What is the Ultimate Guitar? Ha! No, seriously.
On Wednesday we asked you so name the most legendary guitars ever
. Thousands of votes later, we have the results - and considering this is the biggest guitar community on the planet, it could be the most definitive list of iconic guitars ever.If you can share anything extra about the history of these awesome axes, add it to the comments. Enjoy!
10. Steve Vai's Ibanez JEM
At the time, its unique pickup arrangement and upgraded vibrato helped Steve Vai
achieve some awesome sounds. 24 fret guitars were pretty rare back in 1987, and along with other flashy touches like bright pickups and funky dials, the JEM
really stood out. Best of all could be the "monkey grip" handle which helped Vai pull off some ninja stage moves without losing grip.
9. Tony Iommi's Gibson SG Special 'Monkey'
What makes Tony Iommi
's Gibson SG
different from all the others? Simple: a monkey sticker. He used it on most of the original line-up albums and tours. Iommi originally preferred a white Stratocaster
but the bridge pickup failed after recording "Wicked World
" on their debut album. It might be legendary, but it's not perfect - apparently it's always had tuning problems and noisy pickups. Now it's on display at Times Square in New York.
8. James Hetfield's 'EET FUK' ExplorerJames Hetfield
has been rocking an Explorer
since the late 80s, and made the model a household name. Even when he's not using an Explorer, he'll often get custom guitars that look the same anyway. One example: the ESP JK Snakebyte
, which launched in 2011.
7. David Gilmour's Black Stratocaster
In 1970, David Gilmour
bought his first black Strat
in New York. Within weeks, Pink Floyd
's equipment had been stolen, but he loved it so much he went and bought another from the same store. It became a Pink Floyd icon, and went on display in the Hard Rock Cafe. Then, when Pink Floyd reunited in 2005, it made a triumphant return, and had been with David ever since.
6. Randy Rhoads' Polka Dot V
This unique-looking guitar was built by guitar making legend Karl Sandoval
's specifications. Which, it would seem, includes the polka-dot pattern and how tie inlays. It apparently cost $740, and if you ask nicely Mr. Sandoval might make one of your own. That is, if you're brave enough to wear it.
5. B.B. King's ES-355 'Lucille'
What do you do if there's a fire? That's right, you get out of the building and stay out. In 1949, B.B. King
went against this age-old advice after two fighting men knocked over a burning barrel. King went outside, but ran back to recover his $30 Gibson. Two people died. When King learned the men had been fighting over a woman called Lucille
, and decided to name all his guitars after her as a reminder not to do anything stupid ever again - whether it's running into a flaming building or fighting over a woman."Walking Dead
" fans who are up to the latest comics might notice a great little Lucille reference, by the way...
4. Jimi Hendrix's Backwards Stratocaster
Left-handed Jimi Hendrix
famously played a right-handed Stratocaster
backwards. Much has been made of how the reverse-stringing affected the tone, and while it's true it would have made some difference, it's probably been overstated by tone enthusiasts over the decades. The funny thing is, the same people often don't realise that the key solos on songs like "Hey Joe
" and "Purple Haze
" weren't played on a Strat at all - they were on Noel Redding's Fender Telecaster
3. Edward Van Halen's FrankenstratEddie Van Halen
's attempt to combine the sound of a Gibson
guitar with the appearance of a Fender
resulted in one of the most iconic paint jobs ever. Eddie did an awesome job with the original Frankenstrat
, and it's been replicated both officially and unofficially ever since. To keep the copycats guessing, Eddie added a non-functional pickup and three-way switch purely to throw off people trying to emulate his handiwork.
2. Brian May's Red Special
Unlike other handmade entries on this list, this isn't custom built from the best parts of existing guitars. Brian May
built the Red Special
by hand with his father with the wood of an 18th century fireplace mantel. He still uses the original occasionally, but his guitar company has taken to building replicas which he's happy to use.
1. Jimmy Page's EDS-1275 Double Neck Gibson
This striking siamese guitar would be famous even if Jimmy Page
didn't use it; Slash
, James Hetfield
and jazz legend John McLaughlin
have played it live too. But it was Page's historic performances of "Stairway To Heaven
" that made this one of the most famous guitars ever. It's never sold in huge numbers, but remains in production by various custom shops who want to keep its legend alive.What guitars would you add to the list and why? Let us know in the comments.