Vibrating Strings

This gallery is dedicated to all things strings. The guitar as we know it today has evolved out of many shapes, orientations, materials, and sounds. This gallery shows a number of different takes on strings producing sound and some of the historical events that surrounded them. From feelings to expression and precision to humor this gallery should help you explore your ideas and emotions about stringed instruments.

This early stringed instrument hardly resembles a guitar and other than the fact that it has 7 strings where most guitars have only 6 it looks nothing like our modern day stringed instruments. This instrument does however share some similarities with modern stringed instruments and if you look closely you can see some of the similarities.
In this painting titled "Harlequin" we see a familiar shaped instrument that anyone could name. Two things that should be noted in this painting are the earthy colors and the posture of the musician. During the early 20th century guitar was often played on the left thigh in a classical style. It wasn't until later that we see the now common practice of placing an acoustic guitar on the right thigh. The earthy colors in the painting seem to say that this musician is playing for living and not for his own enjoyment.
Here we see two children each holding a stringed instrument. Look at the vibrant colors not only of the floor tile but how the two instruments contrast with each other. The violin is the dark lacquer color that has been associated with bowed string instruments for centuries while the guitar is a light spruce color. The children's clothing also contrasts with the instrument colors.
This painting captures the soul of playing a stringed instrument. Notice the contrast between dark and light, beige and blue, night and day, comfort, and sadness. The color blue and music has long been associated with sadness but here we also see the mirrored expression of warmth and comfort.
This is quite the contraption. It obviously shares a resemblance to an acoustic guitar but could obviously never be played. All the parts are there including the strings but good luck playing this thing. This expressionist piece really makes you think about how someone could even think this up. Did the artist simply take all the parts and mix them up or were they carefully thought about before the construction?
Is there a more iconic guitar than Elvis Presley's trusty old Martin? Sometimes beauty is simply taking a picture. This photograph with it's simple white background tells the viewer that it's all about the instrument. You can see from the wear that there was certainly some beautiful art created on this instrument at one point and simply showing it in all it's glory is something to leave you speechless.
When it comes to the blues there are certain people who have royalty right in their name. Albert King is shown in this old concert flyer with a rather unique stringed instrument. Once electronics came on the scene for the guitar world shapes and ideas changed quickly. The Flying V guitar is a mythic thing and wielded by one of the King's of the blues it is a formidable artistic weapon.
Is there a more epic electric guitar than the Gibson Les Paul? Possibly not. While the shape doesn't veer too far off from the earlier pieces you have seen what this instrument did took sound in a completely new direction. The pickups squeal and distort when pushed and everyone from Jimmy Page to Buckethead have let loose on a Les Paul. The gold color on this one has become legendary but they must have had some nerve at Gibson in the early 50's to make guitars that were golden in color. Perhaps they knew how golden these would become in later years.
I leave you with a laugh. If there is one thing more epic than the Les Paul that you just saw, it is Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar in 1967 in Monterey. This piece takes that epic sight and plays a pun on the band name "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" and titles the piece "Jimi Eggsperience." While funny to look at, one well believed idea is that Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar because he we quite cold at the end of the show and he probably would have loved a pan of eggs.
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.