History of the Guitar
Guitars have a distant relation to instruments from ancient central Asia and India including the tanbur, the setar, and the sitar. The oldest known image and representation of an instrument displaying the essential features of a guitar is a 3,300 year old stone carving of a Hittite bard and the oldest known guitar like instrument was found in Ancient Egypt. It is said to have been used by Har-Mose, a singer to the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut. This guitar can be seen today at the Archaeological Museum in Cairo, Egypt.
The Greeks also used a guitar-like stringed instrument they called Tanbur or Tranobur which crossed mediterranean trade routes and got adopted by the Romans who referred to it as Chitara. Whilst the Greek instrument’s popularity increased across the Middle East, the Romans incorporated the chitara as part of their culture and travelled through Portugal and Spain with it.
6 - 9th Century
The lute and the oud emerged during this period as predecessor instruments to the guitar. The lute was brought into Europe between the 6th and the 9th century in varied forms by the Eastern Roman empire. It was an instrument favoured by musicians of the early medieval and the renaissance periods. The body of the lute was oval with a rounded back and has four strings which are plucked rather than strummed. The build of the lute makes it’s a subdued instrument sound wise hence it could not be played in any kind of band setting.
The Oud, a four stringed instrument that shared ancestry with the lute appeared in Europe following the Moor (Arab) southern Spanish invasion of the 8th century. Similar to the lute, the Oud had a rounded body but had a smaller neck with no frets.