Guitar players and makers come and go, but there are few guitar brands that have been, and will be, around for decades to come. Ask most non-musicians to draw the shape of a guitar and nine times out of ten, you’ll get a sketch of something that resembles either a Fender Stratocaster or a Gibson Les Paul.
These two instantly recognizable brands of guitar just keep resurfacing, and with every new guitar god that enters the arena, one of these guitars usually follows suit. Here’s a look at why these two guitars are two of the best around.
The Fender Stratocaster
The ‘Strat’ as it’s affectionately known, is among the most iconic electric guitars to have ever been produced. This beautifully crafted guitar has been a major influence to the sound of modern music since it was introduced in 1954.
Its distinctive sound can be heard on vast amounts of recordings and live gigs, and is used by rock, punk, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and country artists throughout the world.
Throughout its sixty-year history, the Strat has been copied, reproduced, but never beaten.
With its 3-pickups and 5-way selector switch, the Strat offers players a number of options (tonally). Whether its bright and tight funk, killer Clapton-style blues tones, or mellow and moody; you determine the sound with just the flick of a switch. Let’s face it, the Strat has you covered.
Now let’s get into shape and feel. The Strat has a beautifully smooth and comfortable feel, so for players like Stevie Ray Vaughan who use incredibly thick gauge strings, the guitar still has a huge comfort factor. The way the body and neck are contoured make the Stratocaster nice and easy to hold, and because of its body’s deep cutaways, guitarists have free rein to play solos across the entire fretboard. Eric Clapton had been listening to guitarists from the USA, like Texas bluesman Freddie King and Howlin’ Wolf, and guess what? He wanted some of that sound too! Clapton, along with some of music’s biggest names have the Strat look and sound tattooed all over their work—Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour and Dick Dale just to name a few.
So, all in all, the Strat is a true workhorse, and with a flick of the switch you can create basically any sound you want.
The Gibson Les Paul.
Since its introduction in 1952, the Les Paul legend has continued to grow. With an unrivaled rich and chunky mid-range tone, the Les Paul gives guitarists an electric guitar with more sustain and less feedback, giving players the ability to hold notes during solos. From the offset, the Les Paul became the go to guitar for rock and blues, and to this day is used by stars of metal, pop and indie music.The guitar is a solid-body instrument that retains the look of its carved-top hollow-body predecessors. It would eventually be offered in four models during the ‘50s and early ‘60s, these were the Custom, Standard, Special, and Junior.
Because of its solid mahogany body, with a thin maple layer, the Les Paul solves every guitar player’s constant battle with feedback, whilst also producing fantastic sustain. With the addition of its cutaway in the body, this beautiful guitar enables players to get right to the top of the neck for high-note guitar soloing.
The guitar was originally shipped with dual ‘P-90’ single-coil pickups, and with the introduction of Gibson’s PAF (Patent Applied For) hum-bucking pickups, this eliminated the dreaded ‘hum’ that plagued electric guitars with single-coil pickups and delivered the chunky, thick tone that has become the hallmark of the Les Paul.
Here are just a few of the names that have wielded the Les Paul: Jimmy Page, Slash, Joe Perry, Ace Frehley, Marc Bolan, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and Billie Joe Armstrong. Hey, if it’s good enough for them then its good enough for us mortals.
Which will you choose? The Strat or the Les Paul?
Keep your eyes peeled over the next coming weeks and perhaps one of these guitars could be yours.