5 Guitars every player needs in their collection
5 Guitars every player needs in their collection
Painters have different kinds of brushes to create masterpieces, why should guitarists be any different? Today we take a look at the 5 different guitar models that every guitarist should have in their arsenal or at very least checkout before they buy.
The purpose of this week’s blog post is two-fold, first of all, if you're anything like me and you love everything about the instrument, playing them, collecting them, record with them or just love jamming with other people. These are 5 models that I think are essential to anybody's collection and secondly, if you're new to guitar and you're not 100% sure what kind of guitar you want or you're just defaulting to “My guitar hero plays…” so I must play that model. Here are a hand full of guitars that you should definitely check out as they are true icons.
Number one on this list to nobody’s surprise is a Stratocaster, the best-selling electric guitar of all time and for good reason. What's so great about the Strat I hear you ask, and why should everybody have one in their collection? First of all, it's the perfect convergence of price, versatility, playability, and comfort. All these things converge into this one amazing guitar. Combine those factors with this guitar’s incredibly rich history and a nearly unparalleled number of players and you've got yourself a proven winner.
Beyond that, you've got aftermarket support for this instrument that is unlike any other guitar on the planet. Any part you want to mix and match you can… case in point, the aptly named and equally legendary “Frankenstrat” There are so many different aftermarket parts that you can customize this guitar to your liking without any trouble at all.
Offered from the factory in multiple pickup configurations means you can play any genre you can dream of on a Strat and the fact that they are offered in every single price tear from the bullets and affinitys all the way up to custom shop masterpieces means there's something for everybody. So, no excuses across price range or pickup configurations. You definitely need this classic in your collection.
Iconic guitar number two had to be the first solid body guitar ever mass produced, the Telecaster. So why does the Tele make this “Must have guitar list”, why do I think every guitarist should have one in their collection and if you're just going out to try guitars, why I think you should definitely pick up the Tele. Well, first of all, is certainly the tone. There's something about the bridge pickup on a Telecaster that is pure Rock n’ Roll and even though it's sort of been pigeonholed to Country and Rockabilly and clean tones, the bridge pickup of a Telecaster is like early Led Zeppelin, classic rock. Full-bodied much Fuller than a Stratocaster and it has that attack that a Strat just can't and that's the difference between a trem system and a fixed bridge. So, if you need that bite, that attack, that full body bridge pickup or you just love single coil tones, you owe it to yourself to try out a Tele.
Secondly, like the Strat, there is a telecaster in everybody's price range, from the affinity to the classic vibe Tele’s all the way up to the one of a kind custom shop creations, so there's something in everybody's budget. So you're not the biggest fan of single coil pickups well that's still no excuse to avoid the Telecaster. Any of the 70s Tele’s have humbuckers in them and there are even Tele’s fitted with Filter'Tron pickups and again that goes all the way from squire to custom shop.
So, if you’ve always dreamt of owning a double bound telecaster body with gunmetal black hardware and a humbucker in the bridge with a P90 in the neck, Flame Maple Fingerboard with locking tuners? Well, dream no more… Just build it! Say it with me, “aftermarket”. So, if you can dream it, you can build it. That's the beauty of having aftermarket parts. So, go ahead and add another brush to your tonal palette. You definitely need a Tele in your collection.
The Les Paul
Guitar number 3 and completing the vintage trifecta is, the Les Paul. Why should every guitarist have a Les Paul, well, first of all, it's the history of the instrument and the tone. Now, the history along with the Strat and the Tele, these early 50’s instruments really are the foundation for all the music we listen to and enjoy today so to have a little bit of that history is pretty cool in and of itself and secondly the tone, there's something special about the fullness, the richness, just that bleeding lead tone that you can get out of that neck humbucker and the bite and classic rock tone of the bridge.
We know and love these tones, we've heard them many times so to have that on a guitar is really cool. Now when it comes to Gibson there are certainly a few deterrents for the average player, number one would certainly be the price. If you want to see “Gibson” on that Headstock, you’re gonna pay for it. Unlike the Strat or the Tele, if you want to see fender on that headstock and you don't want to see squire for whatever reason there are tons of options from their “Made in Mexico” plant. Gibson doesn't have that. Its Made in American and you pay for it.
Secondly, playability… If you're a new player and you've never played one, I wouldn’t recommend ordering one site-unseen, unless, like me, you are an enthusiast and just have to have this classic in your collection. You need to get your hands on one and play it yourself to feel what it is like to play because it's not necessarily a modern players guitar. They tend to be on the heavy side and they don't balance on your lap particularly well not to mention that getting to the upper frets can be a little awkward so there are a few issues that you don't necessarily find on Strats and Teles so be aware but I think if you love the history of the instrument and you want classic tone, the Les Paul needs to be part of your collection.
Now if you don't care if it says “Gibson” on the headstock, well, the world's your oyster. Almost every company makes a single cut “Les Paul” style guitar… That's how popular they are so makers like Ibanez, ESP/ltd and don’t forget Epiphone which is their licensed copy, don’t sell them short either. So again, if you don't care if it has the Gibson headstock and logo, Epiphone is an incredible option, great value for money and like I said it's the license copy so it's nearly identical.
The Hollow Body
Iconic guitar number four that everybody should have in their collection is the 335. Now there's something really cool about a semi-hollow guitar that makes you approach the instrument and play a little differently when you pick it up and that's really the hallmark of an iconic instrument it really makes you change the way you play and approach music.
Each one of these guitars is so unique in its own way that you're not going to play the same way on each one and it's really going to inspire you to pick up an instrument when you have some classic choices and they don't have to be expensive either, this one is the Epiphone version:
A semi-hollow guitar plays so differently to a solid body guitar that it should be on your shortlist if you do not have one. Really nice light body double cutaway helps you get right up to the highest frets with relative ease, I find it easier than a Les Paul without question. The lighter, thin body sits on your lap perfectly (Look, Mom, No Hands!) with very little to no neck dive but just sits where it's supposed to.
Now the tonal difference between a guitar like this and a similarly spec’d Les Paul is not actually as big as you might think. They sound very similar, I find that this guitar has slightly fewer mids and tends to have a scoop profile with lots of treble and a lot of bass.
With the addition of this final instrument, you will be able to cover any genre and or tone. Last but not least, Ibanez. Ibanez really offers a playing experience unlike any of the other guitars on this list. Add one of these babies into the mix with your Strat, Tele, Les Paul, and semi-hollow and you're going to be able to cover everything.
Ibanez really offers a superlative playing experience, there's nothing like it. Especially if you are in the prestige series although, like fender, Ibanez offers everything all the way down to entry-level guitars as well, perfect for the beginner. These are truly amazing value for money guitars and I personally think they may even have overtaken fender, at least in my opinion, when it comes to superior quality control all the way down their line.
Tonally the Ibanez offers its own unique experience, so unlike the Strat, the Tele, the Les Paul or even some of these vintage spec’d instruments some of the pickups can be really bright and a little harsh and a little rough around the edges which is why we have come to love them. It gives the music some energy, but if you need to play a part or you're covering a song that requires something a little more controlled, the Ibanez really is the tool for the job. It's a very smooth and controlled sound that never really gets to wild. The playing experience on an Ibanez electric guitar is really what makes it an icon.
It’s really so different from all the other guitar I mentioned above. Usually, really flat fingerboards with jumbo frets and a thin neck profiles are the hallmarks of Ibanez and it really frees you up to play in different ways. Not to mention that an Ibanez with a locking Trem system will allow you to literally grab the bar, support the whole weight of the guitar, whammy it around and it's going to stay in tune. This is what will give you that sometimes elusive “Eddie Van Halen-esque” playing technique that would otherwise simply leave you with an out of tune guitar. So no collection is complete without an Ibanez.
That rounds up the Top 5 guitars you really should have in your collection, to start with…
With that said, keep in mind that this is really just the “Dream Team” of guitars for any studio musician, collector or enthusiast alike and that no matter how many guitars you own, in no way will that impact the level at which you play, so, if you want to make any of these legends sound the way they were intended to, best you choose an axe and go practice.