10 unlikely signature guitars
We wouldn’t expect to break olympic records wearing the same Puma running shoes as Usain Bolt, or score an obscene amount of goals just because we happen to own the same pair of Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly football boots as Cristiano Ronaldo.
Similarly, it will take much more than an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster to sound like old Slowhand. Just ask Pete Townshend – he plays one, and he sounds like, erm, Pete Townshend.
That said, though the phenomenon of signature gear isn’t confined solely to rock 'n' roll, it’s big business for manufacturers and artists alike. For us guitar players, it’s nice to feel that little bit closer to our idols.
Most signature instrument collaborations make perfect sense: an artist’s legion of fans clamour for their very own version of the guitar that their hero plays, complete with all the little tweaks and idiosyncrasies that set it apart from a standard production model.
Then occasionally, a signature instrument comes along that makes about as much sense as a chocolate oven glove. Here are 10 of the most perplexing…
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Gibson Kiefer Sutherland KS-336
In recent years, Gibson Custom's Inspired By series has paid tribute to such six-string legends as Robby Krieger, Michael Bloomfield, Johnny Winter, Slash, Kiefer Sutherland...
Wait a minute. Kiefer Sutherland? The actor? Okay so he plays guitar and has a massive guitar collection. But so does Steven Seagal.
Next page: Ronnie wouldn't, would he?
ESP Ron Wood
As a full time member of The Rolling Stones, we'd imagine it's pretty much open season when it comes to cars, booze, girls, guitars...
We can only speculate that something funny was in the 17 different types of bottled mineral water on the Stones' rider in the late eighties. Not only were Keef and Ronnie Wood seen playing Music Man Silhouettes, but Wood also collaborated with ESP on a signature model.
Excuse me! You are in THE FUCKING ROLLING STONES! Can you at least play a beaten up vintage Fender or Gibson and look the part?!
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Gretsch 6123 Monkees
Try as they might, the head honchos at Gretsch could never get George Harrison to agree to an official signature model. However, in 1966, The Monkees seemed like the next best thing.
Two flies in the jangly ointment: 1) The Monkees didn't actually play their instruments at the time, and 2) Their predominantly female teenage fanbase didn't exactly break down the doors of music stores across the US on its release.
By 1968, the model was canned, yet in retrospect, in our opinion it's pretty damn cool.
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Ovation DJ Ashba Demented Collection
At the time of writing, DJ Ashba is in Guns N' Roses. Like most of the other people in a band that's seen more members than a retired urologist, we'd be hard pushed to pick DJ Ashba out of a police line-up.
However, according to his website, that hasn't stopped him amassing an incredible 31 endorsement deals.
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Squier Avril Lavigne Telecaster
Squier broke all the rules with this one. Didn't they know that signature guitars are for men? Ugly, hairy men! Men with drug habits! Men who've done lost their women! Men with the blues!
Teeange female demographic, you say? Oh...
Next page: Cheer up Robert!
Schecter Ultracure Robert Smith
Schecter's artist roster is very metal indeed, with the conspicuous exception of some British goths from the eighties.
The Ultracure is a little bit like a Gibson Firebird that has overdosed on pies and dressed entirely in black. Insert your own joke here.
Next page: More soul-selling
Gibson Robert Johnson L-1
Robert Johnson's life and death are shrouded in myth and mystery. Before he died and became the inaugural member of the 27 club in 1938, he couldn't have imagined that 2003 would see the release of a tribute guitar bearing his signature.
At not far shy of $3000, we probably wouldn't take this one down to the crossroads in case it rains.
Next page: So punk it hurts
Ibanez NDM1 Noodles
"Duct tape is so much a part of what we musicians do on the road", said Offspring guitarist and former high school janitor Noodles on the release of his NDM1 signature model.
It must get lonely on the road, but that's just perverted. The NDM1 guitars were available with genuine duct tape finishes, each individually wrapped. Noodles' other guitar is a PRS. Fact.
Next page: Isn't that guy like, a drummer?
Gibson Dave Grohl DG-335
Gibson recognises the best rock drummer of his generation with a signature guitar. Okay, so millions of records and concert tickets sold as a singing, guitar-playing Foo Fighter mean that Mr Grohl has surely paid his dues, but eyebrows were still raised.
Unusually, the DG-335 is also a recreation of another artist's signature Gibson, the Trini Lopez, although the various additional signatures adorning Les Pauls over the years set the precedent.
Next page: Wait a minute, isn't that dude a singer?
G6136I Bono Irish Falcon
You know that guy, The Edge? The one with the beanie hat, the goatee and the delay pedal? The one who pretty much single-handedly invented the sound of U2? He doesn't have a signature guitar.
You know that other guy, Bono? The short fellow with the big voice and Cuban heels? The one in the sunglasses who sings for U2? He has a signature guitar.