Click on the blue to go to
each company site.
Gibson- This company knows how to get it right the first
time around. In 1936, they produced their first guitar:
The ES 150. In very little time, it dominated the jazz
world and was one of the most predominant guitars on the
In later years, Gibson became famous for yet another
reason: their pickups. Gibson had created the first
humbucking pickups available, which made them the
perfect choice for rock guitar. They were eventually
used on the Les Paul model and soon became common place
on many Gibson guitars, giving them their signature
Gibson has a great production line and a very renowned
custom shop. Prices aren't cheap and range from
$1200-$7000 depending on where you live and the sale you
Fender- Known for their signature telecasters and
Stratocasters, Fender was founded by Leo Fender and went
into production in 1951. Fender guitars have been known
as the most versatile guitars in the world and appeal to
musicians of all genres.
Fortunately, Fender makes it possible to own a
professional level instrument without having to put a
mortgage on your house or mowing 30 000 lawns (for all
you teens out there). They make a wide range of
instruments and prices range from $600-$6000.
Ibanez- This company is probably one of the most
overlooked when it comes to a lasting History. Created
in 1908, Hoshino was a music company based in Japan.
While it may not have kept the same name for all of
these years, it remains a strong competitor on the
One of the throw backs this
company has faced was poorer quality. Professionals in
the earlier years deemed them as intermediate or
beginner guitars. Then Ibanez changed the way it
manufactured its guitars and came onto the scene with an
extremely high level of professionalism.
Before they knew it, players from all over were flocking
to get their guitars. Not much has changed and they
remain extremely affordable.
Epiphone- Owned by Gibson, has quite the history by
itself. Gibson decided to release a brand new production
line which was produced in 1957 and they remain very
popular today. Many guitarists end up swapping out the
pickups for the ones in "Real" Les Pauls to get a very
close tone to the real thing. Epiphone also has a line
of high end guitars that go into the professional level.
This company has had quality control issues in the past
as they tried to compete with mass manufacturing in
Japan but has seemed to fix those flaws and offer
guarantees on their products.
Gretsch- This company has seen its ups and downs in its
rich history. Orginially designed for jazz musicians in
the 1930's, Gretsch has produced some incredible models
of guitars over the years and attracted the attentions
of Chet Atkins, George Harrison and more.
They are on the upper end of the spectrum and can be a
little bit harder to find the model you desire. However,
these guitars are worth the trouble to look them up.
Paul Reed Smith- This company is newer and doesn't have
the history as some of the manufacturers we just
mentioned. This company caught attention when the
legendary Santana picked their exquisitely made guitars
as his guitar of choice.
The highest quality is put into every PRS and the price
tag doesn't usually dip below $2600 in my experience.
The sound is amazing, the wood is impeccable and the
colors and finish options are out of this world. If you
have a lot of money, or become famous some day, this may
very well be the guitar you choose as your personal
For your own personal
interests, check out these acoustic guitar
manufacturers. Click on them and you can easily look up
their history and various products.
...In the end it purely comes down to personal taste,
overall budget and the tone you are going for.
What guitars are good for specific genres...
While I'm a firm believer that you can produce any
genre/style of music you want with one guitar and the
proper effects, some guitars are more naturally suited
to certain genres. Let's take a look at the various
genres and where the guitars and their manufacturers fit
into the equation.
Blues: In blues guitar, the Les Paul and the
Stratocaster have reigned supreme. There are many other
makes and models that have been used quite well with
blues, however, many of the models from the other
manufacturers were in fact modeled after Gibson and
Semi hollow bodies have also seen tremendous success in
this area, adding the richness of the blues tone. B.B
King is the most pronounced musician who uses this model
If you're looking for out of the box flavor, check out
G&L. They have had some great success in this genre as
Rock: Rock has been founded from blues, so most of the
same guitars have been used. There haven't been many
semi hollow bodies used, although there have been a few
appearances by a couple of musicians.
The introduction of more
flashy guitars such as the Flying V and the Firebird has
revolutionized the way we rock out. In my own personal
opinion, I believe the guitars used in rock are some of
the most fun to play instruments around.
Jazz: This is where the arch top and the semi-hollow
guitars reign supreme. Most of these guitars are larger
than their solid body counter parts that are used for
rock. The inside of the guitar is hollowed out to make
room for an acoustic chamber. While they;re not
acoustics, they do give off a bit of that resonance
(ring) and the pickups take in that sound from the
A defining factor of the tone of these guitars is taken
from the wood used on the top of the guitar and the
block used to support the guitar internally (so it
doesn't collapse inside). Depending on the age of the
wood, its quality and the species, you can get a
multitude of different distinct tones.
Gibson, Gretsch, Ibanez, and many custom companies such
as Sadowsky Guitars produce these fine models of
Shred: Ibanez has primarily dominated this market and
designed sleek necks specifically for the purpose of
fast hands. They also added on a few frets, which adds
to your range. When playing shred guitar, you want low
action and a small, manageable neck that allows you to
fly around it with minimal effort.
Fender has seen some great virtuosos use their guitars
for this purpose as well. Gibson wouldn't be the
greatest choice if you have smaller hands.
Country: This is where the telecaster reigns supreme.
Fender has dominated this market with their pure twangy
tones and pansies on their guitars. Rarely will you see
anything other than a strat/tele style guitar used. I've
seen a Les Paul a few times for the more heavy country
Keep in mind that for all of the above examples, I'm
only including electric guitars. Of course acoustics and
steel string guitars are used but for the sake of space,
we'll save those for another day!
As a guitarist, I'm always fascinated with the guitars
that my heroes play. It never ceases to amaze me how
they have so many of them and yet they find uses for
every single one of them. Let's take a look at some
guitar legends and the guitars they love(d).
Slash (Guns N' Roses) - Slash is and always will be a
Gibson Les Paul man. When he was in High School, he
owned a Les Paul Copy, to which he practiced on
constantly. Years later, he earned a real Les Paul that
was once played by Steve Hunter (from the band Alice
During his career, he did play other guitars but to no
enjoyment. He eventually was led back to Gibson and
played them, bringing the Les Paul to a new level of
Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) - Kurt was always a Fender man.
Ironically, and to many peoples' surprise, Kurt played
Fender Jags and Mustangs. To us that may sound good, but
in reality, they're just bargain basement in the Fender
line and are consistently out of tune and extremely
complicated to repair and adjust. However, Cobain loved
them because he could destroy them on stage.
It's estimated that he destroyed hundreds upon hundreds
of these Fenders, so it's probably a good thing that
they didn't cost much. He gear philosophy is un-compared
to any other. Jimi Hendrix was also a Fender man and
destroyed many guitars in his day but the main
difference being his cost a lot more.
Eric Clapton (Cream, Derek
And The Dominos, among many others) - Clapton has an
extremely impressive guitar collection that is full of
Gibsons, Fenders, and just about any other guitar you
could think of. In recent years, Clapton has been
involved with Fender guitars and even has a model in his
honor. However, he started off playing a Les Paul in the
days of Cream. He pumped out some of the craziest and
most memorable music known to that era.
In later days, he switched to Fender Stratocaster and
now uses them for all his primary work. His most famous
guitar was known as "Blackie". He used it on some of his
most successful albums.
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Old Number One is a legend of the
Guitar World. A beaten an abused 1963 model strat with a
62 neck... you can call it a mutant of sorts. He used it
right up to 1989, one year before he died in a tragic
helicopter crash. He used it under the harshest
conditions with the highest gauge string you can imagine
on a strat (up to .17). He even replaced the frets with
bass frets for longer sustain, better tone and and
easier time handling those huge strings.
This guitar is one of a kind. So much so, that Fender
spent endless hours making a limited edition copy...
looking identical to the original. The tone and stage
presence of that old beauty will never be replaced.
Charlie Christian (Solo jazz musician/ studio) - Charlie
mastered the art of jazz and became a legend. What got
him there? You guessed it, a Gibson. The neat thing
about this Gibson is that it was the first, the Gibson
ES 150. First production model is a big deal for any
company but it soon became known as Charlie's guitar.
Considering it was the early 30's, what Charlie
understood of amplified instruments is extremely
impressive, from how to manipulate the pickups, to the
setup of this guitar, Christian had it down to a
You can only imagine what that guitar would be worth
I think we can clearly see a
trend forming. Yes Gibson and Fender guitars are great
instruments, but don't get too narrow minded. There are
many other guitars out there that offer amazing tone and
professional quality. Passing those guitars up for what
the rest of society thinks is cool may result in you
missing the best guitar for you. My advice, play them
Putting it into practice...
Do you really know what you're talking about?
Now that we've talked about the gear and learned a
little about the styles, we're ready to head off to our
local music store and play the latest and greatest
guitars available. Now before you go put on your shoes,
check out these riffs below.
Nothing peeves me more than a guitarist who goes into a
guitar shop to test guitars and they get there and don't
have a clue what to play. You should play the same riffs
on every guitar you wish you play test. This way, you
won't focus on what you're doing technically, or what
your next note is. Rather, you can play close attention
to the tone of the guitars and gain a great ear for
music and the differences in tone.
First, start off by playing some scales that we have
covered in previous lessons. Secondly, move into some
short and simple riffs like this:
...Keep a cool head
and focus on the tone of the guitars. Running through
scales and basic chords has often been my favourite way
to play test guitars. Of course, it's always fun to let
loose on some of the most expensive guitars in the shop.
Go out and have fun!