The expansion to the  U.S. and the Guitar today 

Beginning in the 18th century, working-class immigrant luthiers and guitar players came from Europe, including C.F. Martin, of Martin Guitars (1833) whose factory is still situated in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  James Ashborn, an entrepreneur, started a small guitar factory in Connecticut. Between 1848 and 1864, thousands of guitars were made and sold, kickstarting the large scale production of guitars in America.

Following the Civil War, emancipation allowed for the freedom of Black musical creativity, and community based musical creation. As a result, sharing musical ideas and traditions freely in African American communities flourished. After the conception of the U.S. railway and postal system, it became easier and easier to and order items from across the country, including guitars.

In the early 20th century the guitar was popularized as a concert instrument, originating from blues and folk - unique black traditions - in the south. By the 1940’s and 1950’s, bebop, jazz, rock, and a host of other popular music all had integral relationships with the guitar. The commercialization of music through radio also played a key role in this - sounds on the radio defined sound of the moment and guitar was one of the most common instruments heard on the radio. The invent of the electric guitar and the electric bass guitar allowed for even more control over the volume of the guitar, and amplifiers solidified the guitar's importance in a song's mix. The electric guitar also first introduced the United States public (and the world) to the possibility electronic sounds, at the forefront of popular music. It opened the door for endless experimentation with sonics in music, as well as a culture that was accepting of it. American mass media encouraged and popularized the guitar as a staple of western pop music throughout the 20th century and onward.

Temple Anthropology Laboratory and Museum 

Gladfelter Hall- Lower Level, Temple University

1115 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122

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