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Which Guitars are Best for Rock?

09/02/2022

The World of Rock

Rock Guitars On StandRock has been a staple of modern music for years. Birthed in the early 1950s, with the heyday of rock ’n’ roll, the genre has morphed over time into a plethora of subgenres thanks to the influence of different movements and cultural influences.

The guitar, as a mainstay throughout this time, has seen multiple shapes, models, and manufacturers attempt to create the ideal instrument for the rock guitarist.

While rock may cover a broad array of genres, everyone still has an image of a “Rock Guitar” stored in their minds. Whether that’s Slash’s signature Les Paul, Angus Youngs striking SG, or even Kurt Cobain’s Jaguar – each of these models are seen as instruments built for the purposes of rocking out!

With so many variants and models available,  we’re going to walk you through some of the most essential guitars for every budding rocker to consider.

 

 


Gibson Les Paul

Les Paul Standard

We might as well start as we mean to continue – with the classics. It’s hard to name a guitar that is as instantly recognisable as the Gibson Les Paul. There’s a reason behind that association.

A multitude of world-renowned guitarists have sworn by the model. Slash has almost exclusively used the Les Paul throughout his career, and is the sound you can hear throughout a lot of Guns N’ Roses acclaimed discography.

Another classic rocker rarely pictured without a Gibson Les Paul in hand is Joe Perry from Aerosmith, who has used an iconic 1959 Gibson Les Paul throughout most of his career. Gibson have even released signature models for the now legendary musician.

The Gibson Les Paul has always been set up for success. Versatile in nature, thanks to its dual humbucker configuration and complimentary switching system, the guitar has the advantage of adaptability, perfectly suiting a multitude of subgenres.

Something we have already outlined is a big factor in the success of a modern guitar. Strike crisp clean chords or unleash your appetite for destruction (pun intended) – the Les Paul can do it all.

Les Paul Headstocks

With a solid body construction (typically sourced from mahogany) and finished with a maple top, the durability and sturdiness of the instrument are assured. This is why many Les Paul players often utilise the same guitar throughout their full career, evident in guitars such as Joe Bonamassa’s Lazarus Les Paul.

The construction of the body offers a well-rounded tone. The mahogany offering warmth and depth in abundance while the maple top elevates the brightness, adding more presence for the sound to cut through.

The professional aesthetic is supported with premium hardware. A tried and tested Tune-O-Matic bridge is often utilised for incredible stability. And, when combined with the use of traditional Grover Rotomatic tuners, string changes are easy and efficient.

Of course, one of the main attractions to the Les Paul is the stunning aesthetic. Bold in nature but not completely against the grain, its robust yet colourful design allows for a multitude of styles. It’s not only versatile in sound, but also in style. You can see why it has been utilised for over half a century.


Fender Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster is the next icon on our list. Once again created in the 1950s, the Stratocaster is a model that has exemplified its versatility throughout the decades.

Iconic to even the non-guitar player, the Strat is often what jumps to mind when you mention a guitar. While not the original attempt from Fender to create the all-around textbook guitar (we will cover that soon though), it is the pinnacle of the manufacturer’s repertoire.

American Ultra Strat

The Stratocaster has been used by a myriad of guitarists throughout the years, ranging all the way from the iconic Jimi Hendrix to the modern master Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro. There are obviously other figures you can mention who have utilised the Stratocaster, and this just indicates its complete versatility.

Originally, Leo Fender didn’t intend to create anything completely revolutionary, but was only striving to improve the practicality of the instrument. It utilised a design that resembled a mixture of the original Fender designs: the Telecaster, and the Precision Bass.

The Stratocaster design offers tonal versatility thanks to a three single-coil setup, and in combination with the simplistic switching system, you as the player can create a world of sounds suitable for a wide variety of genres.

This three-pickup configuration offers that recognisable Fender twang, and when used in combination with the alder or ash body construction, offers coverage across every single frequency.

The dynamic sensitivity of the pickups brings out every slight nuance in your playing. If you’re searching for a tight low end, a together midrange, and soaring highs – the Stratocaster is the perfect instrument for you.

American Ultra Strat Close

The playability of the Stratocaster is another big reason why it has solidified its place in the landscape of rock. As is usually the case, the Stratocaster comes prepared with a luscious maple neck, freeing your hand to flourish from one fret to another with the utmost accuracy.

The impeccable hardware featured on the Stratocaster improves the experience as well. Featuring a classic tremolo bridge, you can add a blissful level of vibrato to embellish your sound with incredible variance, while also keeping your strings perfectly in position.

For premium performance, impeccable time-tested sound, and road-ready durability – the Fender Stratocaster is crafted to draw you into the limelight. If you want something ready-built for success, the Stratocaster is the most reliable partner in rock and roll crime.

 

 


Gibson SG

Gibson SG Lifestyle

Right, let’s go back to Gibson for our next rock and roll classic. It can only be the Gibson SG.

After the success of the original Les Paul models, Gibson looked to stay competitive in the guitar marketplace. The success of competitors, such as the aforementioned Fender with their Stratocaster, led to designers pinning the success of these instruments on their vibrato arm and double-cutaway bodies. But this wasn’t quite the case…

Aimed to replace the Les Paul, the original models of the SG adopted the famed guitarist’s name. But since the endorsement from the guitarist ended a year later in 1963, they ultimately had to rename the instrument. While the original design of the instrument might not have succeeded, the later iterations of the SG did solidify its own hold in the rock marketplace.

Used by an abundance of recognised guitarists, we can all agree in the case of the SG there is one that jumps to mind: Angus Young of AC/DC. Offering thunderous sounds and an equally striking design, the SG was exactly the answer that Gibson was looking for.

Gibson SG Showroom

Slimming down the Les Paul, the SG is constructed from a slimline mahogany body, delivering the utmost warmth, with well-rounded coverage over all aspects of the sound. This extends to the neck, with a slim-taper solid mahogany profile. It’s clear to see that playability was always atop the considerations when it came to the construction of the instrument.

Tone is offered in abundance. The SG has always incorporated two humbuckers at the bridge and neck, which permits the guitar to generate a thicker and more destructive sound. Achieving the utmost power, the depth of sound that can be created from the two pickups allows you to crush chords and blaze solos.

It’s safe to say this wonder of an instrument has solidified its place in classic rock. Blasting solid tones and satisfying sounds, the SG is the perfect accumulation of everything a classic rock guitar should be. It’s clear to see why Gibson struck gold with the Gibson SG.

 


Ibanez RG

Now, let’s venture outside the classics, and there’s only one brand to do that with – Ibanez.

Ibanez excels with creating brooding axe’s ready to emit pure devastation. Put less ominously: they are often utilised in the realm of metal.

Ibanez RG Showroom

Ibanez’s RG series is the most recognisable in their collection and has been subtly but surely altered bit by bit, until becoming a modern icon. Built for speed and precision, every aspect of these guitars are specifically designed to keep your fingers flowing with flurries of fretting ferocity.

This speed and aggression are why some of rock’s virtuosos have adopted it in their setups. Steve Vai, for instance, is an avid user of the RG series – and we all know his proficiency with a guitar in his hand is legendary. Despite being a newer model than the classics we have already mentioned, the RG has carved its own niche into modern rock.

The tone on these guitars is impeccable. Typically coming with a pair of humbuckers at both the bridge and neck, they’re usually dialled up to the max to ensure a tone that chimes with limitless power. Full aggression and accurate attack are always on the menu, serving up the peak in dynamic sensitivity.

Ibanez RG Showroom 2

We definitely need to talk about the necks on these bad boys, too. Constructed from five-piece maple and wenge, certainly in the case of the RG5170B, the neck offers pristine durability allowing you to show off without worrying about it snapping.

Magic: it’s the only word to describe the feel of these necks, and Ibanez agree. All models feature a Wizard neck profile, cementing the fact that every riff rampaged from the RG is spellbinding.

This wizardry is usually topped off with a very aesthetically-pleasing ebony fretboard, which emphasises every strum with crisp, clean attack. A sleek surface, it allows you to float with freedom from note to note without restriction.

If speed and sonic aggression is what you are looking for, then the RG series pretty much has you covered here. You’ll be starting mosh-pits in an instance, and chugging breakdowns without mercy, while the crowds around you collide with true metal enthusiasm. Put simply, the Ibanez RG is a fantastic instrument for all your heavier needs.


Fender Telecaster

Let’s take another dive into the history of popular music, and of course we are heading back to Fender. We definitely couldn’t leave this one off the list…

The Telecaster is the idyllic rock guitar for a lot of performers. While it doesn’t deliver the heaviness of the RG series, the depth of the Les Paul, or the versatility of its colleague the Stratocaster – it does offer a beautiful sound that is completely unique.

Fender American Tele Lifestyle

In a sense, the Telecaster was the trendsetter, being Leo Fenders first foray into building a model that was practical for the casual guitarist, delivering reliability and affordability, whilst simultaneously ensuring a delightful sound. It’s with good reason that this model has stood the test of time.

A single stone in the search for that Fender sound, the Telecaster comes with two single-coil pickups. While it doesn’t provide an abundance of depth, it does deliver delightful tones. The first of its kind, the Telecaster is intuitive but comprehensive and hosts plenty of versatility.

Delicate tonally, this guitar was the origin of that now-iconic Fender twang. And, with blissful resonance and striking sustain, the Telecaster is truly a titan of the guitaring sphere.

While not exclusively a rock guitar (its versatility makes it a great all-rounder) the Telecaster has seen its way into the hands of a multitude of rockers over its 70-year history. Artists such as Jimmy Page, Tom Morello, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Marr have all been seen with a Tele in their hands at one point or another.

Fender American Tele Showroom

As with every Fender, the playability of the instrument is perfect. Utilising a maple neck with a sleek finish, the Telecaster always offers a smooth playing experience, guaranteeing that you can play to the peak of your abilities at every moment.

There are a few variants in profile for the neck of this instrument, however, they all ensure you have a sufficient grasp on the instrument while allowing for fluidity in movement.

Like the Stratocaster, the body of the instrument is usually constructed out of either alder or ash, both of which are tonewoods that offer impeccable tonal versatility, bringing a full-bodied sound that allows for full definition over every frequency range.

Blissfully balanced, it’s no wonder why the Telecaster has been a mainstay in rock since the genre’s inception.

 


PRS CE 24

PRS CE24 Colour Variants

A list of rock and roll guitars isn’t complete without the mention of PRS. Initially designed in 1985, PRS guitars offer impressive performance and well-crafted tone, resulting in an instrument that delivers in every regard.

PRS strive to make instruments that ooze premium quality and efficient performance, to ensure it meets every guitar player’s needs.

The PRS C24 was Paul Reed Smith’s first attempt at creating the ultimate guitar. Not only did the guitar offer excellent playability, but also the same exceptional tone that has been perfectly shaped over the last few decades to ensure pristine dynamics and premium coverage over the full range.

A set of 85/15 pickups have been tailored to suit every demand of the modern performer. Crystal-clear clarity combines with an extended high-end to capture incredible harmonics, and rightly maximising the low-end to emit a delicate and together backbone. This tonal coverage makes it incredible for modern applications, opting for high-octane destruction and rocking sounds.

PRS CE24 Showroom

Combining this with intricate – yet easy-to-use – electronics and switching, you can utilise the pristine pickups in a variety of different ways. Offering five positions, the pickups can either work in unison or on their own.

Another thing achievable with the switching system is the ability to use the pickups as single-coils via a ‘coil-split’, a feature that opens up the possibility for lighter tones.

Both pickups feature this option, enabling each to be put into the single-coil setting simultaneously for a slight twang and lighter, classic rock sounds.

A delightful experience all around, this guitar lays down the law of luxury, coming with a riveting rosewood fretboard. Slide along the surface with ease and clarity to ensure that every riff you play can be performed with the utmost precision.

Speed is the aim with a pattern thin mahogany neck. Blazing with ferocity and bouncing with tuneful delight, you can be assured that your playing is optimised at every second with this esteemed instrument.


Keep On Rocking…

Over the years, rock has seen a multitude of different guitars take to the stage. From the classics with the Les Paul and the Telecaster, all the way to the modern Ibanez RG series and the PRS customs.

While we have covered a list of the classics, there have of course been other models which have been a mainstay in the world of rock.

But with the genre covering a wide basis of musical styles, it’s often hard to cover each individual model. So, when searching for your ideal guitar, it’s always best to do further research into what suits your style.

If you want to find out more about the models we have mentioned, check out the links below!

Rock Guitars Showroom

 

Shop Now | Gibson Les Paul

Shop Now | Fender Stratocaster

Shop Now | Gibson SG

Shop Now | Ibanez RG Series

Shop Now | Fender Telecaster 

Shop Now | PRS CE 24

Digital Marketing Apprentice

Alt-rock connoisseur. A musical enthusiast, Fraser has been a guitarist for over 17 years, lighting up the stage with his melancholic ambience. He can usually found drinking a coffee and telling people about unknown artists, and could easily be confused for a hipster.

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