There is a common conception among that guitar is an essentially 20th century instrument and the use of guitar in western music has commenced after late 19th century.They also have developed an idea that usage of guitar, as a universal musical instrument has started with the evolution of jazz, blues and rock genre of music. Unfortunately, these ideas are quite wrong. Looking at the history of guitar in western musical scenario, we see that musicians started to use guitar in their musical compositions since 16th century. Guitar is actually a Spanish musical instrument and since its adoption as a sonorous musical instrument, the European musicians in their compositions used it widely (Kachur, 1993, 252).Guitar is famous for "its own distinguished concert repertory, became the global instrument for people - the only existing instrument, someone once said, on which it is 'impossible to make a nasty noise." (Bainesm, 1992, 134) At the very beginning, Guitar did not look like the today's figure-of-eight body shape. During the 16th century, guitar was a four-string instrument. It was smaller in size as compared to today's guitars and was mostly used for composition of folk music in places like, Portugal, Latin America and Spain.During the late 17th century and starting of the 18th century, guitars were having five strings and those were comparatively larger in size than their presiding models. However, guitar was a much-loved instrument for the musicians but people continued to experiment on guitars in order to enhance its musical orientation. The five and then six string guitars are results of such experiments. The six string guitars came into use since the 18th century and aftermath musicians started using and incorporating guitar music in a vigorous way in different types of music as well as compositions. Since 16th century to the modern times, there have been introduction of several techniques in the art of guitar playing. The art of guitar playing has reached to the level of culmination in the 20th century due to contribution of several artists but without the guitar, performance practice technique of the 18th century guitar player was never possible in such composite way.
However, use of guitar started almost 2 centuries before the adoption of six-string guitar but it did not attract attention of the common people until 18th century. Initially, musicians used the "the strings of gut and over wound silk, and the lower-tuned strings had a core of nylon floss over wound with plated wire," for the purpose of creating music. (Bainesm, 135, 1992) Musicians were also engaged in the quest to produce better sound from the guitars and during the course of their quest, they started using the nylon strings. Nylon stings are still considered as essential aspects for classical guitar playing and this practice came into use since the 18th century.
Traditionally there are two types of guitar playing techniques, 1) the Classical guitar playing and 2) the Flamenco style guitar paying. In the classical style guitar playing, the guitar player places the guitar on his left thigh and he places his left leg over the footrest of his sitting stool in such a way that it is raised a bit. The guitar player, as he starts playing the guitar, mainly plucks the guitar stings with his fingernails. Historical references say, "In the 19th century and earlier the flesh of the fingertip was more commonly used, as in lute playing." (Bainesm, 1992, 135) As a guitar player uses his fingers in a better way, the guitar music receives a masterful touch. The left hand fingers of the guitar player are used with the purpose of stopping the string from resonating, so that the required tone is produced and at the same time, he must learn to arch the strings in such ways that the adjacent strings freely vibrate