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.)
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
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 (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 (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!