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The History of the Nylon String Guitar

Jan 03, 2023

Let's look into the history of the nylon string guitar...

The nylon string guitar (most simply call it the classical guitar) has a long and storied history, with roots dating back to the Renaissance period in Europe.

The modern classical guitar can trace its origins back to the lute, which was a popular instrument in Europe during the Renaissance period. The lute was a plucked string instrument that was played with the fingers. It had a pear-shaped body and a long neck with a variety of strings stretched across it:

Over time, the lute evolved and changed, and by the late 18th century, the modern classical guitar had emerged. This new instrument was smaller and more portable than the lute, and it had a more standardized shape and construction. The classical guitar also had a new method of playing, with the fingers plucking the strings rather than using a plectrum.

The classical guitar became particularly popular in Spain, where it was used in a variety of musical styles, including flamenco. Flamenco is a type of music that originated in the Andalusian region of Spain and is characterized by its fast, intricate rhythms and passionate melodies. The classical guitar was well-suited to this style of music, and it became an integral part of flamenco performance.

As the classical guitar gained popularity, it began to spread beyond Spain and into other parts of Europe and the Americas. In the 19th century, classical guitar music became popular in the United States, and the instrument was embraced by classical musicians and composers.

One of the most significant figures in the history of the nylon string guitar is the Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega. Tárrega was a pioneer of the classical guitar and is credited with helping to establish it as a respected classical instrument. He composed a number of pieces for the classical guitar (such as "Recuerdos de la Alhambra," "Capricho Arabe," and "Adelita") and helped to elevate the status of the instrument within the classical music world.

In the mid-20th century, the nylon string guitar gained mainstream popularity when classical guitarists such as Andrés Segovia and John Williams became international superstars.

In the 1960s, the nylon string guitar underwent another transformation with the emergence of the folk music movement. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez popularized the acoustic guitar, and the nylon string guitar became a popular choice among folk and singer-songwriter musicians. The nylon string guitar was also embraced by Latin American musicians, who incorporated it into a variety of music styles, including salsa, bossa nova, and tango.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the nylon string guitar experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the popularity of the new age music genre. Musicians such as Ottmar Liebert, Armik, Acoustic Alchemy and Strunz & Farah as well as the ever-popular Gipsy Kings brought the nylon string guitar to a new audience, and the instrument became associated with the rumba flamenca genre.

Today, the nylon string guitar is a versatile and widely used instrument in a variety of music styles. It's popular among classical musicians, as well as folk, pop, and Latin American musicians. The nylon string guitar has a rich history that has evolved over the centuries, and it continues to be a beloved instrument by musicians and music lovers around the world.



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