The Folk Revival
In the sixties, there was a veritable guitar renaissance, sparked by two different
movements. One was the so-called “folk revival,” in which young people with guitars
performed topical songs of the day. Bob Dylan was the best known and probably the
greatest of these singer/ guitarists, and his songs influenced hundreds of others.
The second big influence was the arrival of the Beatles in America, and the British
Invasion. When the Beatles first appeared, everyone copied their hair styles, clothing
(down to their boots), and—naturally—musical instruments. The Rickenbacker guitar,
favored by John Lennon, and the Hofner bass, played by Paul McCartney, were soon
the most in-demand instruments in music stores across America. Instrument makers
rushed to give the Beatles free instruments so that they could benefit from the
The British Invasion also spawned guitar gods like Eric Clapton, influenced by
American blues players. A veritable war broke out among partisans of the Fender
Stratocaster versus the equally popular Gibson Les Paul—some defended one as the
“holy grail” of guitar sound, while others went for the other. Added “effects”—
from wah-wah to fuzztone—were an additional arsenal in the guitar’s acoustic army.
One of the first guitarists to use these effects in a truly musical way was Jimi
Hendrix, whose flamboyant stage presence only added to his popularity.
Today the guitar is firmly ensconced as one of the most popular instruments among
amateur musicians. Knock on somebody’s front door, and you’ll probably find a guitar
in the house. It’s easy to play, portable, and adaptable to just about any style