Some people will say that looks don’t really count for anything anymore in music. Others will say that what you play doesn’t matter – it’s all about how you play. We are here to let you know the reasons why the most important instruments in music can have an impact that goes beyond the sound they create. Here are the top 10 most iconic guitars in rock music!
10. Kurt Cobain’s Fender Jag-Stang
Though the Nirvana frontman had his fair share of guitars (played and smashed) throughout his career, a couple of the Fender models tend to stand out; most iconically the Jaguar and the Mustang.
Rather than Kurt having to pick either one of the two, he created his very own combination of both guitars. He then later pitched the Jag-Stang to Fender who had it made for him but only ended up using the Fender on rare occasions.
GAK FACT – Did you know that after Kurt Cobain passed away, his blue model of the Fender was given to R.E.M.’s Peter Buck.
9. James Hetfield’s “EET FUK” ESP Explorer
James Hetfield has used several different Explorers with Metallica,but one stands out in particular. His ESP “EET FUK” white model, which was used while touring ‘And Justice For All’
The words written on the guitar never had a full explanation, though one isn’t necessary really. After having its headstock broken multiple times, the Explorer was put to one side, though Hetfield picked it up once again to record the track ‘Suicide & Redemption’ on the album ‘Death Magnetic’. White Explorers went on to become an identifiable element of Metallica’s image.
8. Tom Morello’s “Arm The Homeless” Custom
Tom Morello’s choice for standard tuning with Rage Against The Machine comes as his “Arm The Homeless” guitar. Tom ordered it from a custom guitar shop in Hollywood,asking for exact specifications and it came out as “the shittiest guitar in the world,” in his own words.
He also was quoted saying “Everything about it was bad: it looked bad, it sounded bad, it was grotesquely overpriced, and over the course of the next two years I changed literally everything about it except for the piece of wood.”
After lots of modifications, he eventually gave up on making the guitar sound like he wanted, and instead focused on the sounds he could create with it. As for the artwork on the body, Morello claimed he enjoyed the juxtaposition of the line “arm the homeless” with the images of the smiling hippos that he drew himself.
7. Gene Simmons’ “Axe” Bass
6. Zakk Wylde’s “Bullseye” Gibson Les Paul
When Zakk Wylde started touring with Ozzy Osbourne, he knew he couldn’t simply play with his cream Gibson Les Paul, it was too similar to the model used by his predecessor, Randy Rhoads. Wylde explains how the Bullseye design came about: “I saw the poster from Vertigo, and thought that would be awesome. So I explained it to my buddy Max, but when I went down there for the photo shoot, I opened up the case and saw the Bullseye logo. I said, ‘Dude, what the f***?’ I had drawn it on a piece of paper and everything, but it was too late anyway. So we did the photo shoot, and the rest is history.”
5. Prince’s “Cloud”
This fan favourite was custom-built by Minneapolis luthier David Rusan in 1983. The guitar is featured in the film “Purple Rain.” Some fans might argue in favor of his symbol guitar, the Cloud just looks sleeker, more like something a musician might actually want to play.
4. Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstrat”
The Frankenstrat came as Eddie Van Halen’s attempt at combining the sound of a Gibson with the body of a Stratocaster. After getting the body at a discount price because it had a knot in the wood, Van Halen went on to build the guitar by himself, and eventually giving it the custom finish that became well-known.
3. Angus Young’s Jaydee SG
Though Angus Young had previously used the Gibson SG Standard (and contributed to its popularity) his unique version came thanks to Jaydee, adding lightning bolt inlays to the neck of the guitar, something that carried over to later custom-built versions of the guitar. Regardless of which version of the SG Angus Young is playing, it’s become nearly impossible to picture him without this specific guitar – and, in some ways, the guitar without him.
2. Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul Standard
To be fair, all of his guitars look pretty iconic, even his often forgotten red Les Paul. A strong case could be made for his double-necked Gibson SG, a model that he helped popularise with a performance of Stairway To Heaven, where he used both necks!
The sunburst finish doesn’t really have anything unusual about it, yet Page wore it so well that we can’t help associating it with Led Zeppelin.
1. Jimi Hendrix’s Monterey Fender Stratocaster
This guitar holds a spot in this list for a unique reason, the fact that it’s probably best known for how it ended up, rather than its appearance. At the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience closed their set with an extended version of Wild Thing, when Hendrix knelt next to the Fender Stratocaster and set it on fire, giving place to one of the most memorable moments in rock history.