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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:





Signature Tone Hunters

Some guitarists feel the need to engage in an everlasting and bloody (expensive) quest to replicate the signature tone of their favourite guitar hero(s). Is there rhyme or reason to this widespread madness? – We shall see…..

Take for example the distinctive ex GnR top hat toting Saul ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ Hudson, aka Slash. Perhaps one of, if not the most hunted signature tone around. Thousands of bedroom guitar bandits have simply strapped on a saucy Les Paul standard, run it through a Silver Jubilee amplificator with Vintage 30s Speaker-me-bobs and put a top hat upon their bonce, and their transformation was almost complete – so long as their chops produce a high level of Riffability.
Sure, if you’ve already changed your name by deed-poll to Slash, you could then get a daft early 90s (aka dodgy) perm and engage in trying to Mod your vintage Marshall to sound like the fabled SIR #34. Or is it the SIR #39? Who knows!? But without Slash’s own fingers and style, you’ll only ever get close enough as to be a poor imitation at the very best.

But remember: Always condition your hands with snake oil each night – it really helps to better imitate guitar hero’s.