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Insight into guitars – The True first man in the world to invent a seven string bass guitar

Executive Summary

Kantanka Electric guitars

Kantanka guitars

The sad and wrong documented history of bass guitars emerged when in  the late 1980s, Michael Tobias made a seven string bass guitar.

It was tagged as the first ever 7-stringed bass guitar  in the world. But Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo, a multi-talented African inventor, had already invented a seven string bass guitar in the early 1970’s.

Although the Kantanka bass VII was not commercialised, it is relevant to give it the truthful place in the history of bass guitars. It is a known fact that the Tobias’s late 1980’s seven string bass guitars came after the Kantanka seven string bass guitar had existed for over a decade!


A world without music would have surely been a boring place. Music has contributed positively to lives on earth. The guitar is a popular stringed musical instrument in the world. Its history can be traced back to thousands of years ago.

Many theories have been advanced about the instrument’s ancestry. Some school of thought proposed that its history can be traced back to over 4000 years.

Brief history about string instruments

african-single-neckThe earliest stringed instruments known to archaeologists are bowl harps and tanburs. People made bowl harps using tortoise shells and calabashes as resonators, with a bent stick for a neck and one or more gut or silk strings.

The world’s museums contain many such “harps” from the ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian civilisations.

Tomb paintings and stone carvings in Egypt testify to the fact that harps and tanburs (together with flutes and percussion

Egyptian wall painting, Thebes, 1420 BCE

Egyptian wall painting, Thebes, 1420 BCE

instruments) were being played in ensemble 3500 – 4000 years ago.

The oldest preserved guitar-like instrument

Har-Moses GuitarAt 3500 years old, this is the ultimate vintage guitar! It belonged to the Egyptian singer Har-Mose.

He was buried with his tanbur close to the tomb of his employer, Sen-Mut, architect to Queen Hatshepsut, who was crowned in 1503 BCE.

Sen-Mut (who was far more than just chief minister and architect to the queen) built Hatshepsuts mortuary temple, which stands on the banks of the Nile to this day.

Har-Moses instrument had three strings and a plectrum suspended from the neck by a cord. The soundbox was made of beautifully polished cedar wood and had a rawhide “soundboard”.

It can be seen today at the Archaeological Museum in Cairo.


Modern Guitars

Generally, there are two types of guitars, the acoustic guitar, which is the oldest, and the electric guitar.

Acoustic guitars

Although guitars have existed in Africa for millenniums, Robert F. Flemming, Jr., the Black American, is credited as the first man to have invented the modern guitar on the 3rd of March 1886.

Electric guitars

With numerous people experimenting with electrical instruments in the 1920s and early 1930s, there are many claimants to have been the first to invent an electric guitar.

Some school of thought has given the credit to Adolph Rickenbacker, an electrical engineer and George Beauchamp, a musician.

Other school of thoughts argue that George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker are the people who created the first commercially viable modern  electric guitar that were amplifiable but others had invented it before them but was not commercialised.

Bass Guitars

Image of double bass

Image of Double Bass in 1716

The bass guitars, also referred to as bass,  we see today is a direct descendant of the double bass, which dates back to the 16th century.The earliest known double bass type of instrument dates from 1516.

In the 18th century, Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) was known to be a virtuoso of the instrument. Before the 20th century many double basses had only three strings.

In the 1920’s, Lloyd Loar designed the first “electric double bass”. The bass used an electro-static pickup, but amplification of bass frequencies was as yet undeveloped, so there was no practical way of hearing the instrument. Also the instrument was huge in size.

In the early 1930’s, Paul Tutmarc became the first known individual to refine the double bass to a more practical size. The first prototype was found to be too heavy, and the design was refined to be more like a guitar. This new bass was 42 inches long and had four string.

Around 1940, Paul Tutmarc Jr began manufacturing bass Guitar which were smaller in size, fretted and could be held and played horizontally.

Still, this did not achieve success in the market until Leo Fender created the Precision bass in 1951. This was named the Precision bass as the frets on the instrument allowed the notes to be played with precision.

The marketing of Fender’s four-stringed bass guitars were very successful.

A six stringed Bass guitar

A six stringed Bass guitar

In 1956, Nathan Daniel, founder of Danelectro, noted for not patenting most of his inventions, created the first 6 string bass.

Fortunately, the history of bass guitars has credited him with this invention. Gibson and Fender used this idea to make the Gibson EB-6 in 1960 and the Fender VI in 1962.

Between the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Eric Krakow, the electrical engineer, created the first 8-string bass guitar.

Leo Fender, again,  was on the headline news  in 1964 when he created the first 5 string bass called Fender bass V.

The sad and wrong documented history of bass guitars emerged when in the late 1980s; Michael Tobias made a seven bass guitar. It was tagged “the first ever bass guitar in the world.”

But Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo, a multi-talented inventor, had already invented a seven string bass guitar in the 1970’s. Although the Kantanka bass VII was not commercialised, it is relevant to give it the truthful place in the history of bass guitars.

Kantanka Electric guitars

Some Kantanka guitars made in Ghana by Apostle Safo

It is a known fact that the Tobias’s late 1980’s seven string bass guitars came after the Kantanka seven string bass guitar had existed for over a decade.

Note: To those who are not very familiar with guitars. Unlike other gadgets, the number of strings of bass guitars does not depict when they were invented. For example, one would expect 5 string bass to have been invented before say 8 string bass guitar. But it is not so. Each string of bass guitar is unique.

The story does not end here. There are also from 9 to 15 string bass guitars and so forth in the world.

Similar wrong credits

It is important to note that this was not the first time African facts have not been taken into account in world history. There are also many other cases where African history has not been credited with its rightful place in world history from inventions to the life span of people. One clear example is as follows:

Jeanne Calment, the French who died at 122 years old has been tagged by some as the oldest person to live on earth in modern history. What of the 160 year old Ethiopian farmer, Dhaqabo Ebba, who told the story of 1935 Italy’s invasion?

In a statement to Oromiya TV, and reports by the Telegraph on September 12, 2013, he provided so much details on the history of Ethiopia and his local area. He was about 78 years old, had two wives and children old enough to herd cattle before Mussolini invaded Ethiopia.

What about Carmelo Flores Laura, the Bolivian whose ancestry can be traced back to Africa?  Reports by NBC news on 13th August 2013 and public records of Bolivia shows that he was born on July 16, 1890 (123 years at the time).

Many Africans bear witness of people far older than the stipulated 122 years of Jeanne who are still living in Africa.


Deciding not to acknowledge the truth does not make it falsehood. The truth will always remain the truth. Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo is the first man in the world to have invented a bass guitar with seven strings.

But until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the story of greatness will always glorify the hunter.


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  1. It is so sad to hear some these things. However, it is important to note that no one will hail our heroes if we ourselves do not acknowledge and appreciate them. Apostle Kwadwo Safo has been in the world of invention for decades now, yet no government has complemented his efforts. Are we waiting to acknowledge his efforts after he’s passed, as is typical of Ghanaians? It is time not only Ghanaians, but Africans in general rise up to appreciate and celebrate their own heroes.

  2. Commercialization is the best recognition that can be given. Put the products on the market and none will be able to deny hard scientific facts

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