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Electrified: The Guitar Revolution
The history of music's greatest invention and the world's most popular musical instrument. From the early days of the Model U and Frying Pan to the guitar wars of Fender and Gibson, experience the evolution of the electric guitar through vintage footage, interviews with rock historians and rousing live performances.

"History of the Guitar" from National Inventors' Month 2010

Curator emeritus Gary Sturm brings some of the Museum's most "rocking" objects out of storage for a unique up-close look at electric and acoustic guitars. Sturm discusses Prince's Yellow Cloud, the Gibson ES-150, and more. This presentation was part of the National Inventors' Month events in August of 2010, presented by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

For Teachers

Electric Guitar: Its Makers and Its Players (DVD)

The Lemelson Center presents this 1996 video field trip in cooperation with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Meet guitar maker Paul Reed Smith and guitar player G.E. Smith, who demonstrate their crafts and share stories about some of the people involved in developing and popularizing the electric guitar. Moderated by Bob Santelli, former director of education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Format: DVD, closed captioned, 30 minutes, 2004

How to order: Available free of charge (however, a shipping fee of $2 in the U.S., $5 elsewhere, applies) from the International Technology Education Association. See page 14 of the ITEA Product Guide for details, or email orders@iteaconnect.org.

Additional materials:

Teacher's resource guide (PDF document. File size: 820K. Download time: less than 1 min. @ 56K)

The Lemelson Center educators have developed a variety of resources for teachers, parents, and students who want to explore the exciting world of invention. Full listing

Books and Articles

Millard, Andre, ed. The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Smith, Monica M. "The Electric Guitar: How We Got From Andres Segovia to Kurt Cobain." American Heritage of Invention and Technology 20, no. 1 (Summer 2004): 12-21.


Electric guitar video documentation (1996)

Electrified, Amplified and Deified radio program by Smithsonian Productions http://www.si.edu/sp/onair/guitar.htm

Related Links

Our thanks to the following organizations for their participation in Lemelson Center's 1996 electric guitar programs:

Benedetto guitars

Experience Music Project

Fender Musical Instruments Corp.

Fred Gretsch Enterprises

Gruhn Guitars

Guitar Player magazine

Guitar World magazine

Hamer at "Electrified, Amplified, and Deified"

Martin Guitar Company

Music Educators National Conference

National Reso-Phonic Guitars

Paul Reed Smith Guitars

Rickenbacker International Corp.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

20th Century Guitar magazine

Vintage Guitar magazine

Smithsonian National Museum of American History homepage