What kind of guitar "gets you respect?"
"Respect" in the guitar community is a bit of a weird animal.
The definition of respect is to hold something or someone in high regard, or consider something or someone honorable, or can be interpreted as simply being polite.
In the guitar community however, "respect" means one thing. Bragging rights. That, at best, is an empty respect because it does not reflect a player's ability to use the instrument, but rather encourages people to gawk and stare at a fancy collection of hardware.
For example, a guy who buys a Gibson Les Paul Standard is given no legitimate respect. He is known as "the idiot who owns a Les Paul." If that same guy buys an Epiphone Les Paul Standard, he is also given no legitimate respect either, as players will say, "So when are you going to buy a 'real' Les Paul?" If you buy the lower-cost guitar, it's not 'real enough.' If you buy the high-cost guitar, you're an idiot. You just can't win.
What kind of guitar truly gets you respect as a player?
In my experience, there are only three types of guitars that get you real-deal legitimate respect as a player.
1. Acoustic guitars
Above is a small-body acoustic in parlor size, the Fender CP-100. Price? Cheap, but that's not the point.
The point is that it is not a fancy guitar. It does not shout out "LOOK AT ME!" whatsoever. This is a simple, classy instrument. And that's what makes it good.
Anyone who watches someone play this will not be concentrating on the headstock logo. Instead, the audience would concentrate on the player, and that's legitimate respect.
(By the way, if you're never tried a parlor-sized acoustic, seriously, try one. Great little player guitars. Cheap and good, even for many famous-name brands.)
2. Unpopular models of guitars
When I say "unpopular models," I'm not talking about guitars that are not liked, but rather guitars you just don't see very often or hardly ever at all.
The Squier VM Tele Deluxe is one of those guitars. You never see these things. It's a Tele body with belly cut in the rear, dual humbucker pickups, SG-style switching with 4 knobs and a 3-way toggle, and to top it all off, a Strat-style neck with the big 1970s-style pegboard on it.
This particular guitar is a Squier version of the Fender Classic Series '72 Telecaster Deluxe. And that Fender is also an unpopular model because few would think to get a Tele in that kind of configuration. It is the type of guitar for those that like Fender design but want something different. The Deluxe is definitely different.
Nobody is going to say "get a 'real' Fender" if you play the Squier above, because they're probably not aware of the Fender '72 version at all. So again, legitimate respect is given to the player rather than to the instrument.
3. Semi-hollow body guitars
When you want a guitar where nobody will give you any grief about what brand or model you're playing, that's where the semi-hollow body pretty much rules the roost.
Above you see an Epiphone ES-339, but at the top of this article you see another semi-hollow body, the Ibanez AS53. Whether you get an Epiphone, Ibanez or other brand, it doesn't matter because the semi-hollow conveniently escapes the typical nonsense that guitar players blab about concerning what makes a guitar good or bad.
As far as electrics are concerned, there is nothing classier than the semi-hollow. Most semi-hollows are not overdone nor underdone as far as how they look. This is the kind of guitar you can play anywhere from a small band to a full orchestra environment and it totally fits right in.
There are some players out there that take the commentary of others seriously. I don't know why they do, but they just do. If you're that type of player and want a guitar where other players will not get whiny about what instrument you're playing, get a semi-hollow.
It can safely be said that nobody will blurt out the oh-so typical "get a real guitar" nonsense when you play a semi-hollow. In addition, you won't be labeled as an idiot for owning one either, so you're in safe territory.
There are a few immediate benefits to owning a semi-hollow that shut the whiny players up:
- It's not a Stratocaster.
- It's not a Telecaster.
- It's not a Les Paul.
- Nobody cares where it was made.
- Nobody cares what you paid for it.
There are more reasons, but you get the basic idea here. The semi-hollow is the type of electric that escapes all the typical crap that guitar players blab about.
Another big benefit of the semi-hollow is that it's "ageless." What that means is that any player regardless of age can play one and not be considered a dork.
For younger players, riffing on a semi-hollow is just fine and you're not seen as a poser. For older players, riffing on a semi-hollow doesn't make it look like you're chasing after your youth, but rather playing just for the enjoyment of it.
Is the semi-hollow the "safest" electric one could play? Yes.
On a final note, with certain semi-hollows, you do get some bragging rights.
There's no Les Paul that looks as good as an ES-339:
That's some serious class right there. And it's about, oh, $2,200 less than a Gibson Les Paul Standard. You could be standing on stage right next to a guy with a Les Paul and you'd get all the stares because the 339 just looks that much better.