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5 Great Super Strats Created by and for Shred Guitarists

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.


Music is a medium of artistic expression which transcends time. Trends in music come and go, but music remains. It's always interesting to see how the changing styles or fashions in popular music affect the production of musical instruments. The good instruments, of course, are built to last a lifetime. So after a trend in popular music has largely played itself out, the trendy guitars are still around, and available for less.

Shred guitar playing, though, has hardly died out. It thrives still, just not so prominently as it did during its last heyday. The spandex pants have all been put away, and thank God for that. Olympic level guitar shredding style of play has become a little more classy and less flashy, maybe. It's become fusion.

Before there were guitarists described as shredders, there were guitarists who were known as fusion guitarists. You look at the legendary work of John McLaughlin with Mahavishnu Orchestra, or Steve Morse with the Dixie Dregs. Those styles of play were shred fusion before the term shred was being used. So to a certain extent, shredding on guitar has come full circle, and music will evolve on from where we are.

Super Strat Guitars and the Rise of Fingerboard Gymnastics

  • Whether the first example of the super strat was Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstein guitar or Steve Vai's Green Meanie guitar is a question for another day. But no one can dispute the two superstar guitarists were major noncooperative partners in the development of both shred guitar playing, and super strat guitars as a style, or type of guitar.
  • Eddie and Steve weren't alone. By the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, the heavy blues style of music produced from the late 60s and all through the 70s was getting a bit tired. Guitarists playing in the style of Clapton or Page had had their day in the Sun. It was time for a new sound and a new look. There were many new sounds and new looks. Al Di Meola was fusing Latin music with jazz and rock. Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen were combining classical music with heavy metal.
  • The boundaries of what could be incorporated into heavy music were always nonexistent. It was becoming something many realized. The Fender Stratocaster was just so wonderfully ergonomic and utilitarian—it became very cool to customize your own. Typically with humbucker pickups and Floyd Rose whammy bars.
  • A super strat is in no way necessary to own to play shred style guitar music. A stock strat will do, as will any other guitar. The term "shred" has been expanded to where it encompasses music outside of heavy metal, and nowadays means someone is playing highly technical fingerboard gymnastics, whatever the genre may be.

Why Buy a Signature Series Super Strat?

Never before has there been so many choices for those seeking to purchase a fine guitar. It can all be pretty overwhelming, frustrating even, to choose one over another. The best advice ever for someone interested in spending for a fine guitar is that they should play as many of them as possible before deciding upon one. One will always feel and sound more right to you than the others.

These five guitars represent the designs and ideals of five renowned shred guitarists. A lot of folks will desire the guitar their hero plays because emulation or imitation is what you do until you develop your own unique style. But these are five very nice guitars, and they need not be thought of in the manner of the artist they are named for. Any guitar from a manufacturer as good as Music Man, for instance, can go for use in any style of play.

Then you have the guitarist's infatuation with guitars. Something I understand all too well. If you are like me in this you spend hours and hours reading about guitars, poring over the specifications, and pondering what is the best for the money, and what you can imagine doing with the thing. And if times are good, then there is always another guitar one wants to own, even if just for a while.

Seriously, though, these five guitars were designed by shredders in collaboration with a great manufacturer of guitars. They were designed to be played in a way which would make Paganini proud. These were definitely made for fretboard gymnastics in the manner of their namesakes.

A younger Jason Becker with his Numbers guitar.

A younger Jason Becker with his Numbers guitar.

Carvin or Kiesel Jb24 Jason Becker Tribute Numbers Electric Guitar

Very few people are professional musicians while still in their teen years. Jason Becker was such a person, though. At sixteen years of age, he was a hotshot guitarist with great composition skills too. Being a musician is something which often runs in families. This was the case with Jason, he was blessed with some close family members who played guitar.

Seriously, though, Jason Becker was performing Yngwie Malmsteen instrumentals at his high school talent shows. You have to have more than just some supportive family members who also play guitar to get to that level.One must have drive and dedication.
Along with Marty Friedman, Jason went on to be a big star of the guitar across Europe and Japan. As a duo of guitar wunderkinds, they sold out many shows, inspired a lot of people to try their hands at music. Jason then went on to compose, record and release some solo work.

Troubles come at every one of us in life. But the troubles which fell on Jason Becker were extreme. He was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) after replacing Steve Vai in David Lee Roth's band. As happens with those suffering from ALS, Jason slowly lost the use of his limbs. He embarked on a second part to his musical career - that of showing, heroically, how a man can fight on in the face of tremendous adversity. Jason is very ill physically, but mentally as sharp as ever, and continues to compose music with the aid of computers.

The Carvin JB24 isn't the only Jason Becker super strat guitar out on the market. But it is the newest one, and the only one where should you buy one new, money is donated to the literal care of Jason Becker. Jason was given an estimated 3-5 years to live much longer than that ago, and his care is not inexpensive. So in essence when you buy one you get a terrific solid body electric guitar, and the knowledge that you helped aid a human being in great need.

The guitar itself is a strat style swamp ash body with a 24 fret hard rock maple neck and fingerboard. The HSH pickup configuration are all of Seymour Duncan make. The bridge pickup is Jason Becker's perpetual burn pickup. Which you can also purchase separately for any other guitar you own. And of course, you get a top of the line Floyd Rose whammy bar.

Carvin or Kiesel guitars don't mass produce guitars to ship to Guitar Center or Reverb or whoever. Their business model is to build and sell directly to customers. Like Tesla automotive is doing. So if you ever see Carvin or Kiesel in a guitar store, it's a used guitar. Nothing wrong with used at all, but if you want new you buy directly from Carvin/Kiesel.

Why the guitar is referred to as 'numbers' is pretty obvious. What is important to state here is that is all inlay, those numbers are certainly not decals. The guitar is bright and colorful like the man it was named for—and designed for some very athletic playing.

Carvin Jason Becker JB24 awesome guitar

Carvin Guitars Jason Becker's JB24 "Numbers" Signature Model 24 Fret Guitar


Charvel Custom Warren Demartini Signature Snake Electric Guitar

Warren DeMartini was the guitarist in glam metal band Ratt. Ratt was a pretty big group for some years, and Warren probably made more money than a lot of guitarists who've got bigger reputations than him. But Warren's guitar playing was always seriously under-appreciated. He wasn't trying to show off and be as flashy as some others. Warren is a much more tasteful sort of guitarist.

DeMartini's rhythm guitar playing always moves the beat along with some groove to it. There are also the neoclassical elements evident in the lead work. DeMartini, like Jason Becker and many many others, was from a family where playing music was part of daily life. His grandmother had been a prominent pianist.

DeMartini had at one time lived with Jake E. Lee who'd recorded with Ozzy Osbourne after the untimely death of Randy Rhoads. In fact DeMartini got the job with Ratt after Lee left that band to take the job with Ozzy. Warren DeMartini also had some high profile positions in metal after the ending of Ratt. He played in Dokken and Whitesnake both, and was offered a job with Ronnie James Dio, but he found that the two of them were not a positive mixture of personalities.

Warren DeMartini's approach to guitar soloing is like that of a violinist. He uses finger vibrato in the manner of a violinist. He's also known for 4 note per string passages, something not so common in rock and metal music. So to honor Warren DeMartini, and to appease his vibrant fan club, Charvel has offered us the Warren DeMartini Signature Snake guitar.

This is not the only Warren DeMartini guitar on the market. This is the latest and best of them, though. No, that isn't actual snake skin on the guitar. As a matter of fact, the snake skin finish is painted by hand. There is more detail involved in that snake skin finish than one can truly ever appreciate without having one of these Charvel custom shop guitars in hand.

This is a three thousand dollar guitar. The alder body and maple neck combined with an HS pickup configuration of Seymour Duncan pickups should provide a lot of very bright crunch. And, of course, there is the Floyd Rose tremolo system, this one being recessed. Further specifications below:

  1. Snakeskin Finish with Matching Headstock
  2. Alder Body
  3. No Fretboard Position Markers
  4. Reverse Headstock
  5. Quartersawn Maple Birdseye Rock Maple Neck with 22 Jumbo Frets
  6. San Dimas Neck Profile
  7. 25.5" Scale Length
  8. Compound Radius
  9. Schaller Tuners
  10. Recessed Floyd Rose 2-Point Tremolo System
  11. Seymour Duncan Custom Design Humbucker Bridge Pickup
  12. Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 Single-Coil Neck Pickup

Charvel Custom Shop Warren DeMartini Signature Guitar


The 2015 Ibanez JS2450 Guitar

Joe Satriani is the biggest instrumental rock guitarist of all time. He's sold ten million albums. He's won 15 Grammy awards. Joe Satriani is kind of a big deal.
He is clearly the biggest name guitarist in the world of rock music since Eddie Van Halen. Speaking of Eddie Van Halen, who famously immigrated to the USA to go on to be honored by The Smithsonian for his contributions to American music; Joe Satriani is another immigration success story.

He is the son of Italian immigrants to the USA. In a time when much ire is being raised against immigrants to the USA, it is important that persons into music (of the kind being discussed here), that we take a look at our world, and see that immigrants are often very positive contributors to our society.

I got to see Joe Satriani in concert during the Surfing with the Alien tour. It was the very first rock concert I ever attended.Anyone reading this can see I've been a guitar nut for a while. But you can only imagine the impact of seeing Joe Satriani in my very first live rock and roll concert.

It was exciting that ace guitar instrumental playing by upstart Joe Satriani was literally popular on the radio. And Joe was the hottest hotshot guitarist of all at the time. While Joe has been a part of Deep Purple and Mick Jagger's solo band, he's never stopped recording and releasing amazing albums of all instrumental guitar music.

Persons likely to read this tend to know Steve Vai once took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani. Joe had had himself a fine teacher too, but both Joe and Steve have been associated with Ibanez guitars since the time they both became household names among guitar fans. There have been a heck of a lot of Ibanez guitars made in the manner and style of what Joe Satriani plays, and a lot with his name adorned on them too. Only a very small portion of them could ever be thought as good or better than the Ibanez JS2450.

There is a fancier model for more money, but with the Ibanez JS2450 you get everything and more than the first Joe Satriani Ibanez guitars. These are professional grade at every specification. These guitars are comparable to all the ones above in price and performance. But this is a 24 fret (two octave) fretboard guitar, as is the Jason Becker guitar. The DeMartini guitar is a more conventional 22 frets.
Most of these guitars will be very very purple. Joe's got a coil tapper on the custom humbucker pickup so you can get single coil tones like a stock strat out of them too. Further specifications below:

  1. 7 lbs. 10 oz.
  2. Muscle Car Purple Finish
  3. Alder Body
  4. Three-Piece Maple and Bubinga Neck
  5. Rosewood Fretboard
  6. 25.5" Scale Length
  7. 1.653 " Neck Width at Nut
  8. Abalone Dot Inlays
  9. 24 6105-Size Frets
  10. .910" Neck Profile at 12th Fret
  11. DiMarzio Satch Track Single-Coil Sized Neck Humbucker
  12. DiMarzio Mo' Joe Bridge Humbucker
  13. Master Volume with Push/Pull High-Pass Filter
  14. Master Tone with Push/Pull Coil Tap
  15. Three-Way Pickup Selector
  16. Ibanez Edge Locking Tremolo and Nut
  17. Chrome Tuners

Test Ibanez JS2450 signature Joe Satriani


Guthrie Govan with one of his Charvel signature series guitars


Charvel Guthrie Govan Signature Model Guitars

According to the Wikipedia page about Guthrie Govan, he started playing the guitar at just three years old. Now, it is very hard for me to imagine a three-year-old with the coordination and disposition to sit and be able to do anything at all with a guitar. But granted, Guthrie Govan is such a wildly talented and diverse musician, his starting at three years old seems to be a likely explanation for it all.

Govan, like Steve Vai, had been employed as a transcriber. One must have a fabulous ear to transcribe the sorts of things Mr. Vai and Govan have. And being able to hear such complex music and visualize where the notes all are on a guitar is simply amazing to me. Well, we're talking about some of the world's most technically accomplished guitarists here, so amazement is what they specialize in.

Guthrie Govan is a citizen of the United Kingdom. One could say he's aristocratic, even. He studied at Oxford and while there realized he'd need to choose between the life of a musician or some other sort of intellectual. He chose music. He's been a contributor to Guitar Techniques magazine, and a member of several bands.
Essentially you'd have to describe Guthrie Govan as a fusion guitarist. He's often praised for being so very comfortable and familiar with many approaches to and genres of guitar playing. So when he is playing an original composition of his he naturally fuses wildly disparate styles into one of his own.

Earlier on in his career, Guthrie Govan was associated with Suhr guitars. That relationship has ended. He now endorses Charvel guitars, and as you can see, you can get a Charvel Guthrie Govan signature electric guitar in either flame maple or bird's eye maple.

The only difference between bird's eye maple and flame maple is the visual aesthetic. The terms describe the grain pattern. That's all that is. The body of this guitar is basswood, and the maple is the top. The neck and fingerboards here are also maple. The tops, neck, and fingerboards are all also carmelized. This darkens the tone of the wood visually, and tonally too.

This is a 24 fret guitar with an HSH pickup configuration and a Floyd Rose tremolo system. So essentially this is the same guitar as the Jason Becker guitar except for the maple top on the body of the instrument. Further specifications below:

  1. Charvel Guthrie Govan Signature Flame Maple
  2. Natural
  3. Thin Clear Matte Finish
  4. Flame Maple Top
  5. Basswood Body
  6. Caramelized Flame Maple Neck and Fingerboard
  7. Graphite Reinforcement Rods in Neck
  8. 12" - 16" Compound Fretboard Radius
  9. 1.6875" Nut Width
  10. 24 Jumbo Frets
  11. Maple Dot Inlays w/ Ebony Borders
  12. Scale Length 25 1/2"
  13. Custom Charvel MFB Pickups
  14. 5 Way Switch
  15. Volume Knob/Tone Knob
  16. Recessed Original-Style NOS Floyd Rose Tremolo with Tremol-No Unit
  17. Locking Chrome Tuners
  18. Chrome Hardware
  19. Heel-Style Truss Rod Adjustment
  20. Custom Neck Feel for Easy Upper Register Access
  21. Deluxe Hardshell Case

Guthrie Govan demos his new Charvel prototype for Guitarist magazine


John Petrucci with one of his Music Man guitars


The Music Man John Petrucci Signature Guitar

John Petrucci was ranked second behind only Dave Mustaine in a poll concerning greatest metal guitarists of all time. We could call him the notorious John Petrucci. Another poll ranking, this one in Guitar World magazine ranked John Petrucci as seventeenth greatest guitarist of all time.

I'm not personally invested in the idea of one great player being this much or that much better than another great guitarist. But I mention these things so as to give anyone unfamiliar the idea that John is imminently respected. Like Joe Satriani, John is from an Italian American family. John is from New York. He studied music at the prestigious Berkley College of Music in Boston. Then he joined with a friend to form the progressive metal band, Dream Theater.

John has been a lot more than 'just' the virtuoso metal god of shred in Dream Theater. He's been a part of other bands. And he's a respected producer as well as an instructor. He's also devoutly Catholic, but one thing you notice in photos is John Petrucci looks like he moonlights as a bouncer. He's into body building. John is a talented lyricist and baritone vocalist as well.

Music Man is one of the two major guitar manufacturers which Leo Fender lent his considerable prowess to after selling his Fender guitar company to CBS. John Petrucci has been associated closely with Music Man guitars for a long time. And there have been a lot of different Music Man guitars with his name on them. Some are more expensive, some are less expensive. The new one, theMusic Man John Petrucci signature guitar is what we'll talk about here. The six string version. There is definitely a Music Man John Petrucci signature guitar with seven strings as well.

This is a $2000 guitar. The Sterling by Music Man guitars are much less expensive. They are very good guitars, but the one I linked is a great guitar. The primary difference between John's signature series guitar and the other guitars we've discussed on this page is the Petrucci guitar is a dual humbucker guitar. Just two pickups, both humbucking in nature. Further specifications below:

  1. Model: John Petrucci 6
  2. Body Wood: Basswood
  3. Body Finish: High gloss polyester
  4. Bridge: Custom John Petrucci Music Man floating tremolo of chrome plated, hardened steel with solid steel saddles
  5. Scale length: 25-1/2" (64.8 cm)
  6. Neck radius: 15" (38.1 cm)
  7. Headstock size: Only 5-7/8" (14.9 cm) long
  8. Frets: 24 - High profile, wide
  9. Neck Width: 1-11/16" (43.0 mm) at nut, 2-1/4" (57.2 mm) at last fret
  10. Neck Wood: Select maple
  11. Fingerboard: Rosewood
  12. Fret markers: Dots
  13. Neck finish: Gunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend
  14. Tuning Machines: Schaller M6-IND locking with pearl buttons
  15. Truss rod: Adjustable - no component or string removal
  16. Neck attachment: 5 bolts for perfect alignment with no shifting; Sculpted neck joint allows smooth access to higher frets
  17. Electronic Shielding: Graphite acrylic resin coated body cavity and aluminum lined pickguard
  18. Controls: 500kohm volume and tone - .022F tone capacitor
  19. Switching: 3-way toggle pickup selector, with custom center position configuration
  20. Pickups: HH - DiMarzio Liquifire humbucker - neck; DiMarzio Crunch Lab humbucker - bridge

John Petrucci demos his Ernie Ball Music Man JP6

© 2016 Wesman Todd Shaw