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Help: Guitar history

Kim C 03 Aug 01 - 09:50 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Aug 01 - 10:56 AM
Kim C 03 Aug 01 - 12:07 PM
Kim C 03 Aug 01 - 02:21 PM
Sorcha 03 Aug 01 - 02:57 PM
Kim C 03 Aug 01 - 03:07 PM
Kim C 03 Aug 01 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,willie-o 03 Aug 01 - 07:00 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Aug 01 - 10:04 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Aug 01 - 10:36 PM
Philibuster 03 Aug 01 - 10:53 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Aug 01 - 11:01 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 04 Aug 01 - 02:17 PM
Owlkat 04 Aug 01 - 08:33 PM
Justa Picker 04 Aug 01 - 09:05 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 05 Aug 01 - 12:50 PM
Kim C 06 Aug 01 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Les B 06 Aug 01 - 12:06 PM
Kim C 06 Aug 01 - 12:17 PM
Brian Hoskin 06 Aug 01 - 12:36 PM
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Subject: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 09:50 AM

I couldn't get SuperSearch to cooperate this morning so please excuse me if I am asking an already-asked question, and please feel free to refer me to any previous applicable threads.

I would like to know who has information about the early use of steel strings on guitars. A book that I have, originally published in 1863, mentions that factories making steel strings existed in Connecticut and New York at the time. The people at Gruhn Guitars here in Nashville have told me that steel strings were around and available in the mid-19th century, but were not in widespread use until the 1880s-90s.

Any ideas? Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 10:56 AM

Hi Kim. I'm sure that lots of folks will help out with "dates and places" but steel (wire) strings go wayyyy back. In the time of England's King Hank the eighth, you might want to go to your local Armourer for a set of "mediums". I have a book with several woodcuts of "string-makers".....believe it's from the late 1500s.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 12:07 PM

I did find out that citterns used steel strings, or at least that's what I read...


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 02:21 PM

All right now, I know there's somebody out there knows something about this! Where's Uncle Jacque when you need him? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Sorcha
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 02:57 PM

Kim, lots of these places are interesting, if you haven't already done a Google search.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 03:07 PM

Thanks, Sorcha, I have been praying to the Great Google God today, but he just ain't gettin specific enough with me yet! :-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 05:54 PM

Here, I'm gonna float this back up top before I go home for the weekend. Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: GUEST,willie-o
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 07:00 PM

I was the first person in history to use steel strings on a guitar. I'm still on my first set.

Every year I give them a rubdown with #2 steel wool and a coat of WD-40.

Old Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 10:04 PM

Went to all of the possible articles I could think of in Encyc. Brit. but found nothing. Tried google and came up only with the reference to steel strings that KimC posted. There were myriad articles and advertisements for the many different kinds of strings. Rick, is there any text with those woodcuts you have?


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 10:36 PM

Went back to more google. Found reference to brass strings on Chinese instruments as well as steel. It seems logical that brass would have preceded steel. In a Univ. California-Davis site I found that the "advent of drawn steel strings made the Brooklyn Bridge possible" (invention by Roebling ca. 1880). Thus we can conclude that the steel guitar is more closely related to the Brooklyn Bridge then to the cittern.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Philibuster
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 10:53 PM

I've always been taught that the first steel stringed guitars were made in France and Spain in the mid-1800's. "Gypsy Guitars" and whatnot.

You can find some under the guitar section at www.larkinam.com.

Sorry I can't be more hopeful, but my computer is currently possesed by the spirit of a 200 year old mule, and it's all I can do to keep my browser running.

G'luck.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 11:01 PM

The old clarsach was brass-stringed. Look at www.clarsach.net and www.simon-s.net/harp/history.html. This pushes metal strings back to 1100 or so. They were probably all brass until fairly late.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Aug 01 - 02:17 PM

willie-o, I take it you are 130 yars old as they used to say in Lil Abner.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Owlkat
Date: 04 Aug 01 - 08:33 PM

In my research for a paper on the history of the guitar and related stringed instruments, I found that European citterns dated to the 16th century were metal strung with iron alloyed wire strings. Before that, it was too costly and metallurgy wasn't up to the production of metal strings. Brass may have been used and I didn't find anything about Eastern instruments. Interesting.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Justa Picker
Date: 04 Aug 01 - 09:05 PM

The Guitar - Pre 1650 (and other stuff)

Classical Guitar History and here

History of the Slack Key Guitar

History of the Electric Guitar

A Brief History of How the Bass Guitar Came Into Prominence

...and last but not least...

History of the C.F. Martin Guitar Company


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Aug 01 - 12:50 PM

Owlcat- do you remember the name of the paper that mentioned iron-alloyed strings? This topic has me interested. Brass strings have a very long history (see my previous posting). I found also a reference to brass strings in Chinese stringed instruments on Google, but didn't note down the site. Also would like to know when the first strings wound around a core came out. Most references, like those given by Justa Picker (some good ones here), discuss the evolution and variations of the instruments but don't detail the strings.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 10:05 AM

Thanks y'all.

I've checked out the Martin history at the Martin website a time or two, and it's really interesting... but doesn't say anything about strings.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 12:06 PM

Kim C - I assume you may be interested in re-enactment authenticity? Perhaps another place to look would be in some of the recent findings on banjo history. Their use of gut and then metal strings would probably parallel the guitar's use of same.

Unfortunately I don't have any idea where to find the new research, but there was a thread referencing interesting new findings in banjo history here at mudcat within the past 6 months.

I've been told by a local banjo collector that steel strings and frets became common in about 1870's-80's. He says they were used earlier for one-of-a-kind models, but were too expensive to be manufactured widely for mass consumption.


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Kim C
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 12:17 PM

Thanks Les, I do have a couple of banjo experts I can ask. Isn't research a HOOT?!!? :-D


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Subject: RE: Help: Guitar history
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 12:36 PM

Karen Linn (1991) in her book That Half-Babaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture, notes, in passing, that "gut or silk strings were used throughout the nineteenth century" (p15).

Brian


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