If a worker is only as good as his or her tools, these guitarists must be fantastic
Will Butler

11:15 14th October 2015

In the rock documentary, It Might Get Loud, Jimmy Page describes the feeling of holding a guitar. He says: "It's like a piece of sculpture, the whole aroma of it - it's like a woman". And while Page's affections have always been questionable, he has a point. A guitar is a vessel of personality that has an important physicality to it.

There is an iconography associated with greatest guitarists of history; it sometimes involves some sort of phallic stance but always involves a signature guitar. Jimmy Page's Les Paul, Eric Clapton's Strat and B.B King's ES-335 - all beautiful specimens of varnish and wood but sometimes that's not enough. These guitars were made legendary over time, what about the ones that were created with specific intention to represent the artist?

Here are 13 guitars and the guitarists that designed them.

  • In the rock documentary, It Might Get Loud, Jimmy Page describes the feeling of holding a guitar. He says: "It's like a piece of sculpture, the whole aroma of it - it's like a woman". Legendary guitars were made legendary over time but what about the ones that were created with specific intention to represent the artist? Here are 12 guitars and the guitarists that designed them.

  • Jack White - Parsons Triple Jet: Used most commonly in White’s stint in The Raconteurs, this modified Gretsch came about after the White Stripes man wanted to “take a guitar with a certain sound and throw it into another context”. The guitar has a double-cutaway and a Green Bullet harmonica mic installed in the body - if you don’t know what that is, it’s what White uses to get those really fucked up vocals that we all love.

  • St Vincent - Self-titled: This is not in reference to Annie Clark's fifth studio album but the recently designed Ernie Ball Music Man guitar. s to design with the world's most prestigious guitar company. The axe is sleek as hell and totally representational of the personality player Clark is - it also comes in blue.

  • Matt Bellamy - Son of Santa: The Muse frontman has always had a good relationship with Manson. Maybe his most iconic live guitar, this lady in red has a built in Kaoss pad for crazy galactic sounds and a killswitch sustainer for instantaneous feedback. Bellamy designs his guitars to give the maximum amount of sound control he can.

  • Brian May - Red Special: Built by a teenage May in the early 60s, Red Special was specifically designed to create feedback after May saw Jeff Beck play for the first time. Between the positioning of the fret inlays to the built-in distortion circuit, everything about Red Special is supremely May and therefore, supremely Queen.

  • Synyster Gates - Schecter Synyster: Having been sponsored by the metal guitar company since Avenged Sevenfold gained notoriety, Gates seems to bring out a re-customised version of the pinstriped beauty every year. Word to the wise, dropping a grand on this won't make you shred like Gates himself, in fact you'll just be broke and disappointed.

  • Tom Morello - Arm The Homeless: After wanting to design his own guitar and having no idea what he wanted, Morello ticked all the boxes and ended up with the "shittiest guitar in the world". Since then, Morello was swapped out every part of the guitar except the wood until he realised it would never make the sounds he wanted. What was left was the axe behind some of Rage's most iconic tunes.

  • Eddie Van Halen - Frankenstrat: Costing a total of $130 at the time, Van Halen wanted to combine the elements of Gibson and Fender in one monstrosity. After Eddie became a sought after shredder, companies attempted to copy the guitar for a profit. The guitar was then fitted with decoy pickups in all the wrong places to throw workshops off the scent, ingenious.

  • Jim Root - Telecaster: Telecasters and metal rarely mix. The thin neck and razor sharp natural treble don’t seem to supply the necessary crunch and chug that is a staple of modern metal bands. Slipknot's Jim Root defied that convention and stuck two monster EMG pickups on his Tele and shaved down the headstock to give it that OG Root flair.

  • Freddie Cowan - Farida GNA: The Vaccines are hardly the most innovative guitar band of the last decade but their sound is unmistakable. Part of that stems from Cowan's fretwork and Farida were kind enough made the guitar specially. With a rugged body and jazz humbuckers, this custom instrument has shaped the greater depth and more expansive sounds of the more recent Vaccines albums.

  • Kurt Cobain - Jag-Stang: As a result of his left-handedness and insatiable DIY habits, Kurt Cobain's guitar history was as destructive and distorted as the music that he made. His most notable guitar hybrid was the Jag-Stang that made it's debut when Kurt took polaroids of both a Fender Jaguar and Mustang, taped them together and posted it to Fender for design specs. Cobain rarely played it live.

  • Prince - Love Symbol: You'd look a fool to play this if you weren't Prince, but he rocks it, like he does everything. Considering his mammoth career, the Purple One actually has relatively few guitars. This particular number was built by a German luthier, Jerry Auerswald. There's little to be said about this guitar, it kind of speaks for itself.

  • Ed Sheeran - X Signature: Designed by the good folks at Martin, 100% of the royalties from the sale of this model to the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Not the most exciting guitar in the world, the 3/4 size replicated Sheeran's personal preference but this isn't an axe designed for the aficionado, more the die-head Sheeran fan.

  • Seasick Steve - Washboard: As the saying goes, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'. Seasick Steve is the musical incarnation of that idiom, this particular stringed instrument is a washboard with a banjo neck stuck on. Other classics include the hubcap guitar and the three string trance wonder.

Photo: Press