When it comes to musical instruments, the guitar may be the most popular. It is easy to see why: the guitar is used in almost every genre of Western music, from classical and blues to country and heavy metal. The music produced by the guitar can fit any mood, from a relaxing pop melody to impassioned grunge shrieks. Its versatility has made the guitar an indispensable instrument. As a result, much time and effort have gone into making guitars that sound incredible and look like works of art. Vintage guitars, from the ultra-rare to the relatively common, are sought after items at auction, and sell for great prices.

History of the Guitar

The guitar has its origins in ancient times. Stringed instruments have been produced since before recorded history. Our word “guitar” comes from an Ancient Greek word, kithara, for a variety of harp or lyre. The ancient kithara eventually developed into the medieval lute, which is the direct ancestor of the modern guitar.

The guitar arose in the 15th century, during the Renaissance, in Italy and Spain. Its form was not yet fully developed, and even the number of strings varied, but musical composers soon found much use for the versatile instrument. 

By the 17th century, Spanish luthiers and guitar makers were the major influence on guitar design, developing many of the features of guitars we recognize today. By the mid 19th century, guitars had more-or-less taken the form we know today, with a thin waist and (usually) six strings.

Antique French Romantic Guitar
Antique French Romantic Guitar. ca. 19th century.

The next major development in guitar making came in early 20th century America. In 1936, Charlie Christian, a jazz guitarist, made the first electric guitar by connecting an electric pickup to his acoustic guitar. This would be the beginning of a revolution in music. It was the invention of the electric guitar that jump-started Rock and Roll, perhaps the most influential of all modern musical genres. By the mid 20th century, electric guitars in all shapes and sizes were being made for use in Rock and Roll, Country, Jazz, Pop, and many other genres of music.

Silvertone Model 1448 Electric Guitar
Silvertone Model 1448 Electric Guitar. ca. mid-late 20th century.
1930's National Tenor Steel Resonator Guitar
National Tenor Steel Resonator Guitar. ca. 1930's.

Guitar Types and Design

The guitar as we know it today comes in, generally, two major varieties: the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar. The acoustic guitar relies on the soundbox (the hollow portion of the guitar) to produce and amplify sound. The electric guitar relies on electric pickups under the strings that relay sound to an amplifier. A guitar usually has 6 strings, though some models have 12. Guitar strings were traditionally made of gut. Now, however, strings are usually nylon or steel for acoustic guitars or steel for electric guitars. High end guitars often feature inlays of expensive woods or mother-of-pearl, exquisite carving, and / or unusual shapes to differentiate themselves.

An interesting variety of acoustic guitar is the resonator guitar. Emerging in the early 20th century, the resonator guitar is essentially an acoustic guitar with a steel resonator in the sound box. These guitars give a characteristic twang that makes them sought after for Country, Blues,  Bluegrass, and Rockabilly music.

Vintage Guitars at Nest Egg Auctions

Here at Nest Egg Auctions, we have years of experience with guitars of all types, from antique acoustic guitars to modern electric guitars.  One guitar that has drawn much attention at Nest Egg is a 1912 Gibson L-1 Archtop acoustic guitar. This guitar is a classic of early American guitar making, and a mainstay of blues and rock and roll music. In fact, famed blues guitarist Robert Johnson (American, 1911 – 1938) is known to have favored the Gibson L-1 Archtop.

1912 Gibson L-1 Archtop Guitar
Gibson L-1 Archtop Guitar. 1912.

Nest Egg Auctions has also had the privilege of selling a rare electric guitar, a 1967 Guild Starfire XIII 12 string left-handed electric guitar. This semi-hollow body guitar was made for a left-handed player, and shows the powerful design of electric guitars in the mid 20th century.  This guitar screams “Rock and Roll“, and would make unbelievable sound.

1967 Guild Starfire XIII 12 String Left-Handed Electric Guitar
Guild Starfire XIII 12 String Left-Handed Electric Guitar. 1967.

Selling Vintage Guitars with Nest Egg Auctions

With our over twenty year history of selling fine guitars and musical instruments, Nest Egg Auctions is the place to sell your old guitar. Not only do we sell guitars for great prices, but we appreciate their history and, especially, the glorious music that emits from them.

If you have an old guitar you’d like to sell, let us know! We’d love to take a look at it.

Let’s rock.