The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152916   Message #3578131
Posted By: Don Firth
22-Nov-13 - 03:25 PM
Thread Name: BS: 50 Greatest Inventions Since the Wheel
Subject: RE: BS: 50 Greatest Inventions Since the Wheel
If I can remember the details from a mid-1950s article in "The Guitar Review," a high quality magazine published irregularly by the New York Classic Guitar Society—

During World War II, during a meeting of the Washington, D. C. Classic Guitar Society, honored guest Andrés Segovia was bemoaning the fact that he was about to embark on a concert tour of South America and he was nearly out of guitar strings.

At the time, classic guitar strings were made out of sheep gut, and during WW II, few, if any, firms were making them. And his supply was dangerously low. "I may soon have to hang up my beloved guitar," sighed Segovia.

An Air Force General, a Gen. Lindenman, if I recall the article correctly, told Segovia that he had an idea and could he borrow a set of strings. Tremulously, Segovia fished in his guitar case, and handed him a set. In the meantime, other attending members dug into their cases and gave several precious sets to Segovia, to see him through the tour.

Several weeks later, when Segovia returned from the tour, Gen. Lindenman presented him with a large package of guitar strings. "I have some friends in the DuPont family, and they had the strings analyzed and tried to duplicate them with nylon."

Segovia put a set on his guitar, tuned them up, played a few scales and chords—and smiled! "This is a new day for the classic guitar," he pronounced.

DuPont did not want to make the strings themselves, but they would supply the necessary technology and materials to anyone who would. The first to come forward was a man named Albert Augustine, and Augustine strings were the first nylon guitar strings to appear on the market.

Back in the mists of antiquity, someone was feeding me the line that "You really don't know how great a classic guitar can sound if you haven't tried gut strings!" I went to the Broberg House of Music and asked Dora Brobert (the little falcon who sat behind the counter) if she had any gut strings. She looked at me as if I had suddenly gone insane, and dug a set out of a drawer. I tried them on my Martin 00-28-G, and—

Absolutely stank! They wouldn't stay in pitch and they were inconsistent from fret to fret. And within three days, one of them popped.

So—back to the nylon strings.

Despite the efforts in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century of virtuoso guitarists like Fernando Sor, Francisco Tàrrega, Ferdinando Carulli, Matteo Carcassi, et al, it's no wonder the classic guitar nearly died out as a serious musical instrument!

I now have a considerably more up-scale guitar than my original Martin, and I used D'Addario EXP strings. They sound great on my guitar and they seem to last forever!

So—it may not be a major breakthrough in medicine or world peace, but I nominate the nylon string for classic guitars as one of the greater inventions.

Don Firth