Stringed instruments have existed for centuries but the history of the modern guitar starts with one man and one man only. And that man is Orville Gibson. Gibson was born in Chateaugay, New York in 1856 and by 1894, built a workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan that gave birth to the modern guitar. Gibson patented the instrument, which had a similar model to a violin and was constructed using bent wooden strips. Gibson's guitars played much louder and were more durable than other mandolins, giving rise to the 1902 establishment of the Gibson Guitar Company. Musicians flocked to Gibson's design and to this day, many top musicians continue to support the company, such as Slash (Guns N Roses), Ace Frehley (Kiss), Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne) and of course, Les Paul.
1931 changed the course of guitars forever, bringing forth the electric guitar. The first electric guitar to be manufactured and marketed commercially was made by George Beauchamp and Paul Barth of the National Guitar Corporation. Within the decade, most guitar companies, including Gibson, began selling electric guitars and by 1940, Les Paul designed and built the first solid-body electric guitar, named "The Log."
As time went on, guitars became accessories to support a musician's persona—giving way to some seriously flamboyant instruments. For example, in the movie "Purple Rain," Prince played a custom guitar called "Cloud," which became extremely associated with his iconography. Then there's Lonnie Mack's Gibson Flying V, which Mack, who was of Native American descent, liked because it resembled an arrow. And let's not forget Jimmy Page's double-neck Gibson EDS-1275, which he played throughout his time in Led Zepplin.
This February 11th, we're paying tribute to the inventors and musicians who made guitars what they are today by sharing some of our favorite guitar tattoos for National Guitar Day. Take a peek at the ink in the gallery below, then let us know your thoughts on this story on social media.