Instruments | Electric Guitar | Electric & Electronic

An electric guitar usually has a solid wooden body with no acoustic resonance. All the sound is created by the vibration of strings being translated into electrical signals by pickups and then amplified.


The modern electric guitar has its origins in the Hawaiian or steel guitar, particularly popular in the 1920s and 1930s. These instruments were the first examples of guitars that depended on electrical amplification rather than the properties of acoustic resonance.

Three names are particularly associated with the development of the electric guitar – Rickenbacker, Fender and Gibson Les Paul. Adolphe Richenbacher (later changed to Rickenbacker) worked making components for the Dopera Brothers’ National Resonator Guitars. Together with George Beauchamp and Paul Barth, he formed the Electro String Company and, in the 1930s, began building Hawaiian-style guitars using their newly developed magnetic-pickup system.

Fender Strat

In the late 1940s, electrician and amplifier-maker Leo Fender designed the Broadcaster guitar. After a dispute with the company Gretsch over the name ‘Broadcaster’, the guitar was re-christened the Telecaster. In 1954, Fender introduced an instrument that was to become the most famous, and most copied, electric guitar of all time – the Stratocaster, or ‘Strat’.

Gibson Les Paul

The Gibson Company’s response to the huge popularity of Fender guitars was to seek out the service of jazz guitarist and inventor Les Paul. Paul had built his so-called ‘log’ guitar out of a simple, solid block of wood with an attached neck in the early 1940s. His association with Gibson was to produce another iconic instrument – the Gibson Les Paul of 1952.

Introduction | Electric & Electronic Instruments
Instruments | Electric Bass Guitar | Electric & Electronic

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins


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