With Jimmy Page, Bo Diddley, Matt Bellamy, Kerry King and more...
GIGWISE
16:27 31st July 2008

Fresh from unveiling the Greatest Guitarist of All Time on Gigwise, we thought we'd pay homage to some of the coolest guitars that have been played on the live stage in rock music. They range from  stylish, to iconic, to frankly weird guitars  – just look at Steve Vai's Heart guitar and Rick Nielsen's 'Uncle Dick' for examples. Featuring Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Jimmy Page, Gene Simmons and many more, click through and see who makes number one.
Credit: Wenn / Danny Clifford / A Gilbert / press

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  • 30. Bo Diddley's Rectangular Guitar – There are few more instantly recognisable guitars than Diddley's iconic rectangular design. Built by Gretsch, the late Diddley nicknamed it 'The Twang Machine' and loved the square design as it gave him more freedom to move around.

  • 29. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick's 'Uncle Dick' – Allegedly the owner of 2,000 guitars, this is one of his most bizarre designs. Simply called 'Uncle 'Dick', the double neck is actually the body of a cheeky chap complete with legs and a head. Nice.

  • 28. Slash's BC Rich Mockingbird – He's previously used the BC Rich Bich Double Neck, which putting it simply is a beast of an instrument. We, however, prefer the Mockingbird which is the picture of style and one of Saul Hudson's favourite instruments.

  • 27. Buckethead's Jackson Y2KV – The masked musician gave his second custom made Y2KV guitar (pictured) the affectionate name 'KFC' in homage to the red and white bucket he wears on his head. It may be a tacky name, but it's a sure fire unforgettable guitar.

  • 26. Billy Gibbons's Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird Guitar - The story goes that Bo Diddley gave the ZZ Top man his unique Jupiter Thuderbird guitar. Not wanting to ruin the priceless item, Gibbons created a new guitar with Gretsch which took the same Diddley design but put his own spin on it. A truly classic instrument.

  • 25. George Lynch's Flame Boy – The veteran Dokken guitarist is renowned for his flamboyant guitars and the self-dubbed Flame Boy is one of the best.

  • 24. George Lynch's Mom – Lynch's most famous design is his skull and bones guitar which he sloppily called 'Mom.' The original was actually a J Frog guitar, but since he was tied to a deal with guitar maker ESP, he had to change the headstock.

  • 23. Noel Gallagher's Union Jack 'Supernova' guitar – In a show of patriotism that's a bit of a rarity amongst the British people, at the height of Britpop Noel Gallagher managed to make the Union Jack cool with this guitar.

  • 22. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth's Dean VMNT – Having previously championed the Jackson Y2KV and several ESP guitars, the 46-year-old rocker moved to Dead Guitars earlier this year. Upon switching, Mustaine said: “I believe that my Dean guitars right now are playing better than any guitar I ever used.”

  • 21. Paul McCartney's Hofner 500/1 – The left-handed 'violin' bass was made famous by Sir Paul in the early sixties. He used two different models of the left-handed German instrument before he settled for the 500/1 in 1964. Hofner bass's have since been dubbed 'Cavern Guitars' because Paul used them in the famous Liverpool club.

  • 20. Bootsy Collins' Ed Roman Bass – The pioneering funk artist and bass player naturally needs an extravagant instrument to match his flamoyant personna. This star-shaped Ed Roman design suits him and his sunglasses perfectly.

  • 19. Queensryche ESP – Based on the Queensryche logo that has appeared on a number of their album sleeves, this ESP guitar is nothing short of colossal. Just like the music the band concocts, then.

  • 18. Bumblefoot's Vigier Bumblefoot guitar – Who says that accomplished rock musicians shouldn't have a sense of humour?! Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal is named after a bacterial infection and his guitars are hilarious. He was presented with this Vigier design in 1988, a custom built guitar which is shaped like a foot, painted like a bumblebee and even has wings. Nice.

  • 17. Bumblefoot's Swiss Cheese Guitar – Another of his bizarre incarnations is the aptly named Swiss Cheese Guitar made once again by Vigier. Rumour has it that when Thal started touring with Guns N Roses, he was ordered to play a more traditional Gibson guitar. We wonder why...

  • 16. John-Paul Jones – Not wishing to be outdone by his Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page and his iconic double neck Gibson EDS-1275, in 2000 Andy Manson created the Triple Neck Arch-Top Mandolin for John Paul Jones (okay, so it's technically not a rock guitar). Clips of Jones using the mandolin on Youtube are testament to what a great musician he is.

  • 15. Jimi Hendrix's 1965 Fender Stratocaster – Hendrix was a stalwart user of Fenders and perhaps his most famous one was the guitar he set on fire onstage at London's Finsbury Astoria in 1967. The charred remains of the guitar are up for auction in September and is expected to fetch upwards of $1mllion.

  • 14. Gene Simmons' Axe Bass Guitar – Not content with donning a shit-ton of make-up to grab our attention, in the late seventies and early eighties Simmons wielded this iconic axe guitar. Brilliant.

  • 13. Steve Vai's Ibanez JEM – The one-time Frank Zappa band member co-designed the original Ibanez JEM with the Japanese guitar makers. It features a hand grip at the top, nicknamed the Monkey Grip, which is cut into the top of the guitar. Above is a cousin double-neck, which we reckon is even more impressive.

  • 12. Kerry King of Slayer's KKV – When you're a thrash metal legend, you need an instrument that matches. This custom-built B.C Rich guitar called KKV (King Kerry V) is a beast of a guitar, just like the man himself. King also uses the B.C Rich 'Warlock' guitar.

  • 10. Matt Bellamy's Manson guitar – Admittedly it's not too much to look at, but this custom built guitar built by Hugh Manson alongside Bellamy is nothing short of genius. It has an array of gadgets and special features built in, so the Muse man can concoct his voluminous sound live on stage.

  • 9. Dimebag Darrell's Dixie Rebel - The late Pantera and Damageplan guitarist performed with a whole array of iconic guitars down the years, the majority of them made by Dean guitars. Yet few are as memorable as the Confederate flag adorned Dixie Rebel.

  • 8. Michael Angelo Batio's twin neck – Differing from traditional double neck guitars, this is a pioneering V-shaped twin neck guitar (again designed by Michael Angelo) and was designed to be played both left and right handed.

  • 7. Patrick Metheny's Pikasso Guitar - Designed by Linda Manzer specifically for Jazz musician Metheny, the 42-string guitar is truly a mind boggling creation. Metheny has used it on a number of his own original compositions and even plays with it live.

  • 6. Prince's Symbol Guitar – The unpronounceable Love Symbol first appeared Prince's 1992 album of the same name, before he changed to it after a dispute with his record label. Whatever you think of the egotistical Purple One, you can't deny that the symbol guitar is pretty cool at least.

  • 5. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick's Five Neck – Not content with a triple-neck, or even a quad neck guitar, Cheap Trick's frankly crazy Rick Nielsen is the pioneer of the five neck guitar. Made by Hamer, it's as comical as it is brilliant. How the hell you'd go about playing it is another issue.

  • 4. Eddie Van Halen's 1984 Fender 'Frankenstrat' – When Dimbag Darrell was murdered in 2004, he was buried with his favourite instrument Eddie Van Halen's yellow and black striped 'bumblebee' guitar. Another huge favourite amongst guitar purists is the gloriously freakish Frankenstrat.

  • 3. Steve Vai's Ibanez Triple Neck Heart Guitar – Used in the video to Dave Lee Roth's 'Just like Paradise', the Heart guitar is unforgettable. The generous type that Vai is, he donated it to the Hard Rock Cafe in 1996, while his duplicate copy was also auction off for charity.

  • 2. Michael Angelo Batio Quad Guitar – Designed by Batio himself, the 36-stringed Quad Guitar was built by Wayne Charvel in collaboration with Gibson and is simply staggering. Sadly, the unique guitar was stolen in Texas and was never fully recovered. Dean guitars, however, made a new version in 2007.

  • 1. Jimmy Page's Gibson EDS – Few guitars are more iconic than the Led Zeppelin man's 18-string Gibson EDS-1275. Page used the guitar to play epic tracks like 'Stairway To Heaven' and 'The Song Remains The Same' during Zep's live shows so he wouldn't have to switch between a 12 and 6 string guitar. Truly unforgettable.