The Forum

Discover world history, culture and ideas with today’s leading experts


Louder! How the electric guitar conquered popular music

Whether it be a kerrang, a chop, a blistering solo, some finger picking or a subtle flange, the electric guitar is one of the defining sounds of the 20th century. Without it – and its constant companion, the amplifier - popular culture would be unrecognisable today: no big gigs, no stadium concerts. And almost certainly no rock music. But why was it needed and how was it created? Who were the pioneers of the technology and who were the early-adopting exponents? Rajan Datar and his three guest experts delve into the roots of this iconic instrument. Monica Smith is Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation for the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Among the many projects she has curated at the museum is From Frying Pan to Flying V: The Rise of the Electric Guitar. Paul Atkinson is professor of Design and Design History at Sheffield Hallam university and the author of Amplified: A Design History of the Electric Guitar. HP Newquist is the founder of the National Guitar Museum in the United States. He has written numerous books on the guitar and its history, and was the editor-in-chief of Guitar Magazine. [Image: electric guitars. Credit: ilbusca/Getty Images]


 2021-09-09  39m