What Is Signature Gear Anyway?


Some guitarists would (and perhaps do) give away their already diminished souls to own or use the signature guitar gear of their guitar hero’s – Whether or not the hero label is fully deserved by all it is bestowed upon, or merely made up from clever and fiendish marketing ploys, it usually serves to make all of the ever impressionable guitarists and GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) sufferers want the gear.

There is also a strong  subculture of guitarists who are devoted to ‘making it big’ but’ on their own steam’.  This is of course commendable, and more than possible if said guitarists are dedicated and have chops way better than mine!  These folk would turn their nose up at any so called signature gear, as it would be seen as copying someone else – That’s unacceptable to these own steamers, or so they think….

So what is really meant these days by the term “Signature”?

Surely the Guitarnivore in you would devour any guitar or amp that you felt would elevate you from the current state of being a guitar zero to the dizzy heights of guitar hero, and what better way could there possibly be than to use a guitar or amp with a guitar god’s name already on it?  And there is the issue I have, as I can’t think of many guitars or amps that aren’t actually signature already – I.e. a guitar that is made to the specifications of a guitarist or musician.


Fender Strats, Teles and amps – Leo Fender Signatures

Gibson Les Paul guitars – Les Paul Signatures

Ibanez guitars – Salvador Ibáñez Signatures

PRS guitars – Paul Reed-Smith Signatures

Jackson guitars – Grover Jackson Signatures

Washburn guitars – George Washburn Lyon Signatures

G&L guitars –  Leo Fender & George Fullerton Signatures

Marshall amps – Jim Marshall Signatures

Peavey amps – Hartley Peavey Signatures

Bogner amps – Reinhold Bogner Signatures

Randall amps – Don Randall Signatures

Sure there are a few that don’t quite fit this model, but off the top of my head I came up with many more similar to the above rule compared to those that don’t fit the rule.  In other words, you’d have to try very hard to actually find a piece of gear that’s not been made to fit the requirements of a musician who ends up with their name on the product.

Those that don’t fit the rule:






5 thoughts on “What Is Signature Gear Anyway?

  1. Why anyone buys signature gear is beyond me. Personally I want my own sound and after 40 years of gigging I have what works for me. Playing someone else s guitar is like wearing their underwear …no thanks but thanks to marketing and selling to kids it works for the companies who sell signature gear

    • Hi,

      thanks for your comment.

      So in the spirit of my amusing article, does that mean you don’t play any gear with a name on it? e.g. Fender, Marshall, Gibson Les Paul, Jackson, PRS, etc?
      My point (which perhaps I didn’t explain well enough in the article if you didn’t get it) was that:
      When someone like Leo Fender designed the Strat – it was his choice of spec.
      When a signature artist designs the spec of his signature guitar, he picks the gear he uses, and all the parts of the recipe to give him what he wants.
      The 2 aren’t identical situations, but in my opinion they’re close enough.
      Does that mean I wouldn’t play a strat? hell no – but it’s designed to Leo’s specifications of what he felt was the tone he wanted – so it’s similar to signature gear. Fine by me, and I’ll use it as a base to get the sound I want – i.e. my sound 🙂

      Each unto their own, but if there’s a guitar out there that has all the specs I want (I mean exactly the specs I want) I could care less if it’s got a name on the headstock or not.



      • Big difference between a Gibson Les Paul Custom and a Zack Wilde Les Paul “Bullseye” even though basically looks wise IS the differance. I would bet a Signature guitar and the “real deal” are different as is a “real” 1959 Sunburst and the reissues. I have played both and they are considerably different. I own a 1959 Stratocaster and have played reissues and they are different. For one the wood IS different. The big corporations have made a lot of money from Signature gear and that is good for them just not my taste. I judge a guitar or amp by the instrument or amp as they are all a little different. I have own quite a few Pre-CBS guitars and some are great and most were OK and a few were BAD. Depends on the instrument or amp. I collect Plexi Marshalls and some are incredible and some are OK.

      • By the way my main guitar is a very early Strat Plus that I added two humbucking (late 70s Seymour Duncan JBs that are coil tapped) and has original Lace Sensor single coil in the center. Also has a Roland GK2 synth pickup. I have been playing Roland Synths since 1981 and own almost model that was made. My amp rig for the cover band is two Fender Cyber Turds(Twins as most guitarists won’t give them a chance) Marshall JCM 2000 TSL 100 watt combo and a Peavey 5150 combo. Its great Cyber Twins are so cheap as after 2 years of gigging, band practice and studio I have some KILLER tones. A “Marshall only” friend played thru one of the Cyber Turds and was blown away, really played the amp for a whole set and left his Marshall in the truck.

      • You make some good points, and I appreciate you commenting and giving some good information. I agree with you that 2 guitars or amps that should be the same or similar can sometimes be like night and day, which just like the point of my article was to highlight that all instruments are worthy of being considered. But regardless of how old or new, standard or customised – a Les Paul still has Les Paul’s name on the headstock (whether next to someone else’s name or not, e.g. Zakk Wylde). I wasn’t suggesting that 2 Les Paul’s would sound the same either.

        The overall article topic was to suggest to the subset of guitarists who refuse to play signature gear, that in fact having the name of a guitarist on your amp or guitar shouldn’t mean the instrument is automatically discounted. Sometimes I’ve bought gear that happens to be signature, but I bought it because of the merits of the features and sound, rather than the name on it.



Comments are closed.