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40 Interesting facts about electric guitars

By: Steve Bishop

40 Interesting facts about electric guitars

Franz Schubert composed his music on a guitar hung from a hook over his bed, as he couldn't afford a piano. Berlioz also did his composing on a guitar!

BGN on a Gibson is the worst possible mark it designated the instrument as a bargain, and not acceptable quality for sale to the public.

Epiphone was originally a Greek violin company. They made banjos from 1923 but in the 1930's changed to guitars. Epiphone was the only banjo company to successfully switch to guitar production.

Leo Fender was a saxophonist, not a guitarist, as is the current head of the Corporation.

The first Fender was made in 1943, made from oak. Leo fender gave it away to Roy Acuff, a country music legend.

Les Paul had a car accident in 1948 and asked the doctor to set his arm permanently in a guitar-playing position.

In 1950, Leo Fender devised a strength and durability test for guitar necks which was balancing a neck between two chairs and standing on it.

A Gibson solid body with no serial number is a 1952. Gibson didn't use any serial number in 1952.

Prior to 1963, if you wanted a custom colored Gibson, you could choose from sunburst, natural, white, black, Les Paul gold, or cherry red. No other choices were available until the 1963 Firebird series.

The Telecaster was originally called the Broadcaster but this clashed with a drum kit of the same name. While the new name was considered, Fender produced guitars with no name on the headstock, and these "Nocasters" are collector's items.

If a Martin guitar only has four strings and is not a ukulele, this is known as a Tenor guitar. Ukelele size instruments with ten strings are Tiples. Ukelele size instruments with eight strings are Taropatches. Martin also made mandolins, which have eight strings.

A Fender Stratocaster is carved on Jimi Hendrix's tombstone.

Guitar fan Chris Black of London held a wedding ceremony in 2001 and married his Stratocaster.

The highest price paid for an electric guitar at auction, was $959,500 at Christie's in July 2004 for Eric Clapton's 'Blackie' Stratocaster. The previous record was for Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia's custom-made 'Tiger' ($957,500 in 2002).

Les Paul is still playing live guitar weekly in Manhattan in his 80's.

The smallest guitar in the world is 10 micrometres long with strings 50 nanometres (100 atoms) wide.

Fender uses alder, not the more usual ash for guitars. Alder trees don't grow large enough to make guitars anywhere except Oregon, within an area only 200 miles by 50 miles.

In a peak year (eg 2000), Fender makes over a quarter of a million guitars. They are the largest manufacturer of electric guitars in the world. Fender also makes banjos, mandolins and violins.

The Fender factory makes around 90,000 strings per day. This is over 20,000 miles a year, enough to circle the world. They also make around 950 guitar necks a day!

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