Top 10 Most Famous Guitars

The most legendary guitars in rock history, based on your votes. Every entry is iconic, but which guitar made it to the top spot?

Ultimate Guitar

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' Explorer

James 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 to Randy'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 Frankenstrat

Eddie 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.

283 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I thought Angus Young's SG is more famous than Tony Iommi's... But nevermind both are iconic guitars.
    Think the issue there is Angus doesn't have one particular SG people focus on. No doubt, he's one of the most iconic SG-PLAYERS, but don't think he's identified with one particular SG....
    Nor is Jimi Hendrix identified with one particular Strat. He used many Strats same as Angus used many SGs (and Steve Vai used many JEMs). The first thing that comes to my mind when I see an SG is Angus Young.
    KILO of KAOS
    But if you had to narrow down jimi's most famous strat it would most likely be the one he set on fire, the one he used in london.
    nore is Vai identified with one particular Jem *trolling* ( seriously vai???)
    I didn't kind of understand your comment. I just said that Vai used many Jems. Or are you disagreeing? Steve Vai pretty much plays every song with a different guitar if you have seen him playing live (they are all Jems/Universes but he has like 100 different Jems).
    Indeed. I went to a local club yesterday and a guitarist was playing a Gibson SG. My non-musician friends asked me if it was 'Angus Young's guitar'
    TBH I think Eric Clapton's The Fool is a far cooler and more iconic guitar than either of those, though I understand that it does not define its artist in the same way that Young's or Iommi's SGs do. I still think The Fool deserved a shout-out.
    Was hoping to see Dimebag Darrell's Dean from Hell on there, but nice list anyway.
    Why is Brian May second? I clearly remember him having the most votes in the comments. But whatever. Very good list ether way.
    I know. wtf UG.
    L.T Kickass
    They also called it Siamese. What the **** is siamese about it?
    It's two stuck together, perhaps?
    L.T Kickass
    Siamese means from Siam, not two things stuck together, FYI. The reason Siamese twins are called siamese is because they were named after two conjoined twins from Siam. Siamese cats aren't two cats stuck together. The writer's were wrong, perhaps?
    Because it was the only comment talking about Brian's guitar. there were like 20 comments all about the double neck who combined got more voted... I think
    which is stupid, cause you can vote only once on a post, but severl times on several posts which means if the same 30 jimmy page fans vote on 4 comments for example, that would make 120 votes for page, when there's really only 30 fans while if 110 Brian May fans vote once, that makes 10 less votes, while there's much more Red special fans... if ya know what I mean 8D
    They probably added up all of the votes they could find on the thread, even if it wasn't the most individual votes.
    Saddened the mighty Wangcaster isn't on the list. I thought the UG community knew better.
    I woulda liked to see Billy Gibbons fluffy guitars, even though they're not THAT iconic. Surprised Slash's AFD didn't make it.
    Well, I have to agree with you on those points... If you know what I mean...
    Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Number One" has to be on the list.He was not with us long, but revived the Blues for a generation.
    Great list of guitars of great musicians! But how about Kurt Cobain's Fender Jaguar?
    I've got a poster on my wall "Guitar Heaven" and oddly, it only had 4 of these. I wanted Seasick Steve's busted guitar on here! Or Keith Richards Tele, what about Slash's les paul?
    I have that same poster. It's inaccurate though, for instance: EVH's headstock is a tele stock :| and Iommi's SG is not the same body shape too.
    I agree, surely at least one of Seasick Steve's crazy guitars should be here!
    Nice, i have that exact same poster!! Although its not 100% accurate, it still is a kickass poster...
    You mean his amazing Jagstang?
    the jagstang? not even kurt liked that guitar
    How did he not like it? Didn't he draw out the plans and stuff himself in his journal?
    Kurt actually claimed that, while he designed it, he just plain disliked what he had created. It's Frankenstein's monster in guitar form.
    I read in Heavier Than Heaven By Charles R Cross (I think it was in that), that he actually was going to send it back to Fender with his new specifications. I'm 90% sure the Jagstang was just a prototype.
    He liked the concept, just not the execution. He wanted the body to be contoured and he didn't like the pickups it came with. Almost all of his Mustangs had Seymour Duncan JBs, whereas the Jagstang had some Dimarzio. So if the body had been contoured and the electronics were the same as his Mustang, I'm sure he would have liked it more.
    Wasn't it a work in progress at the time of his death? It probably would have been more famous than what materialized if: a) Courtney didn't kill him or b) He didn't shoot himself. --- If you haven't already guessed, I'm a proponent of the Courtney-murdered-Kurt theory.
    Brian Setzer's Gretsch. He's been using that same guitar for decades and has lost it multiple times.
    Or Kurt's famous Mustang?
    Yeah, seriously. They used a picture of Kurt Cobain on the main page and at the top of the article but neither guitars were on the list. I thought they had gotten quite a few votes though.
    I would've put Santana's PRS and Slash's LP(not really a big fan of his but still), but overall awesome list.
    How about his shotgun? That's my favorite Cobain instrument, as it made the best Cobain music.
    You're disgusting.
    What? What kind of coward kills themselves when they have a small child. You think that kid wishes they had a dad?
    You sound upset, is this a personal issue? I know, my dad didn't hug me enough either, it's okay man.
    link no1
    I have to agree with TysonRoad. I don't really like Nirvana but I do like the Foo Fighters, so I thank the shotgun also.
    Yeah. Shotgun. Made the sweetest music Cobain ever dreamed of making.
    you deserve a shell from it to the face my friend
    yup, the best way to answer someone being a human garbage is also being a human garbage and wishing death and all that stuff, you utter scumbag
    Some people are useless. "You deserve a shell from it to the face my friend" (2)
    By far the most recognizable guitar ever is " ed's baby ".Seriously, How did brian mays guitar " who is an excellent guitarist " beat out Frankenstein? Who would have even thought of it contending.It is as baffling as learning eric Clapton has 3 guitars in the top ten most expensive guitars of all time.he is also an excellent guitarist but why has that happened anyway.he is still alive and plays with three fingers.
    very good list, but i'm surprised to see nothing to do with a Gibson Les Paul of any sort.
    Great List! But I think the Red Special is the real winner. Who the f*** plays such a great selfmade guitar?!?
    Surely Les Paul's guitar should be in the list as his own as that is the most famous guitar? Eric Clapton's Strat is pretty famous but i guess having 2 strats already is enough. Kurt Cobain's signatures? Paul McCartney's violin bass? Billie Joe Armstrong's blue guitar? Keith Richard's blonde tele? Just some suggestions that I think could have made the list.
    Good list, no real shocks in here, though I am surprised Pearly Gates didn't make it into the top 10.
    Dimebag Darrell,i realise not every great guitar can squeeze into ten but those Dean guitars he used were badass!!!
    Guns N' Chains
    Not surprised. Jimmy Paige from LED ZEPPELIN at number 1. A very fine list and deserving. But when doesn't Zeppelin have the number 1 spot on any list? If there were to be a "Top 10 Punk songs" on here, I hold no doubts that Led Zeppelin would make their way to number 1.
    Top 10 Hip Hop Songs #1: Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks Because the drum beat has been used in countless hip hop songs.
    Yup... at least we didn't have this much fanboyism/name dropping before the internet... jeez... EDIT: works with Tool, Meshuggah, Periphery and any other wankcore metal, too.
    As someone who is not even slightly a fan of Led Zeppelin, the double guitar I'd have much rather seen is Michael Angelo Batio's double axe (one guitar on left, one on right). The irony here is that MAB is a huge Led Zeppelin fan.
    But which one is more famous? Most ordinary people (that don't play guitar) haven't even heard about Michael Angelo Batio. But everybody has heard of Led Zeppelin. And the first guitarist to come to your mind when you see a double neck guitar is Jimmy Page. He's just the most famous double neck guitar player. Don't know if the double neck Gibson is the most iconic guitar though. But it was a good list.
    If you wanted to see the most iconic guitars, I think your going to need a bigger boat. Even the top 50 would still be leaving some out.
    Still think the L-1 that Satan allegedly gave to Robert Johnson is the most legendary guitar ever
    Billie Joe? You mean that douche from green day with the mascara? No Love for Joe Strummer's Tele?
    Surprised Slash's les paul isn't number 1, the amount of kids that want a les paul because of him lol
    People want a les paul bescause it is, next to the strat, the most iconic guitar in history and it has such a unique cassic tone, not because slash plays it
    Jack White's JB Hutto Montgomery Airline! Or John Frusciante's Fender Jaguar that he plays in the "Under the Bridge" video.