There are many guitar styles models out there, from nylon-stringed classical guitars and steel-stringed acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars, but the most recognizable ones really are in the realm of the electrics. Thanks in part to some of the world’s favorite rock, jazz and blues musicians brandishing their stringed babies on stage, we’ve got some of the most iconic guitars the world has ever known.
If you’re out looking for an electric guitar, check out these classic, iconic guitars from Gibson and Fender–the biggest names in guitar–that can instantly make you look like a rock star.
The Gibson Explorer first entered the market in 1958 but was soon discontinued because of low sales. It had been designed to have what was considered back then a modern look and feel, but apparently that era’s desire for futuristic designs didn’t extend to electric guitars.
By the Seventies however, Gibson noticed that other guitar companies were becoming successful at selling guitars that were similar in style to the Explorer, so the company tried again and proved that guitar love was sweeter the second time around. Guitar masters George Harrison and Eric Clapton have both been seen playing the Gibson Explorer, which is also a favorite among heavy metal and hard rock guitarists. Pictured above is the signature Gibson Explorer Lzzy Hale (Halestorm).
Gibson Flying V
The Flying V was marketed the same time as the Explorer, and like the Explorer, it also flopped in sales. Five years later however, the Flying V was reissued. It soon became popular among hard rock and heavy metal artists because of its tone and looks, prompting Gibson to make variants such as the Reverse Flying V and the Flying V2. Notable music personalities known to play a Flying V are Albert King, Lonnie Mack, Lenny Kravitz and the person we consider the best guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix. Grace Potter has her own signature Flying V (pictured above).
Gibson Les Paul
Without a doubt one of the most popular guitars in the galaxy, the Les Paul actually had a rocky start in the market. Les Paul (the person) teamed with Gibson to create this guitar, which has become a staple for rock & roll musicals. It’s based on Paul’s invention called the “log” because the guitar’s electronics and strings ran through a single, central piece of wood.
Popular Les Paul players are Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney, Peter Frampton, Slash and Neil Young, whose Les Paul Goldtop was named “Old Black.” Sister Rosetta Tharpe played a Les Paul Gold-Top as well as a 1961 double-cutaway Les Paul Custom among her many guitars.
Nicknamed the “Tele,” this guitar was first marketed in 1950 and it became the first electric guitar that achieved commercial success. It’s still raking in profits more than 60 decades later. The Tele is a favorite particularly among country musicians because of its distinct “twang,” but guitarists in other genres such as jazz, blues and pop have also been seen playing it. Keith Richards, Joe Strummer and Bob Dylan are some of the most popular Tele players.
Avril Lavigne’s signature Fender Tele featured a black and white checkerboard pickguard.
The Strat’s iconic design has made it one of the most emulated electric guitar models on the planet. Stratocaster production was first begun in 1954, and it doesn’t look like it will be discontinued anytime soon. The Strat has found a place across many music genres, including jazz, country and of course, rock.
The Strat was the first electric guitar to have a spring tension tremolo system and it’s also the first to use three pickups. Among the most notable musicians who played a Stratocaster are David Bowie, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, which he set on fire for love at the Monterey Pop Festival, and Eric Clapton. Bonnie Raitt named her strat “Brownie.”
As its name implies, this guitar was initially intended for jazz musicians back in the late Fifties but it has achieved greater success in the early Sixties’ surf rock genre. The Jazzmaster gave a warmer tone than the Telecaster or Stratocaster. This guitar has been seen in the hands of Elvis Costello and Go Go’s guitarist Charlotte Caffey.
How about you? Which Gibson or Fender are you going for? Let us know!
This article was written by Nicky Patterson, a blogger at www.knowyourinstrument.com