For most guitar students, any playable guitar will work for taking guitar lessons. But after you’ve been taking guitar lessons for a while, you may find yourself getting a bit more particular about your instruments.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a guitar that has your name written all over it. The moment you pick it up, it’ll just feel right, and from the style to the tone to the color, it’ll fit you and your playing style perfectly.
Of course, we’re not the only ones who get attached to our instruments. Our guitar heroes do, too. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic guitars in history, and the musicians who loved them.
Hendrix was known to play a few different guitars over the course of his career, including a few Les Pauls, a Flying V, and some SGs. But most of the time, Jimi was a dedicated Strat man. The most iconic of Jimi’s Stratocasters is undoubtedly the hand-painted 1965 Strat that he set ablaze at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. You’ve seen the posters: Hendrix crouching over the guitar with a bottle of lighter fluid, sacrificing his guitar to the rock gods. Rock and Roll!
After Black Sabbath disbanded, Ozzy Osbourne was in serious need of a new guitarist, and he found the perfect collaborator in Randy Rhoads. The former Quiet Riot guitarist co-wrote every song on Ozzy’s first two solo albums, and his trademark classical-meets heavy metal playing is a crucial component of these seminal records. With its distinctive polka dot paint job and bow tie inlays, Randy Rhoad’s custom-made flying V guitar is undoubtedly the most dapper instrument on this list.
The Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain designed the Jag-Stang by taking pictures of the Fender Jaguar and Mustang, cutting them in half, and putting them together. Seems like an odd way to design a guitar, but when you’re as famous as he was, you can call Fender and and have them cobble together just about anything. Cobain didn’t play the guitar much live, but following his death, demand for the quirky guitar went way up, and it was reissued by Fender.
As Legend has it, B.B. King was playing a gig at a dance hall in Arkansas when two of the audience members started fighting over a woman named Lucille. They knocked over a barrel of burning kerosene, and the hall went up in flames. After being evacuated, King ran back into the burning building to rescue his cherished Gibson ES 335, then christened it “Lucille” to remind himself never to fight over women or run into burning buildings.
Constructed of fiberglass, Airline guitars like the red one Jack White plays were originally considered entry-level instruments. These days, they’ve become quite collectible, due in no small part to their appearances in the hands of artists such as Jack White, David Bowie, and Robert Smith of the Cure. Of all the famous Airline players, Jack White is the one most closely associated with these quirky guitars, and they certainly match his aesthetic nicely.
A strong case could be made for the inclusion of the Led Zeppelin guitarist’s favorite Les Paul Standard, but I’m going with the double-neck for its sheer, crank-it-to-11 awesomeness. The guitar was best known as Page’s weapon of choice for live performances of “Stairway to Heaven,” and unlike most guitarists with double-neck guitars, Page actually used both of the necks.
Queen guitarist Brian May built his signature guitar with his father long before he became a rock icon. It was carved from an old fireplace mantel, and wired in a way that gave May access to some pretty unique sounds.
Replicas have been made of the Red Special, and May himself uses them on stage, so they must not be too shabby. Still, I’m sure the original has a special place in his heart.
Van Halen may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he was definitely an innovator. While others had dabbled in the two-hand tapping technique, he took it to the next level. He also took an iconoclastic approach to his guitar. He wanted the sound of a Gibson and the feel of a Strat, so he put new pickups on his Stratocaster and gave it a crazy paint job. He also installed a decoy pickup just to keep would-be imitators from decoding the secrets of his tone.
These are the guitars that stick out most in my mind, but there are plenty of others that are equally striking: Willie Nelson’s beat-up acoustic guitar, Trigger, Rick Neilson’s ridiculous 5-neck Hamer, Tommy Iommi’s SG David Gilmour’s black Stratocaster…
Start Taking Guitar Lessons
Some beginning guitarists think getting an awesome guitar will magically make them guitar wizards, but it doesn’t really work that way. However, taking guitar lessons from a great guitar teacher will certainly help you get there.
Whether you’re trying to become a campfire strummer or a guitar legend worthy of a signature model of your own, you have to start somewhere. Get your free intro guitar lesson today.