The electric guitar is a central figure in the history of rock music. What guitars are regarded as classics of the genre? Classic Electric Guitars. Five Timeless Guitars In Rock Music.
The lead guitarist is an iconic figure in popular music. From Duane Eddy through Jimi Hendrix to Mark Knopfler, they have been musical role models for generations of budding rock stars. But what of their chosen instrument? What can be regarded as classic examples of the electric guitar? Here are five contenders.
Leo Fender gave birth to the Fender Stratocaster in the mid 1950’s. By overcoming the previously restrictive dominance of feedback, he introduced a classic guitar to the world.
A deep cutaway body and lighter feel gave scope for showmanship and style, epitomised in the playing and performances of Jimi Hendrix. The built in vibrato added sustain and subtlety to the sound and this easy to play and wonderful to look at guitar remains hugely popular.
Example of a Classic Fender: Fender American Vintage 1957
The older brother of the Fender, the Telecaster has a basic design, and has been referred to as a plank with pick-ups. However this raw quality proved popular with quintessential ‘old school’ rockers life Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen.
The Telecaster is distinctive, its sharp, bright, icy sound lending space to the playing and lightness to the feel. A timeless design classic.
Example of a Classic Telecaster: Fender American Vintage 1952
The 1930’s musical child of Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp, the Rickenbacker guitar rose to fame when used by the most famous band in the world, The Beatles.
The opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” cemented its place in musical history and its use on many Byrds classics makes its chiming resonance instantly recognisable.
Example of a Classic Rickenbacker: Rickenbacker 360-12
Gibson Les Paul
Heavy in weight and sound the Gibson Les Paul has a markedly different sound to that of the Fender. Its deep, dark and honeyed tones contrast sharply with the bright sharpness of its competitor.
Often favoured by proponents of the hard riff and extended solo, some or its more famous players include Jimmy Page, Slash and Eric Clapton.
Example of a Classic Gibson Les Paul: Gibson R9 Les Paul
Gibson Flying V
Designed as one of a trio of modernistic alternatives to the Stratocaster, this is a radically shaped guitar. As expected from its name, the body of the guitar is shaped into a V.
This approach was not universally popular and seen by some as gimmicky and lacking true style and subtlety. The initial 1958 launch was followed by a discontinuation the following year. However the re-launch in 1967 proved more successful and it still remains a prime example of idiosyncratic guitar design.
Example of Classic Gibson Flying V: Gibson Korina Flying V
Great Electric Guitars
The sounds, shapes and styles of the electric guitar have become signposts in the history of rock music. A player’s preference may be dictated by the music of their youth, the imagery of a role model or the subjective magic a certain sound creates within them.
The opportunity to experience and experiment on different guitars until finding that perfect partner can be a thrilling experience. Air guitar may be fun, but you can’t beat the real thing.