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Top 5 classic electric guitar looks

There are certain guitars out there that when made with certain woods (just for appearance) and colors define the classic look for that particular instrument.

#5 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster with maple fretboard and large headstock

Hendrix Strat

The guy who made this particular Strat look famous was Jimi Hendrix. Although Hendrix played many different Strats (sunburst, black and red to name a few), it is the 1968 Strat (hence the big headstock) in Olympic White with the maple fretboard that's the most-recognized as the "Hendrix Strat".

You might look at the above and think it's an Arctic White. No, it's Olympic that's been yellowed with age.

#4 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster with rosewood fretboard and large headstock

Fender Classic Series '70s Stratocaster, Rosewood Fretboard , Olympic White

This is a look of guitar that many famous players have used (with Ritchie Blackmore being one of them). No, it's not the late-60s Strat with a different fretboard but rather something that is "very 70s". Olympic White body, white pick guard, rosewood fretboard, large headstock with truss rod on headstock side with a "bullet" truss rod cover.

Fortunately, this guitar can be bought new easily, as it is one of the configurations for the Fender Classic '70s Stratocaster, so there's no research required. Like the guitar? Then go buy it; it's as simple as that.

#3 Butterscotch Fender Telecaster with black pick guard

Fender American Vintage '52 Telecaster, Maple Fingerboard - Butterscotch Blonde

Many famous musicians play Telecasters, but the guy that sticks out in my mind that plays a butterscotch Tele is Bruce Springsteen.

This particular guitar is very easy to get. On the Squier side there's the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s in the exact look shown above. On the Fender side there's the Fender American Vintage '52 Telecaster.

Whether you go Squier or Fender, you can't go wrong with this Tele as it is the total classic Telecaster look - and the easiest to acquire new.

It also should be noted that of the Squier Classic Vibe series, the Tele in particular has been reported by many players to be "the one that Squier got exactly right". Like I said, you really can't go wrong with this Tele.

#2 Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster with maple fretboard

Fender Classic Series 50s Stratocaster Electric Guitar with Maple Fingerboard - Fiesta Red

Whether you love or hate this color combo, it is a classic Strat look that many famous players (Buddy Holly and Dick Dale to name a few) used.

Oddly enough, the Squier is the easiest way to get one of these classic Strats. In particular, the Classic Vibe '50s Stratocaster. Getting a Fender-branded version of one of these on the other hand sometimes isn't readily available.

Before you go looking, a few notes about this configuration:

No, you can't get this in a Fender Standard because the color offered there with the maple fretboard is Candy Apple Red and not Fiesta Red.

No, you can't get this in an American Standard either because the color offered there with the maple fretboard is Mystic Red (a newer color from Fender).

Yes, you can get this in a Fender flavor by specifically seeking out the Fender Classic Series 50's Stratocaster - however it's probably true you would have to order it online only as you will never see this particular configuration of Fender Strat in a guitar store.

#1 Gibson Les Paul Standard in Heritage Cherry Sunburst

Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus Heritage Cherry Sunburst

Out of every electric guitar that exists, this is the one that is recognized the most.

To achieve the absolute classic Les Paul look, the Heritage Cherry Sunburst must be there, along with nickel-covered humbuckers, gold knobs, bound body and neck and trapezoid inlays.

Gibson, of course, offers one along with variations on the same theme. Can you go cheaper with Epiphone in this same basic configuration? You sure can.

There are also many other guitar makers that offer this Les Paul look for real cheap while still being a great-playing/sounding guitar. Agile AL-2000 comes to mind (under $250!)

Some final words about buying for looks over function

My advice is simply this when buying for looks:

  1. Buy as cheap as you possibly can.
  2. Purposely buy multiple guitars if you have to just to combine into one look.

An example of this is recreating #4 above, that being the Olympic White Strat with the rosewood fretboard and big headstock, in a Squier flavor.

First, buy an Olympic White Squier Affinity HSS.

Second, buy any other Squier Affinity with a white pick guard and white-cover pickups and knobs.

Third, transfer the white pick guard and all electronics from one guitar to the other, and you're done.

Now you've got a classic Olympic White Strat with the neck that has a rosewood fretboard with big headstock, and white pick guard with white knobs and pickup covers. Total cost spent was $358. Not a bad deal if you asked me.

True, you could simply order an aftermarket pick guard and pickups, but that may be more trouble than it's worth because the pick guard screw holes probably won't line up correctly. With buying two Squier Strats, it's easy-out and easy-in. No drilling or refitting or soldering required. And yeah, that is worth the extra money just for the convenience.

And remember, you can take the HSS config and put that in the other guitar, so after you're all done you do end up with two complete, functional guitars.

Again, not a bad deal if you asked me. And fairly cheap to do.

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