What is the earliest we know wire-strung instruments to have existed? I was reading about gut strings, nylon strings, wire strings used on guitar, and wanted to know, but couldn't find the answer where I thought I might.
From Wikipedia: Piano wire:
The oldest record of wire being made for musical instruments is from Augsburg in 1351.
This is based on Alfred Dolge's book Pianos and Their Makers: A Comprehensive History of the Development of the Piano from the Monochord to the Concert Grand Player Piano (1911), in which he writes:
Records tell us that iron wire for musical instruments was drawn from Augsburg as early as 1351. (page 123, Google books)
An early wire strung instrument that helped promote using metal strings on guitars was the X braced Martin guitar. From Guitar .com "X-bracing was considered unsubtle by most guitar makers in Europe at the time, who favoured a fan bracing pattern, but Martin broadly stuck with it, and it would eventually prove a masterstroke. As the guitar became more popular as the 20th century dawned, so did the demand for more volume, which led to the introduction of metal strings instead of the traditional catgut."