Among all the different genres of music available today, country music still remains one of the most popular. Its roots stemming from the immigrants in the Maritime Provinces and the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North America, it has spread across countries far and wide. The distinct sound and melody of country, accompanied with the image of a performer with a cowboy hat, boots, and his country guitar strapped across his body is an image everyone, regardless of age, is familiar with.
You may associate the acoustic or steel guitar immediately to the country genre but its roots were slightly different. The original musical instruments that were most commonly used for this type of music were the Irish fiddle, the German dulcimer, the Italian mandolin, the Spanish guitar, and the West African banjo. Despite the different origins, the common denominator is that they all belong to the string family.
As the genre evolved, however, and reached its peak, beginning in the 1920's all through the 1940's with artists like John Carson, Samantha Burngarner, and Riley Puckett, the country guitar stepped out more prominently into the limelight.
This could possible be attributed to the fact that the first few performances of country music were humble and devoid of the amplifiers, drums, and ceiling high speakers that we accredit to the concerts of today. Country music concerts of the past, notably in Nashville, Tennessee, simply required the presence of the musician, his guitar, and his songs. There actually was very minimal technology used at that time. Moreover, The Grand Old Opry, the most famous country music stage in America, only allowed acoustic guitars on the theater platform when it first opened. It was only in the late 1940's where performers were allowed to use electric and steel guitars on their famous stage. From this, the fundamental role of the guitar becomes evident in the history of this music genre.
In truth, the guitar was truly considered the central instrument in country music. Throughout its history the guitar has remained constant in the identity of country. There certainly have been variations, however. During the golden era of country music, the 1930's, the pedal steel guitar was introduced and utilized by legends such as George Hones and Porter Wagoner. In 1938, Bob Wills added an electric guitar to his ensemble - a trend that other musicians caught on and greatly benefitted from. Other percussion instruments, mainly the drums, were scorned by early country musicians as "too loud" and only became a staple in country bands by the 1960's.
Listeners of today easily distinguish this type of music by that signature country guitar twang. It is also this that has influenced so many other styles of music, namely rock and roll and pop. It still continues to be a strong presence in the music industry that we know today, as country music has millions of fans to its name. Its simplicity and clean guitar melodies have withstood the years and show no signs of slowing down.