History of today’s guitar starts in the Middle East. In this area, the archaeologists found the remains of instruments that pointed to the fact that – even at those times – people played on instruments which were similar to guitar. In the excavations near the ancient city of Babylon, archaeologists found an old jar with painting of a naked girl who plays musical instrument that completely resembles a guitar.
In the area of Egypt, many instruments have been found that looked like precursors of today’s guitar. Those instruments were stringed instrument similar to harp. In later periods of time, it appeared that instruments had a hole and it were made of wood. Thus, the forerunners of today’s guitars are considered instruments called Guitarra Latina and Guitarra Morisca. Between these two guitars, there were significant differences.
Arabs have also left their mark on the design and appearance of these instruments. Guitarra Latina is forerunner of the modern guitar. In the 16th century, guitars are described as vihuela from the time of Luis Milan. Guitar in this period became very popular thanks to the traveling musicians, troubadours. King Louis XIV also played the guitar, which was his favorite instrument.
Italy was the center of the world for artists who played the guitar, along with Germany, where huge number of guitarists and composers worked. Besides Germany, guitar as an instrument became popular in Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Nineteenth century is the century of full affirmation of this instrument. The guitar became more popular. It was used in both Europe and United States. Many guitarists traveled around the world and showed their skills. In the first half of the 19th century, the music center was Vienna. It attracted a huge number of music composers and masters of guitar. First significant composer who came to Vienna was called Simon Molitor. He composed music for guitar and performed many solo concerts.
In the 20th century Andres Segovia gave guitar further importance as a concert instrument. Also, composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos and Manuel de Falla presented guitar in chamber orchestras.
Guitar is widely used in folk and pop music in many countries. In jazz ensembles, it is part of the rhythm section and occasionally serves as a solo instrument. In popular music, guitar is usually amplified and used as a guitar solo, along with rhythm and bass guitar as a bass line.