First Guitars of 11 Famous Guitarists

They all had to start with something.

Ultimate Guitar

There is something magical about that very first guitar you've ever bought. Everyone remembers the axe that kicked off their musical journey, and legendary guitarists are no different.

So, check out the first guitars of famous guitarists, 11 of 'em to be precise, courtesy of Total Guitar.

Joe Satriani

"A Hagstrom III. I came home one afternoon after finding out that [Jimi] Hendrix had died. I had quit the football team, and I announced to my family that I was gonna be a guitarist. And my older sister, who had just started teaching at a local high school, stood up and said, 'I'll give him my first pay cheque.'

"There was this white Hagstrom in the local music shop, that for some reason, to me, looked like what Hendrix played. I was so naive then, I didn't know what a Fender Stratocaster was. It was $124 - that price sticks in my mind."

YouTube preview picture

John Petrucci

"My first guitar was an acoustic, kind of plastic, nylon-string thing that eventually ended up breaking. I'm not sure where my parents got it, but it wasn't very good - it wasn't very nice to play [laughs]."

YouTube preview picture


"It was a one-string Spanish-style acoustic and I got it right before my 15th birthday. My grandmother gave it to me. My uncle, my mom's brother, had a couple of guitars and one of them was this beat-up old hollow-body electric with a fake Bigsby, and it just never appealed to me, but the acoustic with the one string - for some reason, it was like, 'That's what I need.'"

YouTube preview picture

Paul Gilbert

"I had a Stella acoustic guitar that I played for two years. I recently found one just like it on eBay. I realized it was actually a small-scale neck, so it was really great for my little nine-year-old hands."

YouTube preview picture

Steven Wilson

"When I was about six years old my parents decided I was going to learn to play guitar and they bought me a nylon-string classical, I don't even remember the make, but I hated it. I hated guitar lessons and after about six weeks I gave up and it went in the attic for about four years. Then, finally, I rediscovered it when I discovered my passion for music."

YouTube preview picture

Bill Kelliher (Mastodon)

"My very first guitar was called a Starforce. It was actually a pretty decent guitar for what it was. It was a cheap copy of an Eddie Van Halen guitar - red with the white stripes and the black tape or whatever he had on his guitar. It had a whammy bar and all that stuff.

"I took all of the paint off of it - I went through my punk-rock stage - and had it spray-painted neon green and put a bunch of Sex Pistols stickers on it. There weren't stickers back then, so I just had to cut out pieces of paper and make my own."

YouTube preview picture

Mark Tremonti

"A Tara, which was an imitation Les Paul that I got when I was 11 years old. I remember it cost 10 bucks."

YouTube preview picture

Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)

"My first guitar was an acoustic, a classical by Levin, that I got from my grandmother. At the time, I was into metal music so I wasn't really happy with an acoustic guitar. But she gave me some chord books, things like 'House of the Rising Sun' and some Beatles songs, I remember.

"My first electric was a Les Paul... Well, it looked like a Black Beauty. I bought it for £40, so it obviously wasn't the real deal!"

YouTube preview picture

Herman Li (DragonForce)

"Like a lot of people starting the guitar it was just the cheapest Squier - I was 16. After that I got into [Joe] Satriani and [Steve] Vai and started doing all the whammy bar stuff and tapping, so after a year I traded it in for an Ibanez and since then I've pretty much played Ibanez."

YouTube preview picture

Satchel (Steel Panther)

"I was eight years old and it was an acoustic guitar made by a company called Global. I wanted an electric guitar, but when I asked for a guitar they bought me an acoustic for my birthday and I was really, really p-ssed off about it too. You know what - I've still got the guitar."

YouTube preview picture

Zakk Wylde

"I started off with a cheap Les Paul copy. Before that, it had to be an acoustic guitar, originally. I don't even know the name or the brand.

"My actual first real good guitar I saved up for was a Gibson SG. It was a big deal, because it said 'Gibson' on the headstock and, 'Oh my Lord!' You've got an actual, real guitar, man."

YouTube preview picture

So, what was your first guitar? Let us know in the comments.

45 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ritchie Blackmore's story of his first guitar always makes me laugh: "It was a Framus -- a German guitar. I just loved the look of it, the finish on it. It was beautiful. My father bought it for me and said, if you don't learn to play this properly, I'm going to break it across your head"
    I bet my 20 year old hands are smaller than paul's 9 year old hands xD. Dude is the king of stretch
    hahaha didn't read this until after I commented the same thing (same ages and everything lol)
    My first guitar was a knock-off Tele I bought at a pawn shop. With a case and amp, it was like $200 bucks.
    My first ever electric guitar was a no name strat copy that my dad bought me. He told me that it cost him £300 when it actually costed about £75(ish), as an incentive for me to stick to the instrument and to respect it! I ended up playing that guitar almost exclusively for about 4 or 5 years until my guitar teacher suggested that I should actually get a better guitar, so I bought an Ibanez S420. I still have the strat, and I have some plans to set it up and mod it, but I've yet to get around to doing it.
    First guitar I ever had was, like Herman Li said, one of the cheap learner Squier Strats. My little brother and I would take turns 'soloing' on it until my parents decided to get me one too (and lessons, presumably because my brother and I were so awful). Ultimately, my stepdad ran over mine with his truck.
    First guitar I ever got was a no name classical guitar that my parents got me 5 years ago. The only reason I got it was because my family couldn't afford to buy me a drum kit and the guitar was the cheapest thing they had at the store. Don't regret it all though. One of the best buys of my life and I still have the guitar at home. Still sounds good too.
    Same here. 15 years ago I wanted a drumkit but got a no-name acoustic guitar instead, I still got the guitar but it's all beat up and sounds really bad. And after 13 years of playing guitar I had the money and an empty room at my house so I finally bought my first drumkit 2 years ago... I was so happy that day.
    Paul Gilbert's 9 year old hand was probably as big as mine is right now at my 20s
    Yamaha RGX something in Candy Apple Red...bought somewhere in the mid-80-ies. Still have it.
    a 1970's martin copy that was and still technically my dad's, but my first guitar was the same as Zakk Wylde's, Gibson SG
    A Hoffner acoustic guitar, which is still my main guitar today. It's pretty nice actually, though I really need to get it properly set up
    Mine is an old Tagima acoustic, given to me by the ex-boyfriend of a friend of my mom's. (Yes, I know, wtf.) The neck's all f*cked up, not even straight at all, with the paint coming off and everything. When I got it, the only two chords I knew where E and A major, so imagine the fun of hours strumming the same stuff over and over. Actually, it was pretty fun, lol. Still got it in the basement.
    My first was a Blue Magnum Strat copy with a 5 watts amp for $300 bucks, still got it and the receipt!
    I had my Dad's old classical as my first guitar... Got a Washburn WI24 Idol for Christmas one year. Still got the guitar and upgraded the pickups, it plays super well and now sounds great. Got me through a lot of gigs in my first bands.
    First guitar was an Aspen D18 Jap knock off of Martin, new in 75. Next was a Magnum Les Paul, also Jap copy in 77! Still have them both but I have moved on to the real thing and the old copies don't get played much! Good shape for their age though
    First guitar was some shitty Encore classical guitar that ended up completely breaking at the neck joint, so me and one of my mates who'd come to stay the night at my house for my 15th birthday decided to fill it up with water and drop it on the patio at the back of the garden lol. My first electric was a Westfield strat copy.
    The first guitar which I ever owned was a knock-off Flying V by a danish brand called Shelter (which ceased to exist some time ago) - Surprisingly good guitar, which however didn't end up sounding very well due to my ignorance of maintenance, lack of a decent amplifier, and overall technique - I'm actually in the process of having it sold, and for the occasion cleaned it up, changed the strings, and checked everything was alright, and it ended up sounding x10 times better than I remember, and could probably actually be on par with, or exceed a standard Gibson if the electronics were replaced and the action was lowered. The first guitar I ever played however was a real Spanish (as in, made in Spain) guitar from 1902 which belonged to my great-grandparents, and which was inherited by my father - It's not in pristine condition by any means, but still sounds beautiful.
    I only know Akerfelt and Wilson... WTF UG? Come on ! FAMOUS guitarist plz
    Okay, even if you have absolutely no interest in guitar, no musical influence at all in your life, and as bleak and uninspiring soul as Alan Rickman, you still know who Slash is. He is probably the most pop culturally relevant guitarist today, so you lose all credibility by not knowing the popular stage name of mister Saul Hudson, as well as visiting Ultimate-Guitar, and commenting, with absolutely no knowledge of the most relevant icons of our art form: Wylde, Tremonti, Petrucci, Satiani..... You get the point.
    Akerfeldt and Wilson aren't even that famous outside of the rock/metal realm. This smells like 'elitism' more than ignorance, methinks.
    Baby Joel
    Outside of the rock/metal realm, are people actually able to list 11 names where the person is primarily known as a guitarist? Don't know if I could. probably like hendrix and clapton and santana or something
    Hendrix and Clapton, of course. Slash, Eddie Van Halen, Chet Atkins, Zakk Wylde seems to be pretty big even in the 'I know a little bit of rock realm. John Mayer, and if UG's headlines are your primary news source, Jared Dines, Rob Scallion, and Steve Tereberry (sp?)
    Anty 7
    He's trolling, Akerfeldt and WIlson are some of the lesser-known players on the list.
    link no1
    My first, like many peoples, was a strat copy. Cost me like £20. Since I was 14 at the time and didn't have an income, I asked my dad for some money for new pants and shoes because "my dog ate them". He didn't live with us and barely saw me, so it was easy to guilt money off him if I really needed it. I used that money on that guitar and a cheap practice amp that altogether cost about £40. About 10 years later I still have that guitar (though the amp is long gone) and my dad still thinks I bought pants. Even now, if my house was on fire, I would pick up that guitar as priority rather than the one that cost £600 simply for sentimental reasons.
    My first was a Washburn Dime 332. My dad bought it for me for my 16th birthday.
    The first guitar I had was a First Act that didn't last long from my little cousins destroying it but my first guitar that I learned a lot from was a brandless guitar my dad won for me at Cedar Point. All it said on the head was "B".
    The first guitar I actually owned was a surprisingly decent Peavey from the 70's or 80's. It was made of solid wood, really heavy, with a wood grain finish and a phase switch. The pickups were pretty decent too and it came with a hard-shell case when I bought it used. I wish I had it, but it was stolen from my car outside a café at an early Cake gig.
    I started borrowing a €100 nylon string from one of my dad's friends for a year when I was 11. I liked it so much I bought the exact same one the next year, along with a €200 Squier. Looking back I should've gone for an Affinity Strat, because the Standard one I had SUCKED. I still have the Strat but sold the nylon string to some other kid when the action grew too high... My brother restored another nylon string he picked up somewhere and gave it to me for my 16th birthday, and I bought my first "real" electric that same year. That's a €400 Epi LP Plus Top, which is still my main guitar.
    A Sebring guitar straight out of the Sears catalog. Got it when I was 13 as a christmas gift. Looked like a black strat. A couple of years later after I saved up and bought my LP, I sanded that fuker down, changed the pick-ups and tried to make it into the SRV guitar. Still have it today. It looks cool as shit but plays like ass lol.
    Mine was a folk acoustic guitar by the name ok KAPOK if i'm not mistaken. And my first electric guitar was a Yamaha EG112 with the small 10W amp. I keep it safe at my GF's now!
    Mine was a bass (Leo) that cost $99. Being a kid with no source of money, except collecting pop bottles, etc., it took me over six months to pay it off. My first guitar was a les paul copy... from Sears. I had a bunch of lesser named guitars after that, but my first real guitar ($1000) was a 1979 Fender Strat.
    I first learned guitar on my brother's cheap strat rip-off (Eleca was the brand, I think). My first own guitar was an Ibanez RGD320... I did not know what I was getting myself into with that guitar. Floating trem and a 26.5 inch neck, It was nothing like the strat. I still loved it though. Taught me how to deal with re-stringing and tuning Floyd-style bridges, and after a few years with that slightly longer scale, all the regular scale guitars I'd played since just felt so much easier. It now sits in a wall hanger gathering dust. It unfortunately has some atrocious microphonic issue with the pickups/electronics in it. One day I'll get around to replacing all the electronics in it and have it working properly again. =)