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Eric Clapton Speaks: Best blues guitar, Gibson or Fender?

Someone had written a post about the topic of whether Eric Clapton prefers a Gibson or a Fender. This is an interview where he discusses his blues guitar of choice.

Gibson vs. Fender

For many years, fans wondered what prompted Eric Clapton’s transition from Gibson Guitars to Fender Guitars. Many still maintain Clapton had his best tone / sound when playing a Gibson Les Paul through a Marshall Stack.

In The Yardbirds, Clapton sometimes played his Cherry Red Gibson ES-335 (although it was frequently on loan to bandmate Chris Dreja) and a Fender Telecaster. From mid-1965 he became exclusively a player of Gibson guitars, when he purchased a 1960 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul. He played Les Pauls almost exclusively until 1967, when he acquired a Gibson SG (The Fool Guitar). A year later, he began playing a Gibson Firebird and started using his Cherry Red ES-335 once again. Late in 1969, the transition to Fender Stratocasters began and it was complete by 1970.

In his introduction to the book The Stratocaster Chronicles, Clapton himself explained it:

I never did meet Leo Fender, but I wish I had. If I could go back and somehow talk to him about the Stratocaster, I’d say, “You’ve created something that can’t be bettered, really. How did you do that?” I know there were prototypes with the Telecaster and the Esquire, and some early experimental stages, but nevertheless, the fact that he got to this conclusion so quickly is remarkable, isn’t it? Leo Fender was so far in advance of anybody else, developing the Strat to the point where it just can’t be bettered, even now. My hat’s off to him.

One reason why I hadn’t played Strats earlier was that the necks always looked so narrow I thought, I won’t be able to bend any strings, no room, but in fact I was wrong. And any Strat that I’d seen up until that time had a rosewood fingerboard, and I had an aversion to rosewood fingerboards — don’t ask me why — even though some of my earlier guitars had them. I’d always preferred ebony. I liked that silky finish. Of course, when I got my hands on a maple-neck StratEric Clapton with the white fingerboard, I was surprised at how easy it was to play.

I had a lot of influences when I took up the Strat. First there was Buddy Holly, and Buddy Guy. Hank Marvin was the first well known person over here in England who was using one, but that wasn’t really my kind of music. Steve Winwood had so much credibility, and when he started playing one, I thought, oh, if he can do it, I can do it.

Picking up a Stratocaster makes me play a bit differently. I find that over the last few years I play more with my fingers because of the way my hand sits on the guitar. I don’t feel the need to use a pick quite so much as I would with any other guitar, where the bridge sits higher off the body. With the Strat the bridge is almost flush with the guitar, so my hand rests on the body, part of my heel rests on the bridge, and then my fingers rest on the scratchplate. It’s really easy to play either way, but I’ve found more and more that I’m using just my fingers.

It’s got those famous lead tones, but it’s so versatile you can use it in any kind of rhythmic sense as well — great big power chords, or that really light kind of Tamla/ Motown chord sound with very little volume. Unlike most other electric guitars, it sounds almost better when the guitar’s volume knob is on 2 or 3, really under-amplified and quiet.

Eric continued,

I keep coming back to the Stratocaster because it’s so practical. It doesn’t move very much, it’s stable, it stays in tune, and has a great sound. It’s fairly invincible, quite difficult to damage. I really like the old coil pickups, especially that middle and bridge combination. I used that for the solo in “Bell Bottom Blues,” which would be a classic example of that sound. But I’ve got those new Noiseless pickups now, and active circuitry, and I get so many different sounds coming out of the Stratocaster that it’s hard to compare it to any other guitar. My other guitars, I only visit them from time to time. I very rarely use anything else but the Strat.

My feelings about a perfect design is that it has to be functional, and with the Strat, its functionality really steers it. That’s what makes the design so beautiful. It’s superbly thought out. At first I thought it was odd to have only one volume control, but that’s only because I was used to a different set-up. All the things I love about it aesthetically are there for a real purpose, like the contoured back. If those things were based just on the way they looked, that would be fine, but everything on that guitar is there for a reason. Like the pegboard, with all the tuning pegs on the top. That’s such a logical thing to do when you think about how accessible it is.

I come back to the fact that I don’t think there’s anything on that guitar that doesn’t come from pure logic. I would challenge anybody to come up with a better design for a guitar. The Stratocaster is as good as it gets, isn’t it? – Eric Clapton

Well that pretty much settles it on what he prefers. Any thoughts? Leave your comments below.

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55 Responses to Eric Clapton Speaks: Best blues guitar, Gibson or Fender?

  1. Steve December 10, 2009 at 6:05 PM #

    Eric is definitely a Strat fan. A friend of mine has a ’76 Strat with a Maple neck and fingerboard and I have played it several times. For me it was the easiest guitar to hold and play that I had ever picked up. That guitar just fits, and sound tremendous, but still like my LP better. :-)

  2. Chris January 1, 2010 at 6:21 AM #

    Strats are great, but I still think that Gibson ES-335 is one hell of a guitar for playing blues

    • JP May 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM #

      The thing is, Eric did something very special that only happens once in a long while… he broke the mold and created a new voice, with the Sunburst Les Paul through a singing Marshal amp. Like Jaco with the fretless Jazz bass, he invented a *voice*! Much more special than his work on a strat, in my view. ~

  3. Scott January 14, 2010 at 7:45 PM #

    I have to admit that I love the look and craftmanship of gibsons better. But all of my heroes play strats (buddy guy, clapton, srv, hendrix, gilmore) and to me nothing feels as good in my hands. So for me its a strat but I will allways be envious of a great looking les paul or ES 335.

  4. Dave February 20, 2010 at 4:45 PM #

    Eric makes a great point about functionality.
    I’m a Lefty so my selection is severely limited.
    My father warned me to learn right handed…
    “But Dad, it just doesn’t FEEL right.”

    I had a gorgeous LP Standard that I loved. Long story short, I traded it for a Lefty Spanish guitar ‘cos I thought I was gonna be doing more solo guitar playing than with bands.

    Things have changed again and a couple years later I’m saving to buy another high end electric guitar. I currently have a Yamaha Pacifica which is based on a Strat design. It’s true…it rarely goes out of tune and is very trustworthy. It’s stuck around for 15 years now while others have come and gone ( including the aforementioned Les Paul Standard, a Larivee that died after many years of service and some custom made disappointments). The Yammy has a humbucker in the bridge position.

    I love the look and sound of Les Pauls. But I also sing…and they’re so darn heavy!

    I’ve seen some nice looking Ibanez guitars online…but any time I’ve ever purchased a guitar without “taking it for a spin” it has ended in disappointment.

    In my town there are usually several Strats and Les Pauls to at least try out in the store…

    It’ll probably take a few more months to save up ( I’m allergic to my credit cards at the moment ) so it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out. Will I go for the Strat? I am a huge fan of EC’s guitar artistry. hmmm…

    Bottom line? I love the functionality of a Strat. I just don’t like that dang 60 cycle hum noise. I don’t know what the noiseless pickups are like. Perhaps I’ll be able to find a Lefty with them or install them.
    I love the look and sound of the Les Paul. But so fragile and heavy on the shoulders.

    Any “feedback”?
    Best to all in guitar and Life,
    Dave

  5. Joe February 25, 2010 at 10:38 AM #

    I sold a Epi LP to buy my current Strat with a humbucker in the bridge position. I like all guitars, each has a unique sound. But for me, the Strat is much easier to play. I must admit, I have GAS for a 335 style guitar, which may be in my future. But the Strat is hard to beat!

  6. Matt March 22, 2010 at 11:20 AM #

    I agree with Chris. Eric is the man, Strats are amazing, and the ES-335 is a great Blues guitar!

  7. Jon Rodriguez March 12, 2011 at 9:51 PM #

    Strats and LP are both great guitars. Had and played both, so why is it that I keep going back to my old and faithful Telecaster?

  8. guitar lover May 4, 2011 at 10:24 AM #

    Like your website, great articles. Bookmarked and will be back to read more.I think that this blog is definitely one of the most interesting of my adventures in blogging.

  9. Darren July 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM #

    I watched a channel 4 show years ago called Equinox. On there was a guy, Andy Summers of The Police i think, who simply said “Leo Fender got it right”. I don’t think anything else needs to be added to that. The contours of the body sit perfectly, the tone on mine has changed due to a nice set of Seymour Duncan SSL’s, a perfect blues or rock machine.

  10. StevieG August 4, 2011 at 1:04 PM #

    He may like the Strat, but his best tone came from a Les Paul. He even tries, but fails, to get that tone through the active electronics that he has on his strat.

    • RandyS April 24, 2013 at 5:30 PM #

      I totally agree — Clapton’s tone on Crossroads from the “Wheels of Fire” LP epitomizes one of Clapton’s best tones. I love my own Strats and my Les Pauls equally, just depends on the tone you want

    • Dex November 17, 2013 at 2:58 AM #

      I would say, that is true in many ways. He never again got the epic tone he did in the Cream/Gibson days. But hearing him on the 2005 Albert Hall Cream performance, he sounded really nice with that strat. But nothing like the Gibson/Marshall tone.

  11. Steve August 14, 2011 at 8:31 AM #

    ……and then you have Mark Knopfler, a strat player who went to Gibson. I wonder what he’d say?

    I’m a strat player BTW.

    SB

  12. Eapen August 31, 2011 at 1:43 AM #

    Strats are the best guitars, ever, no doubt about it. Great post.

  13. james hogsett October 1, 2011 at 6:42 PM #

    I am a huge clapton fan and have been since the sixties. I’m also a fan of guitars. I’d like to know if Eric ever played a Mosrite.

  14. Rich October 1, 2011 at 11:09 PM #

    I started with an Epi Les Paul copy after learning on an acoustic. I however did not like the muddy or darker tone of the humbuckers. I guess I should say I like the articulation and clean of the single coils, so I stuck with the body I knew and got another LP copy with P90s but the noise was just increadible with them but I liked the tone. I later pieced together a Fender Strat about two years ago and have been a single coil guy since. I have since settled in with a Telecaster recently with a Twisted Tele neck pickup. That pickup has the tone of a strat neck pickup (which is my favrite tone on the strat). So with the Tele the simplicity of the three positions (well mine has a 4 way switch where position 4 is in series) suite me. But I get the great bluesy sound from the Twisted Tele neck pickup, funk in the middle position and twang in the bridge. Roll back the tone knob and volume a bit and you get some very nice Jazz tones. The Tele just does it for me. Leo got it right the first time.

  15. Steve October 22, 2011 at 9:06 PM #

    Love his sound,But listen real close,He is always trying to get that gibson tone out of his fender.I think he likes the fender better for playing,But misses that humbucking gibson sound.i got both,lay a les paul and a fender side by side,Witch is prettyer?plug them into the same amp,play them,Now compar looks and sound…GIBSON!!!

    • Dex November 17, 2013 at 2:59 AM #

      I’ve done that comparison and came to the same conclusion. Side by side, tonewise, the Gibson often kills the Strat, generally. But, the strat has a sound of its own which can be used well.

  16. Deroy Crews November 19, 2011 at 3:55 PM #

    I always wonder why Clapton switched; As for me, I am use to playing strats,but no other strat feels or sounds like that first el cheapo I had when I started. And I’ve always been curious about Les Pauls,I tried one awhile back at a music store,yes it was heavy and Loud but the clean pickup was really articulate,and it seemed that it was also fancy bending strings on that guitar. I now play a Shecter Tempest Custom, in my opinion it resembles more of Les Paul family guitars but has more of a strat feel. I love this guitar,it even has a coil tap so you can play a single coil at the neck position.I ownd a tele once and I liked that guitar too But I still kind of miss the deep clean tone of some of the Strats I gave away. I think deep clean tone belongs to the Stratecaster. DC

  17. Jimpy November 23, 2011 at 12:15 PM #

    In my opinion, the Strat is an acquired taste. New, developing guitarists have difficulty understanding and employing the nuances of sound that the guitar can provide. It simply is harder to play a Strat really well. Gibsons and, generally, most humbucker pickup guitars are easier to make sound good and are more forgiving. You have to be fairly confident in your playing and have some chops to get the most out of a Strat. But at that point, it really is a wonderful instrument. And the fact that you can buy a quality Fender instrument at such comparatively reasonable prices is the icing on the cake. Gibsons are so very over-priced. And until recently, your big bucks for a Gibson didn’t always mean you got top quality for the money either. Now Gibson’s semi-automated production processes are much better at producing quality instruments time after time. But you still have to pay twice as much for a really quality Gibson than for a really quality Fender.
    Every guitar player should own at least one Strat. You won’t get the same sound or playing experience from anything else. A truly unique guitar.

  18. Jonny January 29, 2012 at 7:09 PM #

    SO TRUE!!! Play the old stuff, the Fender just doesn’t cut it. Not biting enough.

  19. RedCurrant February 1, 2012 at 3:22 PM #

    If Strats are so great, why have so many players (Clapton, Gilmour et al) customised their guitars? None of them play off-the-peg instruments, they’ve all had pick-up upgrades for a start. And what about the trems? Never heard Clapton use a trem, so why not use a guitar with a stoptail? Wouldn’t that be more stable?

    I’ve always loved the look of a Strat – it’s one of the most beautiful guitars ever made, and much prettier than most Gibsons – but I’m coming round to Gibsons more and more. It’s not just the richer, more powerful humbucker sounds but also the build quality. Fenders were designed to be built on a production line by migrant workers, Gibsons have the look and feel of a hand-made instrument. (Consider this: what do you see most of in a PRS, Fender or Gibson DNA?)

    An interesting debate, and one I’m sure will go on and on. . !

    • Dex November 17, 2013 at 3:02 AM #

      Clapton added that midboost active circuitry to his strat to try to get a more Gibsonlike, present strong tone. Even if he doesn’t say it directly. I agree the strat is very comfortable and versatile tonewise. But man, the SG is very comfortable too, not as versatile tonewise, but much more gutsy. Gotta have em both!

  20. Kyle February 3, 2012 at 5:14 PM #

    I only own 3 electric guitars. Two of them are a Gibson Les Paul Junior Special and a Lone Star Telecaster. I’ve been playing the Gibson since 2003 and it’s a brick, but it’s a SOLID brick. The thing never, never, never goes out of tune even through extreme temperature changes. (I brought it from Florida to California during winter and stayed in the grand canyon.) That things was still tuned. It has a sixties neck and the p-100s sound great for blues, rock, and jazz.

    The Lone Star I love as well, but I bought it with weird intonation problems that my guitar tech couldn’t fix. It doesn’t stay in tune as well, but it feels awesomely comfortable and has a great tone as well with the Texas specials and the Pearly Gates humbucker in the bridge.

    I think they are both great guitars, but in my case the Gibson came out of the box in top performance. I think the trick with a Gibson is the stopbar and angle neck-nut that keeps everything in tune.

  21. Chris February 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM #

    Strats are great guitars, especially if you’re going to be playing for an extended period of time. The light weight and easy neck access is a huge factor in why so many people love them. Personally, I prefer the sound of a Gibson Les Paul. The tone (in my opinion) is much richer than that of a Strat. Even the Fat Strat sound isn’t beefy enough for me. The Les Paul is much heavier, and may be a burden to play for 2 or 3 sets, but when you hear it, you know the tone is all Gibson. To solve the upper fret access issue, my favorite Les Paul is the Double Cutaway.

  22. Kenny Tsak February 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM #

    I have Strats, Pauls, Firebirds,Futura’s,335s,SGs Rushmore’s, Vs etc etc..I have played them all to blues and Rock….if your good… it does not matter what you play….if you have a blues bone in your soul, it will sound good regardless….more time picking the correct amplifier, speakers and pedals if you use them are what you should spend your time on, The front pick up on Strats especially vintage strats are unmistakable in sound and tone, however Firebirds and Pauls also in the middle PU position are unmistakable as well, I have a 75 Ibanez Moderne copy that trumps everything with its real PAF sound but my custom Rushmore with what i call distinct overtones….like I said if you can crank it out it really does not matter what guitar you play you should be able to make it sound good.

  23. Justin March 6, 2012 at 11:20 AM #

    I have a PRS Custom 22 that will kill anything in my opinion. I traded a Strat for it; loved the sound but hated the feel! The 25.5″ scale was way too long. The 25″ PRS has a much more comfortable neck, and can get Strat or LP sounds. True, split buckers will never really be single coils, but it gets REALLY close.

  24. ChrisM July 7, 2012 at 10:49 PM #

    I personally play on a 1989 Washburn Chicago guitar. Not to long ago I busted it up pretty bad. After a couple surgeries and a few hundred bucks, it was singing again. Now whenever I play, I’m told that people can’t believe it ISN’T a Strat. In my opinion, this is the highest compliment I can receive when it comes to my tone. I don’t see my love affair with my current 6 String mistress ending anytime soon, but the next one will definitely be a true Fender Strat.

  25. FP July 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM #

    If jack white can put together a piece of 2×4 with a glass bottle, a pickup and a strings and make it sound good then it does not matter what guitar you use, like it has been said before, when you’re good you make it sound good. As for personal preference, I am a fender guy, but boy do I like the look of a good LP. Kinda like getting married and sticking to your one wife

  26. Alex Craig July 13, 2012 at 9:06 AM #

    This is what I put together. Took an old squire strat body the added a pickguard set up with dual humbuckers and wired it so as to split the coils. Coil switching is done with push/pull volume and tone pots. Added a Gibson scale maple warmoth neck that has a maple fret board. I play with 13’s and tune down a 1/2 step. The has made for a pretty versatile setup.

  27. Mike July 31, 2012 at 3:26 PM #

    Gibson was pretty-much asleep at the wheel until Leo got under their skin. Lp sound like Gibson…335’s stretch the tone a bit, but IMO Gibsons tone palate is very narrow. I have had 2 Les Pauls, early in my playing…Which started on a Dano in 1964…by 1974 I had traded all the others, including the 2 Gibsons, over that time frame…found myself in the land of tone… my first Strat…never looked back! I just wished I would have kept every thing!!! As Im sure we all do…LOL…some one hand me a tissue. But this conversation isnt about right or wrong, its about personal tastes.

  28. tim December 7, 2012 at 11:30 AM #

    The reason Clapton suddenly went to the Fender Stratocaster in one word Hendrix, because until Hendrix died of a drug overdose Clapton could not be seen with a Strat for to do so would be to be compared, Eric Clapton has freely admitted Jimi Hendrix was the best player of the era. They are a great guitar the Strat the low deck is very comfortable, pickups so versatile, it is just that every man and his dog plays one or a copy of one, how do you stand out if you have only average talent?

    • MC July 3, 2014 at 10:10 AM #

      Yeah, because you’re really going to stand out with average talent playing a Les Paul LMAO!

  29. John December 9, 2012 at 4:17 PM #

    I’ve had them all over the years, and though I loved my strats, I always found them a bit thin sounding.. but most of your tone really is in your hands (and your mind). My favorite guitars of late are a PRS custom and a JS Ibanez, I can rock texas blues on either of them, but just like a woman, sometimes it takes a while to find the one that’s right for you..

  30. Mike January 21, 2013 at 6:32 AM #

    I’ve just come upon this article and just had to weigh in. Although I agree that the strat has an amazing sound and are so comfortable to play, there is something just so boring about their look. I know that the way a guitar sounds should come above it’s look, but unfortunately, I would never own a strat because I just don’t like them aesthetically.

    I have a few different guitars, but one of my most played is my Godin SD which is almost a Les Paul/Strat hybrid. It has Les Paul shape, Strat-like scratch plate but has a humbucker at the bridge plus two single coils and a 5 way switch. I find I can get some amazing strat tones from this guitar and it looks a lot cooler than a strat, though it doesn’t have the Fender name on it.

    I’m in the market for a new guitar, and I know that a strat is what I SHOULD buy, but it’s likely I’ll get something different. That said, the Gilmour Strat Signature is a tempting purchase, though at 2.5k for the NOS version, I might have to pass!

  31. JC February 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM #

    I like many guitars, and to be honest all guitars are good, for 2 reasons: it’s the driver not the car, so to speak, that defines the music, and it depends which guitar the guitarist bonds with

    I appreciate the craftsmanship and love the sound of a stratocaster and a Gibson, but I personally love Jazzmasters and tele’s, many guitarists complain about them because jazz guitarists preferred tele’s and LPs, but for me there’s “something” that clicks when it comes to both the tone and classic design of a jazzmaster/telecaster

    there is no “greatest guitar ever” except for your’s in your eyes :)

  32. Jasonk931 April 20, 2013 at 9:43 AM #

    I played LP’s live for 5 years straight. Specifically my Gibby LP Custom. Great sound, heavy as a boat! None of my Gibbys will stay fully in tune for more than 1 1/2 songs. My frustrations led me to pick up a Strat Deluxe. It has been my only player since then. I tune it maybe once during an hour set. It just works, and with the new S-1 switch, I get a humbucker tone when I’m jones’n for a Paul type sound. Go fender!!!

  33. Tiago April 27, 2013 at 10:53 AM #

    I own and love both guitars, the strat and the Les Paul. In my opinion the Les Paul is more stable and easy to set, but the strat is more ergonomic and versatile. You can think of Jimi hendrix, Clapton, SRV on one side, but also Jimmy Page, Slash, Duane Allman on the other…I try to take the example of guys like keith Richards, Gary Moore and Warren Haynes, that can get excelent tones despite the guitar they’re using. Like one guy said above, it’s more about the player than the guitar itself. And of couse the effects and amps, almost as important as the guitar. Thank God we have several options, just choose the one you’re more confortable with, play with your heart and soul, and you will get a good tone, regardless of witch one you’re using.

  34. Antonio Vincenzo April 28, 2013 at 11:15 AM #

    Gibsons stay in tune better and they have great necks/action. The quality of tone of them compared to a Strat is subjective and not worth debating. I think the true advantage of the Strat is its versatility. A good player can get almost any tone from a Strat. And he can play it all night long because it doesn’t weigh 10 lbs.. Plus, aesthetically, the Strat’s curves are reminiscent of a playboy centerfold. The lines of an LP look like a soccer mom with cankles.

    I own and love both guitars, but 90% of the time when my hand reaches for one of them it’s the Strat. That guitar just allows more of my individuality and articulation to come through than does a Gibson. This is perhaps why more of rock’s greatest legends play Strats.

  35. Kenneth May 4, 2013 at 1:15 AM #

    I had a 2008 standard strat and a rw telecaster custom. I loved them both dearly, but when I tried the 2012 Gibson Les Paul Traditional I knew that I had come home. The clean sound is so CLEAN. I really love the sound of the Les Paul – therefore I sold my Strat and traded the Telecaster for a Vox AC30CC2X Amp. Best trade I ever made. Can’t promise I wont ever get another strat or tele though – they are both also great guitars, but for me it’s the Les Paul (traditional over the standard btw).

  36. Joe May 15, 2013 at 8:14 PM #

    When I was starting I tried a strat and a Les Paul custom. The feel of the strings and the neck on the Les Paul was better, more guitar-y like my acoustic. I have a strat now but the PAF tone is awesome. Clapton’s tone on While My Guitar Gently Weeps is better than his tone with the noiseless pickups. Maybe he needs a 50s strat or some Seymor Duncan stack humbuckers.

  37. Bob May 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM #

    I prefer my Yamaha AS2200 above the Gibson ES335
    I have also a Epi LP Studio 60’s tribute with’57 Gibson humbuckers, Strat roadworn 60’s with upgraded Seymour Duncan Antiquity Texas Hot Vintage pick ups, my preferred instrument is the Yamaha AS2200

  38. Bas May 31, 2013 at 4:09 AM #

    I like to hear both gibson an fender. To play , I prefer gibsons. Strats dont work for me, teles I like.
    But. For a while I had both with me on stage. People (guitarists) , if I played the les paul, would come up and ask why I didnt play the fender, I should be playing the fender, etc. It never happened the other way around. There must be something patronizing about fender players. I found it quite amusing.

  39. Scotty-Dog June 4, 2013 at 3:22 PM #

    I’m curious if Clapton ever tried or was interested in Leo Fender’s final stuff with G&L. Their Strat and Tele models are superb but why wouldn’t Leo “cultists” follow his work to G&L designs?

    Have any of you played their guitars to compare with the current Fender production lineup? Well, Leo has since passed, but my buddy has one of the final G&L “Strat” models that was inspected by Leo before shipping and it’s still a magnificent player some 2 1/2 decades later!

  40. Bonn Toot July 14, 2013 at 9:12 PM #

    I have a HSS Strat, an American Standard plus Strat, a reissue 62 Tele (MIJ) Special, a Gibson SG and an LP Classic. They are all just brilliant guitars, but my favourite is the reissue 62 Tele. The quality of the Japanese made surpasses anything ever made before or since coming from the US. the neck is amazing and fast, simple electronics and really sweet pickups. When I plug into any tube amp, the sound is pure vintage and some. infinite tonal range, surprisingly, and with a compressor or tube screamer, it really rocks. The beauty about the Tele is the simplicity, so I find it allows me more time to listen to the sound rather fiddling about with 5 way switches, tone nobs, etc. Most of the tonal quality from any guitar comes from the pick ups and amp choice, in fact you can stick these onto any body shape and it wouldn’t make any difference to the sound. The fingerboard is the next most important thing to get right. Some of the Gibsons are designed to look like Cellos or some other familiar looking stringed instrument. with high bridges and complex bound and pearl inlaid necks….too distracting but lovely to behold. The LP is so loud, endless sustain and heavy, have to play it sitting down. Downside to the Tele is also the weight, at nearly 10lbs. I love both of my Strats, I can play just about any style on them, but they feel like a production process rather than a musical instrument. They both sound different to each other, but again all due to the pick ups, not the necks or bodies. In fact I swapped around the maple and rosewood necks with no difference in sound. Anyway, if you play with a 32 amp stack, what difference can be spotted!

  41. unknown July 24, 2013 at 2:39 PM #

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  42. Tim Robbins August 13, 2013 at 8:26 PM #

    One thing that was not mentioned is that Eric Clapton’s music changed when he started playing a Strat, and he was probably ready for a change. Gibson’s are great when playing balls to the wall Rock or Blues but if your playing lower volumes and want to get a better more pure blend with the band, the Strat is the way to go. I’ve owned about every electric guitar they’ve ever made and I know that 24 3/4 Gibson scale is harder to keep in tune than the 25 1/2 Fender scale, you’re always fighting the 3rd string, I’ve played Fenders all night and never had to retune at all.

  43. Delmar September 2, 2013 at 10:36 PM #

    AH! Wat’s he Know????

  44. Danny November 27, 2013 at 9:25 AM #

    I’ve owned everything under the sun. LPs, strats, PRS, Yamaha, Epi, Ibanez Jem, etc. After all these years and having the experience of owning many guitars, I have had the opportunity to understand what I want in a guitar, by being able to pick out my favourite aspects of each one. Here’s what I learned.

    My first true player was a strat. Love the body shape, didn’t like using the trem because of tuning issues, enjoyed the scale length, hated the individual pickups, loved the pickups blended together (To get that breathy, airy quality that only a strat can perfectly produce). I also loved the way the bridge pickup is slanted.

    LP. Hated the clean sound. There’s no “Dimension” to the sound. Positions 2 and 4 on a strat give you that air, and the LP will not. The LP also will not give you the most wonderful upper fret access either. For such a heavy guitar, it will not hold tuning as well. Logically, you would never think such a solid guitar with a stop tail would have so many issues with tuning. But the LP has wonderful sound when overdriven. Plus, the stop tail makes bending easier. When playing a strat with a floating trem, bending notes can be a chore, because the trem will dive a little when bending, forcing you to bend harder. The LP also doesn’t have a forearm or belly cut, so it’s not as comfy as a strat. The control knobs and switch are farther away, making it more difficult to switch pickups on the fly, or do volume swells.

    Ibanez Jem7v. Best of both worlds? Got the screaming humbuckers for punch, got the position 2 and 4 from a strat for that airy sound. Wonderful upper fret access. If you’re a serious trem user, perfect. If not, it’s overkill. Plus, the tree of life inlays and gold hardware on a white guitar can curdle in you stomach after a while… as well, I was still having the issue of fighting the trem while bending, actually it was more intense because of the nature of the Floyd Rose trem. Plus the horns are sharp and not as attractive as on a strat.

    Wolfgang. A Les Paul with a whammy bar. The tuning issues are solved because of the locking trem and the bending issues are solved because that trem only dives, it doesn’t float, so you can set the spring tension and bend like you would on a les paul. Excellent upper fret access. Still doesn’t have that position 2 and 4 sound… and no forearm and belly cut.

    PRS 513. The 2nd closest thing to my perfect guitar. Has most everything. Stays in tune wonderfully. Bending is easier on the PRS floating trem. Has a belly cut, but no forearm contour because of the arched top. It’s light and easy to play for hours standing up. Trem is usable because of the locking tuners and graphite nut. It has the big humbucker sound and the breathy position 2 and 4 sound. The bad: Going from the airy position 2 single coil sound to the bridge humbucker, for example, requires you to flip 2 switches instead of just one. That can be a little cumbersome. The guitar in general sounds dark, almost muddy. Finally, the neck was a 513 neck carve. Some people love it, I hated it. Too narrow and thick for me I like a modern C shape. This was more of a U shape.

    What I have learned:

    Body: I like a guitar body that has a forearm and belly cut with round edges. A body that’s light and strong, that provides a bright tone. My fav guitar body is an alder-bodied strat shape.

    Neck: Like Eric stated, he likes a smooth fretboard. I agree. Satin maple fretboard all the way. I like 25.5″ scale length. I like a modern C shape. 22 frets are fine with me. I like chording on a 9.5″ fretboard radius down low and soloing higher up on a flatter radius. Ok, so compound radius fretboard.

    Tuning: I would like a similar setup to the PRS 513. Locking tuners and a graphite or similar nut that doesn’t bind. Floyd rose systems are overkill and I don’t like fighting the guitar for a note bend. A smaller, traditional floating trem is desired.

    Upper fret access: Les pauls are the worst. Strats are not the greatest. The Jem, wolfgang and PRS are all designed for better access.

    The pickups: I need bright pickups that give great humbucking neck and bridge tones, but also give you the quack, the air, of positions 2 and 4 on a strat.

    The controls: They must be close to the picking hand for volume swells and pickup changes.

    The answer (For me): The guitar I want doesn’t exist on a factory line, so I had to modify one. I chose a Fender American Deluxe strat. It has mostly everything I want in a guitar. I changed the regular nut (Which would bind) with a graphite one. Tuning issues solved! It already has locking tuners. Fighting the trem to bend a note? Solved with a super vee mag-lok. Now I can bend without fighting the guitar and also have a functional trem. Upper fret access solved. It already has a heel contour, unlike the American standard series. It has a nice, bright and light alder body. The pickups were a problem, but I solved it with 3 humbuckers that are the size of a single coil pickup. 3 Seymour Duncans. A JB Jr in the bridge and neck, and a little ’59 in the middle. To get that airy sound of positions 2 and 4, I used a fender super switch, which let me split the humbuckers into single coils for those positions. I now have a versatile, quiet, comfortable, usable guitar that can be played for hours on end standing up, that produces full on humbucking tone, while retaining the breath of a strat. Very cool!

  45. Michael March 5, 2014 at 5:33 PM #

    I have a Strat, a Tele, an LP Goldtop, an Aria SG, and an Epiphone SG. I think of them like I think of my children – each one is different and I love each one! I use the LP and SGs for slide, and the Strat and Tele for (what I call) “regular” playing. What i like about the Gibson style guitars is the sustain and tone I can get for playing slide. I usually run them straight to the amp and get the ballsy tone I like for slide. I just can’t seem to get that same tone with a Fender. Don’t get me wrong – I can get beautiful tone from my Fenders, just not the same tone I get with the Gibson-style guitars. I’m sure it has something to do with the pick-ups – humbucker vs. single coil and all that. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just that for me, I find that each works differently for different styles of playing. If you’ve ever seen or listened to Little Feat, you know how much slide guitar figures into their music – and those guys all play Fenders – and get killer tone from them! The point is that, for me, one’s not better than the other – they’re all great in their own way.
    As for play-ablity, I find the Fenders are just easier to play – they really are versatile. I find it easier to bend and fret a Fender. Both the Strat and the Tele have maple necks – having played a bunch of different Fenders, I just like the feel (and the look) of a maple neck. If there’s anything hard about playing a Fender, it’s learning how to use them properly, because you really have to spend some time and experiment to find out how to tweak the settings to get everything out of a Fender guitar – and they really do have a lot to offer. I bought both Fenders used, for ridiculously low prices, and the only modifications I made was to put Bill Lawrence pick-ups in both. That change really made a difference.
    As for Mr. Clapton, well, who am I to argue with him when it comes to guitars? Still, you have to admit that Clapton’s playing has evolved as he matured and went from Gibsons to Fenders. I think that’s evident in his body of work. He is not the same player now that he was back in the sixties. The fact is that if EC was to pick up a totally beat up no-name junk-pile guitar and play it, he could still make it sound fantastic.
    I think the whole Gibson vs. Fender debate is really nothing more than a battle of opinions (or mental masturbation). I have friends who actually get very disappointed if I show up with my Tele – all they want to know is where’s the LP! Well, if I’m in the mood to rip some Roy Buchanan – I’m grabbing the Tele. Likewise, if I feel like playing some Beano era EC, or some Allman Brothers, I’ll grab the LP.
    The moral of the story? – it’s a matter of personal preference. Without even touching on the exorbitant cost of a Gibson (and it seems as if Fender has price tag envy with all the high price special models coming out of their workshops – I mean if Leo Fender really did “get it right,” what’s with all these high end Strats? – I haven’t played one that sounds better than my $220.00 bargain!), in the end most players are going to acquire the best guitar they can afford and make the best out of it. The bottom line is to find the guitar that lets you channel your soul into your playing.
    Rock on!

  46. DeltaNick May 18, 2014 at 1:24 PM #

    Say what you want, but the tone Clapton gets with his Strats is a “plunk, plunk” dead tone. His passion, inventiveness and tone with the Yardbirds, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith is legendary. When you want to hear Clapton play great guitar, you go back to those older recordings. Clapton can still play great guitar, but he usually just mails it in today, and his guitar is simply dead, with that cheap, crappy tone you got from a mid-’60s, knockoff Japanese guitar with a $49.00 Univox amplifier.

  47. Darin May 20, 2014 at 6:06 PM #

    Trying to come up with a universal conclusion for naming one guitar the best seems pointless. Therefore, I am going to chime in with a very stupid food analogy.

    Let’s say you’ve come up with a recipe for a super awesome tasting taco which has low calories, low fat, and high in vitamins…..It will never be a pizza. The taco would be better on “paper”, but its not pizza. And when you want pizza, the taco will not replace pizza.

    That is really how a Strat and lets say a Gibson Les Paul compare. They have such distinct looks, and especially tone….when I want some classic / crunchy Les Paul tone…a Strat is never going to satisfy that tonal craving for me. And when I want to play some Hendrix or SRV….a Les Paul doesn’t do it for me tonally.

    But you know what….I like and need both tones / looks / guitars when I need them. I use both of mine equally for each purpose that it excels. And then the PRS guy chimes in….”Well my PRS does all of those things from both guitars…and better”. I’ve got a PRS too….and its got great craftmanship and great tones. But when it comes down to tone….I like the single coil sounds better from a Strat….and I like the Humbucker sounds better from my Les Paul.

  48. East Coast Dave July 14, 2014 at 12:54 AM #

    When I started out, I played a cheap LP Copy, went to a Gibson Explorer. Now, about 20+ years later, I prefer strats most, and single coils exclusively. Humbuckers are easier to dial in, but strats are worth the effort. Just listen to Hendrix. His strat tone killed any sound Clapton, Page, or any other LP player ever made. Humbuckers are for boys. A strat is a man’s guitar.

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