Designs for an electric guitar body have heavily evolved over the years, the most famous of which inspired a whole slew of imitators and admirers alike. Whether they came about as a reaction to the era or simply an evolution of previous iterations, there are a great number of iconic designs in the world of electric guitars. Below, we take a look at a few famous guitar body designs that graced the music scene over the years.
Famous Guitar Body Designs
Originally known as the Broadcaster, the Fender Telecaster was introduced in 1950 and was the first guitar of its kind to be manufactured on such a large scale. Subsequently, through the years, the Telecaster was remodeled and many series were released; one of them included the American Series. The Telecaster allowed guitarists to play loudly and defined itself as the lead instrument, with a long sustain if needed.
One of the most versatile guitars by Fender was unveiled in 1954. It possessed a contoured body that was unlike previous flat designs such as the Telecaster. The Stratocaster was also the first guitar to feature three pickups along with a spring tension tremolo system. It’s currently, the most used designs across the rock scene.
After some inspiration from the Fender Jazzmaster, Jaguar came into the music scene in 1962. Its offset-waist body and two circuit switching system gained momentum only later during the punk rock scene and the alternative rock formations in the 1980s and 1990s. The single-coil pickups coupled with the asymmetrical arrangement made for a traditional rock star image.
Gibson Les Paul
The iconic Gibson Les Paul was introduced in 1952. It was originally put on production with a neat Gold Top finish and 2 amazing P-90 pickups. What started as a failure in the design department at Gibson later came to be the highest grossing guitar designs of all time. Used by many famous guitarists, the Les Paul continued to wow its users with its simplicity.
The Gibson SG was introduced in 1961 as the Gibson Les Paul when the latter’s sales weren’t doing too well at Gibson. The standard model made headlines and came to be known as Gibson’s best-selling model of all time. Armed with a black pickguard, the SG Standard’s set neck was shallower than that of Gibson’s Les Paul. However, the two humbucker pickups continued along with the addition of pearl trapezoid fretboard inlays. The SG also featured a three-way switch that allowed selection of either bridge, neck, or both pickups.
Gibson Flying V
Randy Rhoad’s love for the Gibson Flying V made it the possible for rockers to enjoy a polka dot sensation. The Flying V was introduced in the market in 1958 and has been throwing people off their seats by the very look it possesses. Boasting of a very futuristic look, the Flying V was very closely resembling the Explorer of the time. The back was completely changed to induce weight reduction but the sound was still powerful. After a low response from the conservative market, the model was re-released in 1967 with a stylish pickguard, and the V-shape made it possible for the pickups to be placed near the center of the mass enabling a sustain.
Gretsch Bo Diddley
Gretsch’s Bo Diddley guitar has an impeccably unique shape—rectangular. Though it doesn’t seem to be quite exciting, it has featured in this list for being unlike a shape you would associate with a guitar. Designed especially for Bo Diddley in the 1950s, the guitar was all encompassed with 2 high sensitive Filter’Tron pickups and gold hardware. Its exquisite design made it possible for unusual cravings and remains as a tribute to the legendary Bo Diddley.
Yamaha RGX Series
Breaking stereotypes were the Japanese manufacturers, Yamaha, entering into the guitar scene. Yamaha came up with durable designs that were quite simple when compared to the more rustic and wild Gibson guitars. Each generation focused more on improving the designs of the parts than the overall look and feel. Being one of the most sought-after guitars in the world, Yamaha surely made it big with its RGX generations, introduced in 1987.
While the body designs above include some of the best-known electric guitars around, there are a ton more where those came from. Although tone is king when it comes to electric guitars, there's nothing wrong with picking one out that looks good too!
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What's your favorite guitar body design?