Throughout the centuries acoustic instruments have remained one of the most prominent forms of music.
Even as the 20th Century progressed and new types of instruments became popular, acoustic music evolved to remain current and relevant.
Birth of electric
It was when rock and roll exploded onto the popular music scene that the first threat to the predominant position of acoustics became apparent. With the explosion of rock and roll came a new sound - the electric guitar, which quickly replaced the acoustic guitar as the go-to instrument for guitarists. Despite the popularity of the electric guitar, during the rock and roll heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, the acoustic guitar still had a place with Elvis Presley notably an acoustic guitar player. While even one the most talented electric guitarists of the era, Jimi Hendrix, performed a version of Hear My Train A Comin’ on an acoustic guitar.
During this period acoustic music was also being threatened within the American folk music revival genre. Although acoustics were seen as an essential aspect of folk music, in the mid-60s Bob Dylan began recording with electric instruments.
Mixing electric with acoustic
As the 1960s progressed and developed into the 1970s era of rock and roll, musicians began experimenting with mixing acoustic and electric instruments. Some of the most influential bands of the time recorded songs using both acoustic and electric instruments, including The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. This helped to cement the use of acoustic instruments within the rock and roll genre.
Electric instruments and electronic music took over the 1980s popular music scene, however rock bands of the time, including Guns and Roses, continued experimenting with mixing acoustic and electric instruments.
During the 1990s acoustic music started making a come-back with the popularity of MTV Unplugged. Many bands and artists returned to acoustic instruments, even if it was solely to create new versions of their previous hits. Acoustic sounds gradually became more popular with musicians releasing Unplugged albums, for example REM, Oasis, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, many of which achieved chart success.
At the turn of the century acoustic music was gaining prominence particularly after the success of Coldplay’s critically acclaimed debut album Parachutes. During the following decade many acoustic bands, as well as singer-songwriters, achieved chart success and critical acclaim.
Today, acoustic still remains one of the most popular styles of music, whether it is being blending with other types of instruments or on its own. Many students choose to learn acoustic guitars and acoustic drums before moving onto other instruments, while professional musicians know the variety acoustic instruments can bring to their music.
Finding the right sound
We know how important good acoustics are for musicians, whichever level they are at, which is why at Wembley Music Centre we have created specialised acoustic rooms so that musicians can test the instruments and ensure that you purchase the right ones for you and their playing style.
We hope that with musicians being able to spend more time ensuring they purchase the right acoustic instruments, along with the experimentation of acoustic sounds and blending of instruments, acoustic music will continue to evolve over the coming decades.