Everything Changes but Guitars? I disagree.


I saw this graphic online through Guitar Fail the other day, & again through Guitar Squid:

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

At first, it made me laugh and think “humph, yeah…” in agreement.  The more I thought about it though… it’s wrong. How is it wrong?

Well as far as concept cars go, it’s a whole different world from everyday-use practical cars.  Nothing has gone all that far from 4 wheels, 2 headlights, gasoline powered.  (Yes, there are hybrids and flex-fuel all over the market… but arguably people don’t like them unless they look like “normal” cars.)  But, this blog isn’t about cars.  I’m sure you knew I was going to talk guitars, because that’s what I do.

There are a ridiculous amounts of varying styles of guitars & guitar innovations out there.  Some of them may not be “reinventing the wheel” exactly, but there is always some great stuff happening, and there has been since the inception of the stringed instrument.  How do you think we got so many varieties?

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

I agree that too many axe-slingers fall into the Stratocaster or Les Paul shape trap.  For years I held a disdain for both shapes… but I come back to them.  Why?  Perhaps they’re good designs.  Perhaps they’re iconic.  Perhaps they sound incredible.  Perhaps they work.  There are many other options out there.  If you find yourself chuckling to and agreeing with this graphic, I challenge you to help me to add to my list of innovative guitars.

Any fans of the Guitarz Blog, Tone Fiend, Guitar WTF?, or gUitarREN should be into this.  (Any cool guitar blogs I’m missing?)

Let’s talk about how the guitar is ever-evolving… Shape, materials, string count, innovation, & general insanity.

Indy Custom - Flycaster (Tele-V) Telecaster Flying V Hybrid

Indy Custom Flycaster (or Tele-V?)

There are lots of shapes out there past the Stratocaster or Les Paul, whether it’s somewhat normal or custom insanity.  There’s the SG, the Telecaster, V’s (Flying, Jackson & more), hollowbodies like the Artcore or Gretsch models, the Explorer, the Ravelle, all the crazy B.C. Rich shapes, the Airline, even the Flycaster.  Are there really not enough guitar design shapes out there to satisfy you?  The Stratocaster doesn’t need to change shape, because there are plenty of other options out there!  I’m barely hitting the tip of the iceberg here.  I didn’t even touch on my B.B. Stone, FlipOut, or Batman axes.  How many distinct guitar shapes can you name in the comments?  (Actual produced shapes, not one-offs!)  Bonus for posting or linking to photos.

There’s also material.  Certainly guitars are mostly made of all types of wood, but there’s also plastic, graphite, Res-O-Glass (fiberglass), the Lucite / plexiglass / acrylic transparent guitars, aluminum necks, and so much more.

Once we get past the plethora of guitar makes, models, & shapes available… there are so many other innovations.  Some are great, some not-so great.  Just off the top of my head I can think of:  Synthesizer & MIDI Guitars, Fretlights, 7/8/12 strings, double neck guitars, the chord buddy, the Coral Sitar, built-in-wireless, the robot guitar, 3D printed guitars, Evertune… but none of them have really busted the mold (yet).  They’re all niche stuff.  This doesn’t even get into the many styles of bridges, tuners, tremolos, locks, and other parts that have been refined… or wiring.  You can get CRAZY with wiring.

World's Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh, PA)

World’s Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center – Pittsburgh, PA (Photo Credit: Kara / @ohidontthinkso)

The traveling guitar exhibit is at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh right now.  I can’t wait to check it out.  It’s got the world’s largest playable guitar.  I was lucky enough to get a preview the other day via Twitter.  Tell me that’s not an innovation?  It will no doubt inspire many to pick up the guitar, or dust off the one they already have.  The entire exhibit displays guitars, how they work, their history, & all kinds of fun interaction.

So, next time you think that the guitar has become stagnant, I ask you to go get your hands one one of the many non Strat options above… or even a non-standard Strat option… like a Fat Strat, hot-rodded wiring, or a backwards one.  There are plenty of different, innovative, and goofy guitars out there.  Rock out on something original!

26 responses to “Everything Changes but Guitars? I disagree.

  1. You can’t improve something that’s perfect.

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  2. Like

  3. I agree, guitars do come in a variety of shapes, configurations and are made from materials other than wood. It is the mindset of many guitarist, myself included, that stays stuck in the past. For me it is a comfort zone, I have played these classic style guitars for so long that when I pick one up it becomes an extension of me. They also fit my personality and playing style which is noticeable amongst many guitarist. I couldn’t image B.B. King playing “The Thrill Is Gone” on a B.C. Rich Bich.

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    • Agreed. It is easy to go back to the classics. I can’t sell my Strat or my Les Paul, even though they hardly ever see the stage. It’s like having a Phillips Head & a flat screwdriver around, 2 classics.

      I’d actually like to see a photo of B.B. King playing a Rich Bich now. Ha ha.

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  4. The Strat is still popular because it was so well designed in the first place – and YEARS ahead of its time.

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  5. 1950 vs. 2012 / S-1 switching, Dual Action truss rod, Locking tuners, Stainless frets, Noiseless pick-ups, and I’m pretty sure, the 50’s ones didn’t originally have the tummy and arm cut outs… those are some pretty good evolutions / nitro cellular paint, to polyurathane paint = DeEvolution.. imo

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    • “…I’m pretty sure, the 50′s ones didn’t originally have the tummy and arm cut outs…”

      Oh yes they did! The “original contour body” was what made the Stratocaster so space-age back when it was new. One thing that they did change was the 3-way switch for a 5-way, but otherwise that’s about it.

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      • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Gavin!

        Are we talking about the same cutouts? I mean, there is the shape you see from straight on, then there are the angled bits. I swear I’ve seen Strats without them… perhaps Strat knockoffs?

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        • I’m talking about the contouring for the forearm and the “tummy”. This is why the Strat was such a radical departure from its predecessor, the slab-bodied Telecaster, and this is what Fender were referring to when using the legend “Original contour body”. It was there from the start, and any Strats you’ve seen without must be knock-offs or else later Japanese or Custom-shop examples that were deliberately slab-bodied.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Don. I’ve only recently been hearing about this beef with types of paint when looking at guitar racks…

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      • they did have the tummy and arm cuts i looked it up, wasn’t sure on that, and yeah3 way to 5 way too, i was going from memory. yeah eric, the nitro is super thin, and lets the body vibrate better, but it also rubs off really easy. so it’s a give and take thing, but i even think the older ones with the paint coming look even that much cooler ala john fruciante rhp. they change a lot or there’d be no reason to do 50’s reissues. tele’s (my favorite) have changed even more. 3 saddle to 6 saddle. plus the 60’s head stock changes. i love me some fenders.🙂

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  6. I think the guitars may change shape and color etc. but a guitar as a piece of art and society has not changes

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