15 Weirdest Rockstar Instruments

Do these things have any practical use, or are they for show-off?

Ultimate Guitar

It's a fairly known fact that rockstars can be an eccentric bunch. They express it through their music, behavior, image and of course - instruments.

In rock music's rich history, numerous musicians managed to stand out with strange-looking gear. If it was all about just instruments, they'd fade away almost instantly, but if they fused it with awesome music, weird gear would become one of their distinctive traits. So let's delve into the quirky domain and check out 15 weirdest instruments used by famous musicians.

Les Paul's Log

Let's start with one of the greats. Late Les Paul built his famous "The Log" axe using just a basic 4x4 lumber with an attached bridge, neck and pickup. Since it wasn't much of sight to look at, Paul attached the body of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar, simply sawing it up in the middle.

Bo Diddley's Cigar Box Guitar

Guitar's curved body comes for several reasons, with ease of playing being among its top purposes. So not only is Bo Diddley's Cigar Box axe highly impractical, but it also isn't the prettiest guitar in the world either. Nevertheless, it helped legendary Bo become instantly recognizable.

Dusty Hill's Fluffy Bass

Now that's what you call a classy axe. ZZ Top are known for kicking out the jams with their fluffy guitars during "Legs" tune performance, with both Dusty Hill and Billy Gibons wielding their own fluffy gear. This time around we've singled out Dusty's Bo Didley-inspired fluffy bass model.

John Bonham's Staccato Drums

As the first drummer representative, late Led Zeppelin stickman John Bonham drops in with his Staccato drums, a strange-looking set of drums also used by Iron Maiden's Nicko McBrain, Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and Keith Moon of The Who. The picture below clearly shows it Bonzo behind the kit, but check out the second image for the entire set.

Justin Hawkins Inverted Les Paul

We're not sure whose brilliant idea this inverted Les Paul was, but it's in the hands of The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins and it's as weird as it can get, earning an instant spot on the list.

Gary Moore's Guitar/Keyboard

In a vast array of guitars late Gary Moore wields in his "Out in the Fileds" video, a peculiar guitar/keyboard model distinctively stands out. You can see Gary jamming on the weird axe around 1:58 in the clip, first playing the main theme and then the keyboard line in the bridge.

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Jordan Rudess' Keytar

You might call it weird, you might call it epic, but Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess comes as a representative of peculiar keyboards with his distinctive signature sci-fi keytar.

Rick Nielsen's Five-Neck Guitar

Cheap Trick axeman Rick Nielsen brings us a perfect example of an over-exaggerated guitar with his five-neck Hamer axe. Double-necks are flashy, but understandable; this one on the other hand is just plain ridiculous. But at least it looks cool. Kinda.

Tommy Lee's Giant Bass Drum

You might think the guy's compensating for something, but you've all seen the home video, right? We're not sure just how practical the big a-s bass drum might be, but it sure earned Motley Crue's Tommy Lee an easy spot on the list.

Steve Vai's Heart Guitar

You might already know this one, since it's one of the most extreme examples of guitar ridiculousness. Steve Vai's heart axe is either ridiculed or praised for the "I do whatever the f--k I want" attitude, but one thing's for certain - you just can't miss it.

Andy McKee Harp Guitar

Not exactly a rockstar, but more of a YouTube sensation, Andy McKee is also known for shredding a peculiar-looking harp guitar. You probably know Andy for his "Drifting" tune, or maybe even a handful of other viral tracks.

Kirk Hammet' Teuffel's Birdfish

Being in one of the biggest bands in the world, Metallica's Kirk Hammett can jam whatever guitar he wants. And on a few occasions, specifically during the World Magnetic tour, Kirk was filmed playing a headless Teuffel Birdfish guitar. The image speaks for itself, as the weird rate just went through the roof.

Tony Levin's Chapman Stick and Funk Fingers

As one of the greatest bassists of all time, Tony Levin is known for playing with almost anyone from Alice Cooper to King Crimson and Liquid Tension Experiment. He recorded a total of over whopping 500 albums, occasionally using the distinctive Chapman stick instrument or even his own invention - funk fingers.

Music aficionados tend to know the Chapman stick from some of the other virtuoso players such as Dream Theater bassist John Myung, but the funk fingers - sticks attachable to fingers used for hitting bass strings - were in fact invented by Levin and his tech Andy Moore, making the bassist one of the weird gear masters.

Michael Angelo Batio Quad-Neck Guitar

Discussing guitar weirdness without mentioning Michael Angelo Batio comes as an impossible task. Whether it's the insane speed, playing style or guitar themselves, Batio stands as an epitome of an eccentric, insane and yes - weird guitarist. His quad-neck guitar is a thing of legend, you probably at least know that senseless "Freight Train" solo.

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Pat Metheny's Pikasso 42-String Guitar

No, he's not a rockstar, but Pat Metheny is arguably the greatest guitarist on the list and a true legend. Also, his 42-string Pikasso guitar is as weird as it can get. Metheny puts the axe to good use during his live shows, exploiting its numerous abilities.


That about wraps up the big 15. Some of the notable mentions include Prince's Symbol Guitar, which is in fact one of the axes that might pop up to mind first.

There's also Charlie Deal's Toilet Seat guitar, but he was hardly a rock star.

Finally, there's this.

Seriously, just WTF.

55 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Rick Nielsen is playing a 5 neck in that pic. someone took time in writing this up i see.
    The first thing that came to mind is "motograter" - an instrument invented by the band Motograter and which gave them a name. Unfortunately, I can't add pictures, only the video:
    *** Also, Danish musician Henrik Andersen with his "Medusa" - 52(!!!)string guitar, which was created by Linda Manzer (creator of Pat Metheny's 42-string guitar):
    *** By the way, as I know, idea of inverted guitar, used by Justin Hawkins, was introduced by bassist Stig Pedersen from Denmark's band D-A-D - just google for images - it's really weird) *** And last one is a "Skatar" (guitar/bass/skateboard hybrid) by Kate Irish from punk band Punk As A Doornail - also google for this
    Oh, also Andrew W.K.'s "Pizza Guitar")
    *** Plus not rockstar, but still very original and weird a bit - Laser Harp by Jean-Michel Jarre:
    Thanks for pointing out Stig Pedersen came up with the invertes bass. By the way, it's hard to find any pictures of him and his ridicilously cool bass guitars.
    The bass player from D-A-D actually has quite a few weird basses. Also one made from a functioning cadillac headlight.
    And ok, the last one I forgot) Not actually a musical instrument, but still... Jonathan Davis' (Korn) firm microphone stand invented by famous artist H.R.Giger (you may also know him by the "Alien" movie).
    You also forgot that he miscounted the number of necks in Rick Nielsen's guitar.
    Giger designed a guitar for Ibanez, too. Drop from Sybreed has one; it looks boss.
    Wow. I read the headline, and Motograter was immediately what I thought of.
    What about the guitar Kyle Gass from Tenacious D had in Master Exploder? You know, the spread legs one...
    Rick Nielsen's four neck guitar *Picture shows a 5-neck guitar UG living up to their usual standards
    My favorite weird instrument. This guy was a really fun opener.
    Thank god some one mentioned this man saw him play with Buckethead and Wolff and Tuba. Needless to say, it was awesome.
    04:44 in the video to see les paul's 'black box' one of the first on board guitar loopers. Also go to 12:58 and check out Chet's folding guitar.
    Actually, if you can stand the annoying TV host watch the whole thing. Two legends, and Chet Atkins needs more recognition here on UG
    8 string bass lap steel. He also has collapse-steel guitar. Electric bass mandolin 12 sting bass guitar and more frealy stuff.
    01 No One Loves Me & Neither Do I (Live in Cologne) Triple Neck Song
    IMO calling Andy McKee "more of a YouTube sensation" is a big understatement. He's been a succesful pro touring musician for several years, not some random kid from the internets...
    seasick steve makes unusual guitars too . one's made out of a morris marina.
    Couple from Steve Hogarth (Marillion) come to mind. MIDI gloves seen here: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/0vdPUVh309k/?FR=LIAN and the updated version here, as a cricket bat:
    (at about 4'40") there's also been an ice hockey stick version too
    Seems like you guys have never heard about an argentinian band called Les Luthiers Google them, and them incredible ammount of weird instruments (from a fish can violin; to a basketball-thing to play somthing like harmonica sounds)...ah, by the way, all the instruments are made for themselves
    not rock, but the first thing i thought of was Roy Wooten, Victor Wooten's brother. He invented and plays the Drumitar with bela fleck and the flecktones.
    Why not just call the article 15 weirdest musician instruments? Also Bo Diddleys guitar is far from being highly impractical and is def a good looking guitar.
    I actually think the guy who wrote this article is quite an ass. A Cigar Box is that shape because it gives it a different sound, It's not impractical because that type of "axe" -_- has a history. I honestly don't think they guy who wrote this knows anything about guitars. Well done UG Kudos to you.
    In a radio interview he claimed it was more comfortable for horsing around on stage. After having a bad landing while jumping around with a Gibson L5, he started to think of a more comfortable guitar design to continue performing his stage antics.
    No mention of Allan Holdsworth with that SynthAxe you posted? UG, I am extremely disappoint. Also, the harp guitar Andy McKee is playing was expertly wielded by Michael Hedges for his track "Because It's There"!
    I enjoyed the list! But seriously, how freaking hard is it to edit (or at least spell check) an article prior to its publication??
    What about Paolo Angeli - it's the weirdest guitar creation I've ever seen. Yes, this is all live by one person:
    Gotta say I saw Metheny live, that guitar is ****in ridiculous. The fact anyone can comprehend how to play that thing is ridiculous. Great show by the way.
    im glad someone included the picasso guitar lol that shit is ridiculous
    Also, a French progressive band by the name Lazuli has an interesting invention which was made out of necessity when their lead guitarist lost his arm. The Leode, a synth played with 6 ribbon controllers lined up like guitar strings, to be played with one hand.
    Just seen this article.....how about Francis Dunnery's Tap guitar thingy? Saw it live with It Bites on his last gig with them,can't find picture,tho'
    Jimmy Page used some cool stuff also. Harp Guitar - Triple Neck - Whatever the heck this is - And let's be honest, the way he modified that theremin is trippy -
    Y'know, people use to think Paul Mcartney had quite a unique instrument... But look where we are now.