The 10 coolest electric guitars in the world today
As Kurt Cobain once sang, "I'd rather be dead than cool." Ironically, this was one of numerous contributing factors that made him the coolest man on the planet in 1991. And yet there's a fine line between the dangerous allure of true outsider cool and just being, y' know, popular.
Of course, cool is both a received and subjective notion, and by attempting to be arbiters of cool, we're in danger of getting sucked into Top Gear Cool Wall territory. "You're telling me that car is cool? In that shirt?!"
Nevertheless, safe in the knowledge that our shirt is considerably less catastrophic than Clarkson's, here is our unapologetic rundown of what MusicRadar considers to be the 10 coolest guitars in the world today.
As far as possible, we've stuck to current production models, and the pricing ranges from the affordable to the downright terrifying. Click onwards and then voice your rabid disagreement in the comments section below...
Kauer Daylighter Junior
Based in Elk Grove, just south of Sacramento, CA, Kauer Guitars is a family run boutique guitar business on the rise. The Daylighter Junior is a balls to the wall electric that combines the offset lines of a Jaguar with the stripped-down rock 'n' roll attitude of a '50s Les Paul Junior to killer effect.
Gibson Les Paul Traditional Bigsby
Despite the controversy caused by rare 'birds like the Firebird X, every so often Gibson hits the nail squarely on the head. This Les Paul Traditional Bigsby has a hefty slice of Neil Young's Old Black in its DNA and just begs to be played long, hard and loud. That roller bridge should help with tuning stability too.
Danelectro Wild Thing
Super cool doesn't necessarily have to mean super expensive. Based on a one-off mid-'60s prototype, the Wild Thing turned heads at NAMM 2011 and while it's comfortably the cheapest guitar in this rundown, it punches well above its weight in the tone stakes, especially for raunchy rock 'n' roll and trashy garage blues.
Gibson Custom Don Felder 'Hotel California' EDS-1275
It's fitting that strapping on the guitar synonymous with live performances of The Eagles' hymn to excess is still one of the most outrageous visual statements that a guitarist can make. Ask not whether this guitar is cool; ask whether you are cool enough to pull it off. Go on, we dare ya.
Gretsch G6128T-GH George Harrison Tribute Custom Shop Duo Jet
Limited to just 60 pieces worldwide, this breathtaking recreation of George Harrison's main Cavern Club and Please Please Me guitar is for the most well-heeled Beatles fans only. Like everyone else at NAMM 2011, we peered through the glass case and imagined ripping through those twang-tastic I Saw Her Standing There lead lines in front of legions of screaming girls. Then we checked our bank balances...
Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition Relic La Cabronita 'Boracha' Jazzmaster
A very late entry in our rundown, this new-for-2011 gem sees the Fender Custom Shop expand the La Cabronita ranks with a reverse-body Jazzmaster take on one of its most popular and sought-after guitars in recent years. With just 30 examples heading to select retailers, expect this to show up in the hands of A-listers and collectors only. Dear Fender, will there be a mass-market version available soon? Pretty please?
Fano Alt De Facto PX6
The Non-Reverse Firebird has always been one of our favourite Gibsons, and Fano's PX6 takes that blueprint and adds a plethora of finish and configuration options alongside some subtle twists. We were first blown away by a distressed Sherwood Green model with mini-humbuckers, but this Bigsby-equipped Blue Boy is a real looker too.
James Trussart Deluxe SteelCaster
When a James Trussart guitar arrives in the MusicRadar office, all work is guaranteed to stop. With necks that feel like they were carved by God's own hand, we really can't say enough good things about how wonderful these guitars feel. And then there's the small matter of each guitar looking like an individual work of art and sounding magnificent into the bargain. Credit cards everywhere are twitching nervously as you read this.
Fender Custom Shop La Cabronita Especial
Fender's La Cabronita Especial is probably the company's most sought-after 'new' instrument in decades. We certainly haven't spoken to a guitarist who doesn't want one, and online forums throughout the guitar universe (including our own) are buzzing with players bolting their own homebrew versions together in tribute. 2011 sees a more affordable model on the way, but it's this single-pickup Custom Shop beauty that remains close to the very top of our most-wanted list.
As if that wasn't cool enough, the Custom Shop recently announced an ultra-limited thinline version.
Cobra Guitars Cavehound
Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. Right at the top of our chart is this incredibly limited, distressed-to-hell-and-back thinline bombshell. Lovingly handcrafted in NYC, we honestly can't think of another guitar on the market that we'd rather turn up to a show with. A little bit Trini Lopez, a little bit ES-335 and a whole lot of hotrod cool, the Cavehound absolutely demands that it is accompanied by Ray-Bans, tight trousers, cowboy boots and hard liquor. Worth sacrificing an internal organ for.