Shifting gear: 6 pro guitarists who started their own gear companies
When signature models just aren't enough to satisfy their creativity, a handful of brave players have set forth on a quest to populate guitar shop shelves with their own gear creations.
Following the recent Kirk Hammett pedal controversy, we salute some of rock and metal's more inventive and business-minded guitarists, and the products that made them industry names.
1. Zakk Wylde
In 2015 the former Ozzy man made headlines when he announced Wylde Audio, makers of bullseyed and pointy guitars plus high-wattage heads, officially launched this year and set to be distributed by Schecter.
2. Earl Slick
2014 saw David Bowie's longstanding guitarist and collaborator release a line of surprisingly affordable Gibson and Fender-inspired designs with worn finishes, under the name Slick Guitars.
A few of Earl's surprisingly pricey-looking electrics – they actually go for around $239 each
3. Eddie Van Halen
After signature models with Music Man and Peavey, Eddie finally set up shop with Fender to create EVH Gear – from 5150s to Wolfgangs and Stripes, every era of Eddie's tone is available.
A few of Eddie's latest Wolfgang models, including the Tour Relic Wolfgang (second from left), a replica of the guitar Eddie's playing in the photo up top
4. Kirk Hammett
Metallica's wah-happy lead guitarist made headlines last year when he announced KHDK, a pedal company started with industry vet, David Karon – and then again when a simple tweet enraged pedal builders.
Back to the products themselves, Hammett's signature Ghoul Screamer was the first pedal out of the gates, with the No 1 Overdrive and No 2 Clean Boost close behind, and plenty more in store.
KHDK's Ghoul Screamer, Hammett's super-charged take on the Tube Screamer
5. Tom Scholz
For the Boston guitarist and mechanical engineer, the urge to create was more than a feeling, and his line of Rockman headphone amplifiers made him the original guitar gear businessman and innovator.
The Rockman Guitar Ace headphones amp, with built-in compression plus clean, semi and heavy distortion modes
6. Brian May
May built the original Red Special with his dad back in the 60s – to save him the trouble of putting more together by hand, the Queen guitarist launched Brian May Guitars in 2004, which produces the Special in various guises, from electrics to ukuleles.
The Brian May Guitars Red Special is a well kitted-out electric for £749