Guitar is a stringed musical instrument, being one of the most popular all over the world. It is used as the accompanying instrument in many musical styles. Guitar is the main instrument in such styles as blues, country, flamenco, and rock music. Electric guitar, which was invented in the XX century, influenced on the popular culture greatly; and nowadays we can’t imagine the rock-music world without it.
Brief History of Guitar
Guitar is played with fingers and a pick. It is considered to be a plucked string musical instrument. Usually, guitar is made of wood or different animal guts with the nylon or steel strings. Traditionally, guitars have two families: acoustic and electric.
Acoustic guitar has been used for thousand years. There 3 main types of it may be distinguished. They are: classical guitar, steel string guitar and arch top guitar. It produces the tone due to the strings’ vibration amplified by the guitar’s body, which acts as a resonating chamber. Classical acoustic guitar usually acts as a solo musical instrument by using a thorough technique of finger picking.
The electric guitars were introduced in 1930. They relied on the amplifier that could manipulate the tone electrically. The first electric guitar consisted of a hollow body, though it was obvious that the solid body was more suitable. Nevertheless, electric guitars continued their influence on the popular culture. Today they are considered as the main musical instruments for many genres, including the rock music (Burrows 1998).
Guitar in Rock Music
In terms of the development of guitar play techniques, rock music plays a very important role in the history of electric guitar. Having its roots back to the Negro archaic blues, this music was the source of the further development of blues guitar techniques. While in jazz the lawmakers of musical style were pianists and wind-instrument performers, in rock music, it was the guitar, which had been considered to be the principal instrument.
The majority of compositions, which were going down in the rock history, were written by guitar players being at the same time the leaders of their bands (i.e. Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Jimy Hendrix and many others). The development of guitar rock-school connected with the technological advance in the sphere of guitar equipment. Particularly, the application of electronic amplifier became an integral element of the formation of guitar sound in rock music. Guitar sounded in jazz too, but there was the development of harmony and improvisation underlying the performers’ aim. Meanwhile, in rock music, guitar was focused on the search of new sounds and the technical ways of play (Mongan 1983).
Tending to broaden the range of musical expressive means, the most gifted rock musicians understood the necessity of studying a rich heritage of jazz guitar school. Since the 70s the process of fusion of rock and jazz guitar schools has begun. Today, it is very difficult to differentiate musical styles and to relate guitarists to any of them. We can say for sure that guitarists of the “fusion” style have created the newest history of guitar, looking for the new musical forms and new play techniques.
The Best Guitars in Rock Music
Guitars belonging to rock stars usually acquire their own individualities, which are inherent to their owners. Let us list some of the best guitars in rock music, which not just have identified the style of musicians, but also influenced on the development of the whole genre (Kozzin et al. 1984).
The American singer-songwriter, artist and musician Bob Dylan played Fender Stratocaster Sunburst (of 1964 year) on the stage of the Newport Folk Festival. The usage of electric guitar together with the acoustic one was not welcomed by the audience. This show marked a resignation of folk music from mainstream and the beginning of the rock-n-roll era.
The King of Blues by B.B. King gave his guitar “Gibson” a name “Lucille” after an incident that had taken place in a small settlement in Arkansas. Two men during the fight, started because of a woman, overturned the fuel can, and that caused a great fire. After the evacuation, B.B. King understood that he had left his musical instrument in the building and decided to come back and find it. The saved guitar was named after the causer of this quarrel. Since that day it has reminded King that one shouldn’t quarrel because of women.
Speaking about the best world guitarists one can’t but mention the name of Jimi Hendrix. He was the great guitar virtuoso. Moreover, he motivated and inspired some other guitar players to get into the music industry. He is also famous for popularizing the amplifier feedback technique and a wah-wah pedal. He is reputed as a king of rock music.
Another famous guitar player is Mark Knopfler, who was playing in the British rock band Dire Straits. He is the best one with his finger style technique. The latter helps him to explore new styles and tunes. He has been affiliated by such musicians as Bob Dylan, Phil Lynott, Van Morrison and others. Mark Knopfler, by the way, possesses 3 honorary degrees in music in the United Kingdom.
One more name, which should be mentioned, is the name of Eric Johnson, an American guitarist, who is famous for blending different types of music together in order for them to sound unique. His main genre is instrumental rock, but he also plays around with new age, jazz, country, blues and others. While he is being the first-class guitar player, he is also a good pianist.
Guitar players have their individual sounds and styles. Thus, this is difficult to point out who is the best one of them. Thanks to the proficiency of famous guitarists, they can shift among different genres without any problems. For example, the talented blues’ performers can experiment with other styles, such as jazz, rock and roll, country, instrumental, metal and others.