Boss DS-1

Hey Good Looking

On the Dawsons blog, we prioritise function over fashion when talking about the instruments we’re excited about. With this said, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of eye candy. In today’s blog we’re purely about the aesthetics. This is our list of design classics, available today!

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Standard Strat

As American as apple pie, the Strat has been an icon of Americana since its introduction in 1954. Its beautiful curves, trio of pickups, and even the typeface on the headstock are iconic. Add the classic Strat sound to the mix, and without it, this list would lose all semblance of credibility…

Designed by the late, great Leo Fender, it was the first guitar to feature double cutaways, allowing players easier access to those higher frets. This result: the famous horn shape ubiquitous with the electric guitar.



The blueprint for what a guitar pedal should look like, the DS-1 is that brightly coloured, pocket-sized bundle of noise. This unmistakable stomp box is often a guitarists first pedal, and say what you like, looks definitely come into its popularity.

Found on pedal boards from here in Warrington to Aberdeen, Washington. The DS-1 was famously used by Kurt Cobain, and is unmistakable due to its bright orange casing.

BOSS are celebrating its 40th anniversary with special edition models, but if you’re not a collector you can’t mess with the classic orange version.

The Strat and the DS-1 make for aesthetically pleasing bedfellows, just saying…


The wooden panelling, the controllers, the pitch shifter; all iconic in synth design. The Model D is the first production run since 1981, so it’s a bit special. Check out this really cool video on the manufacturing process:

Next we’ll go from retrofuturism to a very contemporary soon-to-be design classic, the Pioneer CDJ

Pioneer CDJ

What do Berghain and the Milton Keynes branch of Revolution have in common? Aside from an incomprehensible door policy; Pioneer CDJs.

Since the launch of the CDJ-500 in 1994, Pioneer have regularly evolved the CDJ to the state that it is now ubiquitous. The jog wheel, when introduced, was truly groundbreaking.  Technics 1210s might be more fondly regarded, but Pioneer CDJs go from strength to strength.

Pioneer CDJ

The latest iteration, the CDJ2000, maintains the famous jog wheel whilst also enabling Multi format playback and supports smartphone/tablet with wireless connectivity. You can see the full range here

Teenage Engineering OP-1

If it’s part of a permanent exhibition in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, it belongs on our list.

In the last 20 years, few, if any instrument has generated as much buzz as the OP-1 and it remains highly coveted by musicians from all walks of life. More than any instrument it represents the zeitgeist of postmodernism in popular culture; the 4 track recorder and lo-fi display could be tech from the 80s, yet it oozes with cutting edge features: physically shake it and it shakes up your sound.

Teenage Engineering

We don’t know how much of an imprint the OP-1 will leave on all-time instrument design right now, but it’s certainly a beautiful and unusual device.

Your Mileage May Vary

Looking back at our list, it becomes apparent that our choices are also highly functional thus demonstrating that great aesthetic design and great sound are not mutually exclusive. Our list also falls favourably towards some hugely successful products. Is this because of design? It certainly will have some bearing.

With this said your top 5 design classics might be more esoteric. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so let’s start the debate here! If you think we’ve missed any design classics from our list, do let us know.