Five studio guitars to grace any studio
One of the joys of being a skint musician is dreaming about how you’d stock your ideal studio if money were no object. We all know GAS is a real thing, and the prospect of a blank cheque is a tantalising one.
We asked ourselves, hypothetically, if we could choose any line-up of guitars to stock a new studio with, which would we choose? Clearly, we had to set some boundaries. We might be dreamers but we know a supermarket-sweep style situation is out of the question. So we settled on the following; choose five guitars, which could cover a multitude of genres and styles, and which would mean you’d happily never want for another guitar again. The key criteria here is that everything must be high quality and versatile. Simple. No obscure one-trick ponies here. Oh no.
It’s a tall order, we know, but we’ve had a crack at it. Here we present to you five of the best studio guitars. Feel free to agree or disagree, it’s subjective after all.
Gibson Les Paul Custom Historic ’59
Let’s start with the biggie. The centerpiece. The flagship. The Gibson Les Paul Custom Historic ’59, which is, let’s face it, peak Les Paul. There is nowhere to go from here. Owing this guitar would effectively signal you’d exited the race, having won the biggest prize of all.
In all seriousness, every studio needs a Les Paul, and we figured we’d go for the best. After all, what’s the point in having dreams if you limit them. Nope, we’ve gone for the most expensive, most ogled-after model there is. It might run close to ‘new car’ amounts of money, but as the owner of a thriving recording studio, it’s only right you stock your space with the proper tools, right?
If spending north of £4k on a guitar seems a bit much – which we understand – then allow us to point you towards the dapper-looking Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro. Having spent some time with one of these in a studio environment, we can certainly vouch for its versatility. Going from crushingly heavy riff-machine to warm bluesy goodness with a deftness of touch that belies its hefty weight, this is a guitar which was made to be used.
Fender 2018 American Elite Stratocaster
A studio without a workhorse Strat isn’t a studio. There, we’ve said it. To go without a Strat would be like owning a collection of classic supercars without any Lamborghinis. For our studio, we’ve opted for the Fender 2018 American Elite Stratocaster. Why? Because it is everything that’s good about US-made Strats.
For a start, its Noiseless pickups are perfect for studio environments where audio clarity is key. It’s also a blast to play, thanks to the satin-finish neck and compound fingerboard radius. Add in the bridge humbucker and you’ve got a guitar designed to cover a lot of bases tonally.
Alternatively, at the more realistic end, the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster is pretty incredible value for money. The Classic Vibe range is established enough now for it to command a bit of respect, and guitars like this show exactly why.
We’re going to need an acoustic. It’s all very well playing high-end electrics through boutique valve amps all day but you know a time will come when only an acoustic will do. So let’s go straight to the top of the pile and draft in the Martin D-28.
As far as elite-level acoustic guitars go, the Martin D-28 is pretty legendary. Favoured by none other than Bob Dylan, this dreadnought shaped acoustic would certainly tick both our requirements of being supreme quality and highly versatile.
It’s also, and we’re sensing a theme here, distinctly not a cheap guitar. This is very much not something you’d slide under the sofa when you’re not playing it. For that reason, we’d also like to bring to your attention the Martin DX1AE, which brings with it that same Martin seal of quality, but at a price tag which won’t make your overdraft cry.
Fender American Original 50s Telecaster
It’s been said that there are certain tonal itches only a Tele can scratch. That twangy, fast-attack bridge tone, or the more rounded chimes you get from a slightly overdriven neck pickup lick; Telecasters are relatively unique in what they offer.
With that in mind, we’ve gone for the rather dashing Fender American Original 50s Telecaster. As with each of the guitars preceding it in our list, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better individual model than this. The classic combo of ash body and maple neck gives you access to some of the brightest, tightest and best Tele tones you could ever wish to hear. The butterscotch finish – the only finish a Tele should come in, in this author’s opinion – complete the package and make this a guitar of the highest order.
Or you might consider it’s raunchier younger brother, the Fender Classic Player Baja Tele. Anyone who plays a Baja remarks on how much guitar – tonally and in terms of build quality – you get for the money. It also boasts some interesting wiring which allows you to access a more varied tonal palette than you’d otherwise find on a Tele.
Our final selection caused a bit of debate. Do we go for a wildcard, something completely random? Every studio you go in will have one; be it a guitar, an amp or a piece of studio tech. Something completely off the wall which oozes vibe. It could probably tell you a story or two.
Or do we go try and identify a gap in the line-up? Is there anything we’re missing tonally?
In the end, we managed to satisfy both. The Gretsch G5422 is, at the same time, completely unique and also capable of a bunch of sounds our other guitars couldn’t even dream of making. That huge maple hollow-body, the Filter’Tron humbuckers, the treble-bleed circuit; this guitar was made to impress.
We’d also like to point you towards the slightly-more-attainable Gretsch G2622T. What this model lacks in aesthetic charm (compared to the G5422), it more than makes up for with superb build quality, versatile pickups and the promise of some wonderfully open-sounding tones from its laminated maple body.
Well, this was fun. Choosing five studio guitars, with a loose set of rules, certainly got us thinking. When buying guitars, it’s not always the case that you just buy the most expensive thing you can afford. You look at what you want to achieve, and you try and apply a bit of logic to it. After all, there’s no point having a gorgeous-looking axe if all you do is ogle it.
Our full range of guitars is available here.
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