The Viennese guitar and its influence in North America : form, use, stringing, and social associations

Pyall, Nicholas (2014) The Viennese guitar and its influence in North America : form, use, stringing, and social associations. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis evaluates the technological developments of the nineteenth-century guitar that provided the basis for the emergence of the steel-strung instrument. It investigates changing use, cultural significance, and shifts in social association during this period. It maps and characterises Georg Staufer’s achievement in Vienna, and traces the progress of his innovations through the work of his immediate successors and of those European guitar makers who migrated to North America, whose designs heralded the emergence of the steel-string guitar. It assesses Staufer’s developments, in patents, catalogues and other primary documents, and compares those of his extant guitars, including examples with extra bass strings, which are accessible in museum and private collections. It asks how crucial changes in stringing (number of strings, tension, and material), c1880-c1920, led to profound but hitherto little-studied changes in sound and use; and by examining representation in press reviews and other reception evidence from Vienna and America, it assesses how the societal standing, signification and social associations of the guitar shifted, and demonstrates the basis of this in a complex web of technological and social change in the nineteenth century.

N. PYALL - PhD Final_combined for Ethos_2014.pdf - Published Version

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