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Thank you Mr. Terrence Brewer for this article and for being part of The MOJA advisory board.

Eddie Lang

In Jazz the guitar has fulfilled the roles of accompanist (rhythm guitar) and soloist in small and large ensembles and also as an unaccompanied solo instrument.

Until the 1930s, jazz bands used banjo because the banjo's metallic twang was easier to hear than the acoustic guitar when competing with trumpets, trombones, and drums. The banjo could be heard more easily, too, on wax cylinders in the early days of audio recording. The invention of the archtop increased the guitar's volume, and in the hands of Eddie Lang  guitar became a solo instrument for the first time. Following the lead of Lang, musicians dropped their banjos for guitars, and by the 1930s the banjo hardly existed as a jazz instrument.


King Oliver

In early days of jazz in New Orleans most bands had guitarists, but there are few to no recordings  by those early masters. One of the earliest jazz musicians, played in a band in 1889 that was led by guitarist Charlie Galloway. 

King Oliver, another important early figure, belonged to a band in 1910 that was led by guitarist Louis Keppard, brother of Freddie Keppard.

Although jazz guitar existed during these years, banjo was a more popular instrument. The metallic twang of the banjo was easier to hear in a band than the acoustic guitar or piano, and it was easier to hear when recording on wax cylinders.

The first person to make solo recordings on guitar was Nick Lucas,  the dominant guitarist of the 1920s, when he released "Pickin' the Guitar" and "Teasin' the Frets" in 1922.


Oscar Aleman

Some early Jazz Guitar Masters, like Argentinian Oscar Alemán,(top left) who was in Paris at the same time as DJango Reinhardt, tried to overcome the problem of audibility by using a resonator guitar, as did Eddie Durham, Durham experimented with amplification and became the first person to make audio recordings with electric guitar when he recorded with the Kansas City Five in the 1930s.

Eddie Durham


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