There are a plethora of guitar models. So many that it would be impossible to quantify every guitar model ever made. That should come as no surprise. After all, the guitar continues to be the most popular instrument on earth.
Guitars are easy to carry and store, functional in most musical settings and styles, and just plain sexy. And even though most of us can agree on all the statements above, we all have different preferences when it comes to guitar models. Some might like vintage instruments, while others prefer modern. And some might prefer a truly unique model. Hell, someone is probably coming up with a new guitar model as I write this. How could that be? What's the big deal? After all, it's just a piece of wood with some strings attached, right?
Well, for most guitar players it's not that simple. Different shapes, woods, electronics, hardware, and wiring have a drastic impact on guitar models. All these variables also guarantee that there will never be a limit to the number of guitar models. The possible combinations are just endless.
However, despite the massive amount of guitar models out there, there are a few that have become iconic. Why? Mostly because of their place in history, as well as their playability and overall quality. Here are the Eight Iconic Guitar Models We Have Come to Love.
The Strat is inarguably the most popular electric guitar model ever made. It was designed in 1954 by Leo Fender and his team. The Stratocaster is also the most imitated and copied guitar model. It is made from a solid piece of wood (solid-body guitar). It also provided the world with the classic three single-coil pickups configuration. It is a useful instrument that has been employed in countless legendary recordings of virtually every style. Rock, funk, country, blues, heavy metal and even jazz greats have used the Stratocaster extensively.
Besides Fender, there are a good number of respected companies that have produced strat models. Legends like Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Wayne Krantz are great examples of incredible strat performances.
The Les Paul model is typically paired with the Gibson brand, as they were the first to introduce it back in 1952. It is adored among rock guitarists but has also been used in many other styles. The Les Paul is thought of as being a counterpart to Strats. One of the main reasons for this is their two-humbucker pickup configuration. The sound of Les Pauls typically is rounder when compared with the bite and twang of Stratocasters. Great examples of Les Paul playing include Peter Frampton, Jimmy Page, Slash, Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Zakk Wylde, and mister Les Paul himself.
Gibson released the Flying V model in 1958. They wanted to unveil a "futuristic" model. Even though it was released well over half a century ago, it still retains a modern and unorthodox look. It features two humbuckers and has been used mostly in rock and blues. Although an iconic model, you could argue that it reached its status because of its unusual look. Speaking of unusual, in 2007 Gibson released the Reverse Flying V. To say its weird-looking is an understatement. Famous users of the Flying V model include Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, and Kirk Hammett.
The Telecaster was introduced by Fender in 1950. Almost seven decades later, it is still a favorite model among guitarists. It is a solid-body guitar commonly associated with country, rock, and blues. The Tele is also very versatile and desirable. Like the Strat, it features single-coil pickups, but in a two-pickup configuration. Great Telecaster players include Albert Collins, Prince, Bill Frisell, George Harrison, Tom Morello, Mike Stern, etc.
Introduced by Gibson, the ES-335 is the best known semi-hollow body style guitar. It is a staple of Jazz, Blues, and even Funk. The ES-335 is a very versatile instrument characterized by two f-holes on its top and a larger body than all previous models mentioned here. For great players that use an ES-335, check out B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Freddy King, and Larry Carlton.
The Explorer was also released by Gibson in 1958 in an attempt to create futuristic models. You could easily make the argument that they succeded. Just like the Flying V, the Explorer looks futuristic to this day. It is also a solid-body guitar with two humbuckers. Interestingly, Gibson discontinued the Explorer in 1963 due to poor sales. But in 1976, Hammer Guitars issued a similar model with great success. That is when Gibson reinstated the Explorer. Famous Explorer players include The Edge and Allen Collins.
Another Gibson on this list? Yup, you better get used to it. The SG is a solid-body that was introduced in 1961. It features two humbuckers and a smaller and lighter body than most vintage solid-body guitar models. It is a favorite of many rock and blues players, although it can also be found in jazz fusion. Renowned SG players include Angus Young of AC/DC and Derek Trucks.
The Gibson ES-175 is a favorite of many jazz musicians. It is one of the most sought-after hollow-body guitars today. However, it is also used for other styles, including rock. A good example of this is Steve Howe from the iconic prog-rock band Yes. The ES-175 is known for its warm sound, round tone, and vintage feel. Besides Howe, some well-known ES-175 players include Tal Farlow, Joe Pass, and Pat Metheny.
Wrapping it up
All of the iconic guitar models on this list possess a unique sound and vibe. The best way to find out what these guitars can do for you is by playing them. Do your own research, listen to some of the players listed and then go try these guitars at your local music store. In the end, what matters is what you connect with as a player. Until next time...