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Amplified: A Design History of the Electric Guitar

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Amplified: A Design History of the Electric Guitar

2015-2020

Cover of Amplified: A Design History of the Electric Guitar. It shows the book title above a red guitar with a cream scratchplate, looking down the guitar from behind the bridge, with the neck and head in the background.

This book examines the design history of the electric guitar as a technological object, a cultural icon and a social construct. It also exposes the remarkably small extent to which professional industrial and product design input has been exploited in the design and development of the electric guitar over the course of its history, and explores if the development of the electric guitar has benefitted or not from that input.

While the subject of the history of the electric guitar is a popular one, there has been surprisingly little critical writing about the design history of the electric guitar as a mass-produced object, or the social and cultural history of its production and consumption.

Primary research was conducted in the form of interviews with noted guitar historians, well-known dealers in vintage guitars, staff of various guitar manufacturing companies, guitarists and numerous guitar designers, luthiers, collectors and promoters. Archival research, including visual analysis of historic advertising material and physical collections of guitars was conducted at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville.

ADMRC logo. The letters A, D, M, R and C in a circle.

Key information

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Get in touch

Contact the ADMRC to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Email ADMRC

Publications

Paul Atkinson, Amplified: A Design History of the Electric Guitar, Reaktion Books, 2021, 

Research team

Paul Atkinson

Paul Atkinson

Professor of Design and Design History

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