Top 10 Coolest Electric Guitars of All Time
Electric guitars are the coolest musical instruments going, with a history that goes right back to the birth of modern music.
Initially used in jazz, electric guitars became more widely popular with the arrival of rock 'n' roll in the 1950's and have since featured in virtually all genres of rock and pop music.
I bought my first electric guitar back when I was twelve years old, an inexpensive Les Paul copy. It wasn't the greatest guitar, for sure, but I fell in love with it and experienced the joy of playing. (Later, I would go on to build a much larger collection of guitars - including my pride and joy, a 1970's Gibson SG - but you always remember your first!).
My selections are below.
Sometimes the nicest thing to do with a guitar is just look at it.— Thom Yorke
I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.— Jimmy Page
1. Gibson Les Paul
A versatile solid body guitar with a solid, rich and resonant sound that has now become iconic, thanks in part to its use by many 1970s rock gods, such as Jimmy Page, Mick Ronson, Pete Townsend, Bob Marley, Ace Frehley, Duane Allman, and Neil Young.
Post-70s, the guitar would be adopted by Randy Rhodes and Slash from Guns n Roses.
The Gibson Les Paul has to feature in any top 10 collection of cool electric guitars.
Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you'll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you're gonna be rewarded.— Jimi Hendrix
2. Fender Stratocaster
It can be used to produced a beautifully clean twang, or as Jimi Hendrix showed us, to sound like a lightning storm from Outer Space.
Other famous strat players include: Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, The Edge, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, and Yngwie J. Malmsteen.
I just go where the guitar takes me.— Angus Young
3. Gibson SG
Created in 1961, the Gibson SG became the chosen axe of many rock gods in the 60s and 70s, guitarists such as Carlos Santana, Tony Iommi, and Angus Young.
Its classic double cutaway shape and powerful sound has meant that its stature has just kept growing as time has moved on.
Other iconic SG players include: Jerry Garcia, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Frank Marino, Derek Trucks, and Thom Yorke.
Did Muddy Waters play an acoustic? Well of course he did. But did he turn his back on being able to plug it in and play louder? No, he plugged in and turned it up and got miles and miles ahead of the game in one fateful act of just plugging in.— Billy Gibbons
4. Gretsch White Falcon
Gretsch have made some truly beautiful electric guitars in their time and the White Falcon is a soaring example.
With its distinctive white finish and gold-sparkle trim, this Gretsch guitar looks just as wonderful as it sounds. It's simply impossible not to fall in love with a White Falcon.
Famous players of this iconic guitar include Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Robert Smith of the Cure, Chet Atkins, and Neil Young.
Until I realized that rock music was my connection to the rest of the human race, I felt like I was dying, for some reason, and I didn't know why.— Bruce Springsteen
5. Fender Telecaster
The 'tele' revolutionized guitar playing when it first came out in 1951, changing the sound of music forever.
Built in times of hardship, there were no frills or fanciness to the Fender Telecaster, just a very playable and versatile guitar that could provide a chunky sound that many players loved.
Favored by Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards, other famous players include: David Gilmour, Steve Cropper, PJ Harvey, Joe Strummer, and Muddy Waters.
I realised a long time ago that instrumental music speaks a lot more clearly than English, Spanish, Yiddish, Swahili, any other language. Pure melody goes outside time.— Carlos Santana
6. PRS Custom
While many in my list are vintage electric guitars, the PRS Custom makes up for its lack of classic character with sheer quality and playability.
Versatile in regard to the range of sounds that it can make, and reliable when it comes to staying in tune, this guitar has to feature in any top 10 list - it is simply too good to miss out!
Famous PRS players include Carlos Santana, Zach Myers, Al Di Meola, and Keith Urban.
A guitar player goes on the road, and he misses his girlfriend for a while, but he manages to get along. A horn player gets out on the road, plays two or three towns, and then he'll get lonely, and next thing you know, he's packed up and left. It's better not to hire him in the first place.— Albert King
7. Gibson Flying V
Without a doubt, one of the coolest looking electric guitar ever made, the Gibson Flying V has had many fans in its time, including Albert King, Billy Gibbons and Michael Schenker.
But while it is true that many choose to pose with it, most players wouldn't pick it as their first choice guitar.
Other famous Flying V pluckers include: Dave Davies of the Kinks, Lenny Kravitz, Lonnie Mack, K.K. Downing of Judas Priest, blues legend Albert King, and Tim Wheeler of Ash.
One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz.— Lou Reed
8. Gretsch Country Gentleman
This style of hollow body guitar will always be indelibly linked with the name of Chet Atkins, but these attractive and influential Gretsch instruments have also been used to great effect by non-country artists.
Famous players of this guitar include: New Yorker, Lou Reed, and John squire of The Stone Roses. Beatle, George Harrison was also a major fan of the Gretsch Country Gentleman.
If you're gonna take the audience on a life long ride, you've got to allow them to become intimate with you. If they're not intimate, they're never gonna know you.— Blackie Lawless
9. B.C. Rich Warlock
One of the most desired axes for those who like to wear a lot of black and turn their amplifiers up to 11, this cool electric guitar was the one that helped B.C. Rich become a major player in the heavy metal scene.
With an aggressive body style, easy action fingerboard and edgy tone, this is an awesome guitar for rocking out.
Famous B.C. Rich players have included: Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P., black metal axeman, Chuck Shuldiner of Death, Craig Goldy of Dio, and Dave Mustaine of Megadeath/Metallica.
I used to play constantly. In fact, I couldn't put it down. Now that I'm out there, I practice less than I did because I don't have the time. I can't sit down in a hotel room and practice.— Randy Rhoads
10. Jackson Warrior
Another ready-to-rock guitar, this axe has been played by many metal heroes, with Jackson owing much to the late Randy Rhoads for his input.
The Jackson's elegant design and compound-radius fingerboard, which is curved at the nut for chord playing and flatter at the neck-joint for string bending, always makes playing a pleasure.
© 2013 Paul Goodman