes quite unlike anything they’d ever heard before.

Adolph Rickenbacker

Adolph Rickenbacker

19. Fender makes an eye-watering number of guitar strings.

Fender isn’t just renowned for its guitars alone, but also its industry-leading strings. The manufacturer creates strings from secretive metal alloys – no one outside the firm knows exactly how they’re made.

Beyond that, Fender reportedly makes more than 20,000 miles worth of guitar strings every single year. If they laid a single string of that length down flat, it’d fall 4,000 miles short of stretching all the way around the Earth.

20. The majority of modern guitars are vegan.

As mentioned, Fender generally uses metal alloys to create strings based on a secret recipe – but, in a pretty gross turn of events, many manufacturers used animal produce to develop strings going back decades.

In particular, guitar makers would use animal intestines – thankfully, we’ve moved past this and now use nylon or metal for the most part. That means vegans can typically play guitar without concern – but it’s always a good idea to check.

21. Air guitar is a phenomenon all of its own.

Air guitar, a dance move where people pretend to play guitar without a physical instrument to hand, is something of a phenomenon. So much so, that there have been air guitar world championships held to judge the best performers every year since 1996!

That’s not all – as some musicians have gotten cheeky with it, too. It’s thought that someone sold an “air guitar” used at a Bon Jovi concert online for less than $6. I’m guessing the shipping fees for that were pretty cheap…

Nylon-stringed acoustic guitar

A nylon-stringed acoustic guitar

22. “Back To The Future” revealed a guitar that didn’t actually exist.

There’s a classic scene in the staple 80s movie “Back To The Future” where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) introduces modern music to stunned audiences from decades ago – but did you know Fox used a guitar in the movie that was ahead of its time in real life, too?

Specifically, McFly plays a Gibson ES-345. However, the model played wasn’t actually available to buy and play for AT LEAST three years after the movie hit theaters. How’s that for creating some serious demand?

23. The biggest pedalboard on Earth has 319 different options.

Electric guitarists build pedalboards they can use to generate effects while playing – but until Rob Scanlon came along, these were normally pretty small and easy to take on tour!

Scanlon joined forces with Sweetwater to produce a pedalboard containing 319 different pedal plugins – worth around $90,000. That’s also more than 500 feet or raw cables, and a stack of amps to boot.

24. Not all guitars have six strings.

On the whole, you can expect guitars to boast six strings, with the first two being unwound. However, some manufacturers have taken things to the next level, and produced guitars with seven and eight strings – just to make things more complicated!

In particular, Ibanez led the way in producing guitars that added more strings than the norm. In 1990, the company produced the seven-string guitar, with an eight-string model arriving in 2007. The seven-string guitar added a low B string to the setup.

25. The smallest guitar isn’t playable by human fingers.

Yes – we already covered the world’s biggest guitar, and as you might expect, there’s a super-small version to compare against. The world’s shortest guitar is, weirdly, about the same size as a single cell in your body.

So, how on Earth do you even play that? Well, the creators – based at Cornell University in NY – created the electric guitar that can be strummed with delicate instruments.

But, that might not even matter – because human ears can’t even hear the frequencies it produces. Still, that’s another record broken, I guess?

Ibanez seven-stringed guitar

Ibanez seven-stringed guitar, RGIXL7

FAQs About the Guitar

What’s the best guitar for beginners to play?

Generally, experts recommend starting with nylon guitars, as they have thick strings and wide necks. Together, that means playing this type of guitar is both comfortable and easier to manage than some of the more refined models on the market.

However, once you’re used to playing a nylon guitar, why not look at other options? Practice makes perfect!

Is it best to learn how to play an acoustic or an electric first?

It’s most common for people to play acoustic guitars when learning, as they help to build strength in your fingers when strumming and finding chords. That said, many people choose to start with electric guitars simply because they like the sound!

It’s all a matter of preference – but personally, it's recommended you try an acoustic and see where it takes you.

What’s the best guitar brand?

The best guitar brand in the world is likely a coin toss between Fender or Gibson, with the former being best-known for electric guitars. Gibson, however, is well-known for designing and manufacturing classic instruments that influenced generations of players.

Otherwise, brands such as Ibanez, Martin, PRS, Gretsch, and Taylor are widely regarded as the best guitar designers and manufacturers on the planet.

Do you know any fun facts about the guitar? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on April 15, 2024. Suggest an edit

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