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A Brief Guide To Popular Guitar Models
Welcome back, This week is all about my favorite thing in the whole world – the guitar!
So many guitars, so little time… or was it so little money? Perhaps both? There are so many guitar models out there, it can be overwhelming to pick one or even a few. However, it’s also very exciting to go on a hunt for a new guitar that you connect with. Many guitarists (and musicians in general) “stalk” their next purchase for a while. You can do that by reading about a particular guitar you might be interested in, and better yet, trying it out.
Despite the massive amount of guitar models out there, there are a few that have risen to the top of the crop. This is due partly because of their greatness, usability and where they appeared in history. Here is a brief guide to some of the most popular and iconic models you may come across
The undisputed most popular electric guitar model ever. It was designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. The Stratocaster is the most copied guitar model ever. It is a solid body guitar (made from a solid piece of wood) and features three single-coil pickups. The “Strat” is extremely useful, to the point that is hard to associate it to a particular style or function. Rock, pop, funk, blues, heavy metal, and even jazz fusion greats have used the Stratocaster extensively.
It has a particular sound or twang and at the same time is extremely versatile. Chances are that the Stratocaster is the most recorded guitar ever. Besides Fender, there are dozens of reputable companies that have Stratocaster-type models in their line. Strats come in many varieties, with differences ranging from woods used on its construction, to electronics all the way to different kinds of bridges. These include giants like Ibanez and Paul Reed Smith, as well as smaller and boutique manufacturers like Suhr and Sadowski.
Greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck, The Edge, and Wayne Krantz are prime examples of unbelievable “Strat” players.
The “Tele” was first introduced in 1950, but back then it was named the Broadcaster. Almost 70 years later, it is still a favorite model among guitarists. It was the first mass-produced solid-body guitar ever. Although commonly associated with country music, the Telecaster is also very versatile and used in a great variety of styles. Like the Strat, the “Tele” is also a solid body guitar with single coil pickups. One of the main differences from the Strat is its pickup configuration, with only two instead of three.
There are many different Telecaster models featuring different combinations and features. Being such a popular model, it is also produced by a great number of manufacturers. These include the usual suspects as well as boutique companies, just like with the Strats.
Great Telecaster players include Prince, Andy Summers, Bill Frisell, George Harrison, Albert Collins, Albert Lee, Tom Morello, Mike Stern, to mention just a few.
This extremely popular model is mostly associated with Gibson, which was the first company to commercialize it back in 1952. It is quite beloved especially for rock guitarists, although it has been used in many other styles, including fusion Jazz (check out Al DiMeola). Unlike Strats and Teles, Les Pauls use two humbucker pickups. If there are two guitars to be had in any guitarists arsenal those are probably a Strat and a Les Paul. The sound of Les Pauls tend to be warmer and rounder when compared with the bite and twang of Strats.
Great players to play a Les Paul include Jimmy Page, Slash, Joe Perry, Peter Frampton, Pete Townshend, Randy Rhoads and Les Paul (pun intended).
Introduced by Gibson, this is the most famous semi-hollow body style guitar. Commonly used for Jazz, Blues, Funk, and even Rock, the 335 is a very versatile guitar. Unlike all the previous models on this list, the ES-335 is not a solid body. It is characterized by two f-holes on each side of its top and a wider, bigger body than all previous models mentioned here.
It is one of Gibson’s most sought-after models and just like Strats, Teles, and Les Pauls, many companies make 335 copies. Some of these copies are truly outstanding and equipped with modern features, and they are offered by companies such as Collings Guitar and Heritage.
For great players that employ this guitar, check out B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Freddy King and studio legend Larry Carlton (whose nickname is actually Mr. 335).
One of the most popular hollow-body guitars, the ES-175 is a staple among jazz musicians. However, it is also used for other styles, as proven by Steve Howe from legendary prog rock band Yes. It debuted in 1949 and is still a very popular model among jazz musicians and guitar aficionados in general.
It is known for its warm and round tone. Some legendary ES-175 players include Joe Pass, Herb Ellis and Pat Metheny (in his early years).
Wrapping it all up
There is so much variety when it comes to guitar models that it is quite challenging to come up with even a short list. The models above are among the most popular ever but they are just a start. Another few models that have passed the test of time are SG, Flying V, Explorer, Super Strat, L5, Super 400, to name just a few more.
Spend some quality time reading about all of them and go beyond. As always, the best is to go out and try these models for yourself. That is the best way to know how they really sound and feel. And I suspect you will have tons of fun. Keep in mind that this process can take a while. Yes, there are a lot of options, but that just makes it much more exciting and fun.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned and…