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Spotlight: Five Best-Selling Guitars of the 20th Century

See what guitar may be for you.
Best Selling Guitars

Guitars have a magnetic effect about them. In a store or on a stage, they invariably stand out and it is no surprise that they have become the second most popular instrument in America. However, unlike some instruments which have few differences between brands, guitars come in a variety of styles that are often unique to the brand. Erik Greener, a music connoisseur in Trenton, New Jersey, has compiled a list of the guitars that, in the 20th century, sell the quickest and are out of stock before you know it.

Fender Stratocaster

Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton are just a couple of the hundreds of musical icons to entrust their artistic genius with the Fender Stratocaster, a guitar that was introduced to the public in 1954. A follow-up to the Fender Telecaster (which we’ll touch on later), the Strat became a model that musicians from all genres clutched, proving what a remarkably versatile guitar it is. Excluding jazz, Erik Greener recommends it for musicians who are hoping to play lead, as it can gel with a variety of playing styles.

As one of the more duplicated guitars, the Stratocaster has dozens of interpretations, but the Fender Standard Stratocaster is the most affordable option. Manufactured in Mexico, it is seen as the entry-level Stratocaster, one that has a tremendous level of quality control and consistency. While Greener believes that the Mexican version is a great starter guitar, he feels that picking up an "American Standard" version takes the sound and feel to the next level. Some notable differences are a push-in tremolo bar, changes to the body thickness and the dimensions of the fretboard. The Strat is perceived to be an instrument inspired by the vintage guitarists, so if you're looking to mimic your idols your guitar of choice should be the iconic Fender Stratocaster.

Gibson Les Paul

One of the world's primary signature guitars, the Gibson Les Paul, while usually mentioned in the same breath as rock and roll, is actually a multi-genre instrument. Many of the most famous guitarists of all time have used a Les Paul at one point during their career - including Jimmy Page, Bob Marley and Slash. Les Paul guitars are renowned for their tone and sustainability, making them a terrific selection, and although the original is an American classic, the Epiphone Standard illustrates fine craftsmanship and resilience, all for a price that won't clean out your savings.

Fender Telecaster

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Utilized in the studio by a fair share of distinguished bands, the Fender Standard Telecaster has long since shed its label as being solely a country guitar. Although its success was initially due to the twangy tone emitting from its strings, which is what brought it such fame from country musicians, the implementation of distortion makes it an enticing guitar for all lead musicians. Its weakness lies in the fact that it isn't necessarily an adept rhythm instrument; however, it can still achieve plenty in the right musician's grip and it is celebrated for not having many mechanical issues, unless the distributor was responsible.

Gibson SG

A much lighter alternative to the Les Paul models, the Gibson SG maintains the same distinction as being a guitar that started as strictly a supposed rock and roll tool and prospered to become far greater, especially in the blues genre. Having been used by many famous guitarists including AC/DC’s Angus Young, the Gibson SG has become a staple guitar. Launched in 1961, its creation was galvanized by a decline in the sales of Gibson Les Pauls. Cheaper to produce, the SG still produces a gripping tone similar to the Les Paul version.

Super Strat

Because nearly every guitar company has manufactured one, "Super Strat" is not exactly represented by one specific brand. While originally Super Strats were modified editions of the Fender Stratocasters, they have since gone on to become their own style entirely from a variety of renowned guitar companies. What makes them attractive is their higher output features, an optional Floyd Rose tremolo and their lack of being restricted to one predominant tone. Distorted genres thrive with the use of Super Strats, whereas cleaner sounds are underwhelming in comparison. The Ibanez RG series perfectly exemplifies these traits, as many musicians will attest, holding two humbuckers and a single-coil pick-up in the central position.

Taylor Acoustics

These beautifully made guitars are crafted from a blend of rosewood, spruce, maple and mahogany, and feature a nice cutaway in the body to enable the musician to reach those higher frets. The tones really resonate in these guitars which make them an excellent choice for fingerstyle playing. Erik Greener notes that you can take classic songs and spice them up with fingerstyle playing, however these guitars are typically for more advanced musicians who take pride in their instruments.

Happy Shredding

Erik Greener concludes that although those mentioned have been the best-selling over the last 80 or so years, there are many different styles and makes of guitar that each produce vastly different sounds. He recommends that when you are shopping for a new guitar that you take your time to test the different styles out to figure out which is the best fit for you and your musical endeavors!

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