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Guitar Music and Famous Players

It's easy to think of the guitar as a modern instrument, but it dates back hundreds of years to medieval Spain. When people think of Spanish guitars, they're often talking about a classical type of guitar that is a direct descendent of these early Spanish instruments.

One notable difference with early guitars was the number of 'courses' they were designed with (the number of strings or sets of strings). Four-string Renaissance guitars evolved into five-string Baroque guitars, for instance.

The modern six-string guitar that is familiar today became common from the mid-18th century onwards. With the rise of this instrument and the late-19th century invention of gramophones and the radio, guitar players became famous.

Famous Guitar Players

Of course, there have been many famous guitar players over the years from different musical genres. But some of them stand apart for their pioneering achievements and the influence they wrought on the artists who followed.

Here are five of the most influential guitarists and performers of all time:

Agustín Barrios: Early guitar composer and virtuoso born in the 19th century. Blended Paraguayan folk songs with sophisticated classical music.

Django Reinhardt: A Belgian-born 1930s/40s master of gypsy jazz who had a massive influence on popular music.

Robert Johnson: Famous 1930s blues performer who inspired the 1986 movie 'Crossroads' and influenced countless musicians.

Chuck Berry: Sold electric guitar to the masses with his energetic rock and roll style. The first famous artist to write and perform all his own material.

Jimi Hendrix: Legendary left-handed virtuoso who played his guitar upside-down and was a groundbreaker in blues/rock guitar, paving the way for many rock bands that followed.