Swing an ax
Learn about the world’s most iconic guitars and the rock legends that made them famous
MORE Over the past five decades, the electric guitar has arguably been the most influential – and most frequently played – instrument in all of popular music around the world. It is safe to conclude that his arrival marked a crucial turning point in the history of music, changing both its sound and its direction, paving the way for rock and roll.
There are a number of iconic rock guitarists and performers who rose to prominence during the golden age of rock and roll. In fact, they might still be able to rock the world even today.
There are also a few guitars that have a fascinating history and remain historically significant to this day, as these guitars are deeply connected to the careers of some of the greatest guitarists to ever play on stage.
Many of the most important musical instruments used by these artists left an impact on pop culture that went beyond the unforgettable sounds they produced.
Here are the five most iconic guitars in music history:
-> Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster
Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster is one of many guitars that can be linked to him, as it was the most widely recognized instrument he played throughout his career. This guitar has earned a place on this list for a singular reason, namely that its reputation was built around a singular incident that marked the history of music.
At the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, Hendrix concluded his performance with an extended version of Wild Thing, during which the left-handed player knelt down beside his Fender Stratocaster and set it on fire, creating one of the rock’s most iconic.
->Kurt Cobain’s Martin 1959 D-18E
Nirvana is widely regarded as one of the most legendary bands of all time, and their performance on MTV Unplugged in 1994 is widely regarded as one of the most legendary shows of all time.
The fact that the Martin acoustic guitar used by Kurt Cobain became the most expensive guitar ever sold is therefore not surprising. It was one of the first Martins with electric pickups and was produced for a single year in the late 1950s.
After Cobain’s death in 1994, his daughter Francis Bean inherited the guitar and stored it in a hidden safe in Seattle along with the rest of Kurt’s belongings. Isaiah Silva, Francis’ ex-husband, received the guitar as part of their divorce settlement in 2017.
Eventually, the legendary instrument was sold at auction and ended up being bought by Peter Freedman, the founder of RODE Microphones, for US$6 million (RM26,547 million), making it the most expensive guitar ever. never sold worldwide.
-> Frankenstrat by Eddie Van Halen
Affectionately nicknamed “Frankie”, this guitar was built in the late 1970s by none other than the rock legend himself. At the time, Van Halen was trying to merge the sound of a Gibson with the physical attributes of a Stratocaster.
The ultimate guitar for sound, playability, reliability and functionality has always been a goal for Van Halen. Not only does the guitar represent his edgy and eccentric playing style, but it also represents his creativity in terms of design and engineering.
Frankie is surely one of the most recognizable custom guitar severs, and has sparked countless reproductions from other manufacturers – notably the line of guitars known as the Superstrat – and a new generation of luthiers.
-> 1959 Gibson Les Paul replica from Slash
There are no guitarists better suited to the mahogany body of Les Paul than Slash from Gun N’ Roses. Slash is without a doubt one of the best known Les Paul rock guitarists. He has an extensive collection of Les Paul guitars, but his most famous is a 1959 replica created by top luthier Kris Derrig.
At the end of 1986, Slash’s manager bought a guitar for the recording of the album Appetite For Destruction. The guitar fitted with Seymour Duncan Alnico 2 pickups became Slash’s primary studio instrument.
Besides Slash, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was also known for playing this iconic Les Paul guitar. Slash is also credited with playing his 1987 Les Paul Standard, which was used on several tours.
-> ‘Arm The Homeless’ Mongrel Custom by Tom Morello
Rage Against The Machine (RATM) guitarist – and Guitar Hero icon – Tom Morello has his own custom-built guitar dubbed “Arm The Homeless”, and is probably the most unconventional addition to the roster. Morello had it built to his exact specifications by a Hollywood custom guitar shop, and it was, in his opinion, “the worst instrument in the world”.
Morello eventually reassembled the guitar and replaced almost every part himself. The guitar features EMG neck and bridge pickups, an Ibanez Edge Floyd Rose Tremolo, toggle switch and locking nut on a 22 fret Kramer Carrera neck.
The iconic guitar is also the only instrument capable of matching Morello’s unpredictable playing style – from unplugging the guitar plug and holding it against the bridge, to using a pencil and delay pedal to create the sound of a helicopter.
As for the name, Morello said he came up with it himself and liked the contrast between the provocative phrase and the images of laughing hippos he sketched himself.