Famous Guitarists & Their Guitars

Greetings my friend and fellow strummers in this month’s column I will discuss that in my opinion that Artist recognition is one of the most important aspect of guitar marketing. That is a statement I truly believe, and in this column I will trace the popularity of certain guitars and the artists that I believe are responsible for their success. I will also list some guitar players and the guitars I found to be intriguing. I will list the guitars first and the artists that were associated with it.

Remember my friends knowing what guitars your favorite players play is part of getting a sound similar to them, but it is only a small part of it.

Gibson SG Electric Guitar

Gibson SG Electric Guitar

Gibson SG: Tony Iommi, Angus Young, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton

Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar

Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar

Fender Telecaster (stock): Roy Buchanan, James Burton, Steve Cropper, Muddy Waters, Joe Messina

Telecaster (modified): Mike Stern, Keith Richards, Danny Gatton, Clarence White

Gibson ES-335 Electric Guitar

Gibson ES-335 Electric Guitar

Gibson ES-335: Larry Carlton, Dave Edmunds, Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Gibson ES-345: Freddie King, Alvin Lee, Elvin Bishop

Gibson ES-355: Chuck Berry, B.B. Kink, Keith Richards

Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Fender Stratocaster (stock): Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Mark Knophler, David Gilmour

Fender Stratocaster (modified): Hiram Bullock, Robbie Robertson, Adrian Belew, Stevie Ray Vaughn

Gretsch 6120 Archtop Electric Guitar

Gretsch 6120 Archtop Electric Guitar

Gretsch 6120: Brian Setzer, Chet Atkins, Eddie Cochran

Gibson Les Paul Electric Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Electric Guitar

Gibson Les Paul: Mike Bloomfield, Slash, Joe Perry, Duane Allman, Jimmy Page

Gibson Firebird Electric Guitar

Gibson Firebird Electric Guitar

Gibson Firebird: Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Howlin’ Wolf, Stevie Winwood, Pat Hare, Clarence Gatemouth Brown

Gibson Flying V: Albert King: Jimi Hendrix

Gibson Melody Maker: Joan Jett

Gibson Byrdland: Ted Nugent, Roy Clark, Eric Clapton

Gibson Les Paul Junior Electric Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Junior Electric Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Junior: Lesley West, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Johnny Thunders

Fender Jazzmaster Electric Guitar

Fender Jazzmaster Electric Guitar

Fender Jazzmaster: Elvis Costello, Fender Jazzmaster Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string Electric Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string Electric Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string: George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn

Airline H44 Electric Guitar

Airline H44 Electric Guitar

Airline Resoglas Electric Guitar

Airline Resoglas Electric Guitar

Airline/Supro Resoglas: J.B. Hutto, Jack White

Epiphone Sheraton Electric Guitar

Epiphone Sheraton Electric Guitar

Epiphone Riviera/Sheraton: John Lennon, Otis Rush, George Harrison, John Lee Hooker

Gibson L5-CES Archtop Electric Guitar

Gibson L5-CES Archtop Electric Guitar

Gibson L5-CES: Wes Montgomery, Scotty Moore, Paul Simon (L5S)

Other Notables:

  • Gretsch Country Gentleman: George Harrison, Steven Stills, David Crosby
  • Mosrite (several models): The Ventures, Joe Maphis, Rick Wilson (B-52’s), Johnny Ramone
  • Silvertone/Danelectro: Jimmy Page, Link Wray, Hubert Sumlin, Elmore James, R.L. Burnside
  • Kay Electrics: Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf, Lonnie Johnson

So if you are interested in getting a sound similar to any of these artists, a good place to start is with their guitar choices. I would say that may be 20% of it, the amplifier would be another 20% and the rest is technique, approach, and attitude.

There are some other aspects that would affect your sound, the type of picks you use, the gauge of your strings, and any effects you might use.

In my world I would say use as few effects as you can, I know they are part of the song, blah,blah blah. If you need a harmonic effect like a chorus but feel you need to flange at some point in the show get one of those multi units like the Line 6. And remember the more pedals you use the farther away are you from the sound of your guitar.

Now as far as the amps go, those of you who are familiar with my column know I am a traditionalist. As far as I can see there are three categories of amplifiers.

Clean Amps:
These amps are clean sounding, with plenty of headroom and eq to pick from. Twin Reverbs, Ampeg, and Lab Series amps are a few. Also some of the older Peavey solid state amps are real clean amps. You can always get a dirty sound with your favorite pedal if you need it.

Dirty Amps:
Marshall JCM 800 and 900 Series amps, many tweed Fenders, the 100 watt army of amps like Crate, Krank, Soldano, and Randall. These amps will give you the sound you are looking for, if that sound is a crunchy compressed full sound.

Channel switching amps:
These amps are for cats that need both clean and dirty and like the idea of the two sounds coming from the same amp. These amps are personified by Mesa Boogies, Rivera era Fenders, and combos like the Marshall TCM Series.

And remember folks – “got and questions?”..”go lean on Shell’s Answer Man”.