Jake Denison — Guitar Brands Part One

Learning about guitar gear (the technology and aspects that go into shaping the sound of the instrument) is almost as fun as playing the guitar itself.

Here I’m going to break down the main brands of guitars, mostly for my own enjoyment, but hopefully you learn something too!


Ah yes. The classic Fender. Fenders are by far the most well known brand of guitar out there. They make everything from the extremely popular beginner Squire to the revered Stratocaster. Quality Fenders are known for their distinctive bluesy sound and “crying” lead sound. There most common applications are in classic rock and instrumental soloing. They aren't the best option for higher distortion playing such as metal and hard rock, but they are all around fantastic guitars.

Notable Players/Bands: Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore (Dio, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), really any classic rock band has a good chance of employing a Stratocaster.

Main Models: The Squire, Telecaster, and Stratocaster.


Gibson is probably the second most used brand next to Fender. Gibson guitars have been hailed as some of the greatest sounding guitars out there. They are crunchier and higher gain compared to many brands, so they are usually found in rhythm playing, however many guitar players have used them very successfully for lead playing as well.

Notable Players/Bands: Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), James Hetfield (Metallica), Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society)

Main Models: The SG, Les Paul, and Explorer.


My personal favorite and one of the most popular guitars for shredders, Ibanezes are built with basswood, sound fantastic, and play beautifully. They tend to be a mix of cleaner tones and clear cut dirty tones. They are perfect for instrumental soloing, metal, and rock. They are a favorite of the guitar shred kings and queens.

Notable Players/Bands: Steve Vai (Virtuoso), Joe Satriani (Virtuoso), Paul Gilbert (Virtuoso), John Petrucci (Dream Theater, Virtuoso)

Main Models: The RG, S series, and JEM.


Jackson guitars are the guitar to have if you want to play aggressive metal, especially solos. Well made with a distinctive sharp look, Jackson guitars pioneered exotic guitar shapes and high distortion pickups.

Notable Players/Bands: Matry Friedman (Virtuoso, Megadeth), Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne, Late Black Sabbath), literally any 80’s hair metal band

Main Models: Too many to count.


Pure metal. High distortion pickups, facemelting sound, and amazing fretboard layout. My second personal favorite make on this list, Shecter is the forefront of modern guitars.

Notable Players/Bands: Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Virtuoso), Avenged Sevenfold, Nikki Sixxx (Mötley Crüe)

Main Models: Anything from the Omen line.

Check back for part 2!

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