A recent study found that, after piano, the guitar is the second most popular instrument to learn in the United States. Starting in the late 1950s, with the emergence of rock and roll and pop music, guitar became the principal instrument. In most live performances of current music, the lead guitar player is up front on center stage and often gets the spotlight during riffs and solos.
There are a number of significant qualities about the guitar that have led to its evolution into the primary instrument of today’s music.
Guitar allows for an incredible amount of personal expression. The fact that it’s a stringed instrument gives each musician the ability to develop their own sonic personality. Combined with the different versions of the instrument itself, the potential variation in sound is unlimited. Electric, acoustic, twelve-string, and electro-acoustic guitars all produce unique tones. Then there are the special effects like fuzz, reverb, or octavia pedals to further expand the range.
You don’t have to be in a studio to play the guitar. Unless you require the entire electric guitar set up, a guitar can be transported just about anywhere. It’s the perfect accompaniment for a campfire, outdoor party, or small get-together. Since so much music is written for guitar, it’s all you need to play your favorite songs, instrumental versions or sing-along.
When performing on stage, instruments like keyboards or drums are stationary, and are generally set up to the sides or back so they don’t block the other band members. The guitarist can be anywhere and is usually up front on the stage, entirely visible to the audience. Relatively light and attached by a strap, the guitar leaves them free to jump around or dance, adding entertainment value to the performance.
Three centuries ago, Johann Sebastian Bach dubbed the guitar “the little orchestra,” likely in reference to the ability to play harmony and melody at the same time. The guitar can produce a fullness of sound that needs no accompaniment.
It’s easy to understand the growing popularity of guitar among adults and kids alike. With just a few lessons, you can pick up the fundamentals and soon be impressing your friends. Who doesn’t admire the person who pulls out their guitar in the evening as the sun goes down and the party mellows? Even learning a few basic chords allows you to entertain the crowd with a familiar song.