When it comes to guitars, it's not just the brand name or model that gives you away; it's the little things – everything from stickers to strap height says something about you as a guitarist, and indeed, a person.
On the following pages, you'll find our guide to spotting these personality traits made visible – how many have you seen in the wild?
1. Political slogan on soundboard
Hey, you’re not just a guitarist. You actually prefer to think of yourself as a protest singer, yeah? Music is really your method of alerting the West to the plight of China’s marginalised Uighur people.
Hence you scrawl platitudes such as ‘Come On, Guys, Let’s All Get Along’ around your acoustic soundhole in permanent marker.
2. Two strings and one bridge pickup
Whoa, dude – you’re so punk it hurts. Only squares such as Cliff Richard have a full set of strings and a selection of pickups.
Your guitar is stripped to the bone, reflecting the age of austerity you’re raging against. This also means you can play only three powerchords, and all your songs sound the same.
3. Cigarette in headstock
You tried clamping a Marlboro in your gob while playing, but the smoke got in your eyes and made you cry a bit, which undermined the Keith Richards outlaw vibe you’re shooting for.
Now you’ve settled for wedging it under the low E, occasionally burning the bassist when he strays too close.
4. Scalloped frets
The tell-tale sign of the technique-obsessed widdler.
If you have inexplicably filed down your fretboard, it’s a fair bet that you recently topped Steve Vai’s 12-hour practice regime, and now spend 24 hours a day sweep picking, even while showering, shaving and shitting.
5. Covered in stickers
Your guitar looks like a Panini album with strings, slathered in stickers for esoteric US engine oils that nobody has ever heard of.
You’re either a Bay Area skate-punk… or you desperately want to be.
6. Distressed finish
You’d like everyone to believe that you’re a life-long road dog, just blowin’ through town on another tour of duty, baby. The only problem is, everyone knows you’re rocking a Road Worn Tele, and this is your first time playing outside the bedroom.
7. Strings not clipped off tuning posts
You’re a barefoot beat-poet type, and you won’t surrender to The Man by conforming to string-cutting protocol. Until you spike your finger on the sharp end of the high E.
8. Multiple necks
Some people write songs. You think of yourself as more of a visionary, creating shape-shifting odysseys, awash with tones and timbres, which require you to dart between four different neck formats.
The truth is, you don’t really know how to play 12-string, baritone or fretless.
9. Onboard Kaoss Pad
For a sonic maverick like you, picking strings with a plectrum is so last millennium.
Instead, the gig will be spent jabbing at the touchscreen as if you’re playing Angry Birds, sampling and chopping up your frontman’s vocals in real-time, while everyone in the crowd wishes you’d just play some chords.
10. Low strap
It’s not about aptitude, man. It’s all about attitude. Like Sid Vicious with a stoop, your guitar is slung so ankle-clatteringly low that you can only just reach to mis-hit the occasional root note.
Over time, you will gradually evolve, your arms elongating until you resemble an orangutan in a Sex Pistols t-shirt. You look absolutely ridiculous – but you’re totally punk-rock.