NOW OPEN for a limited time!
Take a journey through a motley crew of legendary guitars in the must-see exhibition GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World open Saturday, January 21 through Sunday, May 7.
For a limited time only, guests are invited to explore the evolution of the single most enduring icon in American history through the powerful lens of science. Experience diverse genres of music, discover the science of pitch and tone, and learn how the selection of materials and strings fused with electromagnetism and amplification to create an elaborate device that has revolutionized music. Crossing over cultural boundaries, the guitar has made a significant impact on a wide variety of groups. Join us on a rhythmic journey immersed in the heart of music, surrounded by 60 guitars and nearly 100 historical artifacts - including the Guinness Record-breaking 43.5 foot long playable guitar!
This fully immersive exhibition explores all facets of the world’s most popular instrument, from its history to the science of creating sound with wood and steel. Experience the science, sound, history, and profound impact of the guitar in an exhibition that contains a range of rare and antique to wildly popular and innovative instruments, along with hands-on interactives, models, touchscreens, performance video, audio, stunning images and photographs.
SPECIAL EXTENDED HOURS: Enjoy special extended hours every Wednesday and select Fridays through 9pm throughout the course of the exhibit run!
Wood and String Samples Handle and hear the materials that give each guitar a distinctive sound, and see the intricate woodwork that goes into building a sturdy box with no nails.
Shape and Structure From bowls to flat surfaces to slightly curved lines, guitar makers have experimented with hundreds of different shapes looking for the perfect blend of beauty, physics, and sound. European luthiers who emigrated to the United States changed the guitar’s structure to make it louder and sturdier.
Vibrations and Sound Turn of the century guitars are shown and placed in historical context, along with interactives that show how strings resonate on wood as well as the stress that the wood is under. Strings may vibrate, but you will find that strings by themselves don’t make much noise. The soundboard of an acoustic guitar, not its body, enhances the strings’ vibrations and those vibrations project out to the listener.
Electric Evolution Watch and hear the music that was written and played on the guitar, and see guitars on display that depict the works of revered 19th century American craftsmen C.F. Martin and Orville Gibson. Technicians, luthiers, and musicians attempted to make guitars louder for band members who couldn’t hear their guitars above drummers and horn players. See how, instead of using a large hollow sound box, the electric guitar uses magnetic coils to capture the vibration of the strings and turn it into amplified sound.
Fenders, Gibsons, Rickenbackers and more! Wide-scale production of the electric guitar started in the 1950s and has continued unceasingly to the present. Inventors and designers like George Beauchamp, Leo Fender, Les Paul, Ted McCarty, and Paul Bigsby came up with radical body shapes that also changed the shape of music. See these guitars and hear how the electric guitar was responsible for the creation of entirely new styles of music.
Amps and Modification As the guitar evolved, so did the equipment that supported it, especially amplification and sound modification gear. See through an amplifier stack, 6-feet tall and capable of producing sound over 120 decibels, and experience what gives modern music so much volume. The physics of amplifiers will expose guests to the ways in which sound can be modified to produce music.
Senses and Memory Having viewed the evolution of guitars, see what role memory and senses have in playing the guitar. Test your memory by playing riffs on a virtual fretboard that tests the ability to remember complex patterns.
GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World is included with Museum admission and FREE for BMS members. Not a Museum member? Become one today!
PLAY the Guinness Record-breaking 43.5 foot long playable guitar...
SEE more than 60 instruments ranging from the rare and antique to the wildly popular...
INVESTIGATE how different materials affect a guitar's sound...
EXPLORE sound through the powerful lens of science and much more!
GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World is a Touring Exhibition of The National GUITAR Museum. Exhibit is presented by M&T Bank. Associate Sponsor Chakra Communications.