First Electric Guitar

In the 30's of the twentieth century guitars had to be louder. Before the first electric guitar was invented, people tried several things to do that.

They tried bigger bodies and John Dopyera, who was a guitar builder in Los Angeles, made his guitars louder by using metal resonators. It is the Resonator guitar.

You can still buy this guitars today!  Mark Knopfler used it for its specific sound. A beautiful picture of it you can find on the album Brothers In Arms.

This guitars were louder, but still not loud enough.

Frying Pan, the first electric guitar

After the electric amplifier and speakers were invented it was the use of an electromagnet what seems to be the best way to make a guitar louder. The first electric guitar made in serie production was the Frying Pan. 

Frying Pan

The Frying Pan is a Hawaiian guitar with a solid body. It appears in 1932 from a firm named Ro-Pat-In (Electro Patent Instruments). One of the financiers was Adolph Rickenbacker who's name is very well known in guitar world for the Rickenbacker Guitars. The other owners of Ro-Pat-In are Paul Barth and George Beauchamp.

To create sound they needed a guitar with metal strings, a pickup, an amplifier and a speaker. The magnetic pickups "pick up" the vibrations of the strings. This is only possible with metal strings. The vibrations are converted into electric signals. The guitar is connected to an guitar amplifier with a cable. The cable sends the signal to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the sound which is send to a speaker.


In 1935 Gibson produced his electric guitars. The Gibson EH 150. EH stands for Electric Hawaiian. Later in 1936 Gibson produced an electric guitar in "spanish style" the Gibson ES-150. It is a hollow body archtop.  

Jazz guitarists liked the ES-150 a lot! Charley Christian (1916-1942) used it for recordings with Benny Goodman. He also played a ES-250.  The pickup on the ES-150 and 250 is designed by Walter Fuller, but they are known as Charley Christian-pickup

In the second world war there wasn't much production of electric guitars. Most factories were delivering supplies to the army. But after the war the guitar industrie starts to blossom.

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