Famous Guitars and the Stars Who Played Them

Famous Guitars and the Stars Who Played Them

Whether you're a guitarist, a music aficionado, or somebody who simply loves music, you've most likely seen or heard of the guitars that made the legends of rock and roll famous. Maybe you've seen the Gibson Les Paul that Slash uses to shred on Sweet Child O' Mine or Steve Vai's famously shaped Ibanez. Maybe you've seen Eric Clapton play his signature Martin acoustic guitar in concert. Knowledge and experience aside, these are the instruments that made their players the artists they are today.

The Fender Stratocasters of Jimi Hendrix

Whenever you see a video clip or picture of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar, he's almost always playing a Fender Stratocaster. Because there were hardly any left-handed instruments during his time and because he was a left-handed guitarist, Hendrix had to strip and re-string righty guitars so that he'd be able to play them lefty. The Fender Stratocaster was his ax of choice as its natural, hour-glass shape permitted comfortable playing, as any performance of his will prove.

Slash and his '59 Les Paul

The Gibson Les Paul is perhaps one of the most famous guitar shapes, right up there with the Stratocaster. Its architecture is used on posters, signs, billboards, and in other forms of music messaging because of its popularity among the general public. If you're a fan of Guns N' Roses, you know their smash hit "Sweet Child O' Mine". In the song’s video, Slash is seen playing his '59 Les Paul and he often used it to play the song, and countless others like "Welcome to the Jungle," live in concert. Although Slash did not help write "Sweet Child O' Mine" on his Les Paul (he played a BC Rich Warlock Guitar for that song), it's become inexorably linked with that song today.

David Gilmour and His Three-Way Combo

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour is known for playing Stratocasters (most famously his “Black Strat” in the 70’s), Telecasters, and a '55 Gibson Les Paul. He played a Fender Stratocaster during the post-Roger Waters era of Pink Floyd: a '57 reissue with a Maplewood neck and a bright-red candy apple finish. Gilmour also played a double-neck Stratocaster as well as a '55 Gibson Les Paul on Pink Floyd's albums The Wall and Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2). Before joining Pink Floyd, he primarily played a Telecaster; in fact, according to him, a '60s-era Telecaster was "the first really good guitar [he] had."

See our article on David Gilmour's guitar auction.

Alex Lifeson's Gibsons and Fenders

Alex Lifeson, famous for playing in the rock band Rush, played a Gibson ES-335 in Rush's early years and later transitioned to a Gibson Les Paul. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he played Fender Stratocasters until returning back to Gibson guitars in the 2000s and beyond. He claimed to have used Gibson guitars "almost exclusively" throughout this time period.

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