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20 Iconic Guitars

From ‘Lucille’ to ‘Trigger,’ great guitars and the musicians who love them

les paul jimmy page prince

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When Jimi Hendrix set his Stratocaster on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival, he explained it as an act of love. "You sacrifice the things you love," he said. "I love my guitar." The world's great guitarists undoubtedly love their guitars – Stevie Ray Vaughan went so far as to call his most beloved six-string his "First Wife." Here are 20 iconic guitars forever linked to the musicians who loved them.  

By James Sullivan

lonnie mack

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Lonnie Mack’s Flying V

A pioneer in rock guitar soloing, Mack is said to have given the tremolo bar its nickname – the "whammy" bar – after the title of one of his instrumental hits, "Wham!" In 1958 Mack bought one of the first Gibson Flying Vs off the production line, and it became his signature guitar. Of native American descent, Mack has said he liked the guitar's arrowlike shape.

pete townshend

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Pete Townshend’s #5 Gibson Les Paul

For years the Who's guitarist kept an array of modified Les Pauls on stage, numbering them 1-9 so they could each be tuned accordingly. The wine red #5, seen in the film The Kids Are Alright, is probably the most famous of the bunch.

jimi hendrix

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Jimi Hendrix’s Monterey Stratocaster

The colorfully decorated Strat that the guitar god played during his breakout performance at the Monterey Pop Festival is famous for its short lifespan: Hendrix lit it on fire at that celebrated show. Replicas of its flower-power design are still popular – John Mayer plays one.  

randy rhoads

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Jackson Randy Rhoads

Commissioned by the late metal guitarist (who nicknamed it "Concorde"), the angular electric guitar that gave the Jackson company its reputation has been a preferred axe of many players, including Metallica's Kirk Hammett. 

keith richards

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Keith Richards’ ‘Micawber’

The Rolling Stone's best-known guitar is probably "Micawber," an early Fifties butterscotch Fender Telecaster tuned to open G, with the sixth string removed. The guitar is named for a character in Dickens’ David Copperfield.

bo diddley

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Bo Diddley’s Cigar Box

The late Bo Diddley fashioned homemade guitars from cigar boxes, an old folk tradition that gave his signature instrument its distinctive rectangular shape. Before Gretsch began producing Diddley's guitars, he built two dozen or more of this own, famously giving one to Dick Clark after a career-making appearance on American Bandstand.

kurt cobain

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Kurt Cobain’s ‘Jag-Stang’

According to the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, he designed his own guitar by taking Polaroids of a Fender Jaguar and a Fender Mustang and cutting them to fit together. Fender began producing the guitar after Cobain's death, and Courtney Love gave her husband's powder blue prototype to R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. 

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