Ax swing

Explore the world’s most iconic guitars and the rock legends that made them famous.

ABOVE Over the past five decades, the electric guitar has arguably been the most influential and frequently used instrument in all of popular music around the world. It is safe to conclude that his appearance marks a decisive turning point in the history of music, changing both its sound and direction, paving the way for rock and roll.

There are many iconic guitarists and rock artists who rose to prominence during the golden age of rock and roll. In fact, they can still shock the whole world even today.

There are also several guitars that have a fascinating history and remain historically significant to this day as these guitars are closely associated with the careers of some of the greatest guitarists to ever hit the stage.

Many of the most prominent musical instruments these artists have wielded have had an impact on pop culture beyond the unforgettable sounds they produced.

Here are five of the most iconic guitars in the history of music:

-> Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster

Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster is one of many guitars that can be associated with him, as it is the most widely known instrument he has played throughout his career. This guitar deserves a place on this list for one reason only, and that is because its reputation was based on one unique incident in the history of music.

At the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, Hendrix ended his performance with an extended version of Wild Thing, during which the left-hander knelt beside his Fender Stratocaster and set it on fire, creating one of rock’s most iconic moments.

-> Martin Kurt Cobain 1959 D-18E

Nirvana is considered one of the most legendary bands of all time, and their performance on MTV Unplugged in 1994 is considered one of the most legendary live performances of all time.

The fact that the Martin acoustic guitar used by Kurt Cobain is now the most expensive guitar ever sold is no surprise. It was one of the first Martins with electric pickups and was only produced for one year in the late 1950s.

After Cobain’s death in 1994, his daughter Frances Bean inherited the guitar and kept it in a secret vault in Seattle along with the rest of Kurt’s belongings. Isaiah Silva, Francis’ ex-husband, received the guitar as part of their divorce proceedings in 2017.

Eventually, the legendary instrument was auctioned off and eventually bought by Peter Friedman, founder of RODE Microphones, for US$6 million (RM26,547 million), making it the most expensive guitar ever sold worldwide.

-> Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat

Lovingly named “Frankie”, this guitar was built sometime in the late 1970s by none other than the rock legend herself. At the time, Van Halen was trying to combine the sound of the Gibson with the physical performance of the Stratocaster.

The perfect guitar for tone, playability, reliability and functionality has always been Van Halen’s goal. The guitar not only epitomizes his avant-garde and eccentric playing style, but also represents his creativity in terms of design and technique.

The Frankie is by far one of the most recognizable custom made guitars and has prompted countless reproductions from other manufacturers – most notably the line of guitars known as the Superstrat – and a new generation of guitar makers.

-> Slash’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul replica

There are no players better suited to a mahogany Les Paul body than Gun N’ Roses’ Slash. Slash is undoubtedly one of the most famous Les Paul guitarists in rock music. He owns an extensive collection of Les Paul guitars, but the best-known replica is a 1959 replica made by one of the finest luthiers, Chris Derrig.

In late 1986, Slash’s manager bought a guitar for the album Appetite For Destruction. A guitar with Seymour Duncan Alnico 2 pickups became Slash’s main studio instrument.

In addition to Slash, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was also known for playing this iconic Les Paul guitar. Slash is also known for playing his 1987 Les Paul Standard which has been used on several tours.

-> Mongrel Tom Morello Custom “Arm the Homeless”

Rage Against The Machine (RATM) guitarist and Guitar Hero icon Tom Morello has his own signature custom-built guitar called Arm The Homeless and is probably the most unconventional addition to the list. Morello had it built to his exact specifications at a Hollywood custom guitar shop, and in his opinion it was “the worst instrument in the world”.

In the end, Morello reassembled the guitar and replaced almost every part himself. The guitar is equipped with EMG pickups in both neck and bridge, Ibanez Edge Floyd Rose tremolo, toggle switch and lock nut on Kramer Carrera 22 fret neck.

The iconic guitar is also the only instrument that can match Morello’s unpredictable playing style, from unplugging a guitar jack and holding it at the bridge, to using a pencil and a delay pedal to create a helicopter sound.

As for the title, Morello said he came up with it himself and loves the contrast between the provocative phrase and the images of laughing hippos he drew himself.