Most of us think of the guitar as a lead instrument, but it hasn’t always been that way. The guitar is a relatively new instrument, and as late as the 1800s was used primarily as a rhythm instrument. During the later half of the 19th century, the parlor guitar, a smaller bodied instrument than a regular concert guitar, gained in popularity due to its size and affordability. With its increasing popularity composers and musicians began writing music specifically for the guitar. During the late 19th and early 20th century the parlor guitar was so popular that a whole genre of “parlor songs” was composed for it.
Some of the earliest guitar recordings show the incredible transformation from playing rhythm to melody. Listen to Riley Puckett’s early recordings with the Skillet Lickers. Although Puckett was a fine guitarist, lacing his playing with delightful runs, today his part would most likely be played on an upright bass.
Let’s have a listen to some of the hottest flat pickers of the late 1920s.
Lowe Stokes & His North Georgians - Take Me to the Land of Jazz.mp3
1928 - Hoke Rice's breaks and runs on this tune are just amazing.
Melvin Dupree - Augusta Rag.mp3
Johnnie Crockett & Albert Crockett - Fresno Blues.mp3
1929 - Great duo by Johnnie & Albert of Crockett’s Kentucky Mountaineers.